Maybe the schedule makers knew the Zips couldn't wait for another shot at Miami.
Maybe that's why these teams will meet in the MAC opener at Rhodes Arena Saturday at 7 p.m.
I never have heard so much hype from fans about a regular season game -- Kent State included. I have received several e-mails from alumni expressing excitement. The AK-Rowdies sent me a Facebook message, urging everyone to attend. The players certainly looked for this game the moment they received the season's schedule. Jeremiah Wood recited January 5 as if it was his birthday when asked about Miami at an early season press conference.
This is big.
Miami and Akron have led different lives this season. The RedHawks have traveled to meet the big boys, and they have enjoyed some success. They beat Xavier, Mississippi State and Illinois. They almost beat USC, Dayton, Cincinnati and Louisville. Kansas, meanwhile, handed Miami its lunch.
Akron, on the other hand, has played cupcakes for the most part and has spanked them. This game could indicate what scheduling method is more effective in preparing a MAC team for an important conference game.
The RedHawks feature a two-prong scoring attack. You will remember Tim Pollitz, who led both teams in the MAC Championship with 19 points. You might call him a redhead version of Wood. He has nifty post moves, isn't as athletic as Wood, but can shoot. Michael Bramos is the shooter/slasher who has struggled in the past two weeks. He is still capable of dropping more than 30 points, like when he scored 36 against Dayton.
Akron has showed it can defend star guards. It helps that Bramos is taller than Brian Roberts and Josh Mayo. That should make it an easier defensive assignment for Nate Linhart. Pollitz is a matchup problem for many teams because of his versatility, but Akron has athletic big men who should make it easier. The problem is keeping him off the offensive glass, where he gets a lot of easy buckets.
On offense, the Zips need to run the floor, get the crowd excited and try to open a giant lead. With Miami's style of play, a 15-point lead can be insurmountable.
The first game of the MAC season always has an unknown factor. Add in the drama because of last year, and this is a game you should not miss.