The nation will watch a matchup of two rising mid-majors tomorrow morning.
The difference between the teams: Virginia Commonwealth has consummated its rise, while Akron is searching for it's first NCAA Tournament berth in 20 years.
The Rams dispatched the Duke Blue Devils in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Eric Maynor's 22 points and eight assists were a large reason. Maynor leads the Rams again this season in points (18.2) and assists per game (5.2). Stopping the 6-foot-2 guard will be a priority for Akron.
Fellow guard Jamal Shuler also shoulders some scoring burden. As Duke found out, you can't leave him alone on the perimeter. Shuler went 4-for-5 on 3-pointers in that game.
Despite the scoring tandem, VCU leads the Colonial Athletic Association because of defense. They give up the fewest points in the CAA (59.5), and it's not even close. The Rams allow 38.7 percent shooting. Larry Sanders, a 6-9 forward, gets a lot of blocks. Shuler is a league leader in steals.
VCU's weakness is interior offense and rebounding, but the Rams are still pretty good. I expect the Zips to open as a five-point favorite.
I will liveblog from Rhodes Arena tomorrow morning. The game starts at 11 a.m.