If there's one team in the MAC that matches up best against Akron, it's Miami.
Even worse, Akron struggled with percentages of 23.5 and 21.1 from 3-point territory. Basically, Miami is great at stopping the Zips' greatest strength.
This must be another game where Akron feeds the post. Jeremiah Wood and Romeo Travis will need to find some energy somewhere after both played very hard last night. I'd also like to see Quade Milum get touches in the post. Aside from his breakaway dunk against Central Michigan, he has been invisible.
Outside of Nathan Peavy and Tim Pollitz, Miami is not a good rebounding team. Akron did a great job keeping Kent State off the boards. Maintaining that aggression and high level of activity will give the Zips an even greater advantage tonight.
Everyone thinks of the RedHawks as being such a shut-down defensive team. I think otherwise. They play a risk-free defense, meaning they won't get many steals, but also won't get burned on secondary breaks.
Sure, Miami only allows 57.6 points per game, but it only scores 59.8. That is the same kind of deception Mike Fratello used when he coached the Cavaliers. Slow the tempo. Take the other team out of its rhythm. Use a lot of the shot clock.
The strategy really frustrated Ohio in the quarterfinals, but it doesn't necessarily indicate defensive dominance. In fact, I'd say Miami is the fourth-best defensive team in the MAC, behind Kent State, Akron and Toledo (in that order).
Overall, Miami does everything at either an average or slightly above-average rate. Akron needs to avoid offensive ruts, but also stay away from frustration. The made shots will come. Take solace in the fact that the RedHawks are incapable of scoring a bunch of points fast.
This game will come down to the post play. I think Travis will play one of his best games as a Zip. Akron also will improve on its anemic 3-point percentages from the previous two games.
Prediction: MAC Champions 61, Miami 51
The ABJ's David Lee Morgan wrote about Andy Alleman's struggle the past couple weeks.
His mother recently suffered a stroke. Alleman was actually at the NFL Combine at the time.
Still, he performed well and he's on my board (hah! like I have a board) as a third-rounder.
In other news, J.D. Brookhart thinks Luke Getsy could be a late-round pick. (Coach, I'll bet you a case of beer you're wrong. I already have a similar bet with a buddy who says Ohio State's Justin Zwick will hear his name called.)