For the second time in three years, the Zips are dancing.
Their partner in the 2011 NCAA tournament? Notre Dame, whom the Zips are playing on Friday in Chicago in the Southwest region.
The Zips, with a 23-12 record, were given a No. 15 seed while the Irish are a No. 2 seed. Notre Dame, from the stacked Big East Conference, finished the season 26-6. Akron earned an automatic bid by winning the Mid-American Conference tournament on Saturday.
The winner will play Texas A&M or Florida State on Sunday.
A No. 15 seed beating a No. 2 seed is rare but not unprecedented. In 2001, Hampton upset Iowa State. In 1997, Coppin State, as a 30-point underdog, beat South Carolina 78-65. Notre Dame, as a No. 6 seed, lost in the first round of the 2010 tournament to Old Dominion.
With guards Steve McNees and Darryl Roberts and forward Nikola Cvetinovic, Akron has three starters from the team that made the 2009 tournament. Forward Brett McKnight also played a key role for the Zips off the bench.
That year, Akron was a No. 13 seed in the South Regional against No. 4 seed Gonzaga. The game wasn't especially a good one for Akron. The Zips fell to the Bulldogs 77-64. It was Akron's first NCAA tournament game since 1986.