I’d argue that the Akron Zips current 15-game winning streak and a possible undefeated season in the Mid-American Conference hinges on tonight’s game against Eastern Michigan.
And there’s every reason to believe that the Eagles can take them down. They play a style of basketball similar to that of Ball State, a team the Zips barely squeaked out a win against. Close games are well and good, and there’s no denying the icy resolve the team plays with when the game is on the line, but a blowout against a markedly inferior team would probably save Zips Nation runs to the drug store for heartburn medication.
The Zips will have to work hard against the Eagles and here are three things they must do to win:
- Their shooters – Brian Walsh, Reggie McAdams, Deji Ibitayo, Chauncey Gilliam, Jake Kretzer and, to a lesser degree, point guard Alex Abreu have to be able to hit shots from the outside – no ifs, ands buts and maybe. If they can’t do that then UA will have to rely on their inside game and that could be a problem?
- Why a problem? The Eagles are one of few teams in the MAC who can match the Zips with respect to size, which means they can crowd the paint. For the Zeke Marshall, Demetrius Treadwell, Nick Harney and Pat Forsythe to be remotely effective inside, the shooters will have to draw Eagles players outside.
- The Zips will have to take Eastern out of their slow game or, in other words, just play their game. That means speeding things up, moving the ball around and making sure their shot selection is what it needs to be.
Key matchup: Demetrius Treadwell vs. Glenn Bryant. Bryant is the Eagles’ second leading scorer averaging 10.2 points per game and 4.5 rebounds. Tree stats are a bit better at 11 points and 7.4 points per game, but if he can get some momentum against Bryant, it can open things up somewhat.
Key stat: Eastern leads the conference in scoring defense giving up just 59.6 points per game. The Zips have the conference’s leading scoring offense with 74.1 points per game. Something’s got to give.