The next big day in the Falcon's big finish to their basketball season is in Akron, OH, against the Zips. This is a huge game, on the road. With a win, the Falcons would have the inside track to a bye, and possibly even for the regular season title.
That's not going to be easy. On the other hand, it didn't look like it was going to be possible to beat Kent, or win @Buffalo or @OU, and we pulled all of those off, so who knows. I have no idea if Chris Knight is expected to play, but I think we showed against Kent that we could compete without him.
Further, Akron has our number, big time, beating us the last eight times we have played by an average margin of 13 points, including a 36 beat-down in the JAR last year. But, we had the same situation against WMU, and we broke that whammy, and we broke the Savage Hall whammy, so maybe it is time.
I give Keith Dambrot credit. They graduated good ballplayers, and are competitive again. They have a very solid program. They won the first match up between our teams at Anderson Arena, in a game where the Falcons just could not get a basket at all....shooting 28% from the field and 22% in 3FG. Anthony Hitchens had 15 points and three other Zips had 10 to lead them, and Nate Miller had 15 and was the only player who shot well. Others didn't, no reason to name names.
Akron is a solid team. Looking at MAC play only, Akron has slightly stronger offensive numbers than the Falcons do. See below.
Scoring (Akron 66.4, BG 62)
FG% (BG 42.1%, Akron 43.9%)
FT% (BG 69.6%, Akron 69.9%)
3FG (BG 34.7%, Akron 31%)
TPG (BG 13, Akron 14.6)
Pretty close, huh? Rebounds and fouls show slight advantages for Bowling Green.
RPG (BG 38.3, Akron 37.1)
Fouls per game (BG 16.2, Akron 20.9)
On defense, there is an advantage to Akron as well, a more solid one, in fact, than you see on offense.
Points allowed (BG 62.2, Akron 57.7)
FG% Against (BG 42%, Akron 37.7%)
Turnovers (BG 11.5, Akron 18.2)
Turnovers are interesting. Akron leads the MAC in turnovers caused and turnover margin, and the Falcons are last in forcing turnovers.
Finally, the JAR is a tough place to play. They are 10-2 and 5-1 on their home floor this year.
Offensively, Brett McKnight has led them in conference play (12 ppg), while Chris McKnight (11.6) and freshman Humpty Hitchens (9.3). Nate Linhart is their leading rebounder.
To win this game, the Falcons are going to have to do a few things. First, we need to do very well taking care of the ball, which we did the first time we played Akron. We need to make some shots, which we did not. In particular, our guards need to deliver. I have a feeling Akron will be watching Nate Miller closely, and our guards need to score in the resulting open space.
And we need to match them possession for possession on defense. Finally, we need to get solid play out of our inside players in order to compete on the road.
Akron is a very competitive MAC team without any knock-your-socks-off players. They have as much to play for as we do. It is a great test for our team, and I can't wait to see how we do.