Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Zipper Problems

So Akron comes to the Stroh tomorrow, promising to put the Falcons home court advantage to the test.

They is a good basketball team in the MAC's top program.  This year, Akron and OU are the two clear elite teams in the conference.  They have played in the conference championship in each of the last six seasons, winning it in 2009 and 2011.  They have 7 straight seasons with 22+ wins.

Beyond that, they have owned BG.  They have won 15 out of the last 16 against the Falcons, with the exception being a 2009 win at the JAR where Brian Moten was the hero, propelling BG to the regular season MAC title.

They love playing in BG.  The Zips have won the last 8 in Bowing Green.  The last BG win at home over Akron was 10 years and 11 days ago.

They come to the Stroh at 15-4, 6-0 in the MAC and on an 11 game winning streak.  Their RPI is 68 and their kenpom is 47.  They have lost @Creighton, to Oklahoma State (neutral floor) and @Detroit.  (BG beat the Titans at the Stroh).  They beat a good Middle Tennessee team at the JAR.  They beat Cleveland State by 30 (BG lost to the Vikings).  The beat WMU by 22 (at the JAR), and won by 15 @Toledo (BG lost).

Ouch.  Don't mean to make it sound like there is no point in playing the game, but the facts are the facts.  This is a high quality team with a track record of owning the Falcons.

They have benefitted this year from the emergence of Zeke Marshall.  Zeke was an incredibly highly sought after recruit who came to Akron.  He's a seven-footer and he was OK/Good for his first two seasons.  This year, he's coming into his own.  He's leading the team with 12.6 points per game, shooting 68% from the field (4th in D1)..

Individual stats for the Zips have to be viewed carefully.  Dambrot uses a lot of guys and no one on the team gets 30 minutes a game--which means that their stats are lower, accordingly.  They have 11 players averaging 10 minutes a game or more.

Marshall, who was 2nd team all-MAC last year, is also averaging 6.7 rebouonds and a ridiculous 3.8 blocks per game (5th in D1).  He had foul troubles as a FR but is down to 2.6 per game.  With his height, he is just a beast.

Alex Abreu was second-team all MAC last year too at PG.  He stepped up when Hitchens transferred.  He is 2nd in the MAC with 5.8 assists per game, while scoring 9.3 PPG.

Demetrius Treadwell is a 6'7" JR, and he is scoring 10.5 PPG and leading the team with 7.3 RPG (6th in the MAC).

They have four other players averaging between 6 and 9 PPG.  Of note is offensive bomber Brian Walsh, who is 3rd in the MAC in offensive efficiency.

On offense, this is a very effective team.  They lead the MAC with 1.1 points per possession which is 34th in D1.  They are second in effective FG%, first in offensive rebounding percentage and 6th in FT Rate.  They do turn the ball over 20% of the time, which is 9th in the MAC.

It starts here.  BG is going to have to play an incredibly solid defensive game to have a shot at the Zips.  Akron can score inside and out and with multiple guys and they are very hard to defend, but BG has only won this year when it has defended well, and that's going to be needed tomorrow night.

The reason defense is so important to BG is that Akron is really good at that, too.  They are #1 in defensive efficiency as well.  They lead the MAC in defending the shot (FG% and effective FG%), are 5th in forcing turnovers (by%), are 7th in FT Rate allowed and 8th in preventing offensive rebounds.

This is a very good team.  See above.  They do play OU on Saturday so maybe there's a chance they are looking past this game, and BG has been playing better at home than they have been on the road.  The Falcons will need just about the best game to beat the Zips tomorrow, though.

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