So it is time for the BG-Akron rematch. You know the storyline. Akron has beaten BG in 17 straight games and 25 out of the last 26. When the games tips off it will be 2,914 days since BG beat Akron.
The two teams opened the MAC season at the JAR. At the time I said it was the best game BG had played all season, and it might still be. Now, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Akron led for 32 minutes. However, they only won by 5 and more of what we saw last Saturday in Athens is what we would have expected.
Honestly, this team is capable of rallying like they did against UT in an "important" game and putting something together. That's the saddest part of it all.
There's no doubt, Akron is the best team in the MAC this year. They are 12-2 in the conference and they have already clinched one of the top 4 seeds. They are 22-5 overall and have a kempom of 103. Their RPI is 47, if you are looking at something a little more conventional. Right now, Lunardi has them as a #13 seed.
Their only MAC losses are @Buffalo and at home to Kent, which broke a 30-game home winning streak.
I've said it before, this is a great program and they are a very good team. They know how to win. In this first game, when BG got it close the Zips found a gear and pushed the lead back out again.
Here's the stats from that game. BG shot well but Akron shot much better. However, the Zips turned the ball over. They are super tough on the baords, and they showed it and they ended up at the line...well...a lot.
Akron plays an interesting style. They play at the 2nd slowest pace in the MAC, yet they are #2 in offensive efficiency. And let there be no doubt. If BG doesn't figure out how to keep the ball out of the paint, Akron will drive it there all day with relentless efficiency.
And, as we always seem to say, as good as Akron is on offense, BG is that poor on defense.
Akron is not a great defensive team. That rating is 7th in the MAC. (This is in the weeds, but that's not a very big spread for a team with only 5 losses, which is why their Kenpom ranking isn't very high).
Anyway, BG is 10th in the MAC in offense. Clearly, the opportunity to score on Akron exists. Whether BG takes advantage of it--as they did against UT, which had a similar defensive profile, well, that remains to be seen.
Akron is #3 in the MAC in shooting and BG is last in FG defense, which is what you see there. I doubt if Akron plays many teams who give up a higher percentage than they shoot. Although they did not take care of the ball well in the first game, they have in general. They lead the MAC in turnover%. They are not great on the boards and they are 2nd in the MAC in getting to the FT line.
They are #2 in the MAC in terms of attempting 3FGs. They are, however, only #6 in making them. In both of their MAC losses they shot under 25% from 3FG. They've also won 3 games with a similar 3FG%. Anyway, that's not great for them, given the volume of shots. They are #2 in 2FG shooting and not good at the FT line, #11.
Flipping it around, Akron is strongest at protecting the defensive boards, where they lead the MAC. They force very few turnovers and are 7th in EFG%. They are 5th in the MAC allowing teams to the line. As noted above, they are just an average defensive team. BG will need to get some shots to fall to take advantage. BG is #10 in shooting in the MAC and #270 in the country. Akron is the easiest team to shoot 3FGs against in the MAC, so you'd like to think you had a shot at making that work. It wouldn't on the surface appear to be something BG is well poised to do, but you never know.
Akron is led by Isaiah Johnson. He's scoring 16.7 PPG on 63% shooting and 7.25 RPG. He is a poor FT shooter, so there might be something there. He's #8 in scoring and rebounding, #1 in FG% and #13 in assists in the MAC.
They also feature Kwan Cheatam a 6'10" Sr. He has 12 PPG and 7 RPG, shooting 42% and 40%. Antino Jackson scores 12 PPG and adds 3 assists. He is efficient, shooting 46% and 42% from 3 FG. Jimond Ivey is a 6'4" SO who scores almost 10, adds 6 rebounds and shoots 46%. Finally, Daniel Utomi is a 6'6" FR who is leading the MAC making 50% from 3FG.
In game 1, Wiggins had a big game. That would help this time as well, but he's going to have to play enough defense to stay on the floor to make that happen.
Anyway, the odds are strongly against BG in this game. Certainly, a victory is possible, but Akron would be heavily favored.