Friday, January 12, 2018

BG travels to Zipland--Updated for Olojakpoke

So, it is back to the JAR for the Falcons, a long and storied den of horrors for our team, that has won only once in recent memory and that was 2009.  It is no secret that Akron absolutely owned the Falcons...until last year when BG finally took down the Zips on the way to splitting the season series.

Things have changed.  Keith Dambrot has moved along to another school and most of this team left in the meantime.  Akron brought in successful MAC Coach John Groce to take his place, and there's every reason to think he will succeed.  For this year, however, there is an adjustment period.

They are 7-8 with one non-D1 win and they have lost 6 out of their last 7 games.  They are an unheard of 0-3 in MAC play...something which makes me feel a little nervous.

They lost @WMU and @UT, and then by 22 to UB in the JAR.  (UB is the clear class of the MAC to date).  I was watching when they led USC at halftime and then went on to lose by 31 points.

So here is the matchup.  Akron is below average on both ends of the floor.  Offensively they are closer to average.  They are ranked #268 overall on defense.  As you can see, BG's offense is right where Akron's is, and actually plays better defense.  (The D-1 average is 1.039 points per possession, so BG is nearing average on defense.)

So, how does that happen?  Well, they're average.  They are decent shooters but not great.  They turn the ball over too much, and OK on the offensive and at giving up FTs.  In the NIU game, BG held an average-ish team to a season-low offensive performance, so that's what we will be watching for here, too.  One thing hasn't changed.  The Zips shoot a lot of 3s (#33) in the country.  And they make a high percentage (#90).

Here is what is interesting.  After being a good shooting team in the early year, BG has really fallen.  Their overall EFG% is 293rd in the nation (out of 351) and dead last in the MAC in MAC play.  Meanwhile, Akron is 300th in EFG%.  So, we have two polar opposites and not in a good way.  Beyond that, things are pretty evenly matched.  The Zips don't cause many turnovers, they do a really good job on the offensive boards and they keep teams off the line.  (This is also a potential key.  BG has been getting consistent advantage at the FT line).

Daniel Utomi is their leading scorer.  He's a sophomore scoring 18 PPG on 46% shooting, to go with 44% on 3FG and 80% at the line.  He also gets 6.6 RPG.  He's 6'6" and one of the best players in the MAC you've never heard of.

Their next scorer is Malcolm Duvivier, a 6'2 G who is a graduate transfer from Oregon State.  He is scoring 14.6 PPG on 41% shooting from 2FG and also from 3FG.  He averages just under 4 assists per game but also 3 turnovers per game.

Jimond Ivey might be the most recognizable name on the team. He's scoring a rough 12.6 on 40% and 33% shooting.  The 6'5" JR also averages 5.6 RPG.

When I watched the USC game, it was just very disorienting.  Akron was just so consistent and you'd get to know these guys like they were own team...and all of a sudden, these other guys are running around.  As usual, they are tough at the JAR, with the Buffalo loss being their first home loss of the season...but also by far the best team they have played at home.

I talk a lot about BG being the 15th youngest team in the country.  Akron is the 27th youngest team.  Should be interesting.  Even as Akron struggles, this would be a huge win for BG to get on the road.  The Zips are on a skid, though, and they'll be very hungry to get a W.

Update:  The Akron starting C had open heart surgery and is expected to miss the remainder of the year.

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