Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Akron Preview....

The echoes of Saturday's game have barely died down and here we are again, on the court with a game against the team that has the highest ranking, if not the best record, in the MAC.

Akron is 17-6 and 7-3 in the MAC.  Their non-conference losses were to Louisville, WVU and Liberty.  They started out 6-1 in MAC play, but lost 2 of their next 3 (and barely beat EMU at the JAR).  They lost at home to Toledo (not part of the streak).  I'll take a look at why they are losing in a second.

Falcon fans know that Akron has dominated us in a way that no other team has.  Going back 15 years, Akron is 28-3 against Bowling Green.  It's just incredible.  The Falcons have won 2 of the last 5 against the Zips.  Their last win at the JAR was the 2009 shocker that led to a MAC regular season title...10 straight losses.

BG split with Akron last year and lost by 24 in Akron.

One thing we know is that John Groce can coach in the MAC.  He was highly successful at OU and now he has rebuilt the Akron program after it was down to bare wood after Dambrot left.

The Zips are the top offensive team in the MAC and #39 in the country.  They combine that with being #4 in defensive efficiency and that's how they get where they are.  They won their first five MAC games in blow outs...for the year, their average margin of victory is 9 points, whereas BG's is .5.

This is a little different from playing UT and CMU--who can score the ball but don't play great defense.  AK is strong on both sides of the ball.  Basically, BG and AK present similar profiles.

The key to Akron's success for the year is shooting.  They lead the MAC in EFG and are #50 in the country.  They lead the MAC in 3FG and are 2nd in 2FG.  The 43% of the FGs from 3FG, 2nd in the MAC.  The other numbers are fine...they are #6 in protecting the ball and on the offensive boards.  They are 9th in getting to the line, but lead the MAC with 81% made.  They are #13 in FT shooting.'
They will be a test for BG--who attempted to outscore CMU and UT and didn't have much success on defense.

So Akron has lost 2 of their last 3.  That's UB, @KSU and then they beat EMU by 1 at the JAR.  What's going on?  As you can see here, they are a shooting team that has not been making shots for the last 3 games.  So we can only hope to see that continue...

Flipping that around, UA's biggest defensive calling card is forcing turnovers.  They lead the MAC.  Their are #6 defending the shot and are #11 in rebounding and allowing free throws. 

I think those middle two factors will be key.  AK is #1 at getting turnovers and BG is #1 at preventing them.  We know BG has had a change at the guard position and Akron will present a real test to how well BG moves on from losing Frye.  BG has been decent on the offensive boards and could help their cause a lot with some offensive boards.  Finally, BG can't chose tonight to miss shots, either FGs or at the line.

The Zips are led by Loren Cristian Jackson, who is #2 in the MAC with 21.9 PPG.  He's efficient as hell.  He makes 50% overall and leads the MAC with 55% from 3FG.  He makes 86% of his FTs (#3 in MAC) and is #3 with 4.9 assists per game.  He's #2 in A/TO ratio...behind Michael Laster.  He's just a really good player...POY candidate.  Transferred from Long Beach State.

He is joined by Tyler Cheese.  He scores 18 PPG, but less efficiently.  He shoots 48% and 35%, which are plenty good.  He makes 87% of his FTs and has 3.7 assists per game.  He's a very good player.

If that wasn't enough, they probably have the MAC's top newcomer in Xeyrius Williams.  He's a 6'9" transfer from Dayton.  He is scoring 15.2 PPG to go with 8.9 RPG.  He shoots 45% overall but 44% from 3FG and makes 93% of his FTs, though he rarely is fouled.

They don't have tremendous depth.  They are 10th in the MAC in bench minutes (BG is #3) and they are the 3rd most experienced team in the MAC.

This is another test on the road to the championship.  BG is taking on a very good team on the road in a place where we rarely win and we're going it without a key player.  Unless Akron's shooting woes turn out to be permanent, I think they are likely to be in the title game.  BG will play them twice and these will be good tests. 

Akron is obviously beatable...so why not BG?  Looking very forward to tonight's game.

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