Mid-American Conference (23-10, 11-5)
Big Wins: 11/26 Temple (67-65), 12/15 at Austin Peay (64-55), 3/4 at Ohio (80-77)
Bad Losses: 1/26 at Central Michigan (64-65), 2/6 at Western Michigan (66-86), 2/12 Northern Illinois (78-88)
Coach: Keith Dambrot
Nick Dials, Senior, Guard, 11.9 ppg, 4.3 apg
Cedrick Middleton, Senior, Guard, 9.7 ppg, 1.5 apg
Nate Linhart, Junior, Forward, 8.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Jeremiah Wood, Senior, Forward, 13.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg
Chris McKnight, Sophomore, Forward, 6.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Steve McNees, Freshman, Guard, 5.4 ppg, 1.9 apg
Darryl Roberts, Sophomore, Guard, 3.9 ppg
Jimmy Conyers, Junior, Forward, 2.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Quade Milum, Senior, Forward, 6.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
The Zips of Akron hit over eight three-pointers per game. Senior Nick Dials knocks down over two of those. The point guard has become a little one-dimensional in his offensive game since six of his eight shots per contest come from long range, but he will drive to the basket and get to the free-throw line enough to make the opposing defense have to cover him off the dribble.
Fellow starters Cedrick Middleton and Nate Linhart and sixth man Steve McNeese can all get hot from long range. Middleton is the guy who will penetrate and score, but he will compliment that ability quite well with his consistent outside shooting. At 6-7, Linhart has great size for a wing in the Mid-American Conference. His versatility allows him to play just about anywhere on the floor and Linhart has a smooth left-handed stroke from outside. McNeese will usually be the first guard off the bench and the freshman does a decent job handling the ball when he is not hitting the long ball.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Despite the nice size on the wing with Linhart, the Zips are not a big team. The frontline consists of 6-6 Jeremiah Wood, 6-7 Chris McKnight and 6-7 Quade Milum. That is not horrible by MAC standards, but the lack of height has led to some problems in the rebounding department. Wood is a great scorer, a superb rebounder and will never back down from bigger opponents. A team full of players like him and Akron would be great on the glass, but Wood does not get much help. Milum and McKnight split minutes, which hurts their numbers, but they combine for just over six rebounds per contest. Akron did not play very many tough, bigger teams during their non-conference play, so if they run into a big team, the troubles on the glass could get worse.
Who To Watch:
If Akron is going to make any postseason run, it will be on the shoulders of Wood and Dials. Wood has had some injury problems throughout his career, but when he is healthy he is tough to stop. On some days, the only way to stop him is to foul him and that theory is not a bad one to follow. Wood shoots just 56.8 percent from the charity stripe and when he is feeling it, the opposition will have no choice but to be physical with Wood on both sides of the floor.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.7 (119th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.5 (61, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (151, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.5 (213, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.5 (30, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.8 (31, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.8 (89, 4)
Rebound Margin: -0.4 (194, 8)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (143, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (64, 3)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Florida State
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