They call it MAC Madness for a reason. And all the low seeds look pretty miserable. By default, of all the four first-round games this one is the most favorable for a MAC West competitor. Meanwhile, Akron's been playing all year like that one Katy Perry song. An erratic couple of weeks wiped from the memory with a wInning streak, and then back again. She sung that song, right?
Their First Meeting: Eastern Michigan won 60-56 in Ypsilanti, and it was the product of a horrific shooting night for the Zips. It's likely a game they hope to forget, especially against this team.
Keys for Akron: Don't pretend you're playing in a large empty arena, where those around you are rooting for the other guys. Since this is in the JAR, that'll be easy to ignore. If Nikola Cvetinovic can win the matchup against Beast Bowdry, then the rest of the dominos will fall into place. Of course, it'll certainly help if the McZips can contribute. Steve McNees can knock down some jumpers, Brett McKnight needs some inside presence, and Brett McClanahan can get open when needed. And for the love of whistles, Zeke Marshall, don't get into foul trouble.
Keys for Eastern Michigan: Bring matches, put the team on a spit, and literally light a fire under everybody's ass. It may be wiser (and more flame retardant) to do so figuratively. It's a good team, but they've been playing pitifully. Brandon Bowdry isn't going to do this alone, even with some made threes by Derek Thompson. Let's see what Jay Higgins can do on the perimeter, and maybe Jamell Harris can swat things out of the air that aren't human arms. Darrell Lampley must also limit turnovers and perhaps take the shot when necessary. But especially keep the tempo slow. If both teams are creeping into the 70s, it's over.
Likely Final Score: Akron 67, Eastern Michigan 58 ... BUT THAT'S NOT MY PREDICTION. EMU 56, Akron 54. Gotta throw a monkey wrench in there somewhere.