WELCOME TO THE POSTSEASON.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that if Line Drills had no bucks to bet at this point in the season we'd have licked our wounds, and run away from betting on MAC hoops with our tail between our legs while evoking every other metaphor for losing we could think of.
Didn't happen brah.
We doubled down on the MAC Championship game, taking the three and Western Michigan, and watched the Broncos run past Toledo to line our pockets for some postseason parlays. Make no mistake though. We'd have likely bet on these games anyway. Because as one fellow Hustle Belt contributor put it, "You degenerates will bet on anything."
First up we have what would likely be the number one overall seed of mascot matchups (quick, someone write that article.) Your Akron Zips from the Mid-American Conference and the Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne Mastodons from the Summit League. The prognosticators from Line Drills can verify that one of us has consumed more than the recommended amount of libations on both campuses. The who and when of that however is none of your business.
What is your business though is betting, betting big, and betting big on obscure college basketball tournaments that only the most advanced of college basketball fan is aware of (that's you.) So without further ado, your Akron vs. IPFW picks:
Akron at IPFW (-1)
Look I realize that "earning" an invitation to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament isn't the most coveted prize of college basketball teams, but it's hard to think that Akron is happy to be here. The Zips enter Wednesday's matchup at IPFW 21-12 overall after finishing 12-6 in MAC play. U of A has to be wondering what could have been. March 14th Akron was playing Western Michigan for the right to go to the MAC Championship game, and it looked to be all but a certainty. The Zips were up 18 early in the second half and 15 with just over ten minutes to play before Western Michigan mounted a furious run, forcing overtime, and stunning Akron 64-60. The Zips were denied what would have been an eighth consecutive trip to the conference championship game.
Ok, onto the stuff the legions of Summit League fans who will inevitably flock here should know. Akron is middle of the pack offensively, but in the top quarter of the league when it comes to defense. They are led by Demetrius Treadwell. The 6'7" 235 pound senior forward is sixth in the conference in scoring at 14.9 per game and fourth in rebounding at 8.7. Treadwell gets help from forward Quincy Diggs, who averaged 12.5 points per contest, and Reggie McAdams who was second in the MAC from behind the arc this season, shooting north of 42 percent. Senior Nick Harney is the model of consistency, averaging 8 points a game while shooting 48 percent from the field and Jake Kretzer chips in 7.5. Kretzer is capable of getting hot from behind the perimeter, this season he drilled seven three balls against Eastern Michigan.
Akron wasn't a great bet this season. The Zips were 10-19 against the spread including 4-11 away from Rhodes Arena. In conference play Akron went 7-13 ATS, and 3-7 in the last ten. The Zips are 0-5 ATS the last five road games, and the total has hit under in four of their last six roadies.
IPFW knows Akron's pain. The Mastodons led North Dakota State by a point with just over a minute remaining in the Summit League Championship game before the Bison scored a pair of layups and knocked down their free throws down the stretch winning 60-57. It was the first ever appearance in the conference championship game for the Mastodons who have only been playing on the Division 1 level since 2001. This appearance in the CIT marks the first postseason tournament invitation for IPFW since turning D-1. The Mastodons enter Wednesday's matchup 24-10 overall and 10-4 in Summit League play.
It's an inside outside game for IPFW. Luis Jacobo and Mo Evans take care of things behind the arc. Jacobo connected on an eyelash shy of 40 percent of his shots from downtown this season and is the team's leading scorer at 14.6 points per game. Evans chips 9.6 a game and is even better from downtown, shooting a blistering 45 percent. Steve Forbes is Mr. Inside. The 6'9" 295 pound junior forward scores 12.1 points per game and along with Joe Reed shoulders the rebounding responsibilities for the Mastodons. The senior leadership comes from Pierre Bland. Bland played the most minutes of anyone for IPFW, scores just under 10 points a game, and skillfully directs the Mastodon offense with a better than two to one assist to turnover ratio.
As unattractive a betting option Akron has been, IPFW has paid out all year. The Mastodons are 20-8-2 overall ATS. That includes 11-4-1 on the road, and 9-4-1 when playing at Hillard Gates Sports Center. In conference play IPFW went 12-5 ATS, including 7-3 in the last ten. IPFW has covered in the last five, playing three of those as dogs and two of those as favorites. The total has gone under in four of the last five IPFW games. The Mastodons have only lost two games straight up at the Sports Center all season.
The pick: Akron's crushed to be here. You know they are. The Zips started the season as a marked team in the MAC, on the short list to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament. To go into halftime against Western Michigan with visions of another tournament appearance only to have it all so quickly dashed has to be crushing. IPFW fell short as well. While the Mastodons were surely hurting, it's got to be put into perspective. This is the first Division 1 postseason appearance of any kind for IPFW, and the opportunity to notch the first postseason win. You only get to say that once, and you have to believe that's what Tony Jasick is telling his players. The balance of the Mastodons gets the better of a more talented deflated Akron squad. Wednesday take the Mastodons, lay the point, and take the under at 137.5.