It's a 15-seed against a 2-seed. That's happened four times in 104 tries. It's the MAC against the Big East. Gulp. But there are some going on record and boldly selecting the upset:
Steve Zakuani, Seattle Sounders. That's because the midfielder played his college ball at Akron. In his guest-bracket with The (Everett, Washington) Herald, Zakuani is admittedly "picking completely with my heart" by putting his Zips in the second round.
Natalie Pasquarella, WSOC Charlotte news anchor. Her sister apparently went to Akron. That's reason enough, and non-basketball logic is quite often the sanest reason to pick and upset. That's why everybody went with Morehead State over Louisville, right?
@vegaswatch. I'm unsure what his reason is, but it's inconsequential to the point. Although do you want someone who has difficulty counting words?
Google. Yes, Google thinks Akron will beat Notre Dame. This is according to SEO expert Jonathan Hoekman, who culled Google Trends keywords and saw that more people are searching for Akron Zips than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Kangaroos are so popular right now.
So you can see that, basically, there isn't much wisdom favoring the Zips. On Yahoo's pick'em, only 1.4% have Akron. ESPN brackets? Akron wins their first round game 1.5% of the time. Vegas odds say Akron is a 14-point underdog. That's enough of a sample size to give you an idea of what people are expecting.
And count me among the 98.5% who have Notre Dame advancing, but I'm squarely the "hope i'm wrong" camp. Without a doubt the most important player on the court will be Zeke Marshall, namely that he must be on the court and not on the bench in foul trouble. He'll also have to defend some players who are able to knock down threes on the perimeter, which'll suck. Also look to senior Brett McKnight for some intangible plays off the bench, and you better damn well hope that more than their fair share of outside shots actually fall, rather than clank off.
You have to say this about UA: McKnight has made this team immensely better as the season went onward. When he was suspended for seven games in November/December, it took him a little while to get back up to speed, but he's averaging 12 points in his last nine. If they're going to make this huge win happen, McKnight will be involved on the winning play.
And here's something else to consider: while a 2-seed is always going to be stronger and with a better record than a 15-seed, keep in mind that the 2-seed usually doesn't win their conference tournament. Notre Dame lost to Louisville in the Big East Tournament semifinals, to Louisville. Akron is on a four-game winning streak and won their conference tournament. If you believe in codepedent momentum, at least that's in Roo's favor. And that's about it. Other than their nucleus of fans dispersed throughout the country.
UA tips off against Notre Dame at 1:40 p.m. at Chicago's United Center on Friday on TBS.