The No. 24 Akron Zips (22-4) and Ohio Bobcats (20-7) will square off in Athens Wednesday night for a rematch of epic proportions. Last time these two teams met, Akron came from behind to dominate Ohio 86-72 in the James A. Rhodes Arena.
With that win the Zips took sole possession of the top spot in the Mid-American Conference and currently sit at a perfect 12-0. Ohio has won every conference game before and since and are sitting at 11-1 in the MAC. But the 'Cats are coming off a blowout loss on the road to Belmont while Akron is riding the nations longest winning streak, currently at 18 games.
The two teams are in sole possession of the top two spots in the conference with a little over a week until the MAC Tournament. Ohio's only shot at winning the MAC regular season tittle and earning a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament is to beat the Zips at home Wednesday night.
It won't be easy, but Ohio has the odds in their favor. The 'Cats are dominant in the Convo, they are 16-1 at home this year. Akron's last two trips to the Convo haven't ended well either. Exactly one year ago tomorrow Ohio beat the Zips 85-61 and exactly a year before that Ohio dominated in an 80-55 rout.
|2012 - D.J Cooper||13.4||3.2||7.6|
D.J. Cooper has a tendency to shine in big games, especially against Akron. Over the past four seasons he's averaging 18.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists against the Zips. Whereas in those same nine matchup's Akron's star big man Zeke Marshall has traditionally struggled, averaging just 7.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. But Marshall is on a tear this season and showed up big earlier in the year when the 'Cats visited the J.A.R..
|2012 - Zeke Marshall||12.6||6.8||0.7|
Akron isn't blowing their opponents out but is playing solid ball and is definitely ready for the challenge. So are the fans. Akron-Ohio has quickly become THE rivalry in the MAC over the past four seasons. This year things have stepped up a notch with both fan basses getting heavily involved.
A twitter beef was sparked Saturday after Ohio's road loss. It turned increasingly nasty Monday night when another spat between players and fans broke out on twitter (it appears to be fake and the fan has since deleted all tweets about it).
But all trash talking and twitter beefing aside, Wednesday night's match up between the two MAC powerhouses will be for "all the cookies" as Ohio forward Reggie Keely tweeted out Saturday night. The winner not only will get the bragging rights but will be the top dog and the favorite's heading into the MAC Tournament.
The Convo will likely be at capacity Wednesday night as it's sure to be an all out battle for MAC supremacy. Maybe both coaches should implement a twitter ban until after the game though, because the last thing we need is anyone going missing or getting "gucked."