The Akron Zips are riding a 26 game winning streak at home, the 3rd longest in the country. They have also rattled off 8 wins in a row on the season. To extend those streaks, they will need to beat an Eastern Michigan Eagles squad that have won 6 of their last 7.
Both teams shoot much better than their opponents, and are led by two of the best big men in the league. Isaiah Johnson is averaging 15.5 points a game, on 63.8% shooting from the floor. He also grabs 7.3 rebounds and dishes a team leading 3.4 assists. James Thompson IV averages 14.9 points per game on 58.4% shooting, while grabbing 10.5 rebounds. Thompson had an amazing hook going against WMU last time out. If he can keep that up, he goes from virtually unstoppable to literally unstoppable.
The two teams are far from one man shows. Eastern has 5 guys that average in double digits, with Willie Mangum IV leading the way with 16.2 points per game.
For the Eagles to win, they need to have defensive intensity. The zone is great against lesser teams, and can be effective against good teams, but it’s easy to get lack luster, especially when things aren’t going your way. Eastern has 3 guys averaging 2 steals each. They usually have that intensity, and this is a huge game.
Akron has 4 guys in double figures, and 2 other guys over 8 points a game. It’s those 2 guys that could be the key for Akron. Noah Robotham hasn’t scored in double figures since scoring 11 against UC Irvine on December 21. He scored 27 the game before that against Marshall. Josh Williams is equally erratic. His last 5 game totals are 2,5,14,0 and 11. If either of those guys heats up, it could be trouble for the Eagles.
If Akron pulls out the win and it’s coupled with a Northern Illinois loss against Ohio, the Zips would have a 2 game lead on the entire conference. Impressive this early in the season.
When: Friday, Jan. 20th, 6:30PM
Watch: CBS Sports Network
Listen: 89.1 WEMU in Ypsilanti or via stream on their website/Fox Sports 1350 in Akron