The Toledo Rockets (13-12) are coming off two huge wins against Eastern Michigan and Kent State, and look to take on the MAC leading Akron Zips (21-4) on Tuesday in James A. Rhodes Arena. Akron is coming off a big win against Eastern Michigan as well, and will look to hold their commanding top spot in the MAC with a win over Toledo. This could be the only meeting between these two teams all year, so both teams are looking to put their best on the floor.
Toledo has been abysmal on the road, with a record of just 3-10. Meanwhile, the Zips have been lights out at home, with an outstanding record of 12-0. Toledo will try to fluster the Zips and give them their first loss at home this season.
When: Tuesday, February 14th at 7 PM EST
Where: James A. Rhodes Arena, Akron, Ohio
Watch: WatchESPN, ESPN 3, MAC Digital Network
Line: Akron -7
Toledo is 13-12 overall and 6-6 in MAC play.
The Rockets demolished two top defenses in the MAC in their last two outings. Beating Eastern Michigan, the fourth ranked defense in the MAC, by 16 and beating Kent State, the fifth ranked defense in the MAC, by 20. Not to mention, their defense has been outstanding as well. They did not let their opponents score over 60 points in either of those wins.
Offense is Toledo’s key. They have one of the most efficient offenses in the MAC. The Rockets shoot 49 percent from the field, which leads the MAC, and have an elite scorer in guard Jonathan Williams.
Toledo is 21-4 overall and 11-1 in MAC play.
Akron had a good win over Eastern Michigan 87-76, but their games before that were less than stellar. They took a hard loss to a thin Ohio team 85-70, and just barely beat Ball State 65-63 on a buzzer beater.
Their offense seemed to find their stride against Eastern Michigan, but they were flat in their two games before that. A part from that lull, their offense has been solid all season long. The Zips possess the best scoring margin in the MAC at +8.2, and have the second best field goal percentage at 48 percent. Looks like it will be the showdown of the two most efficient offenses in the MAC on Tuesday night.
Players To Watch
Jonathan Williams, Toledo: Toledo’s top scorer all season long, and has recently found his stroke. In his last three games, Williams has averaged 19.6 points and has shot 52 percent from the field. The offense runs through Williams, if he is on then the whole offense is.
Jaelan Sanford, Toledo: Jaelan Sanford has been Toledo’s best kept secret this season. Sanford is an efficient shooter who can pass and rebound the ball quite well. Sanford is shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc, and is averaging 4.8 assists in his last four games.
The 6’4” sophomore can be a facilitator for this offense. Whether it be scoring the ball or distributing it, Sanford finds a way to make an impact.
Isaiah Johnson, Akron: Johnson is Akron’s best player offensively. The senior is averaging 16.6 points per game, and 7.3 rebounds per game. Johnson is shooting an incredible 63 percent from the field, but is shooting a shoddy 58 percent from the charity stripe.
If Toledo can force Johnson to the line then they might be able to limit his productivity.
Kwan Cheatham Jr, Akron: Cheatham is Akron’s best rebounder, averaging 7.7 rebounds per game. Cheatham will be someone to watch, because he will have to keep Toledo’s top rebounder Steve Taylor Jr. off the glass. Taylor Jr. averages 12.1 rebounds per game at 6’9”. Even though Cheatham has the height advantage, Taylor has the size advantage by about ten pounds. This will be an interesting battle between two top rebounders.
Toledo has been outstanding in their last two games, and Akron has been a little rocky. If the Rockets defense plays like they have in their last few outings I can see Toledo handing Akron their first home loss in 30 games. Rockets win 78-75.