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2018 MAC Basketball Preview: Akron Zips at Western Michigan Broncos

Western Michigan plays host to the defending regular season champs

NCAA Basketball: Puerto Rico Tip-Off-South Carolina vs Western Michigan Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The 7-5 Akron Zips travel to Kalamazoo to take on the 8-5 Western Michigan Broncos in the league opener for both teams. Both teams are coming off wins in their final tune up.


Game Details

  • When: Tuesday, 7 p.m. Jan. 2nd
  • Where: University Arena, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Watch: ESPN3
  • Stream: WatchESPN
  • Listen: WZOX 96.5 Kalamazoo/1350 AM Akron
  • Line: WMU -7

Scouting the Broncos

The Broncos are led by senior Thomas Wilder, who seems like he has been in Kalamazoo about a decade. The 6’3 point guard is averaging 18.2 points per game, and generally ups his average once league play starts. No other Bronco is averaging double figures, but they are hardly a one man team. 4 are just under 10 points a game.

Each player seems to fit a different role, with Bryce Moore being the shooter, Drake LaMont the true center, and so on. They are a team that prides themselves on defense and rebounding, and are efficient in both. They hold opponents to 42% from the floor, have a rebounding edge over 1 per game, and cause 14+ turnovers a game.


Scouting the Zips

Coach Jim Groce likes his teams to run high screens and chuck threes. The Zips are hitting over 10 threes a game, and that’s with Jimond Ivery not really finding his rhythm yet this season.

My impression of this team is that when they are hot, they are good, when they are not, well, they are not.


Players to Watch

Thomas Wilder, WMU: The heart and soul of the team.

Reggie Jones, WMU: In a bit of a sophomore slump, I expect big things out of Jones in the future, and he is still averaging 9.5 points per game.

Daniel Utomi, Akron: The 6’6 sophomore is on a tear, averaging 18.6 points and 7 rebounds per game this season.

Jimond Ivey, Akron: Ivey has struggled a bit to find his way under Groce, but is still averaging 12.8 points per game.


Prediction

Akron has struggled on the road this season, and the Broncos seem to be hitting their stride, winning 4 of their last 5, and 6 of their last 8. I believe the Broncos should win this one, 75-66.