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2021 Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Preview: #6 Bowling Green Falcons vs #3 Akron Zips

The final game features a pair of Ohio schools looking to advance to Friday’s games.

NCAA Basketball: Akron at Buffalo Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The final first round game of the 2021 MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off Thursday evening in Cleveland, Ohio and features the sixth-seeded Bowling Green Falcons and the third-ranked Akron Zips.


#6 Bowling Green Falcons (14-10, 10-8 MAC) vs #3 Akron Zips (14-7, 12-6 MAC)

Game Info:
When: Thursday, March 11th at 6:30 p.m. EST
Watch: ESPN+
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — Cleveland, OH
Odds: Akron has a 53.5% chance to win according to ESPN’s BPI predictor

Bowling Green Quick Facts:
Points scored: 79.0
Points allowed: 75.5
Rebounds (Off/Def): 38.4 (12.5/25.9)
Assists: 12.9
MAC Tournament Championships: 0 (only MAC team to never win the MAC tournament)

Akron Quick Facts:
Points scored: 78.6
Points allowed: 72.0
Rebounds (Off/Def): 38.8 (11.3/27.5)
Assists: 13.6
MAC Tournament Championships (last year won): 3 (2013)


MAC Tournament History

The Bowling Green Falcons have the distinction of being the only current MAC school to never win a MAC Tournament (Marshall, who is no longer in the league, also never won it in their eight years in the MAC). That said, the Falcons have experienced success in the four appearances they did make in the NCAA Tournament, with appearances in 1959, 1962, 1963 (when they made the Sweet Sixteen) and 1968.

Akron has won the MAC tournament three times in five years thanks to a great run in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s (2009, 2011, and 2013,) but even being the de facto home team has had its drawbacks in recent years; the Zips have lost twice as many championship games as they’ve won, holding a 3-6 record overall, with their last title game appearance being in 2017.


Players to Watch

The Falcons

Justin Turner is BGSU’s go-to guy on offense. The senior guard is second in the MAC in scoring, with 19.9 points per game. Turner also averages 4.5 assists (most on the team), 4.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. He also leads the team at the charity stripe, shooting 87.8% at the free throw line. Turner was a prospect NBA teams had their eyes on early in the season, so a good MAC tourney performance could be impactful for his future.

Daeqwon Plowden can be just as dangerous as Tucker though. Plowden might average fewer points (13.2) but he claims 8.1 rebounds per game and is dangerous from deep - shooting 35.6% from behind the arc.

Trey Diggs and Kaden Methany are also threats to score. The duo combines for an average of 22 points, 7.2 rebounds, and three assists per game.

The Zips

Justin Turner is a great scorer but there’s one man in the MAC that tops him: Akron’s senior guard Loren Cristian Jackson. Jackson leads the MAC with 21.6 points per game and also leads the team with 6.3 assists per game (second in the MAC). He also nets 3.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game to go with his 41.3% shooting percentage.

When Jackson isn’t scoring for the Zips, it’ll most likely be Bryan Trimble Jr., who is the only other Akron player to average more than 10 points per game. Trimble Jr. scores an average of 12.2 points per game and is the teams best free throw shooter, at 94.1% - he’d be best in the MAC but he doesn’t meet the minimum, as he only gets to the line once per game.

Enrique Freeman is one of the best rebounding players in the league. The sophomore forward averages 9.0 boards per game (second in the MAC) and adds eight points and nearly two blocks per game as well.


Prediction

The Zips are able to out-rebound the Falcons and use second chance points to their advantage. Turner plays well but Jackson out-shines him and helps advance the Zips.

#6 BGSU Falcons - 77
#3 Akron Zips - 85