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Akron Opens 2014 With Marshall Match-Up

The Zips finish out their non-conference schedule with a visit from the Thundering Herd.

Tom Herrion and the Herd have had a tough start to the year.
Tom Herrion and the Herd have had a tough start to the year.

After beating Coppin State yesterday, the Zips turn their focus to former MAC member Marshall. The Thundering Herd are just 5-8 this year, with wins over South Carolina State, UNC-Wilmington, Western Kentucky, and two non-D1s. Those eight losses include two overtime losses, one at Morehead State and the other at home against Stephen F. Austin.

The last time these two met, Akron bested the Herd 67-51 on New Year's Day in 2012. Demetrius Treadwell had a great game coming off of the bench, scoring ten points and picking up nine rebounds. Quincy Diggs, Nick Harney, and Deji Ibitayo were the only other current players to play in that game.

Marshall is currently playing without their best player, Elijah Pittman, who was suspended indefinitely on December 9th. Pittman was the team's only returning starter from last season and averaged 21 points per game in the first nine games of the season. It's worth noting that all of the wins that Marshall has this season has come with Pittman on the floor.

With the loss of Pittman, Kareem Canty has really stepped into the leading role averaging 17.6 points over the past five games. Canty, just a freshman, averages seven assists per game. That's good for fifth in the country and puts him ahead of guys like Juice Brown of Toledo, Quinn Cook of Duke and Jerian Grant at Notre Dame. Canty plays a lot of minutes though; he averages 36 a game. He may be on the verge of starting to wear down, especially since he went 2-15 from the floor the last time out against South Carolina.

Marshall goes eight deep, but only two of those are juniors. The rest of the team is freshmen and sophomores, making them seemingly one of the youngest teams in the nation. Young teams are always hard to trust on the road and it's no surprise the Herd are 0-6 away from home. They also don't have anyone who regularly plays standing over 6'6" which is a major problem facing Akron. The Zips have a lineup that puts everyone above that height, so look for Keith Dambrot to get as many of his tall guys in there as possible.

One player that MAC fans may remember is TyQuane Goard, a transfer from Ohio. Goard is playing well for the Herd, averaging seven points and five rebounds per game while playing 25 minutes. Against Akron last season, Goard scored four and six points in those two games.

As far as rankings go, Marshall is 213th in the KenPom ratings. For a comparison, Bowling Green is at 199. In the RPI Marshall sits at 274 (Akron is 134). That's ten spots behind Central Michigan, so that sort of gives you an idea of where they stand based on teams in the MAC.

At halftime the Zips are honoring Shawn Porter, who is the current IBF Welterweight World Champion. Porter is an Akron native who graduated from nearby Stow High School in 2006. He'll be available for autographs after the game, so make sure to pick that up.

Akron will probably have a little bit of trouble but should pull away in the end. I would probably give the Zips a ten point victory with the home-court advantage.