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Akron Zips vs. UMBC Retrievers Basketball Preview

The Zips didn't make the MAC final for the first time since 2006 last season. Their journey back starts against UMBC on Friday.

USA TODAY Sports

Last year's Akron Zips men's basketball team was the first Akron team to fail to make it to the MAC Championship since 2006. The Zips are returning all but three players from last year's roster: they no longer have Quincy Diggs, Carmelo Betancourt, or Nick Harney, and It will be interesting to see how the new players fit in with the old group.

The Zips finished last season with a 21-13 record. With the 21 wins, Akron joined seven other division one schools to win 21 games in the past nine seasons. The list includes Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse. If you follow college basketball you know that those are some pretty successful programs.

Statistically, the Zips didn't jump off the charts in any department last year. They finished with a team field goal percentage of 43.8%. They shot 34.6% from the three point line while shooting the ball with very little success at the free throw line as they finished at 62.2% as a team, which was good for 347th in the nation (there are 351).

Last year, the Zips averaged 68.6 points per game on offense while giving up 66.9 ppg (88th in nation). The Zips were led in scoring and rebounding by Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell last season and Tree is the clear leader of this team.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County Retrievers finished the 2013-2014 season with a record of 9-21 and a sixth seed in the conference tournament. Their season ended with an 86-56 loss to Albany in the American East quarterfinal.

The Retrievers' struggles are shown through their stats. They only shot 40.1% from the field. The 30.4% mark on 3-pointers didn't help either. Their free throw percentage wasn't much better than the Zips as the Retrievers ended the year at 65.5% from the charity stripe. The defense was lackluster in giving up 72.8 points per game last season. The Retrievers only have  one senior this year in Devarick Houston.

This game shouldn't be too difficult for Akron to win, but nothing is guaranteed when the Zips take the floor. I'm going with Akron 70 UMBC 54.