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Toledo Rockets vs. Akron Zips Preview: The Zips look to make it a 2-0 start in the MAC

It was a surprise to see Toledo drop a home game to Central Michigan, but when the Zips come to town, every team comes to play.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

There is only one MAC game on Friday, and boy is it a dandy.

The Akron Zips (10-4, 1-0) travel to Northwest Ohio to take on the Toledo Rockets (8-6, 0-1) in a nationally televised cross-division game.

Toledo hosted Central Michigan on Tuesday and lost on a 3-pointer in the final seconds after leading 31-29 at the half. The game came as a surprise to a lot of people because Central Michigan's record is somewhat deceiving given the fact that they played a very weak nonconference schedule. People were expecting much more out of Toledo this year, with good reason. The record in nonconference play for the Rockets was 8-5, and they played some tough competion.

Toledo comes into the game as one of the highest scoring teams in the country at 74 points per game, but gives up nearly 67. On Tuesday against Central Michigan, they were only able to force four turnovers and score just two points off of them. That, combined with 13 turnovers of their own, did the Rockets in.

The key to the matchup against Akron will be center Nathan Boothe. Last year when the two teams met, Julius Brown carried most of the weight scoring 25 points and J.D. Weatherspoon also added 20 in the 75-61 victory at Rhodes Arena. This year, one of Akron's top weapons is junior center Pat Forsythe. He was able to do whatever he wanted against Western Michigan and if Toledo wants to win, Boothe must play outstanding defense.

The Akron Zips surprised everyone in their Tuesday MAC opener at home against Western Michigan; not in the fact that they won, but in the fact that they blew out the Broncos. The Zips carried a ten point lead into the break and ended up with a huge 72-52 victory.

The game on Tuesday was the best for the Zips so far this year in that they were able to take down a very good conference opponent with ease.

The huge key for the Zips in the upcoming game at Toledo is play from true freshman guard Noah Robotham. Robotham tweaked his leg on Saturday against Coppin State and that may have led to the low playing time against Western Michigan. He will likely be matched up with Juice Brown. That's a pretty tough matchup for a freshman playing in his first away conference game.

While Robotham is on the bench, we will probably see freshman Antino Jackson Jr. on Brown. Jackson was crucial to holding Austin Richie of Western Michigan scoreless in 32 minutes on Tuesday. The entire team played outstanding defense and rebounded well while only turning the ball over nine times. If Akron can win the turnover battle on Friday, they will be on the way to another victory. This game should be much closer than the fourteen-point Toledo win in last year's game.

Friday marks the 57th meeting between the two teams with Toledo owning a 30-26 advantage.

When: Friday January 9, 7:00 PM.

Where: Savage Arena, Toledo, OH

TV: ESPNU (Jim Barbar and Steve Donahue)

Streaming: ESPN3 and the WatchESPN App available on Google Play and the App Store.

Radio: 1350 WARF Akron on the Akron IMG Sports Network, available on IHeart Radio.