It's been well over a week since the Akron Zips (17-9, 8-5) are in dire need of a win on Saturday against the Miami RedHawks (10-16, 5-8). Akron has lost two straight games, and they are in danger of losing a shot at the MAC regular season title. Miami is no stranger to pulling off road "upsets" either. The RedHawks went to the Stroh Center and knocked off Bowling Green by eleven on Wednesday night. That's just another example as to how balanced the conference is this year.
In Miami's win on Wednesday, they held Bowling Green to just 18-50 shooting, and 6-26 from the three-point line. Jaryd Eustace came off the bench and scored 14 points in just eleven minutes. The second half defense of the entire team was fantastic. They held the Falcons to just 23 points in the second half.
One thing that Miami typically struggles with is defense. The RedHawks give up nearly 70 points per game. Their offense is able to score about 66, which is good, but it can't cover for the lack of defense. Also, despite the poor record, the RedHawks have been in nearly every MAC game. They don't get blown out.
Miami's biggest disadvantage in this game is size. Miami has only one player that is at least 6-foot-10, and that is LJ Livingston, a junior who doesn't get a lot of playing time.
Akron is currently sitting in 5th place overall in the conference. A win over Toledo on Wednesday would have put them at the top. Obviously, that was a big time missed opportunity at home. Luckily, the game against Miami is at home. Akron has only lost twice at Rhodes Arena this season.
The Zips are straight up cold right now. I mean that two ways. One, it was cold enough to close campus on Friday, and two, Akron has shot less than 40% from the floor in the last two games. They shot 25-78 at Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Freshman guard Noah Robotham sat out on Wednesday with the flu. Fellow freshman Antino Jackson filled in, and he did an outstanding job. In his first career start, Jackson scored 14 points and dished three assists. He did make a few mistakes that could have been prevented, but all in all, he did a great job.
The players to watch for Akron are centers Pat Forsythe and Isaiah Johnson. They have the opportunity to tower over the RedHawks. Miami is a small team, and doesn't rebound particularly well, so that's where Akron has a huge advantage on Saturday.
The MAC is as close as it has ever been, and this game is huge. Tip is at 7:30pm following the women's game.