The Akron Zips (15-6, 6-2) travel to Athens, Ohio to take on the Ohio Bobcats (7-12, 2-6) at 7pm on ESPN3. This match up has become one of the greatest rivalries in the conference over the past five years, so a few Zips and Bobcats decided to sit down and try to be civil with one another while discussing Wednesday's game.
Brandon Hickey and I argued in favor of our beloved Zips with our own Bobcat buddy, Kaleb Carter. So, sit back, and enjoy the sMACk.
Kaleb Carter: Hey guys, I know it sucks being Akron fans and having to deal with the always smug and annoying Keith Dambrot, so I'll cut you a bit of slack. Anyhoo, just looking forward to a Zips beatdown at the hands of the Bobcats. The Convo will be packed, and you all shall face your inevitable doom.
Matt Hammond: It's funny that you bring up Dambrot's "smug" face. That means that you don't like him, which means that he must be the best at his job. He's basically a villain in the MAC because everyone is jealous that he can win games. So that means that I like Saul Phillips. There's no reason to not like the guy. He's like an anti villain! He changed OU from a winning culture, to a culture that gives away easy wins to teams like Eastern Michigan. So, if you're in need of a team to beat, you had better call Saul.
KC: Well Matt, seeing as how YA GOT JOKES for Saul, I'll counter with...anxious noises. We've sucked lately, BUT Akron's riding too high on a wave of confidence right now, and I can't wait for them to crash back down to earth in the zaniest conference in Mid-Major hoops. The Zips sure didn't look too pretty against Ball State and just barely pulled one out of their bums in Bowling Green. Akron's time is due. Its record of 6-2 is UNSUSTAINABLE. THERE MUST BE CHAOS. Dambrot's bunch has won three straight games. That's like...unheard of in this conference. Kent State is the only team in the conference to win four straight MAC games this season. Akron won't join them come Wednesday. The odds, as dictated by MACtion are in Ohio's favor.
MH: People said that Akron's huge winning streak two years ago was unsustainable, too. The time that fans were most sure that it would end was when? That's right! The Zips playing Ohio at the Convo, but Akron overcame all adversity and, once again, made the Kittens look silly. This Akron team is as deep as anyone in the country as they have 11 good players. The list of players includes a true point guard (Noah Robotham), a 6-foot-11 center (Pat Forsythe), multiple shooters, and a great sixth man (Deji Ibitayo). It's never easy to win at Ohio, but it's been a while since the Zips have lost there. How do you explain that Akron has won the past two at the Convo?
Brandon Hickey: Alright let me jump in here. Another year, another coach for the Bobkitties, who seem to be less of a program destined for greatness and more of a program that is a stepping stone for coaches looking to fail in the Power 5. Seriously - while Dambrot has been coach at Akron there have been four head coaches roaming the sidelines in Athens. Three have willingly left for a better job. Can't wait to see where Saul ends up in two years.
Yeah your Sweet 16 run was nice, but that was ages ago. Since you made the Sweet Sixteen, Ohio is 1-5 against Akron. The Zips are responsible for knocking out the Bobcats in each of the last two MAC Tournaments - with the best game being the 65-46 beat down to send us to the Big Dance. Safe to say that recent history is on our side.
Let's forget about history and focus on now. OU is, uh, struggling a little this season in which you were picked pretty high in the preseason polls. That whole Maurice Ndour becoming a monster because of playing top-flight competition in the FIBA World Cup? That's worked out okay, but it doesn't help when your point guards turn the ball over with a vengeance and can't make layups. The Bobcats also rank in the bottom 200s in Division 1 in rebounding. Have fun with Pat Forsythe and Isaiah Johnson!
Three-game winning streak? Check
The smile on my face when the O-Zone doesn't get to do the winning team/losing team? Checkmate.
Wow, I bet you didn't see that coming. Now for the predictions.
MH: This should be a nice warm up game for Akron in preparation for Saturday. I'd rather see the Zips play a tougher opponent like Bluffton, but Ohio will suffice. The Kangaroos will beat the Kittens 75-60.
KC: You may have the statistics on your side sirs, but Ohio has the insanity that is this loopy, nonsensical conference schedule on their side. Statistics only tell so much of the tale! (Plus I needed something fellas.).
Call me crazy, but I think this home crowd brings its A-game, the 'Cats feed off of it, and Ohio prevails 71-64.
BH: Even though you're coming off of two straight losses, you actually do play better in Athens. I think the rivalry will bring out the best in both teams. I'm going to say this goes to overtime, with Akron pulling it out 75-73.