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Miami RedHawks vs. Akron Zips men's basketball preview: We're almost there

Akron still has a shot at a first round bye in the tournament, and Miami currently holds a first round home game.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

We're almost there. There are just two games left for each team before the stage is set for the 2015 MAC Men's Basketball Tournament.

On Tuesday night in Oxford, the Miami RedHawks (12-17, 7-9 MAC), who currently hold the number eight seed in the standings, host the Akron Zips (18-11, 9-7 MAC), who currently hold the number 6 seed in the standings. Just a few nights ago (February 21), the RedHawks went to Rhodes arena and shocked the Zips in a 57-52 overtime win.

Since that matchup, the RedHawks beat Kent State at home in overtime, and then blew a late lead to Bowling Green at home to snap a four-game win streak.

Since the loss to Miami, Akron lost starting point guard Noah Robotham. The Zips played well in two games without him, however, which included a five-point loss at Buffalo, and a big home win against Ohio to snap their own four-game skid.

In the last matchup, it came down to who played worse, instead of who played better. It was a miserable game for both teams. The RedHawks shot 21-57, and the Zips shot 19-59. On that night, Miami was just able to put the ball in the bucket more than Akron.

Looking to this matchup, one of the teams is coming off of a four-game win streak, and the other is coming from a four-game losing streak. Akron is still competing for a top four seed in next week's tournament. Not getting a top seed results in having to win five games in six days if you want to go dancing. That's stupid, but it's also to be discussed at a different time.

This game is just as important for Miami. They may not be able to jump up any spots in the final week, but they could fall with a loss(es). Last year, the RedHawks got the eight-seed, and they were able to advance to Cleveland. Home court advantage at Millett Hall is a much larger factor than people are typically willing to cede.

Now for the basketball. Miami is a very small team. By that, I mean they don't have many big players. Their biggest player is 6-foot-10 L. J. Livingston, who didn't score in 13 minutes last time against Akron. Isaiah Johnson and Pat Forsythe of Akron continue to improve every game. The two centers have started together recently. Each of them have the size and skill to be very successful against Miami. However, the pair added just 12 points and 20 rebounds, combined, the last time the two teams met.

Miami has great guards in Eric Washington, Geovonie McKnight, and Will Sullivan. The trio combined for 42 of Miami's 57 in the last matchup. The experience of these guards alone will be hard for Akron to matchup with. Freshman point guard Antino Jackson is coming along well for the Zips in the absence of Robotham (torn ACL). This game will be one of his biggest tests to this point.

The tip is set for 7:00pm from Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio on Tuesday. Unfortunately, Miami doesn't provide free streaming, so listen to Steve French and Joe Dunn on Fox Sports 1350.