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Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Akron Zips men's basketball preview: It's still the MAC's best rivalry

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We've made it to the final game of the regular season, and the best part is the rivalries.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Akron Zips (18-12, 9-8) travel across town to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes (20-10, 11-6) on national television at 7:00 on Friday night.

While Akron has lost five of its last six games, the Flashes have dropped two of the last three. The difference here is that Kent State picked up a huge 81-80 victory at Bowling Green on Tuesday night, while the Zips blew an eleven point second half lead to drop its second game of the season against Miami.

For Akron, the loss of Noah Robotham is looming large right now. His replacement, freshman Antino Jackson, is also a very talented play, but he isn't quite on Robotham's level as far as game management goes yet. That said, Jackson is 100% capable of running the point right now.

Another factor in this current funk that the Zips are in is the lack of experience. I understand that Jake Kretzer, Reggie McAdams, Pat Forsythe, and Deji Ibitayo have all won a lot of games, but they haven't been in the position of a true leader of the team. Akron is capable of winning a lot with this team, but they haven't taken it to the next level this year.

At Miami on Tuesday, junior center Pat Forsythe played the first five, or so, minutes, and then came out for the rest of the game. He came out in the second half in his street clothes, and he was wearing a walking boot. Today, George Thomas from the Akron Beacon Journal tweeted this out:

Akron has now lost two starters in the past couple of weeks. Forsythe could return if Akron can make a tournament run.

Forsythe is Akron's leading scorer at 10.7 points per game. He also grabs 5.3 rebounds per game. Deji Ibitayo, Akron's sixth man, comes in at second at about 10 points per game. Kwan Cheatham is next up in rebounding at 4.7 per game.

Cheatham and Isaiah Johnson will be matched up with Kent State's big men Jimmy Hall and Khaliq Spicer.

Hall didn't play in the first matchup, a 61-52 Akron win, because of mononucleosis. At just a sophomore, Hall is easily one of the top candidates for MAC newcomer of the year, if it existed. The 6-foot-7 power forward has made it look easy against most MAC teams. He leads Kent State with over 15 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Khaliq Spicer is the tallest player in the rotation at just 6-foot-9. Spicer isn't much of a scorer, but he is athletic enough to be a good rebounder. He averages 6.3 rebounds and just 5.4 points.

Kent State's guards are some of the best in the league. Seniors Dev Manley and Derek Jackson get the start, while Kris Brewer comes off the bench. Those three combine to score over 34 points per game.

A glaring issue for Kent State is bad shooting nights. They play poorly all-around when those three guards struggle to get it going. Last week against Buffalo, Manley did score 19 points, but a majority of them came while throwing up prayers because of a large deficit with little time to play.

One thing that the entire team struggles with are free throws. They rank last in the MAC, and near the bottom of all of Division I at 63.9%. At the same time, Akron isn't much better at 65.2%.

With all of that said, it should be a good game. Akron plays winning teams really well, and Kent wants to grab a top four seed in the tournament Oh, did I mention that this is also a huge rivalry?

For the second Friday in a row, the Zips are on national television. Tip is scheduled for 7:00 on ESPN2.