With two rounds underway, we'll get to see the first team that earned a bye in either tournament when the third-seeded Akron Zips (22-7) take on the sixth-seeded Eastern Michigan Eagles (20-11).
Both teams finished the 2014-15 season with 11 or more conference wins, with the Zips getting the double-bye with 12-6 record throughout the conference season. EMU finished in a three-way tie for fourth place, and unfortunately got the short end of the stick by receiving the sixth seed and having to play two extra games. Eastern was able to put together a run, and by beating Toledo yesterday became one of two teams to escape the first two rounds.
Cha Sweeney has lead EMU in scoring in both tournament games, scoring 21 in a first round victory over Kent State, and then adding 29 yesterday. Sweeney has also been one of the biggest players in the game clinching runs that have occurred in both games EMU has played in. Yesterday, Sweeney scored 12 of Eastern's first 14 second half points to help fuel the Eagles' 18-6 run that broke the game wide open.
Eastern Michigan has also used suffocating defense to help make this run, as they held Toledo's top scorer, Imna Zanoguera, to just eight points and only allowed one Rocket into double figures. In the Kent game, the Eagles stepped up their defense in the second half, which helped them pull away from the 11th-seeded Golden Flashes.
Akron, fresh of a double bye, is looking to make another appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning the MAC tourney last season. Akron was one game out of getting a triple-bye, which would end up falling to Ball State, who awaits the winner of this game in the semifinals.
The previously mentioned defense that EMU has been putting out during the tournament will come under its' toughest test versus Akron, who has the MAC Player of the Year and leading scorer Sina King, who is averaging 20.7 points per game while playing in all of Akron's 18 conference games. King is also second in average rebounds at over nine a game and first in three point shooting percentage at over 40%. Akron is also the only team in the MAC to have two out of the conference's top seven three point shooters, as Hannah Plybon shoots at 37.8% from downtown and leads the league in threes made with 62 on the season.
EMU will attempt to counter that 1-2 punch with the Sweeney and Janay Morton, who both have 39 steals on the season, which puts them tied for second in the conference's standings.
So will Eastern Michigan get to continue their goal of winning five games in six days, or will a fresh and rested Akron team book themselves a date with Ball State in Friday's second semifinal? You can find out by listening to the live stream of EMU's radio call here.