The Akron Zips, after failing to win the MAC tournament championship, will get a treat. The Akron Zips head to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Zips will get to show where they belong in the Ohio basketball landscape against Thad Matta's young squad.
Record: 26-8, 13-5 MAC
Per Game Stat Leaders: Isaiah Johnson (13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds); Noah Robotham (3.8 assists)
The Akron Zips are coming off a great season that had them one game away from the NCAA Tournament, but the Zips fell short in the MAC tournament championship against the Buffalo Bulls. The Zips may not be in the NCAA Tournament, but winning the MAC regular season title gave them an automatic bid into the NIT. Akron is led by junior center Isaiah Johnson who leads the team with 13.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. But Akron is not a one man show with Antino Jackson and Reggie McAdams also averaging double-digit scoring.The Akron Zips have the 2016 MAC coach of the year in Keith Dambrot. The big question for Akron is how they will handle the heart break from the MAC tournament.
Record: 20-12 Overall, 11-7 Big Ten
Per Game Stat Leaders: Marc Loving (13.7 points) Keita Bates-Diop (6.4 rebounds) JaQuan Lyle (4.3 assists)
The Ohio State Buckeyes are coming into the NIT off of a very disappointing regular season. The Buckeyes were a team that some said were barely on the bubble, but I think their opponent had a better case to make the big dance. The Buckeyes are the 5th youngest team in the country and more basketball is the one thing that will help this team compete for years to come. Ohio State is lead by streaky junior guard Marc Loving who is averaging 13.7 points per game. The Buckeyes are without sophomore spark plug Jae'Sean Tate who has been the life blood of the Buckeyes. Thad Matta's young squad has a lot of talent, but they are very inconsistent. The Buckeyes were a team that has been beaten by mid-majors this season, losing to UT- Arlington and Louisiana Tech.
The Run Down
I believe that Akron is going to give the Buckeyes everything they can handle. The Akron Zips are playing to prove that they are capable of beating the biggest school in state. I feel that on the other end of the spectrum that the Buckeyes may come out less than completely motivated after not making the big dance. The Buckeyes have shown throughout the season that has not seemed to be completely engaged.The Akron Zips are a very talented squad with a deep enough bench to come into Columbus and stun the Buckeyes. Akron is coming off heartbreak, but the ZIps should show the State of Ohio that they are a team to be reckoned with.