Toledo (14-2) at Akron (11-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 11 a.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500) -- Akron, Ohio. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Toledo 8-0, Akron 7-0. Away Record: Toledo 4-2, Akron 3-3. Neutral Record: Toledo 2-0, Akron 1-2. Conference Record: Toledo 2-1, Akron 3-0. Series Record: Toledo leads, 29-26.
GAME NOTES: Two of the Mid-American Conference's top teams will begin their season series on Saturday when the Toledo Rockets square off with the Akron Zips at James A. Rhodes Arena.
Toledo survived a thriller versus Buffalo on Wednesday for a 67-65 victory, which moved it to a 14-2 overall record, including a 2-1 MAC standing. The Rockets began the 2013-14 season with 12 consecutive victories before back-to- back losses at Kansas (93-83) and Western Michigan (87-76) halted its run at perfection. Coach Tod Kowalczyk's team will be tough for any of its league rivals to slow down as it paces the MAC and ranks 15th nationally in scoring with an average of 84.2 ppg. Although the Rockets' allowance of 74.6 ppg is the highest in the conference, it still is outscoring its opposition by 9.6 ppg.
The Zips notched their fifth win in a row on Wednesday as they held off Miami- Ohio for a 59-52 decision. Coach Keith Dambrot's team enters Saturday's action with an 11-5 record and is the only team left in the MAC without a loss to a MAC rival. Akron has one of the best home court advantages in all of college basketball, having won 43 of its last 46 games at James A. Rhodes Arena. Dambrot has plenty of depth as nine of his 11 players who have played this season have scored at least 11 points on one occasion.
Toledo owns a 29-26 advantage in the all-time series which began during the 1915-16 season. The Zips won the last seven meetings, including a 71-56 win at Toledo last season.
The Rockets needed a clutch play in the closing seconds to survive their thriller with the Bulls. Julius Brown nailed a jumper as time expired to lift the team to the two-point triumph at Savage Arena. Brown finished with 20 points and six assists for Toledo. J.D. Weatherspoon tallied 13 points while Justin Drummond and Rian Pearson each added 12, although Pearson connected on just 5-of-15 attempts from the field. Toledo used an 18-3 scoring advantage at the charity stripe to power past Buffalo, which held a 39-32 lead at the intermission. Pearson is leading the Rockets with 15.5 ppg on 52.1 percent shooting from the floor including a 40.6 percent efficiency rating from beyond the arc. Brown is handing out 7.2 of Toledo's 16.1 apg.
The Zips' depth was on display in their recent win over Miami as their bench outscored the RedHawks' reserves, 31-11. The starting unit also played a strong role in the win, especially Demetrius Treadwell, who recorded a double- double with 15 points and 10 boards. Treadwell went 6-of-10 from the field while Nick Harney came off the bench for the hosts to net 12 points on 4-of-4 efficiency from the floor. Treadwell has been the heart and soul of the team throughout the campaign en route to averages of 13.2 ppg and 7.8 rpg. Quincy Diggs is chipping in 12.6 ppg and 4.4 rpg to rank second in both categories.
The Rockets are one of the top mid-majors in the nation this season. However, Akron is going to be a tough out in its own arena. Toledo has been streaky as of late, but it has enough weapons to overcome the Zips if it delivers for a full 40 minutes.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 78, Akron 71
01/18 10:14:27 ET