Kent State (20-12) vs. Akron (24-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 15, 6:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Quicken Loans Arena (20,562) -- Cleveland, Ohio State. Television: SportsTime Ohio Home Record: Kent State 11-6, Akron 15-1. Away Record: Kent State 8-6, Akron 7-4. Neutral Record: Kent State 1-0, Akron 2-1. Conference Record: Kent State 9-7, Akron 14-2. Series Record: Kent State leads, 70-67.
GAME NOTES: The Kent State Golden Flashes hope to take one step closer to their sixth title as they square off with the top-seeded Akron Zips in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena.
The winner of this game will punch their ticket to the championship game, where they will face either Ohio or Western Michigan.
The Golden Flashes are one of the hottest teams in the conference as they earned their sixth-straight victory on Thursday with a 70-68 win over Buffalo in the quarterfinals. Chris Evans knocked down a decisive pair of free throws with 5.6 seconds left to seal the deal. Evans finished the outing with a huge double-double consisting of 25 points and 15 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Golden Flashes as they notched their 20th win of the campaign. Also scoring in double figures were Randal Holt and Darren Goodson with 17 and 12 points, respectively.
Evans has developed into one of the best all-around players in the league as he paces Kent State with 16.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest. Holt, who continues to build on the school's all-time record for 3-pointers made, checks in with 14.5 ppg thanks to his 82 treys this season. Goodson may be the x- factor for KSU as he has scored at least 12 points in five of his last six games and only failed to do so in a blowout win over Miami.
The MAC looked like it was Akron's to lose all season long. The Zips took a six-game winning streak into conference action and extended it by 13 games to notch the longest winning streak in the nation until they were upset by Buffalo on March 2. Akron then suffered a much bigger setback as starting point guard Alex Abreu was suspended indefinitely. Coach Keith Dambrot's squad looked much different without Abreu as it was defeated at home for the first time all season in its regular-season finale by Kent State.
Kent State's win over Akron in the regular-season finale made it 70-67 all- time versus the Zips.
The Zips will need their talented frontcourt to take over from here on out. Senior center Zeke Marshall is one of the top mid-major centers in the nation as he produces 13.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game. Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell nets 11.2 points and 7.7 boards per tilt. With Abreu out, Carmelo Betancourt becomes the most important player in the backcourt for Akron.
The Zips may be able to get past Kent State, but they will struggle to win the tournament without Abreu. The unfortunate situation will be very difficult to overcome for Drambot's unit, which was unable to keep Kent State at bay on its senior night very recently.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kent State 70, Akron 66
03/15 10:32:13 ET