Looking Ahead: A Quick Look at the Akron Zips

USA TODAY Sports

A quick look at a potential second round (or third, or 84th, whatever they call it now) opponent, the Akron Zips.

The Wolverines are set to take the floor in Auburn Hills against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits this Thursday, and the blogosphere has already gotten to previewin'. So, with a couple of days to go yet, we might as well look ahead to the other side of the pod.*

*No, Guy On The Internet, it does not matter if we "look ahead." You are a fan, and your thoughts are not space-time-continuum-altering mind bullets.

With that said, let's take a brief, introductory look at the Akron Zips, the 12-seed in Michigan's region. The Zips will take on VCU at 9:45 ET on Thursday, so if Michigan makes it past SDSU then we will know who the next opponent will be relatively soon thereafter.

The Resume

The Zips finished the season 26-6 (14-2) in the MAC, beating the Ohio Bobcats (yes, them) to end the season, 65-46, to win the MAC title. Wolverine-killer D.J. Cooper went 0/8 from the field (0/6 from three) for the Bobcats, scoring just three points. The Zips actually trailed at the half, making the victory even more impressive.

Meanwhile, Akron had four front court guys hit double-digits in points, with forwards Chauncey Gilliam and Demetrius Treadwell leading the way with 13 points apiece on a combined 11/20 mark from the field. Needless to say, it was a smashing victory against an Ohio squad that took North Carolina to overtime last season for a spot in the Elite 8. Ohio appears to be pretty good once again, and Akron just dismantled them.

Akron's six losses came against: Coastal Carolina on Nov. 9, an overtime loss against 5-seed Oklahoma State in Puerto Rico, at Creighton, at Detroit, at Buffalo and, most recently at home against the MAC East's third best team, behind (Akron and Ohio), Kent State.

As far as common opponents go:

  • Cleveland State--Akron beat them by 30, Michigan beat them by 30.
  • Western Michigan--Akron won its only meeting, 65-43, on Jan. 9. Michigan dispatched the Broncoes with ease, 73-41, way back on Dec. 4.
  • Penn State--Well, we know how Michigan did against the surprisingly gritty Nittany Lions. Akron beat Penn State by 25, also in Puerto Rico.
Personnel
Seven-footer Zeke Marshall paces the Zips with 13.0 ppg and 7.1 rpg. Insert standard grumbling about Michigan not being able to handle size.

Six foot seven inch junior forward Demetrius Treadwell pitches in 11.4 ppg and 7.9 rpg, and has notched double-doubles in his last three outings. Throw in Nick Harney's 9.7 ppg and you have a pretty solid front count there.

Unfortunately for Akron, point guard Alex Abreu was arrested and did not play in the Zips' last three contests. I would've liked Trey Burke's chances against a 5'10'' guy anyway, but moving down the depth chart at the point would make this even more of a mismatch. Abreu was Akron's deadliest three-point shooter, hitting at a 39% clip on the second-most attempts.

The Zips have won without Abreu, even dismantling Ohio, but will they have enough to win a game in the Big Dance without him? You never know, but it seems unlikely.

Miscellaneous Stats
Rough Assessment

The Zips don't shoot the three exceptionally well (33.7%, 4th in the MAC, 185th nationally), but if they do get by VCU then you might have to worry about Michigan's chances of checking what seems to be a solid front court. On a simpler level, Michigan should worry if Akron moves on, period, because VCU is a pretty good squad in its own right.

Of course, here is where I'll make the obligatory reference to last year's Ohio game. Did you know that Akron is also a small MAC team from Ohio, and that Michigan is once again a 4-seed this year? Well, it's true. I bet you didn't know those things, kind of like you probably didn't know that Denard doesn't tie his shoes and Tommy Zbikowski was a boxer.

Either way, this is nothing more than a cursory look at this team; a more comprehensive one should follow, assuming Michigan and Akron both advance. On paper, it's hard to imagine Akron getting by VCU without Abreu, but, then again...it is March.
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