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 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.
- Akron led the MAC in points per possession at 1.08 per trip, also good for 51st nationally.
- Center Zeke Marshall leads the MAC in field goal percentage, eFG% and true shooting percentage. Nationally, he is 5th, 9th and 13th in those categories.
- Pace-wise, Akron is, like most teams, "faster" than Michigan. The Zips are second in the MAC in possessions per game (67.5 per), good for 139th nationally.