The Akron Zips exploded late last time out against Detroit Mercy and showed what they can do when they get hot from the field. This is a team that loves to shoot the three-pointer, and teams know that if they can slow them down in that aspect, they've got a real chance.
But can the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons do that? They had better raise their defensive game if they intend to keep this Akron team from running away with things.
They'll be the home squad, as this game takes place Wednesday night at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne.
TV: N/A, 7 PM ET LINE: Check Intertops for the latest line
ABOUT AKRON: Things were very tight with Detroit on the weekend, but Akron scored 32 points in the final 10 minutes to pull away with a 71-59 victory. Jimond Ivey, the 6-5 swingman, was superb, hitting ten of his 12 shots, scoring 25 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Daniel Utomi added 13 points to the cause, and Akron (6-2) kept Antoine Davis below his 30-point scoring average. The Zips, as you may know, player rather slow tempo, averaging 18.4 seconds per possession, and what's interesting about the way this offense is configured is that while they shoot 51% of their field-goal attempts beyond the arc, they do not hit a healthy percentage (33%), instead shooting from two-point range at a rate that is sixth best in the country (60.7%). Ivey shoots 55%, leading the team with 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest. The closest thing you'll see to a real shot blocker year is Deng Riak, the 6-10 center who averages 23 minutes per game and 0.8 blocks. They don't use their bench a whole lot, ranking 300 among 353 teams in the allocation of minutes to reserves.
ABOUT PURDUE FORT WAYNE: These members of the Summit League are not scared to play the big boys, although they don't necessarily do too well against them. Fort Wayne has lost to UCLA (96-71) and Ohio State (107-61), and last time out they allowed 13 triples and committed 17 turnovers in a 90-73 loss to UMKC (Missouri-Kansas City). Kason Harrell had 21 points to pace the Mastodons (5-5), while John Konchar added 17. Konchar, a big guard at 6-5, averages 16.4 points per game, shoots 55% from the field, and is a genuine player of the year candidate in the conference. Harrell has made 45% of his three-point attempts. However, Fort Wayne has been very poor from the line, shooting just 58.6%. And they are just awful defense against the triple, surrendering 39.1%, ranking them outside the top 300 in the country. This could be poison against Akron. On the positive side, even though they play at a very swift pace (20th in the country), they are still under the national average as far as turnover percentage is concerned. Coach Jon Coffman is in his fifth year and has a career record of 83-68. He has won 20 or more games in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.
1. Purdue Fort Wayne was 18-15 last season, competing in the Summit League. They scored a big upset over Indiana, beating them by 20 points (92-72). Ultimately they lost to Central Michigan in the College Insider Tournament.
2. Daniel Utomi, Akron's 6-6 forward, has taken 102 field-goal attempts this season, 64 of them from three-point range. He hits 37.5% from there.
3. Akron's uniforms, shoes, and other accessories are licensed under the Nike and Lebron James brands (James originally hails from Akron). They are one of only four programs to have that distinction, the others being Kentucky, Miami of Florida and Ohio State.
PREDICTION: Akron 80, Purdue Fort Wayne 71 Bet Now
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