Intro: The Akron Zips locked down an automatic 2011 NCAA Tournament bid by winning the MAC over Kent State in overtime. They’ve made their name with good ball movement and decent defense for the most part, looking to make up for their weakness on the boards. The Zips have now made the NCAA Tournament three times, twice in the past two years of coach Keith Dambrot’s regime.
Record: 23-11, 12-4 MAC
RPI: .534 (108)
Key wins: Though their best out-of-conference win came on Dec. 1 against RPI top-150 Detroit, beating Bethune-Cookman, a top-200 RPI team, set the Zips up to fall just eight points short of Miami in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic. Akron’s crowning achievements, however, were a pair of wins against RPI No. 78 Kent State.
Key losses: An 83-74 loss to RPI No. 317 NIU hasn’t impressed anybody, but an eight-point Dec. 15 road loss against Minnesota, then ranked No. 20 in the country, was a nice preview of Akron’s eventual postseason success.
Player(s) to watch: Nikola Cvetinovic leads the Zips in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 11.9 and 7 per game plus a couple of assists. The six-foot-eight junior forward from Serbia didn’t have a dominant MAC tournament as far as scoring goes, but senior forward Brett McKnight has taken over some front court offensive production, posting double figures in eight of his last nine.
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