KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES (18-12)
at AKRON ZIPS (24-5)
Tip-off: Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Akron -8.5, Total: 138.5
Two red-hot teams square off in their MAC regular-season finale Friday night when Kent State visits Akron.
The Golden Flashes have come on strong with a 5-1 SU mark (4-1-1 ATS) in their past six MAC games. The Zips have dominated in conference play all season with a 14-1 SU mark (7-7-1 ATS), but starting PG Alex Abreu (6.0 APG) has been suspended indefinitely after being arrested on charges of marijuana trafficking. Abreu has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court on March 22. These teams played a tight game on Jan. 19 at Kent State, which Akron was able to win 71-67 despite trailing by 10 points at halftime. That was the fifth straight win (4-0-1 ATS) for the Zips in this series, but the Flashes are 3-2 ATS (2-3 SU) in their past five trips to Akron.
Can Kent State end its series losing skid against Akron on Friday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Gary is red-hot with a 65% ATS mark (11-6) since Feb. 27 to improve to 55% ATS (98-81-4) for college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Dave is 60% ATS (9-6) since Feb. 28, and is now 52% ATS (154-142-5) for the season. And since Feb. 21, StatFox Brian is 57% ATS (13-10) when he wagers on non-BCS conference games. He also predicted a "15-point romp" in Michigan State's 58-43 win over Wisconsin on Thursday.
Kent State's offense has been clicking during its 6-1 surge, averaging 78.4 PPG and making at least 50% FG in four of the seven games. For the Flashes to stay in this game, they will likely rely on their great long-range accuracy of 37.3% threes, which has increased in non-home games to 38.6%. But when they faced Akron on Jan. 19, KSU made just 35% FG and 6-of-18 threes, and was outrebounded 51-39, allowing the Zips to pull down 22 offensive boards. But three Golden Flashes players scored in double-figures against the Zips. Senior PF Chris Evans (16.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG) led the way with 19 points and seven boards versus Akron, and he has been rolling in his past six games with four double-doubles, averaging 17.2 PPG and 10.5 RPG in the six contests. Guards Kris Brewer (9.4 PPG, 2.9 APG) and Darren Goodson (7.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG) scored 13 and 14 points, respectively, against Akron but combined for just four assists and five turnovers. Brewer enters this game on a shooting slump, averaging just 7.0 PPG on 7-of-22 FG (32%) in his past three contests, but has 5.3 APG during his team's four-game win streak. Goodson has done a great job scoring the basketball during the four-game surge, averaging 11.8 PPG in just 20.8 MPG. But the best guard on the team is senior Randal Holt (14.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG), who has been on a scoring tear during the four straight wins, averaging 19.0 PPG on 50% FG, draining 14-of-22 threes (64%) in the past three contests. But Holt was a dreadful 1-for-11 shooting (0-for-5 threes) in the Jan. 19 loss to Akron.
The Zips don't really have a weakness, as they average 73.7 PPG on 46.3% FG, while allowing just 62.4 PPG on 39.1% FG this season. After shooting just 40.6% FG in last Saturday's stunning loss at Buffalo, the Zips bounced back with a 50% FG clip in a 14-point pounding of Miami-Ohio on Tuesday. Akron features a deep team with 10 players logging at least 11 MPG and four players scoring 9.8 PPG or more. However, one of those players is suspended junior PG Alex Abreu (10.3 PPG), who in addition to being the floor leader, is the club's most accurate three-point shooter (39.4%). Freshman PG Carmelo Betancourt (1.8 PPG, 1.4 APG) will likely start in his place on Friday night, but he is very inexperienced, with just 9.4 MPG this season. But Akron still has plenty of firepower, especially down low with 7-foot senior C Zeke Marshall (12.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.6 BPG) and junior PF Demetrius Treadwell (11.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG). Marshall has averaged 14.7 PPG during a six-game streak of double-figure scoring, and has 3+ blocks in seven straight games (3.9 BPG during span). Marshall dominated the Flashes on Jan. 19 with 17 points, 11 rebounds (8 offensive) and four blocks. Treadwell also had his way inside against KSU with 15 points and 16 rebounds (7 offensive). SF Nick Harney (9.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG) played just 12 minutes that day before fouling out, but has been a valuable offensive player in the past six games with 11.3 PPG.