Dec. 29, 2011 – Akron, Ohio
2011-12 Record: 7-5 (0-0 MAC)
2011-12 RPI: 135
2010-11 Record: 23-13 (9-7 Mid American Conference)
Guy you’ll want to heckle: Zeke Marshall, 7-0, Jr., F (11.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.9 bpg)
The skinny: In addition to the 6-foot-8 Nikola Cvetinovic (9.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg), Marshall returns to an imposing frontcourt for the Zips, who won the MAC Tournament Championship last season. The Zips eventually put a scare into Notre Dame before falling in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Marshall scored five points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked four shots in that game, but was just 2-of-13 from the floor.
The Zips do own a quality win over a ranked Mississippi State squad, but have fallen short in non-conference tests against top-100 teams Duquesne, Cleveland State, Middle Tennessee State and West Virginia. Statistically speaking, Akron rebounds the ball well (+3.8 rpg) and turns it over in 17.5 percent of its offensive possessions, slightly lower than the national average.
This will also be an emotional match-up for Shaka Smart, who will be facing former mentor Keith Dambrot for the second time in three years. Smart was an assistant on Dambrot’s staff from 2004-06.
About Akron: Founded in 1870, Akron boasts an enrollment of more than 29,000. Akron is regarded as a world leader in polymer research. You learn something new every day.
Fast fact: This contest is the return game from the 2010 ESPNU BracketBusters. These schools once went 38 years between games, but this will be the fourth match-up between VCU and Akron in five seasons. VCU is 5-0 all-time against the Zips. Next year Akron will be moving into the CAA-Midwest Division.
You know who has the No. 9 album in the country right now? Akron’s own Black Keys.