Two of the highest-scoring offenses in the MAC will meet tonight in Ypsilanti as the Eastern Michigan Eagles will host the Akron Zips. We’ll preview the game before going over my best play for the action.
With six conference games remaining, the Akron Zips sit in 4th place in the MAC and can move up even higher if they get back on track. The Zips had won eight straight games before dropping their last two and bringing their conference record to 9-3.
Defense has been a significant strength of the Zips this season, and their 102.2 defensive efficiency rating on KenPom ranks 111th in the country; however, their defensive presence has been nonexistent over their last two games. Akron held nine of their first ten conference opponents to 70 points or less, but in the past two games, they have allowed 84 and 90 points.
In their most recent loss to the Ohio Bobcats, the Zips' defense wasted a 34-point performance from their leading scorer Xavier Castaneda. The senior has averaged 24.5 points per game over the last ten games, which sets up an exciting match-up between two of the conference's best scorers, as Emoni Bates is averaging 20.5 PPG this season.
Akron’s defense did an impressive job against Bates in the first meeting between these two teams, as they held him to just three points while beating the Eagles 104-67. Bates will enter tonight fresh off his worst game since the last time these teams met, so the question is whether Bates or the Zips' defense will be the side that gets back on track tonight.
Despite being 3-9 in conference play, the Eagles possess some impressive scorers. Aside from Bates, the Duquesne transfer Tyson Acuff has scored 35 and 36 points in back-to-back games and is averaging 18.8 points per game over the last ten games. Unfortunately for the Eagles, it is hard to win without consistency on both ends of the floor, which they have not had all season.
The point total in this game is currently listed at 146.5, and I’ll be taking the over as my play in this one. The over is 4-0 in the last four games Akron has played following an ATS loss, and with the way both defenses are playing right now, that trend looks like it will continue tonight.
Akron will enter tonight after scoring 81 or more points for the third time in the past five games, and now they will face an Eastern Michigan team that ranks 346th in the country in defensive efficiency rating, according to KenPom. Opponents are averaging 82.5 points per game this season against the Eagles while shooting 48.7% from the field, which has them ranked 359th and 353rd, respectively, in those categories. This bodes well for Castaneda and the rest of the Zips' offense that just shot 51% from the field in their last game.
Eastern Michigan also runs at the 51st fastest tempo in the country, which leads to them averaging 59.8 field goal attempts per game. If the Zips don’t figure things out on the defensive end, the trio of Bates, Acuff, and Noah Farrakhan will expose them and cause this to be a high-scoring game, just like the last meeting between both sides was.