Game Preview Predictions: Akron

Game Information
Western Michigan Broncos (8-5) at Akron Zips (9-4)
Location: Akron, OH
Venue: James A. Rhodes Arena "The JAR"
Capacity: 5,500
Wednesday, January 9 at 7:00 p.m.
All-time series record: Akron leads 22-17
Broadcast Information
Radio: Bronco Radio Network
Announcer: Robin Hook
Stations: WKZO - 96.5 FM: (Flagship) Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan; WMAX - 96.1 FM: Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon; WVIC - 94.1 FM: Lansing, Jackson, Battle Creek
Pre-game: Begins at 6:30 p.m.
Keith Dambrot's record at Akron 193-91 (9th season)
Steve Hawkins' record at Western Michigan: 167-137 (10th season)
Additional Information
- The Broncos are 4-11 all-time against Akron under head coach Steve Hawkins, including seven straight losses in the series.
- Western MIchigan is the only MAC team to have played seven or more games away from home and still have a winning record in 2012-13.
- The Broncos have opened MAC play on the road in six of the 10 seasons under head coach Steve Hawkins, and are 2-4 in MAC openers played on the road during that span.
- The Broncos are 6-3 all-time in MAC openers under head coach Steve Hawkins.
- The Broncos received 19 votes in this week's Mid-Major Top 25 poll.
- Darius Paul leads all freshmen in the MAC in scoring (12.0 ppg) and rebounds (6.7 rpg).
- Shayne Whittington is averaging 18.3 points per game in his last four contests, including 20+ points in two of those four.
- The Bronco bench is averaging 16.5 points per game over the last four games, the best such stretch so far this season.
- Darius Paul recorded his third double-double of the season against North Carolina State, posting 12 points and 10 rebounds.
- Two of Darius Paul's three double-doubles this season came against nationally-ranked foes (#3 Michigan, #23 NC State).
- Shayne Whittington is ranked second in the MAC West and 10th in the conference overall on John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Ratings; teammate Darius Paul rates as fifth and 16th, respectively.
- The Broncos lead the Mid-American Conference in rebounding margin at +8.9
Staff Predictions
Brian Persky: The Zips are one of the deepest teams in the conference. However, losing 6-foot-5 junior forward Chauncey Gilliam is a significant loss for Akron heading into tomorrow's match-up against the Broncos. Gilliam brings offense, experience, and a certain physicality on defense that Akron will now be left without. Particularly, I will be looking to senior Nate Hutcheson to take advantage, although Nick Harney figures not to be much of a drop-off.
This biggest mismatch however will be in the back-court when sophomore point guard Austin Richie and freshman Jared Klein will go up against presumed starter Alex Abreu and Carlos Betancourt. It's just an overall tough match-up for the Broncos to start conference play. I think the Broncos keep it close, but I am not expecting a victory in what will presumably be a rowdy arena.
Score Prediction: Akron 77, WMU 71
David James: Even with Chauncey Gilliam out for the Zips, I don't really like this matchup for WMU. Given that Zeke Marshall creates a big matchup problem inside, the Broncos would need a lot better guard play than they've seen thus far in order to pull off the win on the road.
Frankly, WMU hasn't shown enough of an ability to knock down their shots on the road for me to pick them in this one.
Score Prediction: Akron 75, Western Michigan 69
D.J. Duckett: This will be an early test for WMU. Having to play against the top of the conference in the first 3 games is going to be tough for the Broncos. Darius Paul and Shayne Whittington will need to assert themselves down low and hope that Zeke Marshall doesn't get too many blocks.
Marshall has shown to be a bit foul prone, so I see WMU trying to take the game to him rather than shying away. If they can find a way to run their offense and knock down open looks, I think the Broncos could ride away with the victory.
Score Prediction: Western Michigan 84, Akron 80
Brandon Fitzsimons: Akron overpowers the young Broncos.
Score Prediction: Akron 77, WMU 63
Additional Links WMU vs. Akron: Q & A with Brandon Hickey of Hustle Belt Hawkins talks Akron game ($) Dambrot expects typical hard-nosed, tough WMU team ($)
Akron Athletics: Men's Basketball Opens MAC Title Defense Wednesday vs. Western Michigan
WMU Athletics: Men's Hoops Opens Conference Play at Akron
MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette: In the paint: Sizing up Western Michigan basketball's MAC opener at surging nemesis Akron
MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette: Freshman Darius Paul more 'assassin' than 'Bambi' for Western Michigan basketball team
Hustle Belt: Western Michigan - Akron Preview
Hustle Belt: Chauncey Gilliam Out Two Weeks
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