College Basketball: Akron listed among 10 likely Cinderellas

Owning the longest winning streak in the nation, it’s about time the University of Akron Zips earned some national recognition.

Just before the Zips won their 18th straight game (tied for longest in men’s basketball this season) in Friday night’s unfortunate home BracketBuster matchup with North Dakota State, ESPN’s Jordan Brenner listed the team as the 10th most likely Cinderella candidate for March Madness. Brenner’s ranking utilized ESPN’s noted Giant Killer formula which hopes to emphasize key characteristics of mid-major schools that make them likely to upset some major-conference opponent in March.

Akron is now 22-4 overall and a perfect 12-0 in MAC play. Led by senior center Zeke Marshall (12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 65.5% shooting), the team is hoping to make its third NCAA Tournament appearance in five years. They previously lost their first tournament games 77-64 to 4-seed Gonzaga in 2009 and 69-56 to 2-seed Notre Dame in 2011.

Keith Dambrot’s team also could find its way into the tournament as an at-large team. The only way it would be possible is if Akron wins its remaining four regular-season games, advances to the MAC finals (they’ve already clinched a bye until the semifinals), lose in a championship heart-breaker (again, a la 2007, 2010 and 2012), then receive some extraordinary outside help. As of Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology update, the Zips are listed as 13 seed yet only one team outside of the at-large demarcation line.

Next up on UA’s schedule: A rematch in Athens against defending MAC champion Ohio (20-7, 11-1). Akron won 86-72 in the first season matchup at the JAR on Feb. 2. The Bobcats were the clear-cut conference favorite, and only have that one conference loss, yet just got beat badly 81-62 at Belmont in a BracketBuster matchup on Saturday.

[Related: While We’re Waiting… Keith Dambrot’s sensational story]

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Belmont…Schmelmont. As for those 2010 and 2012 heartbreakers…you’re welcome.

    C-Bus Kevin – Ohio University ’05

  • B-bo

    Which should make them not even winning the MAC tourney all the more enjoyable

  • mgbode

    Ohio doesn’t get beaten often, but, when they do, it’s by double-digits.

  • Zips

    Nice article and go zips!

  • Phil

    Loving the MAC love on WFNY.
    Akron is solid, but winning AT Athens is as tough as it gets. As far as the MAC having a shot at an at-large bid? I’ll believe it when I see it but this is definitely the perfect storm. They need 1-2 teams to have stellar seasons and nearly unblemished conference records, then have them lose in the MAC Tourney Final. In the past, Kent/Akron/Miami/Ohio beat up on eachother all season long.
    Ohio is a very good Home/Neutral team. Losing on the road to Belmont when their 3PTers weren’t falling is not surprising.
    Prediction for this week: Ohio wins and people stop talking about Akron…..
    Go Bobcats….gotta love MACtion.
    Ohio University ’05

  • GoZips

    Akron is the only team in the MAC with a chance at an at large. Even if OU beats Akron in Athens they have zero chance at an at large bid. And if OU beats Akron in their place, absolutely nothing will change. It’s still going to be a nail biter at the Q.

  • AkronB&G

    You sound extremely confident about a team that was absolutely handled by Akron earlier this season. I’m not suggesting that Akron will be able to replicate those results Wednesday, but you’re being ridiculous if you think anything is a sure thing in March.

  • AkronB&G

    Have some class in defeat. You guys were absolutely blasted on national TV. Posts such as this support what everyone else in the conference already thinks–OU fans are clowns.

  • Phil

    Agreed 100% Akron is the only team with a shot – I am just happy to see any MAC team with a shot.

    Ohio had a chance with some quality non-conference games on their schedule but they lost them all and a few they shouldn’t have.

    I think a lot changes if Ohio beats Akron. It means Akron has to win out and appear in the championship game at the very least. They don’t have a BIG non conference win. Cleveland could be fun this year!!!

  • B-bo

    I’m just confident in Akron’s ability to disappoint, that all. The MAC tourney is not often kind to favorites.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Apparently you read my playful comment (note the use of the preschool technique of adding “schm” to the name) as BELMONT IS TERRIBLE OHIO UNIVERSITY IS THE BEST EVER. YOU ARE ALL TERRIBLE AND WE ARE THE BEST!!!

    Just having a little fun. Judging by your attempted rebuttal of everyone that is pro OU in this comment section, you could use a bit more humor.

    Finally, I was not aware that ALL MAC fans hate OU fans. If this is true…so be it and I’m glad. It means my team is finally good enough to get hated on. We used to just get pity when I was there with Brian Knorr at the helm of the football team (Phil knows what I’m talking about).

    One last note. OU has performed very well on he national basketball stage over the last 5 to 7 years. That is just a fact, and I won’t apologize for enjoying that.