Akron, the No. 1 seed, meets No. 8 Eastern Michigan in a noon contest to get things underway.
Here’s a glance at the matchup (Click Read More) . . .
► As the No. 1 seed, Akron earned a bye and last played Friday at rival Kent State. The Zips posted a 66-56 victory, somewhat avenging a KSU win Feb. 17 that broke an Akron 30-game home streak.
► Akron fans are hoping Friday’s victory over KSU will restore some momentum for UA. The Zips had reeled off 12 straight wins after losing to Gonzaga in early December. Ohio ended that streak, but Akron quickly rebounded with three straight wins.
It was the home loss to Kent State that started a late slide. The Zips lost three of four games before knocking off KSU in the rematch.
► Akron is led by senior center Isaiah Johnson, who was named MAC Player of the Year Wednesday. Johnson (16.2 points, 7.4 rpg) is one of four Zips averaging double figures. Kwan Cheatham Jr., another All-MAC First Team member, averages 11.5 ppg and 7.3 rpg. He is followed by Antino Jackson (11.3 ppg) and Jimond Ivey (10.0 ppg).
► Head coach Keith Dambrot was named MAC Coach of the Year. He also won the award in 2013 and 2016.
About Eastern Michigan:
► The Eagles twice came up short against Akron this season. EMU dropped the first contest (in Akron) 70-63 during UA’s long winning streak. Akron backed up that victory with an 87-76 win in Ypsilanti.
► EMU was somewhat the opposite of Akron this season. The Eagles lost seven straight and 9 of 10 at one point during conference play. However, they have won two of three entering Thursday’s quarterfinals. The one lost was a 60-56 setback at home to Toledo in the regular season finale.
► Eastern edged Northern Illinois in Ypsilanti to escape the MAC tourney first round.
► Sophomore James Thompson (14.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg) was an All-MAC Second Team selection.
► Willie Mangum IV topped EMU scorers with a 15.7 ppg average. Ray Lee (14.7 ppg) and Ty Toney (10.2 ppg) were also in double figures.
► Junior G/F Tim Bond was selected for the All-MAC Defensive Team.