Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
We are still building up to the big season tip off on Friday. In the meantime, let’s take a look at another pair of games from the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic regional rounds.
Akron @ Mississippi State – 7:00 PM EST on ESPNU (***)
- Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie are 6’10” and 6’11”, respectively. While Akron sports its own big man in seven-foot center Zeke Marshall, watch for Mississippi State to pound the ball down low in order to open things up on the outside for point guard Dee Bost. Akron was mediocre at defending the two-point shot last year, allowing opponents to shoot 46.1% and was particularly atrocious at keeping teams off the offensive glass (32.7% OR). In the Bulldogs’ opening game against Eastern Kentucky on Monday, Sidney and Moultrie went a combined 8-13 on their two point attempts and MSU shot 56% from inside the arc as a team. A repeat performance like that will put a lot of pressure on the Zip defense.
- For Akron, Sophomore point guard Alex Abreu will need to set the table for the rest of the team, which he did quite well last year as a freshman with an assist rate of 35.9% (3.5 APG) coming off the bench. This year he will be the starting point guard for the Zips. Abreu will be feeding the ball to UMBC transfer Chauncey Gilliam and last season’s leading scorer, Nikola Cvetinovic (11.7 PPG), early and often. Unfortunately for Keith Dambrot’s squad, Abreu is their only real ballhandler. If he gets into foul trouble and is not on the court, it will be a long night for the Zips. Watch for Bost to put offensive pressure on the sophomore point guard in an effort to draw fouls and get Abreau off the floor.
- The key to this game will be Zeke Marshall’s ability to handle the daunting duo of Sidney and Moultrie on both ends of the floor. Marshall finished the 2010-11 season 19th in the country in blocked shots (2.6 BPG), and although he is certainly a force at 7’0”, managing both Sidney and Moultrie is a tall task, particularly for someone who is foul prone (Marshall fouled out of six games last season). If the Akron big man gets into foul trouble tonight, it will force the defense to collapse on Sidney and Moultrie which opens things up outside for Bost, who finished 4-8 from behind the arc against Eastern Kentucky. Mississippi State may simply have too many weapons for the Zips.