Akron (Mid-American) at Dayton (Atlantic 10)
U. of Dayton Arena - Dayton, OH
7:00 PM EST
OK, remind me how to do this thing again. There's a premier spotlight game between mid-major schools, lots of exclamation points, and at least two exploratory paragraphs about key storylines and players. Right? It's been so long since we've had a rounded-out slate of weekday games (okay, so it was last Friday), you have to forgive us if we've forgotten how to do this.
Today marks the beginning of 2008 in earnest here in Hoops Nation, with conference play busting out in the Valley, Big West, WAC and CAA. But we're keeping our eye on the UD Arena here at the G!O!T!N! studios, as the splashiest team in the A-14 takes on a squad from the MAC that still doesn't quite know its capabilities
. Dayton (11-1) has had high-profile wins over the Big East's Louisville and Pittsburgh
, but they've also enjoyed a couple of solid victories against good teams from this level -- Miami (Oh.) and Holy Cross, for instance. Even the SportsCenter
set knows who 6-2 senior guard Brian Roberts
is now, with his 19.3 ppg, 50 percent floor shooting and gigantic 31-point, Pitt-sinking, nationally-televised performance last Saturday.
Then there are the Zips (10-2), one of the rare mid-major teams that can buy three early-season victories (N.C. A&T, N.C. Central and Wyoming). They're riding a five-game win streak and have a plus-15 scoring margin in their first dozen games, but a relatively gentle schedule has kept them from making an impact on the RPI (127) and State
(247) charts. There are some key holdovers from last year's 26-7 postseason snubees, like tough senior guard Nick Dials
(12.9 ppg), as well as rebounding machine Jeremiah Wood
(team-leading 14.1 ppg and 9.3 rpg), whose body and concentration are much improved from last year. So how good are they, really? Are they ready for the MAC grind? We just may find out tonight.UD 83, AKR 81 (2OT)