Championship Preview: Akron vs. Buffalo Print E-mail
Written by Dave Ruthenberg   
Saturday, March 14 2009
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ImageThe Mid-American Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament is on the line tonight when MAC East foes Akron and Buffalo square off in the championship game in Cleveland. Get a snapshot preview of tonight's game here.

The Game: (5) Akron (22-12) vs. (3) Buffalo (21-10)
Date: March 14, 2008
Time: 8:00 pm ET
Site: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland
Series: Akron leads 22-17
This season: Jan 13: Buffalo 63, Akron 61; Feb 26: Akron 62, Buffalo 57.
The Road to the Finals:

Regular season: The Zips finished the regular season one game out of first place at 10-6 in the MAC East and were the fifth overall seed heading into the MAC tournament. 

Brett McKnight

Player to Watch: The Zips are led by MAC Report Online 6th Man of the Year, Brett McKnight who tops the team averaging 11.3 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per contest. McKnight has posted double figures in two of the Zips' three tournament games and is averaging 10.1 points in the tournament. 

Sleeper: Guard Steve McNees was red-hot in the Zips' semifinals win over Miami, pouring in 17 points. McNees is a streaky shooter and if he gets hot he could be the difference. Through the first three tournament games McNees is averaging 11 points per game. 

Coach: Keith Dambrot (114-50, 5th year) (222-120, career)
MAC Tournament Record: 8-4

Current RPI: 106
How they got here:
First round: defeated (12)Toledo 93-92, OT
Quarterfinals: defeated (4) Miami 73-63.
Semifinals: defeated (1) Bowling Green, 63-55. 

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME HISTORY: This will be the Zips' third straight trip to the MAC title game but Akron is still seeking its first championship. The Zips lost to Miami 53-52 in 2007 and to Kent State 74-55 in 2008.


Regular Season: The Bulls claimed a share of the MAC East title finishing the regular season with an 11-5 conference mark and entered the tournament as the third overall seed.

Player to Watch: Guard Rodney Pierce has had a career season and earned All-MAC honors after averaging a team-leading 14.6 points per game this season. Pierce was the only Bulls player to average double digits scoring this season. Pierce is averaging 12.5 points per game in the Bulls' first two tournament games.

Rodney Pierce
Photo: Nate Thompson

Sleeper: Forward Max Boudreau has stepped forward in tournament play and leads the Bulls in scoring with an average of 17 points per game, including leading the Bulls in scoring in each of Buffalo's first two tournament contests.

Coach: Reggie Witherspoon (126-169, 10 years) (170-192, career) 
MAC Tournament Record: 7-9
2008-2009 MAC Report Online Coach of the Year
Current RPI: 88
How they got here:
Opening round: bye
Quarterfinals: defeated (6) Kent State, 65-62
Semifinals: defeated (2) Ball State, 64-52 

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME HISTORY: This will be Buffalo's second appearance in the MAC tournament championship game. The Bulls only other appearance in the finals was in 2005 when the Bulls lost in overtime to Ohio, 80-79.

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