- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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When Memphis lost at Xavier Tuesday night, ending an 18-game win streak, the team with the longest run in America became Akron.
That's right, the Zips have won 18 in a row entering a key MAC showdown with Ohio, which is just a game back in the league's standings.
This is a tough Zips squad. They got off to a disappointing 4-4 start, with losses at Coastal Carolina in overtime, against Oklahoma State in overtime on a neutral floor, at Creighton and at Detroit. Ever since, Keith Dambrot has done a superb job in leading the MAC frontrunner. You may recognize Dambrot's name; he coached a young man named LeBron James in high school.
If looking for a sleeper team in the big dance, Akron may fill the bill. Remember, last year, the MAC provided a shock city specialist when Ohio knocked off Michigan. The conference has had its share of surprise winners at the big dance over the years, a sure sign that this league deserves a lot more respect.
The Zips have been doing it with defense lately, holding five straight opponents to 62 points or less. This is a team that has found ways to win, and if they win their last four regular season games, they'll set a school record for consecutive wins.
The balanced attack is led by senior center Zeke Marshall. The seven-footer is averaging 12.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. 6-7 forward Demetrius Treadwell is averaging over 10 PPG. That's a nice combination of size up front.
Keep an eye on Akron. This team is hot at the right time and could make some noise come tournament time. This is the kind of season where an unheralded team can win a few games and survive and advance in the big dance ... it is that wide open, baby!