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NIT Preview: Akron @ Temple

The MAC is represented by two teams in the NIT this year, Akron and Miami. The 8th seeded Akron Zips (22-9, 14-4 tied for 2nd in the MAC) travel to Philadelphia to take on 7th seeded Temple Owls (17-14, 8-8) out of the Atlantic 10 Conference. The game presents interesting match-ups because Temple wants to slow down and “uglify” the game, meanwhile Akron wants to speed up tempo and get into a more high-paced game. Whoever is able to impose their will on the game may be the one that advances to play Creighton on Thursday.

 

#7 Temple vs. #8 Akron

Coming into Tuesday’s game, a basketball game might not be in the forefront of all Temple fans minds. Their Opening Round NIT Match up comes only one day after Hall of Fame head coach John Chaney announced his retirement. Temple can go two ways with this; they can either give an all out effort and “try and win one for coach” or they can come out flat.

Temple is all about hanging onto the ball. They lead the nation in least amount of turnovers per game, and they shoot tremendously at home. However, sometimes the team falls too much in love with jump shots, and they do not attack this basket enough.

On offense, Temple is led by NBA prospect Mardy Collins. Collins averages 16 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. The inside game for the Owls is led by forwards Antywane Robinson and Mark Tyndale, and Temple would be wise to attack down low early and often. The key player for Temple is guard Dustin Salisbury; if Salisbury scores over 15 points look for Temple to get the win.

 

Temple’s Keys to Victory

  1. Slow down tempo
  2. Go inside
  3. Take care of the ball

Akron and Temple may be polar opposites. Temple struggles with depth; meanwhile Akron has six players averaging 8 points per game or more. Temple wants to slow down, Akron wants to run.



Zips’ Keys to Victory

  1. Run, run, run
  2. Control Collins
  3. Wear down Temple

Akron is led by former LeBron James teammate Romeo Travis. Travis averages 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Guards Dru Joyce and Nick Dials both average over 10 points per game, with Joyce dishing out 5 assists per game. If Joyce and Dials can contain Collins, Akron has a great chance of leaving Philly with a win. Akron needs to push the ball all game long. Temple only goes 7 deep, and 4 players average over 30 minutes per game. The combination of running with Joyce and Dials, and going inside to Travis could turn out to be deadly for Temple.

 

Final Thoughts
After Coach Chaney's announcing his resignation on Monday, I would expect Temple will come out and play with heart and passion early. However, I only think that can take them so far. Akron’s depth will wear down Temple, and in the end Akron will pull away. An early indicator will be who is controlling the tempo. If it is a low scoring, low paced game early then look for Temple to win, but if it is high tempo early Akron will win.



My Prediction:
Akron 76, Temple 64

 

By Nick Burzych, VanDelaySports.com Staff Writer

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