Meet the Zips

An early look at Notre Dame's first round foe and MAC Tournament champions, the Akron Zips.

Irish Eyes will have its full game preview, as well as the Notre Dame Player Capsules later this week. Below is a look at the key numbers for Friday afternoon's matchup between the Irish and the Zips.

By the numbers

Akron relies heavily on the three-point shot, gleaning 33.8% of its offense from long range (42nd in the nation). The Zips shoot better than 70 percent as a team from the foul line, though only 18.5% of their total points arrived at the charity stripe (296th nationally). Conversely, Notre Dame scores 23.3% of its points from the foul line while allowing opponents just 16.3% of their points per game on the freebies from 15-feet (No. 16 in the nation).

The Zips ranks 157th in offensive efficiency according to Kenpom.com (Notre Dame is No. 3), and 103rd in defensive efficiency (Notre Dame is No. 62, the lowest total among the top eight seeds).

#2 seed Notre Dame vs. #15 seed Akron

Notre Dame (26-6/Second Place) – Winners of 12 of their last 14 contests, the Irish are now 4-2 in neutral site games (5-4 on the road) after a Big East semi-finals loss to Louisville in overtime last Friday. The Irish have lost just two games (West Virginia and Louisville) since January 16.
Akron (23-12/9-7) – Won the MAC tournament championship with a one-point overtime victory over regular season champ Kent State to earn an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament.

Tip-off: approximately 1:40 PM (EST) TBS

Series history: Notre Dame leads 2-0 with an 80-45 victory in 1983, and a 65-54 win over the Zips in 1995. Both games were played in South Bend.

Most recent NCAA appearance: #6 seed Notre Dame lost 51-50 to #11 seed Old Dominion in the first round last season. #13 seed Akron dropped a 77-64 decision to #4 seed Gonzaga in March 2009. The Zips led the Bulldogs 38-35 at intermission.

Like opponents: None

Quality Wins/Near Misses: Notre Dame – The Irish defeated Georgia, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Georgetown, Connecticut, St. John's, Marquette, at Pittsburgh, Louisville, Villanova, at Connecticut, and two vs. Cincinnati including a Big East quarterfinal win last week. Notre Dame's only close loss was an 83-77 overtime defeat vs. Louisville in the conference semi-finals.

Akron – The Zips defeated MAC regular season champion Kent State, 66-65 in overtime to win the conference tournament and earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Field of 68. Akron, who had previously split two games with Kent State during the regular season, also beat NCAA automatic qualifier Arkansas Little Rock in late December, 75-61.

Akron lost to NCAA Tournament qualifier Temple, 82-47, in mid-December, and to 22-game winner Dayton, 76-68, earlier that month. The Zips lost by eight points at both Miami and Minnesota in non-conference play.

Quote to Note: "You don't have to beat them nine out of 10 times, you only have to beat them one out of 10 times, right? We only have to play one great game and they have to have one miserable game, and we can get a win. That doesn't mean we're better than them, but maybe we're better than them on a particular night." – Akron head coach Keith Dambrot on the matchup with the Irish.

Point Spread: Notre Dame -13.5

Winner will face: The winner of the 7/10 matchup between #7 Texas A&M (24-8/10-6 Big 12) and #10 Florida State (21-10/11-5 ACC).

An Akron native, graduate, and former four-year baseball letterman, Zips head coach Keith Dambrot coached current Miami Heat star LeBron James at St. Vincent-St. Mary's high school in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, leading the Irish to records of 27-0 and 26-1 in State Championship seasons. (Dambrot coached James during his freshman and sophomore year).


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