CLEVELAND – The Akron men's basketball team, winner of two of the last three Mid-American Conference Tournament titles, has been picked to finish second in the MAC East the league office announced in its preseason poll on Wednesday.
The Zips received eight first-place votes and 104 total points in the poll as rival Kent State was tabbed as the favorite in the east with 16 first-place votes and 132 total points. Following the two rivals in the poll were Ohio (94 points), Miami (Ohio) (80 points), Buffalo (62 points) and Bowling Green (32 points).
Akron received six votes to win the FirstEnergy MAC Tournament, second-most to Kent State's 12 votes.
Junior center Zeke Marshall, the reigning MAC Tournament MVP, was named preseason All-MAC. Last season, Marshall set the single-game (9) and single-season (92) blocked shot school records while averaging 8.5 ppg and 4.4 rpg.
In the West, Western Michigan was tabbed as the favorite to win the division with 14 first-place votes and 128 points. The Broncos were followed by Ball State (111 points), Central Michigan (92 points), Toledo (76 points), Northern Illinois (59 points) and Eastern Michigan (38 points).
The Zips open the 2011-12 season on Thursday, Nov. 3, when they play host to John Carroll in the squad's only exhibition game. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Season, mini-plans and single-game tickets are available for the contest and the rest of Akron's home contests. Tickets can be purchased online anytime at GoZips.com/tickets, or from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Mondays through Fridays by either calling 1-888-99-AKRON (25766) or visiting The C.P. and Cornelia S. Chima Athletics Ticket Office at InfoCision Stadium - Summa Field (located at 375 E. Exchange Street, near Gate 1 at the southwest corner of the venue, at the corner of E. Exchange and S. Union streets).
2011-2012 Men's Basketball Preseason All-MAC Teams/Predicted Order of Finish
East Division Preseason All-MAC Team
D.J. Cooper, G, Ohio
Justin Greene, F, Kent State
Zeke Marshall, C, Akron
Julian Mavunga, F, Miami
Javon McCrea, F, Buffalo
West Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Randy Davis, G, Ball State
Jarrod Jones, F, Ball State
Demetrius Ward, F, Western Michigan
Flenard Whitfield, F, Western Michigan
Trey Zeigler, G, Central Michigan
East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Kent State - 132 points (16)
2. Akron - 104 points (8)
3. Ohio - 94 points
4. Miami - 80 points
5. Buffalo - 62 points
6. Bowling Green - 32 points
West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Western Michigan - 128 points (14)
2. Ball State - 111 points (9)
3. Central Michigan - 92 points (1)
4. Toledo - 76 points
5. Northern Illinois - 59 points
6. Eastern Michigan - 38 points
(1st place votes in parentheses)
FirstEnergy MAC Tournament Champion: Kent State (12), Akron (6), Ball State (3), Western Michigan (2), Central Michigan (1).