West Virginia basketball opens its 2019 regular season Friday night with a matchup against the Akron Zips. Akron is coming off a 17-16 season in 2018, and they are projected to finish fifth in their division of the Mid-American Conference.
Of course, current Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins was the head man at Akron for five years, leading them to a 97-46 record.
Akron won their season opener against Malone University 81-64. The Zips dominated Malone on the boards, hauling in 41 rebounds. They also forced Malone to commit 15 turnovers.
Before the Mountaineers take on the Zips, check out our preview for game one of the Mountaineers’ season.
Where and when: 7 p.m. ET at the WVU Coliseum. AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh will televise the game.
Matchup to watch: The biggest matchup to watch in this game is who will win the battle on the boards. Like I mentioned before, Akron was very impressive on the boards in their first game, granted it was against Malone University. Last season West Virginia was atrocious in the rebounding department, and that needs to change this year. With Oscar Tshiebwe now in the fold, West Virginia figures to be a much better rebounding team, they will have to show that Friday night. Whichever team wins the rebounding battle likely will win this game.
Players to watch: Akron – #4 TYLER CHEESE WVU – Jordan McCabe
For Akron, Tyler Cheese is by far the most talented player on their roster. The Senior guard averaged 11 points, 3 assists, and five rebounds a game in the 2018 season. In the Zips first game against Malone, Cheese scored 15 points, shot 6-11 from the field, and recorded three assists to zero turnovers. He will be the key to the Zips’ offense on Friday.
For West Virginia, Jordan McCabe will be the X-factor to their entire season. The sophomore guard had an impressive freshman season in 2018, but this year he will take up a bigger role. McCabe will start at guard on Friday, and he will be the catalyst for the Mountaineers’ offense. If he can pass the ball and score the way he is capable of, this could be a blowout.
Game Prediction: West Virginia 80 Akron Zips 71
I think the Mountainers walk away with a win in their opener Friday night. Jordan McCabe and Oscar Tshiebwe will lead the offense, both scoring in double figures, and the defense will play well enough to keep the Zips under 75 points.