Akron has been one of college basketball’s best mid-major stories this year, peeling off 19 wins in a row earlier this season, beating Princeton, and sweeping Ohio. Sure, an early-season loss to Costal Carolina looks awful, but the Zips were competitive against Oklahoma State (lost in OT), beat Penn State, and lost a close one to Detroit.
Akron’s March outlook looked promising – Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency stats rate the Zips highly: Overall (55), offensively (69) and defensively (51). With an experienced starting lineup (one senior, four juniors), Akron figured to be a dangerous 12/13 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Zips even had two players with NCAA Tourney experience – Zeke Marshall and Alex Abreu played in a 2011 first round loss to Notre Dame.
The key word there – had.
Abreu, the team’s starting point guard, was arrested for drug trafficking Thursday. From the Plain-Dealer:
According to Akron Police, narcotics unit detectives arrested Abreu, 21, of East Exchange Street and Austin L. Durgala, 18, of East Dartmore Street in Akron, for trafficking in marijuana and possession of marijuana.
They were charged after detectives seized over 5 pounds of marijuana at Durgala’s residence, the statement said. Abreu and Durgala were booked into the Summit County Jail. They are scheduled for an arraignment hearing in Akron Municipal Court at 9 a.m. today.
And … there goes the season. Abreu has been suspended, he was the team’s only point guard (10.3 ppg, 6.0 apg), and now the MAC conference tournament is a crapshoot. Akron, assuming it survives the conference tournament, probably falls to the 14-line, and becomes an easy first round walkover for Miami, Syracuse or someone of that caliber.
The more likely tourney winner will be Ohio, which is 22-8 and features star point guard DJ Cooper (ask Georgetown fans about him). The Bobcats lost to Akron twice in the regular season, and in the non-conference, beat Richmond handily, but lost to Memphis, Oklahoma, Robert Morris, Winthrop and UMass.