Arrest of starting point guard threatens Akron’s NCAA tourney hopes

Jeff Eisenberg

If MAC champion Akron is going to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning its league tournament next week, the Zips may have to do it without the services of their starting point guard.

Five-foot-10 junior Alex Abreu has been suspended indefinitely after Akron police arrested him late Thursday afternoon on marijuana trafficking charges, reported. The Puerto Rico native had played a key role in Akron's 24-5 record this season, averaging 10.3 points and a team-high 6.0 assists per game this season

The timing of Abreu's arrest could not be worse for an Akron team hoping to make the NCAA tournament for the third time in five years under coach Keith Dambrot.

On Friday, Akron hosts Kent State in their regular season finale, needing a win to ensure it doesn't have to share the MAC crown with rival Ohio. Then next Friday, the Zips begin conference tournament play in Cleveland knowing they'll need to win that title to avoid having to rely on the selection committee overlooking the fact that their lone top 50 RPI win came against Middle Tennessee.

Akron's chances of overcoming rival Ohio (22-8, 13-2) without Abreu aren't particularly promising. The Zips have beaten the Bobcats twice this season, but Abreu is one of the team's most important players because of his ability to set up the offense, score himself and create for his teammates.

Behind Abreu, Akron doesn't have a lot of proven options. Neither backup Carmelo Betancourt nor sophomore Deji Ibitayo has shown Abreu’s ability to make consistently smart decisions with the basketball in their hands.