A week ago, the Kent State Golden Flashes didn't appear to have the muscle to go up against one of the Mid-American Conference's best teams. But one must keep in mind they have had enough ammunition to beat opponents from two of the nation's most prominent "power" conferences.
That having been said, their task this Saturday is not an easy one, as they face the Eastern Michigan Eagles, who have been on the floor with some of the very best teams in the country, even before the MAC season started.
It's set for high noon at the Convocation Center on the EMU campus in Ypsilanti. MI.
TV: ESPN Plus, Noon ET. LINE: Check Intertops for the latest line
ABOUT THE KENT STATE: When you look at the rebounding numbers for Kent State (12-3 SU, 7-6 ATS) this season, it is perhaps not surprising that they would find themselves being more or less overwhelmed by a team with lots of power on the boards. And that is exactly what happened against Bowling Green, where they lost an 86-64 decision with an inability to slow down the Falcons too much inside the three-point arc. But they nicely came back from that defeat to pin an 88-73 loss on Western Michigan, by holding the Broncos to 13-for-37 in two-point shooting, while nailing 60.5% of those shots themselves. Leading scorer Jaylin Walker had 23 points, and 6-8 junior Philip Whittington had 15 rebounds, with six of them creating extra possessions on offense. He is ranked 22nd in the country in Defensive Rebounding Percentage. Walker, who sat out the very early part of the schedule, is averaging 22.6 points a game. KSU is just below 37% from three-point territory, and that should give them something of an edge over EMU in that regard, as the Eagles are hitting an abysmal 28%. Another advantage is that they take care of the ball better, turning it over only 16.2% of the time compared to 21.7% for Eastern Michigan.
ABOUT EASTERN MICHIGAN: It could have hardly been rougher for the Eagles than it was around the holidays, in terms of the challenges set before them. Just four days past Christmas, they had to go to the Allen Fieldhouse to face Kansas, and they were beaten by an 87-63 score. And then, they had to begin the MAC schedule with the most brutal introduction - against another nationally-ranked team in Buffalo, which waxed them to the tune of 74-58. So, having had those two drubbings behind them, EMU (7-8 SU, 2-9 ATS) took to the floor in Muncie against a team that is expected to be right there in the MAC race all the way to the end, and they came out of it with an 84-82 double-overtime win over Ball State. They did not shoot particularly well but took advantage of the Cardinals missing half their 30 free throws. And they also got some outstanding performances. Elijah Minnie scored 25 points with seven rebounds and had four blocked shots, while James Thompson had 18 points and 19 rebounds, including eleven on the offensive end, which gave the Eagles extra possessions. Thompson's numbers had slipped this season; he is chalking up 10.7 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, while his figures for last season were 14.5 and 11.2, respectively. But the senior out of Baton Rouge has been coming on like a freight train of late; averaging 21.8 points and 15.3 rebounds in his last four, including a 29-point, 14-rebound effort against Kansas, which is currently #7 in the Associated Press poll.
1. In addition to the back-to-back against Kansas and Buffalo, EMU has faced the #1 (Duke) and #25 (TCU) teams in the AP poll, losing by 38 and 18 points, respectively.
2. Unbelievably, Eastern Michigan made 18 of its 24 free throws last time out against Ball State. For the season, they are a horrific 59.9%, which is 345th nationwide (only eight teams are worse).
3. What's been perhaps most impressive about James Thompson's outbursts lately is that he's had 33 offensive rebounds for Eastern Michigan in his last four games, which helped propel him to ninth nationally in Offensive Rebounding Percentage.
PREDICTION: Kent State 72, Eastern Michigan 67 Bet Now
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