Both the Kent State Golden Flashes and the Ball State Cardinals have had their ups and downs this season. Kent State made it to Cleveland because of a buzzer beating win over NIU. The Cardinals limped into the bye after losing their last 3 regular season games after winning 5 in a row.
Both teams entered the season with talent, but lost program hall of fame caliber players. The Cardinals have performed better, including some heroic wins. They played an absolutely brutal non-conference schedule. However, the two teams split their regular season match-ups, with the home team winning each.
A match-up I am going to be watching intently on this game is third team all MAC performer Trey Moses against potential superstar Adonis De La Rosa for Kent State. The Golden Flashes’ big man was a huge recruit, but is still raw. Moses has transformed himself from a bit of a project himself to a potent weapon on both sides of the court, always giving 110%.
If Ball State is clicking, I think it’s their game to lose. However, they aren’t always clicking. They have had some real clunkers on the offensive side of the ball, and defensively they are really good at making teams hit their shots, but they are not going to generally overwhelm a team. And that’s where Kent State can make it interesting.
The Golden Flashes have 4 guys averaging in double figures. De La Rosa is shooting 56.85% from the floor. The other 3 are long range bombers, with the best shooting 42% from the floor, but all above 32% from three. The next leading scorer, Danny Pippen is in that same club, scoring 8.1 per. He is hitting 37.5% of his threes.
De La Rosa was solid in both games, however in the loss, Kent got killed on the boards. In the Kent win, the Golden Flashes won the rebounding battle. Another huge factor was the winning team shot a lot better.
While I think Ball State is the better team, and more consistent, they are slumping a bit. I give them the edge in this game, but with the outside shooting nature of both teams, there is really no outcome that would surprise me in this game. High scoring, low scoring, close, a blowout by either team. Nothing.
Tip-off for this game is 2:30 PM on March 8th, and will be available on ESPN3.