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2021 Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Preview: #5 Ohio Bobcats vs #4 Kent State Golden Flashes

The second game of the MAC Tournament features two of the most evenly matched teams.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The second game of the 2021 MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off Thursday afternoon in Cleveland, Ohio. In what should be a real tight contest, the fifth seeded Ohio Bobcats take on Kent State, the four seed.


#5 Ohio Bobcats (13-7, 9-5 MAC) vs #4 Kent State Golden Flashes (15-7, 12-6 MAC)

Game Info:
When: Thursday, March 11th at 1:30 p.m. EST
Watch: ESPN+
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — Cleveland, OH
Odds: Kent State has a 52.2% chance to win according to ESPN’s BPI predictor

These two teams were slated to meet March 2nd but Ohio had to cancel their last two games due to COVID concerns. The last time the Bobcats took the floor it was a 20-point blowout loss to Buffalo back on February 27th. Before that loss though, they had won six straight games.

Kent State has gone 7-3 over their last ten games but four of those wins came against the four MAC teams that failed to make the tournament (CMU, EMU, NIU, and WMU).

Ohio Quick Facts:
Points scored: 80.2
Points allowed: 73.7
Rebounds (Off/Def): 34.5 (9.6/24.9)
Assists: 18.1 (5th in the NCAA)
MAC Tournament Championships (last year won): 6 (2012)

Kent State Quick Facts:
Points scored: 77.3
Points allowed: 70.5
Rebounds (Off/Def): 39.7 (12.9/28.6)
Assists: 14.5
MAC Tournament Championships (last year won): 6 (2017)


MAC Tournament History

The Flashes and Bobcats are tied for second when it comes to MAC titles. They both sit behind the Ball State Cardinals, who have won the MAC Tournament a record seven times.

Ohio last won back in 2012, when they made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, eventually losing to the #1-seed North Carolina Tar Heels. They also claimed titles in 2010, 2005, 1994, 1985, and 1983.

Kent State most recently won the MAC tourney in 2017, but also has titles from 2008, 2006, 2002, 2001, and 1999. The 2002 KSU team was a 10-seed and made it all the way to the Elite Eight, beating Oklahoma State, Alabama, and Pitt in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Indiana.


Players to Watch

The Bobcats

Jason Preston and Dwight Wilson III are the go-to guys for the Bobcats, doing it all. Preston, a junior guard, leads the team in points (15.4), assists (7.6), and minutes (34.0). He’s also second on the team in rebounding with 7.2 per game (trailing just Wilson III) and is shooting 36.2% from behind the arc.

Senior forward Dwight Wilson III is nipping at Preston’s heels, with 15.2 points per game but he pulls down the most rebounds, with 7.3 per game, and is shooting the best on the team, scoring on 69.2% of his shots.

Forwards Ben Vander Plas and Ben Roderick are also a formidable duo. They combine for 24.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.

The Flashes

Danny Pippen is the main threat on Kent State. The senior forward is third in the MAC in scoring, dropping 19.3 points per game, and leads the team in points, rebounds (8.7), and blocks (1.3). He also has just under three assists per game and shoots 40% from the field and 80.6% from the charity stripe.

With Mike Nuga absent since February, the only other KSU player averaging more than 10 points per game is Tervell Beck. Beck, a senior forward, nets 11.4 points per game in addition to 4.9 rebounds and a 56% field goal percentage.

Guards Malique Jacobs and Giovanni Santiago are both close to double digit scoring (9.7 and 9.4 PPG, respectively) and add a combined eight rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.


Prediction

Preston and Wilson III are able to sneak past Danny Pippen. In a very close and tightly contested game, the Bobcats find a way to win it late.

#5 Ohio Bobcats - 78
#4 Kent State Golden Flashes - 74