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Toledo Rockets vs. Kent State Golden Flashes Preview: A battle of blue and gold

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Want a quick lesson in colors?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Some fanbases and alumni get mad about what others call their official school colors. Toledo has "midnight blue and gold." Michigan has "maize and blue." Kent State has, well, "Kent State blue" and "Kent State gold."

I wish I was making that up.

According to Kent State's Guide to Visual Standards, the official colors of the school are indeed definitely Kent State blue and Kent State gold (that's on page 12). Apparently universities are like crayola, but instead of cool names like macaroni and cheese and cerulean, they choose Kent State gold and Kent State blue. Doesn't the fighting macaroni and cheese and cerulean sound so much better? I think so.

So what does this have to do with basketball? Nothing really. Let's talk some shop.

Kent State comes into the game at a somewhat surprising 3-1 in conference play. Some are not sold yet on the Flashes, as the combined record of the teams they've beaten in conference play is just 2-10. Sure, in this league any win is a good win, especially with how the conference stands now. But, they've yet to play the likes of Buffalo, Akron and Western Michigan.

Jimmy Hall will be the key to how this game ultimately turns out. Usually your star player plays better during games his team wins right? That's not the case with Hall.

In Kent State's five losses, Hall averages 18 points per game. However, in the Flashes' 12 wins, Hall averages 13 points per game. This is important because when Kent State is struggling, they lean on Hall to do everything that his teammates are unable. When Hall's teammates are playing well, though, he doesn't need to be the primary scoring option. If Hall is getting towards the twenty point mark early in the second half, it's likely because his entire team is struggling.

Toledo meanwhile has had some struggles of their own this year. It's surprising to see one of the favorites for the MAC title sitting at 10-7 overall and just 2-2 in MAC play. What's more surprising is that those two losses were to MAC West rivals at Savage Arena. Last year, the Rockets didn't lose a conference game at home. In fact, of Toledo's seven losses last year, all were on the road or at a neutral court.

Where Toledo might have the biggest advantage is at the free throw line. The Rockets are tied for 29th in the nation in free throw shooting percentage at 74 percent. Kent State is tied for 340th in the nation (there are 351 teams) at 62 percent, last in the MAC. The Rockets love getting to the free throw line, and the Flashes' limited depth could get exploited if the starters get into foul trouble. Also, if this becomes a free throw shooting contest at the end of the game, I'll take Toledo in a heartbeat.

It won't be an easy game for either team, but we'll learn if Kent State is for real. For the Rockets, a loss in Kent would really damage their chances of getting a top four seed in the MAC Tournament.