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MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Preview: #12 Northern Illinois Huskies vs. #5 Kent State Golden Flashes

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The Huskies and Flashes will face off for the chance to go to Cleveland.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kent State and UCLA Bruins Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Northern Illinois Huskies (13-18), the lowest seed in the MAC tournament, will travel to Kent, Ohio for a match up with the #5 seed, the Kent State Golden Flashes (15-16).

NIU comes in to the tourney with a 6-12 MAC record and has lost eight of their last 11 games but did win their season finale against the Ball State Cardinals on Friday night. Kent State struggled a few weeks ago but ended the season winning three of their last five games.

In their only meeting during the regular season, on January 2nd, the Huskies used a 25-8 run in the second half to down the Golden Flashes 75-61.

The winner of this game will move on Cleveland and will take on Ball State in the Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday afternoon.


Game Details

  • When: Monday, March 5th at 7 p.m. (6 p.m. Central time)
  • Where: MAC Center - Kent, Ohio
  • Watch: ESPN3 and the WatchESPN App
  • Line: Kent State -6.5

Players to Watch

Levi Bradley, G, NIU - Bradley leads the Huskies in rebounding, with 5.5 per game, and is second in scoring, with 14.5 points per game. He’s really stepped up lately and in the last two games he’s snagged 26 rebounds and scored 32 points.

Eugene German, G, NIU - German is the MAC’s leading scorer, netting an average of 20.9 points per game, and has really been one of the few bright spots for the Huskies this season. The Huskies will be relying on him if they want to see the second round.

Adonis De La Rosa, C, KSU - De La Rosa leads the Golden Flashes in rebounds (7.5 per game) and shooting percentage (56.3%) and is third on the team in points per game (11.9). Look for the 7’ center to be a force down low and cause a lot of problems for the Huskies.

Jaylin Walker, G, KSU - Walker leads the Kent State in scoring, with 17 points per game, and has scored double-digits in 15 straight games, with 15+ points in 11 of those games . His 3.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game are both third best on the team.


Prediction

The Huskies might be 1-0 against Kent State this season but this game will certainly have a different feel and be a real battle. The Golden Flashes have more depth than the Huskies and have a stronger defense. But NIU is the better shooting team and forces more turnovers.

It will come down to whether German gets any help on offense at all, especially from Bradley. In games when German and Bradley each score 15+ points, NIU is 7-2 so for the Huskies to get to the next round, both will need to play well.

For Kent State, all they need to do is get the ball down low to the big man, De La Rosa. The Kent State center has at least 3” on any starting Huskie player (NIU does have two seven footers on their roster but they both average less than 7 minutes per game).

Look for the Golden Flashes to wear down the Huskies with offensive rebounds and lots of second chance points. KSU will start to pull away in the second half, sending NIU home for the year and Kent State to Cleveland for a match-up with the Cardinals of Ball State.

NIU Huskies - 67
Kent State Golden Flashes - 81