With a loaded college basketball schedule slated to be played tomorrow, only 13 games are on the schedule tonight. One of those games will be a MAC conference game between the Kent State Golden Flashes and Ohio Bobcats. We’ll preview the matchup before going over why I’ll be backing the road favorite.
They may just be three games into conference play, but the Kent State Golden Flashes look like the team to beat in the MAC conference. Entering tonight, the Golden Flashes are 3-0 in conference play and 13-3 on the season, with a big reason for their success being their stellar defensive play.
Kent State currently ranks 27 in the country in defensive efficiency on KenPom, with a 93.6 rating. Through 16 games this season, opponents are averaging 62.9 points per game against the Golden Flashes while also shooting only 39.8% from the field. Based on their numbers, they are doing everything at a very high level on that end of the floor, from running shooters off the line to creating an average of 17.1 turnovers per game.
Even with their record, the Golden Flashes could still improve on the offensive end of the floor. The good news for them, though, is that the Ohio Bobcats rank 253rd in points allowed per game and have a defensive efficiency rating of 104.6, which is 211th in the country, according to KenPom.
Despite being favored in all three conference games they’ve played so far, the Bobcats are 1-2 in conference play, with their defense being the primary reason for the slow start. The Bobcats struggle to force turnovers and limit three-point shooting, as opponents’ are shooting 35.1% from three against them this season.
Offensively sophomore big man Dwight Wilson III has led the Bobcats in scoring and rebounds and enters tonight off two straight double-double performances. Another one of the Bobcats' double-figure scorers, Jaylin Hunter, is coming off one of his best shooting performances of the season. Ohio will need them to carry that momentum into tonight if they want to hang with the Golden Flashes.
Kent State can currently be found as -4.5 point road favorites, and I’ll be backing them as my best play for the game. The Bobcats rely heavily on their 37.3% three-point percentage and an average of 8.4 made three’s a game, but the Golden Flashes have done a great job all season, especially recently, at limiting their opponents’ from deep. In their last game, Kent State held Toledo to just 26% from behind the arc.
Offensively, the Golden Flashes' leading scorer Sincere Carry has a great opportunity against this Ohio defense to continue his impressive scoring. Carry has scored 21 and 31 points in the last two conference games, and with the Bobcats' lack of defensive pressure, the senior should be able to get whatever he wants on that end of the floor.
Kent State is 17-4 ATS in the last 21 games in which they covered the game beforehand, and overall this season, they are 11-3 ATS. I think the Golden Flashes' defense will limit the Bobcats enough for them to win and cover this game.
Kent State (-4.5)