#529 Kent State University Golden Flashesvs.#530 Cleveland State University Vikings
Written by Chris Kubala
NCAAB: Saturday, November 12, 2016, Beeghly Center, Youngstown, Ohio, 5 pm ET
Line: Cleveland State -4.5; Over/Under: 140.5
It’s a battle on the hardwood between a pair of schools from the Buckeye State on a neutral floor. The Kent State Golden Flashes are the visitors as they take on the Cleveland State Vikings Saturday afternoon. Cleveland State took five of the last seven meetings between the teams before Kent State claimed a 66-62 road win in the last meeting on December 5, 2015.
Kent State finished at .500 or better for the 18th consecutive season in 2015-16 as they finished the year 19-13. The Golden Flashes were 10-8 in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division but were knocked off 70-69 by Bowling Green in the opening round of the MAC Tournament to end their season. Kent State was solid offensively as they were 155th in the nation in scoring offense with 73.8 points per game. The Golden Flashes shot 44.6 percent from the floor (148th in the nation) as a team this season. Kent State knocked down 5.8 three point field goals per game while draining just 32.8 percent (262nd) from beyond the arc. Jimmy Hall is the leading returning scorer for Kent State. He averaged 16.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
The Golden Flashes were in the middle of the pick defensively as they were 190th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 72.4 points per game. Opposing teams shot 44.4 percent from the floor against the team. Kent State allowed 7.2 three point field goals per game while opponents shot 35.9 percent from beyond the arc. The Golden Flashes are going to have to develop some secondary scoring options to work with Hall. That means Jerrelle DeBerry, Kevin Zabo, Jaylin Walker, Rosel Hurley and others are going to need to step up.
Cleveland State struggled in the 2015-16 campaign as they finished the year just 9-23 overall. The Vikings went only 4-14 in the Horizon League last season. Cleveland State’s season ended with a 65-53 loss to Green Bay in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament. Cleveland State has major issues on the offensive end as they are 346th in the nation in scoring offense with 60.8 points per game. The Vikings are 307th in rebounding with 33.2 boards a night. Cleveland State shoots 40.3 percent (325th in the nation) from the field as a team. The Vikings hit 5.4 threes a night while shooting 32.4 percent (280th) from beyond the arc. Rob Edwards is the Vikings’ leading returning scorer with 12.4 points per game. Demonte Flannigan is the only other player who averaged in double figures with 11.4 points plus 5.4 boards a night.
The Vikings were good on the defensive end of the floor. Cleveland State finished last season 74th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 67.8 points a night. Opposing teams hit 44.4 percent from the floor as a team. Cleveland State allowed an average of 6.3 three pointers a night on 34.1 percent shooting from long range. Kenny Carpenter, Jibri Blount, Anthony Wright and Jamarcus Hairston are going to be looked at to contribute on the offensive end for Cleveland State this season.
Cleveland State is full of young players that are trying to figure out how to adjust to the college level. Edwards led the team in scoring last season as a freshman: he’ll be looked at to contribute even more this season. Kent State has Hall back for his senior season and his scoring, plus his leadership, is critical to the Golden Flashes’ success. I like Kent State’s chances here given how poorly the Vikings played last year. Take the points and the Golden Flashes.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.