Conference: Mid-American Conference
Coach: Rob Senderoff (Kent State)
Record: 22-14 (10-8 MAC)
Ratings and Rankings:
– Kenpom: 146
– RPI: 155
– AP/USA Today: N/A
Seeding: Kent State went 22-14 on the year. Twelve of those losses came against teams with a RPI of 100 or lower. The Golden Flashes did themselves no favors, and with an RPI of 155 — compared to the RPIs of other one-bid league champions — they might be the lowest-seeded mid-major. NBC Sports latest bracket projection, which had Akron winning the automatic bid, had the Zips slotted as a No. 14 seed. The best they can hope for is that.
Names you need to know: Jimmy Hall, the 6-foot-8 senior forward, is an all-conference first-teamer after averaging a double-double of 18.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He’s really good away from home too. In all but four road games this season, Hall has registered a double-double. Jaylin Walker has had a stellar sophomore season as well, and he’s coming off a 30-point performance in the MAC Tournament title game.
Stats you need to know: Only North Carolina collects more offensive rebounds per game. The Golden Flashes averaged 15 offensive boards per game. Against Akron in the MAC Tournament championship game, Kent State only had five offensive boards, although, no need for second-chance points when you shoot 53 percent from the field.
Big wins, bad losses: The Golden Flashes best win would have to be Texas back in December. But at that point, the Longhorns were 5-6. Kent State has 12 losses against teams with an RPI south of 100.
How’d they get here?: Kent State had to win four games in four days to earn the automatic bid. It started with an overtime win over Central Michigan in a 116-106 shootout with Marcus Keene, the nation’s top scorer. On the following three nights, the Golden Flashes took down Buffalo, Ohio and Akron. All three of those victories were decided by a combined 10 points.
Outlook: The Golden Flashes don’t have the most impressive resume entering the field, but that might have something to do with losing three starters and incorporating a number of transfers this season. While they may be peaking at the right time, is there enough time between know and the start of the first round, whether it be Thursday and Friday, to recover from this physical and emotional run?
How do I know you?: The Elite Eight team from 2002, led by future San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.