The MAC season begins

The Flashes open their league season at 2 p.m. today against Central Michigan, the team that was the overwhelming re-season choice to win the MAC West and tournament. The game is at the MACC.

The Chippewas have only a 5-6 record, but look whom they have lost to:

  • Kentucky, which is 11-2 and ranked 11th in the country. CMU lost 71-66 in Mount Pleasant.
  • South Carolina, which is 12-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country. That score was 80-45.
  • Minnesota, which is 13-1. CMU lost 67-64 in a holiday tournament in Minneapolis.
  • Dayton, which is 9-3 and has the No 3 RPI ranking in the country, according to RealTimeRPI. CMU played the Flyers twice, losing by 10 in Dayton and nine at home.

Central Michigan has beaten Richmond (8-4 and a 106 RPI) and Oregon (7-4 and a 207 RPI).

Overall, RealTimeRPI says Central Michigan’s Schedule Strength has been 19th toughest in the country. Its RPI, despite a losing record, is 93, third highest in the MAC. (Akron, which is 10-1, is highest at 63. Toledo, which is 7-4, is 64th.)

Central Michigan has 6-foot wing Chrystal Bradford, last year’s MAC player of the year and defensive player of the year. The senior wing averages 20.9 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.

The Chippewas won’t have second leading scorer Jessica Green. The senior guard suffered a knee injury against Dayton and is out indefinitely. Another starter, sophomore starting forward Jewel Cotton, had a season-ending knee injury in late November. But the Chipps have two other senior starters in 5-10 guard Kerby Tamm and 6-2 forward Jas’mine Bracey.

Kent State is 2-9, and its performance has been roughly comparable to last year’s team, which was 3-8 in its non-conference schedule. Its schedule has been tougher, if only because the Flashes have had only three home games.

Coach Danny O’Banion says she’s hopeful about getting starting point guard Mikell Chinn back for Saturday’s game. Chinn, who suffered a concussion during Kent State’s holiday tournament in California, is still called “day to day,” though. Chinn averages only one point a game, but she was leading the MAC in assists when she was injured. Without her, Kent State has only one true point guard, freshman Naddiyah Cross, and has had ball handling problems late in several close games.

Kent team statistics have been somewhat better than last year’s. It is averaging about a point more per game (55.7)and giving up two points less. Its shooting about 40 percent from the field, about 2 percentage points better than last year. At 31.5 percent, its three-point shooting is about 3 percentage points better. Its opponents are shooting about the same.

Kent State has a plus-four rebounding average this year; last year was about even. At minus-4.8, its turnover margin is identical.

The Flashes’ problem in the conference is that the MAC is probably better. Last year KSU tied for fourth in the East with Ohio and Miami. This year Miami is 9-2, the second best record in the conference. (Miami is 3-8.) Last year KSU beat Miami in Kent and Ohio in Athens, and beat Ball State at home and Western Michigan on the road.

The Flashes play Ball State, which is 4-7, only on the road this year. They do play Northern Illinois, which is 4-6, home and away. Besides Central Michigan, KSU also plays MAC West opponents Eastern Michigan (7-3) and Western Michigan (7-4) at home. Here are MAC records.

Audio of today’s game is on the Golden Flash iHeart Radio. Video and Live Stats are through the KSU website.

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