The team on the plane before leaving for flight to Ball State. (Photo from team Twitter feed.)
After losing two games in a row to the MAC’s best teams, Kent State gets a less high-powered opponent on Wednesday.
The Flashes travel to Ball State, which has the worst overall record in the league and is tied for 10th at the MAV at 1-4.
Kent State 10-6, 3-2 in the MAC and last week most to Ohio and Central Michigan. Both games were decided by less than 10 points, and the Flashes certainly showed they could compete with top-ranked MAC teams.
KSU is in a four-way tie for fourth in the league behind CMU, Ohio and Buffalo, which are tied for first at 4-1.
Ball State has beaten only last-place Bowling Green. They’ve lost to Buffalo, Ohio, Toledo and Miami, all among the league’s better teams. On Saturday Ball State lost at Miami 60-57. Miami is 12-4 but has a higher RPI (97) than Kent State (76).
Ball State’s RPI is 188 of 351 teams, third worst in the MAC. The RPI ranks teams based on their record and strength of schedule. It was was once heavily in deciding seedings for the NCAA tournament but has fallen somewhat out of favor. The selection committee now looks more at a team’s record and “quality wins” over high-ranking teams.
BSU was the league’s third-best team last year, lost a couple of good seniors to graduation and was battered by the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule, which allows students who have completed their degrees to be immediately eligible at another school. Other transfers have to sit out a year.
Ball State lost Carmen Grande, the MAC’s assist leader last season and one of the best point guards in the league, to Ohio State, where she’s a starter. The Cardinals lost Destiny Washington, their best retuning forward, to Florida Gulf Coast, where she is also starts.
“They lost arguably more than anybody in the league from last year,” Kent State coach Todd Starkey said after the Central Michigan game. “They’re solid. There’s no easy game in this way. I don’t care what record you look at.
“We’re going to have to show up for every single game. Everybody obviously still has a shot at first, but we could also finish last. It’s that tight in the league.”
The Cardinals’ lineup now consists of two sophomores, a freshman and two seniors. Leading scorer is sophomore forward Oshlynn Brown, who averages 13.7 points and 9.1 rebounds. Second is senior guard Jasmin Sanz, who averages 10.3 points.
Kent State got 23 points from Megan Carter and 19 from Asiah Dingle in its 82-75 loss to Central Michigan Saturday. They are KSU’s leading scorers on the season; Carter averages 15.8 points per game, Dingle 13.7. Merissa Barber-Smith is KSU’s top rebounder at 6.9 per game. She made her sixth start of the year against Central, probably because CMU is a strong rebounding team. We may see junior Ali Poole back as a starter Wednesday.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Ball State certainly is not as good as Central or Ohio and statistically isn’t as good as any of the three league teams KSU has beaten. Common opponents in the MAC are Ohio and Toledo. KSU lost 83-81 in at OU, Ball State lost to the Bobcats 90-75 at home. Kent beat Toledo at Toledo 57-48. Toledo beat Ball State 65-58 in Toledo. Home court advantage helps the Cardinals; they average about 1,600 fans per game. But if the Flashes can beat Toledo at Toledo, they should have a solid shot at beating Ball State.
To follow the game
The game starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the John E. Worthen Arena at Ball State. It’s about a four-and-a-half hour drive from Kent. Here are directions from Google maps. Tickets are $7 and $10.
Audio starts at about 6:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. David Wilson does play by play
Video is through ESPN Plus, which costs $4.99 a month. The service covers about 75 percent of KSU men’s and women’s basketball games and some other sports. It includes access to many other MAC games and those of other mid-major conferences. You can watch it through your cable or satellite company or the ESPN app. Here’s a link to the ESPN broadcast, which will guide you through a purchase.
Live statistics are available through the Ball State website.
Preview from Kent State women’s website, including links to statistics, roster and more.
Detailed media game notes for Kent State.
Preview from Ball State website, including links.
Media notes for Ball State.