The last time Kent State beat a Big Ten team was Dec. 21, 2001, when the Flashes defeated Indiana 77-66 in Kent. That’s 18 years; only a few of Kent State’s players could have been alive then.
Overall the Flashes are 5-29 against Big Ten teams. That doesn’t count Nebraska and Penn State; KSU was 0-5 combined against those two schools before they joined the Big Ten.
This season the Flashes play Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue. The Michigan game is Friday at the Akron Classic. Next Thursday the Flashes will play Ohio State in Kent in the first meeting between the two teams in 37 years. On Dec. 3, KSU will travel to Purdue.
Kent State is 2-0 so far this season with wins at Duquesne and at Youngstown State.
It’s only the second time in school history the team has played three Big Ten schools. The first was three years ago, when KSU played Minnesota and Iowa during the regular season and Michigan in the WNIT.
Kent State’s five wins came against Indiana, Illinois in 1994, Michigan State in 1981 and Purdue in 1980 and 1981.
The Big Ten and MAC play about five or six games a year. The Michigan schools have played Michigan State and Michigan pretty consistently over the last five years. Ball State seems to play Purdue most seasons. But Toledo has played only three Big Ten teams in the last five years, Bowling Green just one. Ohio has played nine games against the conference.
For many years, the power conferences like the Big Ten didn’t like to schedule good MAC teams at all — especially on the road. They could only lose in prestige in those games. Sometimes they would pay mid-majors like the MAC to play them at home in what usually would be an easy early season win.
The only home games the MAC plays against the Big Ten this season are Michigan’s game at Akron and Kent State’s game against Ohio State.
Things may change a little as the NCAA emphasizes “quality wins” in tournament selection and seeding. It’s a considerably more significant win if, for example, Indiana were to beat Toledo at Toledo than if Toledo loses at Indiana. RPI ratings count a road win more than double a home win.
Games do happen in postseason tournaments. Central Michigan beat Ohio State in Columbus two years ago and lost to Michigan State in East Lansing last season in the NCAA tournament. Northwestern played both Ohio and Toledo in last year’s WNIT. Kent State has played Michigan twice in the WNIT.
I looked at the record of all MAC schools against the Big Ten over the last five years, a time when the MAC has been as strong as ever. Here’s what I found:
- Akron 0-2.
- Ball State 1-4.
- Bowling Green 0-1.
- Buffalo 2-1.
- Central Michigan 2-5.
- Eastern Michigan 1-5.
- Kent State 0-6.
- Miami 0-3.
- Northern Illinois 0-4.
- Ohio 4-5.
- Toledo 0-3.
- Western Michigan 0-9.
That’s an overall record of 10-46. Eight of the wins were by Buffalo, Central and Ohio, the conference’s best teams over that period. Ball State beat Purdue in the year when the Cardinals went undefeated in non-conference play. Eastern Michigan beat Rutgers in 2015.
So far this season Eastern Michigan has lost to Michigan State 85-50 and Western Michigan to Michigan 76-55. Akron plays Michigan Saturday in Akron.
Later in the season Northern Illinois is at Purdue, Ohio is at Ohio State, Michigan is at Eastern Michigan, Ball State is at Wisconsin in an Hawaii tournament, and Bowling Green is at Purdue.
Here’s Kent State’s all-time record against the Big Ten:
- Illinois 1-2.
- Indiana 1-3.
- Iowa 0-3.
- Michigan 0-5.
- Michigan State 1-3.
- Minnesota 0-3.
- Northwestern 0-2.
- Ohio State 0-6 (all games before 1983).
- Purdue 2-2.
Kent State is 0-3 against Nebraska and 0-2 against Penn State, but all of those games came when those teams were in other conferences.
The Flashes have never played Maryland, Rutgers and Wisconsin.