One of the final games of the first round in the NCAA Tournament comes to us Friday night between Kent State and Indiana. Kent State comes into this game as the 13th seed and champions of the MAC. Indiana enters as the 4th seed from the Big Ten, and has aspirations for a deep tournament run. Kent State has upset hopes and many experts are saying to look out for this Golden Flashes team. Let’s take a dive into this game’s betting odds and matchup predictions:
Kent State vs. Indiana Predictions
As many are looking to figure out their first round upsets in their bracket pool, this has been a matchup many have been circling. While Indiana has proven they are a strong team in the Big Ten with first-team all-american Trayce Jackson-Davis, Kent State has been a strong mid-major team under the radar. Winning the MAC and finishing the season with a 28-6 record. They aren’t the biggest team but they are great at forcing turnovers, especially in transition.
This could be a big factor against the Hoosiers who are missing point guard Xavier Johnson for the remainder of the season. Freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino has been taking that spot in his absence and has adapted well to the position, but he is a natural shooting guard. This will be a strong focus point for the Golden Flashes as they may be overmatched down low.
Kent State does not have a lot of size, which could create a mismatch for Trayce Jackson-Davis. The big man who averages over 20 PPG, will be looking for a big showout in his final dance in the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Flashes will need to focus on their guard play, and Sincere Carry has been great for this team. He is averaging over 17 PPG for Kent State and is great at driving to the basket.
Kent State has not played a lot of ranked teams this season, so this matchup will be a good measuring stick for their talent. They went 0-2 against ranked opponents this offseason while Indiana went 5-2. Indiana enters this game off of a tough loss in the Big Ten Tournament against Penn State. They were able to beat them on the offensive glass and on 3-point shooting. Indiana should have a good chance to overcome this team if they limit these factors.
Kent State is a very scrappy team, but their weak spots are a big strength for the Hoosiers. Indiana struggles against teams that shoot well and have size advantage. Neither of which will come easy for Kent State. If Indiana is able to get their scorers going and limit turnovers, they should be able to win this game pretty handily. The Hoosiers will need a huge game out of Jalen Hood-Schifino. He has been Indiana’s second option all season and he has been a big indicator of their success. Jackson-Davis is pretty reliable game in game out but Hood-Schifino has been a little more inconsistent. Games in which his shots are going in, Indiana has won pretty easily. They struggle in games where he is shooting more poorly, so it will be important for Indiana to get him going.
Indiana is currently ranked 18th in the BPI with Kent State coming in at 74th. Indiana will also need to get their other players in Miller Kopp and Race Thompson involved as well. Thompson struggles with turnovers at times, which Kent State could try to pick at. Along with Sincere Carry, guard Malique Jacobs also averages 13 PPG.
When it comes to scoring averages, both teams are quite similar. Indiana averages 75 PPG with Kent State at 76.6 PPG. Kent State allows 65.7 PPG with the Hoosiers allowing 68.5 PPG to opponents. Indiana has had a tougher strength of schedule so take that into account. If Indiana is able to get scoring going and Kent State has issues getting shots in, Indiana should be able to cover the 4.5 points.
Betting Pick: Indiana -4.5
Kent State vs. Indiana Betting Odds
Indiana are currently moneyline favorites at -195 odds. They are spread line favorites of -4.5 points. The over/under is currently 140.5 for total points. That falls in line with both teams’ scoring averages. I’m steering away from an over/under bet in this one with how close that line is. ESPN Analytics is currently giving Indiana a 72.9% chance to win. According to Kenpom’s analytical rankings, the 4 seed Indiana is ranked 29th with Kent State ranked at 72nd.
Can the Golden Flashes contain Trayce Jackson-Davis? Check out the key matchup for Kent State vs Indiana.
Trayce Jackson-Davis vs. Kent State
The big matchup will be how Trayce Jackson-Davis will play down low. Kent State doesn’t have a lot of size, so Jackson-Davis should be able to dominate. He was named first-team All-American for a reason. He is averaging 20.8 PPG and 10.9 RPG. He is also good at moving the ball with around 4.1 assists per game. If the Hoosiers make sure to get TJD as involved as possible each possession, the Hoosiers should be able to move on to the second round.