Flashes need to be road warriors to play in March

Cory Erbacher

By the end of the regular season, the Kent State men’s basketball team will probably have a post-season tournament locked up. But how the Flashes compete against their final stretch of non-conference opponents will determine which tournament that is.

Although Kent State suffered a tough loss against one of the first real opponents this season last night, the remainder of the games before Mid-American Conference play begins will give the Flashes multiple opportunities to make an argument for an at-large bid.

It is more likely that Kent State can count on a tournament like the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, but an NIT or NCAA Tournament at-large bid is possible for the Flashes if they can win on the road before conference play starts.

Kent State has both the talent and the coaching staff to lead this team against some of its tougher opponents, even after losing to UAB, 75-59, last night away from the M.A.C. Center.

A win could have given the Flashes a much-needed road victory to boost confidence before starting a rough five-game stretch that will give Kent State an opportunity of a very possible at-large bid in either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.

The Flashes, at times throughout the UAB game, showed they had the ability to compete against one of the better teams on their schedule and at an away arena.

But in order to lock up a post-season tournament, Kent State will need to compete tougher against the better teams on their schedule.

In the next four of five games, Kent State goes against Florida on the road, South Florida at home, Morehead State on the road, then James Madison at home, before starting conference play.

Kent State should be able to win the home game against South Florida, who has a shaky 5-4 record. The Bulls have a 1-3 away record and the Flashes have won 12-straight home games. Those numbers add up well for Kent State.

The Flashes should also win the home game against James Madison (6-2), again, because of Kent State’s history of performing well in the M.A.C. Center.

With the home court advantage against both South Florida and James Madison, who both post similar talent to the Flashes’ roster, Kent State should be able to win a guaranteed two games, which will look nice on a postseason resume. If you want to play in the NIT, that is.

But wins against a ranked Florida team or a strong Morehead State away from the friendly confines? That’ll make a postseason resume the NCAA Selection Committee would take more than a glance at.

As long as Kent State can finish with a similar dominant finish in conference play as last season, and win a tougher road game prior to MAC play, it would be tough to count Kent State out of the big dance in March.

It’s not going to be easy for Kent State to get a road victory against Florida or Morehead State. But it needs to happen if the Flashes want to be in postseason contention in two of the better tournaments without getting a MAC regular season or Tournament Championship.

You can contact Cody Erbacher at [email protected].