Weekend game could make the Flashes at large

Doug Gulasy

BracketBuster game at St. Mary’s gives the Flashes national exposure

Non-conference games don’t get much bigger than this for mid-major basketball teams.

The Kent State men’s basketball team (22-5, 11-2 Mid-American Conference) will play at No. 20 St. Mary’s (Calif.) tomorrow at midnight; the game will be televised on ESPN2, as part of the O’Reilly ESPNU Bracketbusters.

“We’re looking forward to go represent our league the best way that we can,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said after Tuesday’s win over Buffalo. “We’re playing an excellent basketball team – there’s no question about it. (They’re) one of the best teams in the country, they’re undefeated at home, but we’re excited to go out there and play.”


(22-3, 10-1 WCC)

Where: McKeon Pavilion, Moraga, Cal.

When: Midnight tomorrow

TV: ESPN 2 (Scott Graham, Stephen Bardo)

Radio: 100.1 (Bill Needle)

Tomorrow’s game means a lot for the Flashes’ post-season hopes. They have a Ratings Percentage Index ranking of 40 and are considered to have the best chance of any team in the MAC to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Even though the Flashes’ at-large chances would get better if they could beat St. Mary’s (RPI 26) on the road, Christian said he wasn’t going to lobby for an at-large bid.

“With four games left to play, really nobody wants to hear you lobbying,” Christian said. “We have to just win; I think winning is the best lobbying you can do. Now we’ve got a chance to go play a ranked team on the road; that’d be a pretty good lobby.”

St. Mary’s (23-3) leads the West Coast Conference with a 10-1 record and is coming off a 100-64 victory over Pepperdine on Monday. So far this season, the Gaels have defeated Drake, Oregon and Gonzaga.


Virginia Commonwealth at Akron 11 a.m. ESPN2

George Mason at Ohio 1 p.m. ESPN2

Miami at Valporasio 6 p.m. ESPN Classic

Western Michigan at UW-Green Bay

Central Michigan at Missouri State

Ball State at Eastern Kentucky

Bowling Green at Detroit.

Guard Patrick Mills (15.2 points per game) leads the St. Mary’s offense, which averages 78.1 points per game. In Monday’s victory over Pepperdine, the Gaels made 17 of 29 three-pointers.

The Gaels are even more difficult to play on their home court. The Gaels have a 14-0 record this season at the McKeon Pavilion, which has a capacity of 3,500 people.

“From what I saw on TV, they get that place pretty rocking,” sophomore guard Mike McKee said Tuesday. “It’s going to be a tough environment, but these next couple days, we’re going to prepare really well and go out there and hopefully give it a shot.”

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy

at [email protected].