Mid-American goes West Coast

Doug Gulasy

Kent State travels to St. Mary’s for ESPN BracketBuster game

Junior guard Al Fisher goes up for two while junior guards Gary Shawntes and Michael Redell look on. The Flashes beat the Western Michigan Broncos last week 67-58. SAM TWAREK | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

If the Kent State men’s basketball team wants to keep its chances for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament alive, winning a game on the West Coast can’t hurt.

ESPN announced Monday that the Flashes (17-5, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) will play at No. 23 Saint Mary’s (Calif.) later this month for the O’Reilly ESPN BracketBusters event.

“Obviously, it’s an opportunity to play a top 25 team,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “We’ve been down there (and) we’ve played them already once in that environment. It’s going to be a great challenge, a great test for our kids and our team has worked hard to get that opportunity.”

The game is scheduled for Feb. 23, with the time to be released Monday. The game will also be nationally televised, and the information about the specific network televising the game (ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Classic or ESPN360) will also be released Monday.




(3-17, 2-6 mAC) (17-5, 6-2 MAC)

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: M.A.C. Center

Radio: WNIR 100.1 FM (Bill Needle),

Black Squirrel Radio (Chris Gates and Eric Ristow)

“We’ve been on (national television) a few times with this event, and it’s great to get that type of exposure and, again, get people to see our program,” Christian said. “Kent State people who maybe don’t live in our state…can get a chance to watch us play. It’s great; it’s good for everybody.”

BracketBuster games are meant to help teams from mid-major and smaller conferences boost their Rating Percentage Index and give them a better chance of making the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid.

The Flashes appeared to have a chance to get an at-large bid after getting quality wins earlier this season over opponents like George Mason, Cleveland State and Miami.

Those chances took a hit when the Flashes lost at Toledo on Saturday and had their RPI drop to 46th heading into tonight’s home game against Ball State.

“Personally, I never thought about getting an at-large bid,” senior forward Mike Scott said after Saturday’s game. “Since I’ve been here at Kent, I don’t think a team in the MAC has gotten an at-large bid…from the get-go, it felt like we had to win the MAC to get in the (NCAA) Tournament.”

Still, a win over Saint Mary’s could boost the Flashes’ at-large bid chances once more. The Gaels (18-3, 6-1 West Coast Conference) have an RPI ranking of 17 after defeating Gonzaga in overtime Monday night.

It won’t be the first meeting between Kent State and Saint Mary’s. The Gaels hold a 2-0 lead in the series, winning both games at home.

The last time the two teams met was Dec. 22, 2005, when the Flashes lost 61-59 on a shot with 4.5 seconds left.

“(We have) a little bit of a familiarity with how they play,” Christian said. “Mike Scott (and) guys like that played in that game, so they’re familiar with those guys’ style of play. And it’s just going to be a great, great test.”

And this game also won’t be the last between the two schools. As part of the BracketBusters, a return game is played at the other school the next season.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].