Preview: Basketball vs Indiana in NCAA tournament


Emma Van Winkle

The Kent State Men’s basketball team set up in an offensive formation against UT during the MAC Tournament Championship March 11, 2023. They would win the game 93-73.

Jacob Hansen, Sports Editor

On March 15, 2001, the No. 13-seed Kent State men’s basketball team defeated No. 4-seed Indiana University 77-73.

Nearly 22 years later, No. 13-seed Kent State will look to repeat history, taking on No. 4-seed Indiana in the opening round of the NCAA March Madness Tournament. 

The Flashes (28-6) will face the Hoosiers (22-11)  at approximately 9:55 p.m. Friday in Albany, New York. 

Kent State punched its ticket to the “Big Dance” after winning the Mid-American Conference championship on March 11, when KSU defeated Toledo, which was then No. 1 in the MAC, 93-78 in the finals of the MAC tournament.

Back after six years

It marked the first MAC championship for Kent State since 2017, which was also the last time the team made the NCAA tournament. That year, KSU lost to UCLA 97-80 in the first round.

Kent State redshirt senior Sincere Carry dribbles down the court during the game against Central Michigan University on Jan. 31, 2023. (Matthew Brown)

Kent State made it to the Elite 8 in 2002 after defeating No. 3-seed Pittsburgh 78-73 in the Sweet 16 round – the farthest the program has ever been in the NCAA tournament.  The Flashes lost to Indiana, 81-69, in their next game. 

KSU holds a 4-5 record overall in the NCAA tournament. 

Kent State is 1-3 all-time against Indiana, going 0-2 in regular-season play and 1-1 in the NCAA tournament. 

The players

Indiana’s senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis is 16th in the nation in scoring, averaging 20.8 points per game. He is tied for sixth in the nation in rebounding, averaging 10.9 rebounds a game. His best game was on Jan. 19 where he scored a season-high 35 points. 

Big Ten Freshman of the Year guard Jalen Hood-Schifinois the second-leading scorer for the Hoosiers, averaging 13.5 points per game. 

Redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry, who won All-MAC First Team and MAC tournament MVP this season, leads the Flashes’ offense. He has scored at least 20 points in four of his last five games and dropped 26 points in the Flashes’ victory against Toledo. 

MAC Defensive Player of the Year redshirt senior guard Malique Jacobs controls the defensive side of the ball. Jacobs is fourth in the nation in steals per game, averaging 2.7. He had a program record for most steals in a game with 10 against Cleveland State on Nov. 19. 

Offensively, Jacobs averages 13 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game. In his team’s last game against Toledo, Jacobs recorded 18 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and a steal.

Kent State redshirt senior Malique Jacobs looks for an open teammate to pass the ball to during the game against Ohio University Feb. 28, 2023. (Matthew Brown)

The difference maker in this game could come down to the bench. 

MAC Sixth Man of the Year sophomore guard Jalen Sullinger leads the Flashes’ bench. He averaged 8.6 points per game and was the sixth-best 3-point shooter in the MAC, shooting 42.9%. 

Over the three-game MAC tournament, Sullinger scored at least 10 points every game, averaging 11.3 points per game.  

Senior forward Chris Payton comes off the bench averaging 6.6 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game. He was tied for the fifth-best shot-blocker in the MAC with an average of one block per game. 

Indiana, which finished second in the Big Ten during the regular season, is coming off a 77-73 loss to Penn State Mar. 9 in the second round of the conference tournament. 

Kent State has a six-game win streak. 

Jacob Hansen is sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]