Western Michigan (14-19) vs Kent State (20-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 8, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Quicken Loans Arena (20,562) -- Cleveland, Ohio. Television: SportsTime Ohio. Home Record: Western Michigan 11-3, Kent State 12-3. Away Record: Western Michigan 2-12, Kent State 7-6. Neutral Record: Western Michigan 1-4, Kent State 1-1. Conference Record: Western Michigan 6-10, Kent State 10-6. Series Record: Kent State leads, 58-53.
GAMES NOTES: The quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament will begin with a matchup of the eighth-seeded Western Michigan Broncos and the fourth-seeded Kent State Golden Flashes at Quicken Loans Arena.
These teams made the most of their lone meeting in the regular season this year with Kent State prevailing 78-73 in overtime on its home floor. The win pushed the Golden Flashes historical advantage to 58-53 which includes wins in six straight meetings.
Western Michigan has bounced back from a three-game losing streak that concluded its regular season with consecutive wins in the first two rounds of this tournament. The second win came against Northern Illinois, which surprised fifth-seeded Eastern Michigan in the opening round, but was no match for the Broncos. Overall Western Michigan hasn't had a year to brag about with a 14-19 record entering play and a 6-10 mark in the MAC.
Kent State, by virtue of its 10-6 league mark, snatched up one of the top four seeds and earned a bye through the first two rounds of the tournament. The Golden Flashes stumbled down the stretch though, losing four of their final five games and wound up with the fourth-seed.
In its second round win over Northern Illinois, Western Michigan was tested in the first half as the pesky Huskies hung around and trailed only 31-28 at halftime. In the second half Western Michigan wiped away any chances of an upset by converting on 58.3 percent of its shots from the floor and rattling off a 17-1 run to give the Broncos as 56-38 advantage midway through the second period.
All season the Broncos have gone into games not having any real idea who would pace the team on any given night. Western Michigan has four players averaging in double figures this year but no one scores more than 11.7. On Wednesday night it was Mike Douglas (11.1, 4.6 apg) who took his turn, netting 19 points, while handing out seven assists. The 19 points was the most he has had since a season-high 21 in mid-February. Demetrius Ward (11.7 ppg) is as close as the Broncos come to a go-to scorer, while Matt Stainbrook (11.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Flenard Whitfield (11.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) can also fill up the basket on occasion, Stainbrook especially as the junior center ended the season leading the league in field goal percentage (57.5).
Kent State fell at home to the eventual regular season champion Akron in its final game of the regular season. The Golden Flashes played well enough on defense holding the Zips to just 40.4 percent shooting but couldn't use it to their advantage as they converted on 37.5 percent including a poor 4-for-15 effort from beyond the arc.
The Golden Flashes know who they are most reliant on with senior forward Justin Greene turning in a solid final campaign in which he led the team in scoring (13.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 pg). Randal Holt (12.6 ppg) is the squad's second best scorer while Carlton Guyton (10.6 pg, 3.8) can score as well as set up his teammates although that duty is handled primarily by Michael Porrini (8.9 ppg, 4.5 apg), who finished the season ranked sixth in the league in assists. Like Western Michigan, Kent State isn't going to turn any heads with it's offensive production (70.5 ppg) but the team puts up a stronger resistance on defense allowing 65.2 points per game this year.
Kent State has had two days to rest while Western Michigan has had to deal with the first two rounds of the tournament. With Greene's strong all-around play and a stable of guards at their disposal, the Golden Flashes will advance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kent State 71, Western Michigan 63
03/08 10:33:31 ET