Indiana vs Kent State March Madness Betting Preview

MAC Champs Hope to Upset Hoosiers, Trayce Jackson-Davis

The first round of the NCAA Tournament concludes Friday, with Indiana vs Kent State in Albany, N.Y. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:55 p.m. on TBS. The winner will move on to play either No. 4 seed Miami or No. 12 seed Drake in the second round of the Midwest Regional on Sunday.

Indiana is currently a 4-point favored and -190 on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 140.5.
(Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)

IND Indiana Hoosiers: Contender or Pretender?

Indiana is appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and the 41st time overall. In its most recent trip, Indiana beat Wyoming in the First Four before losing to Saint Mary’s in the round of 64. The Hoosiers have won five national championships (1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987) and was the national runner-up in 2002.

How They Got Here

Indiana started 7-0 and rose to No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, but Xavier Johnson’s season-ending foot injury zapped some of the Hoosiers’ potential. The Hoosiers hit a few more bumps along the college basketball schedule, starting 1-4 in Big Ten play, before rounding into form down the stretch thanks to AP All-American forward Trayce Jackson-Davis. Their resume — a No. 30 NET ranking, six Quad 1 wins and no bad losses — was sound even before falling in the Big Ten Tournament to Penn State.

How Far Will They Go

It all comes down to Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino. If they play to their potential, Indiana will have its best chance to win March Madness. Some of Hoosiers’ wins (Purdue twice, Xavier) are as good as any. But if not, it’ll be an early exit.

At +1200, Indiana has the fifth-best odds to win the region.

KENT Kent State Golden Flashes

Kent State is making its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance and the first since 2017. In their most recent trip, the Golden Flashes lost in the first round to No. 3 seed UCLA, 97-80. The school’s deepest run came in 2002, when it made the Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed.

How They Got Here

After going 15-3 in Mid-American Conference play, Kent State beat Northern Illinois, Akron and top-seeded Toledo over the span of three days to win the conference tournament and claim an automatic bid. It was the school’s only path to the NCAA Tournament. At 28-6, the Golden Flashes need only two more wins to match the school’s single-season record, set in 2001-02.

With six straight wins, Kent State is one of the hottest teams in the field of 68.

How Far Will They Go

Coming from a quality mid-major like the MAC, Kent State will be a popular upset pick. But the Golden Flashes have their work cut out for them, starting with Indiana. The Midwest Regional just seems too difficult for them to make any real noise.

Handicapping The Game

Again, when breaking down Indiana vs Kent State, much of what happens will come down to the Hoosiers’ two best players. Given the Golden Flashes’ lack of size, this is shaping up to be a juicy matchup for the 6-foot-7 Jackson-Davis, who averaged 20.8 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists to become the school’s first All-American since Victor Oladipo in 2013.

As talented as Kent State’s backcourt is with Sincere Carry and Malique Jacobs, the Golden Flashes may have no answer for Indiana’s size. Of course, they could choose to double him, but Jackson-Davis greatly improved as a passer this season. Indiana has other suitable scoring options, especially Hood-Schifino and Miller Kopp, who are both strong from the perimeter.

Kent State is solid on defense, ranking in the Top 50 in average points allowed (65.4). But the Golden Flashes also haven’t beaten anyone of Indiana’s caliber. They were 0-3 in Quad 1 games, losing to College of Charleston, Houston and Gonzaga, and picked up their only Quad 2 wins against MAC foes Ohio and Toledo.

If Carry and Jacobs don’t rise to the occasion, Indiana vs Kent State could be over in a flash. (Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)

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