- Ohio is a 7.5-point favorite against Kent State on Friday
- Kent State is 2-6 ATS in its last eight
- Read below for analysis and a betting prediction
Ohio (11-2, 2-0) is a 7.5-point home favorite against Kent State in a Mid-American Conference game at 6:30 pm ET Friday on the CBS Sports Network. The Bobcats have won six in a row, 3-3 ATS.
Kent State (7-6, 2-1) broke a three-game losing streak with MAC victories over Toledo and Ball State, both as a small favorite. The Golden Flashes beat Toledo 66-63 at home as a 1.5-point favorite and beat Ball State 66-65 on the road as a two-point favorite.
Kent State vs Ohio Odds
|Kent State Golden Flashes||+280||+7.5 (-110)||Over 132.5 (-110)|
|Ohio Bobcats||-350||-7.5 (-110)||Under 132.5 (-110)|
Odds from BetMGM on Jan. 6.
Ohio was ranked No. 8 in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 poll by College Insider.com. The Bobcats were one of three Mid-American teams in the poll, ranking ahead of No. 18 Akron and No. 19 Toledo. The poll was released a day before Ohio’s 69-63 victory at Akron on Tuesday.
These teams played in the first round of the 2021 MAC tournament, when No. 5 seed Ohio shot 59 percent from the field in an 85-63 victory after losing to the Golden Flashes at home in the regular season. The Bobcats then beat No. 1 seed Toledo and No. 2 seed Buffalo to win the tournament and advance to the NCAA tourney, where they beat Virginia in the first round before falling to Creighton.
Bobcats on a Roll
Ohio has lost only two games this season, both when it stepped up in class to play SEC opponents Kentucky and LSU on the road. The Bobcats fell to No. 16 Kentucky 77-59 on Nov. 19 and No. 21 LSU 66-51 on Dec. 1. They opened the season with a 92-80 victory over perennial Ohio Valley contender Belmont.
Sophomore guard 6’1 Mark Sears has stepped into the role filled by 2021 leading scorer Jason Preston, flashing the form he showed when filling in for Preston during injury time a year ago. The Bobcats gained a veteran piece when sixth-year senior 6’8 Jason Carter (14.3 points, 7.1 rebounds) returned to Athens, where he played for three seasons before transferring to Xavier.
Sears, who made the all-MAC freshman team a year ago, is averaging 19.1 points and 3.5 assists per game, both team highs, and also averaging 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per. Sears and Carter had hoops in the final 27 seconds in the 69-63 victory at Akron on Tuesday, and Sears finished with eight rebounds and five assists.
This sequence from JC at the end of our win 🙀🙀🙀 pic.twitter.com/c1QK1aJn54
— Ohio Men’s Basketball (@OhioMBasketball) January 5, 2022
Senior forward 6’8 Ben Vanderplas, whose ability to shoot from the perimeter makes him a tough cover, is averaging 12.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He has 23 threes. Sears has 17.
Returning juniors Ben Roderick and and Miles Brown have helped take up the slack in the absence of Dwight Wilson, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds last season but has not played this season because of an undisclosed injury.
The Bobcats, who limited Akron to 39.3 percent shooting from the field while stopping the Zips’ six-game winning streak, are off to their best start since 2011-12.
Kent’s Veteran Leaders
Duquesne transfer senior guard 6’1 Sincere Carry and senior holdovers guard 6’4 Malique Jacobs and forward 6’11 Justyn Hamilton have led the Golden Flashes in the early going.
Carry, who started 63 games at Duquesne before opting to transfer five games into 2021, is averaging 16.7 points, 4.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds for the Golden Flashes, jumping his scoring average from his 11.9 average at Duquesne.
Jacobs is averaging 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds, and Hamilton is at 9.7 points and 6.5 rebounds.
Carry has made 27 three-pointers and reserve guard 6’1 Giovanni Santiago has made 20. The Golden Flashes have not shot well from the three-point line, 30.5, but have defended distance ever better, limiting opponents to 29.3 percent.
— Kent State Men's Basketball (@KentStMBB) January 5, 2022
Kent State and Ohio rely on their leaders. Curry is averaging 35.5 minutes per game, the most in the MAC, and Vanderplas is second at 35..0. Both are in the top 10 in NCAA Division I in minutes per game.
Sears is fourth in the MAC, averaging 34.7 minutes, and Carter is seventh at 32.7.
— Kent State Athletics (@KentStAthletics) January 4, 2022
By the Numbers
Kent State has won seven of the last 10 in the series, going 6-4 ATS, Ohio is 4-2 straight up and 4-2 ATS in the last six games at home in Athens, all as a favorite. Ohio is No. 97 in KenPom in adjusted efficiency margin and Kent State is 176th.
Both teams are in the lower third in Division I in KenPom adjusted tempo, with Ohio averaging 67.5 possessions per game and Kent State averaging 65.9. Ohio games have gone 8-5 under the total and Kent State is 3-7-1 under.
Ohio U may be the better team, but the Bobcats have not covered a spread this high against Kent State at home since 1997.
The pick: Kent State +7.5 (-110)