When the 2023 NCAA men’s basketball tournament brackets dropped on Selection Sunday, Ohio ended up with only two teams in the Big Dance — Cincinnati’s Xavier University and Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.
The Kent State Golden Flashes earned their way into the NCAA tournament by defeating the favored Toledo Rockets in the Mid-American Conference tournament on March 11. Winning 93-78, Kent State handily beat Toledo, the MAC team most of the major bracketologists had predicted would make it to the NCAA tournament this year.
With Ohio sports betting live in time for this year’s NCAA Tournament, here’s what Ohio bettors and hoops fans should know about the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Kent State to face Indiana Hosiers in NCAA tournament
Kent State earned a 13 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament. In the first round, the Golden Flashes will face the fourth-seeded Indiana Hoosiers out of the Big Ten conference.
- No. 13 Kent State vs. No. 4 Indiana
- Game date: Friday, March 17
- Game time: 9:45 p.m. ET
- Game site: Albany, New York
- TV broadcast: TBS
Some experts have marked this game as having bracket-busting potential. On the heels of its MAC tournament championship, Kent State has more momentum going into the NCAA tournament. But they’ll need to play exceptionally well to take down the favored Hoosiers.
Hoosiers favored to win first-round matchup
Led by powerhouse forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana goes into the tourney with a 22-11 record on the season.
The Hoosiers had a strong season, defeating conference rivals — and one of the 2023 NCAA tournament’s top seeds — Purdue twice during the regular season. But they showed some flaws down the stretch, capped off by a loss in the Big Ten tournament to 10-seeded Penn State.
Still, the Hoosiers are favored to beat the Golden Flashes. Here’s where DraftKings Sportsbook Ohio currently has the odds set:
- Spread: Indiana -4.5 (-110); Kent State +4.5 (-110)
- Over/Under: Over 140.5 (-110); Under 140.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Indiana -190; Kent State +160
DraftKings currently has the Hoosiers’ odds of making it to the Final Four at +700. The major sportsbooks have Indiana’s odds of winning the whole tournament at between +5500 and +3500.
Kent State’s ’22-’23 season featured impressive close losses
Making it to the Big Dance caps off a solid year for Kent State, who enter the NCAA tournament with a 28-6 record.
Led by the guard play of MAC Tournament MVP Sincere Carry and MAC Defensive Player of the Year Malique Jacobs, Kent State opened the season by beating Northern Kentucky University by 22 points. NKU are a 16 seed in the NCAA tournament after winning the Horizon League tournament.
Kent State’s tough non-conference schedule also included games against three other NCAA tournament teams and, although they didn’t win, keeping those games close is what has some experts picking the Golden Flashes to pull an upset against Indiana.
Earlier in the season, Houston, the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, beat Kent State by just 5 points. Gonzaga won its December matchup with the Golden Flashes by just 7. And, on their home court, the College of Charleston Cougars — Colonial Athletic Association tournament winners and a 12 seed in the tournament — squeaked by Kent State by just 2 points.
Coach Senderoff has frayed history with Indiana
Kent State’s first-round tournament match-up against the Hoosiers has some interesting storylines. Perhaps the most notable involves Golden Flashes head coach Rob Senderoff.
From 2006-2007, Senderoff was an assistant coach under Kelvin Sampson at Indiana. During his first year as head coach at Indiana in 2006, Sampson was hit with NCAA sanctions for making prohibited calls to recruits during his time coaching the Oklahoma Sooners.
In Sampson’s season at Indiana, it was discovered that the coach had again been having prohibited contact with recruits, this time by participating in conference calls. An Indiana investigation found that Senderoff was also involved, connecting Sampson to the recruits during his calls with them.
Senderoff was forced to resign in 2007. Sampson followed him out the door a few months later.
Kent State welcomed Senderoff as an assistant coach in 2008 and he became the Golden Flashes’ head coach in 2011. Sampson coached in the NBA for a bit before landing the head coaching gig at Houston in 2014.
Hoosiers ended Golden Flashes’ impressive 2002 tourney run
This year will be the Golden Flashes’ seventh appearance in the NCAA tournament. It will be Kent State’s first tournament appearance since the 2016-2017 season.
In 2001, Kent State made the tournament as a 13 seed. In a little case of deja vu, in the opening round of the 2001 NCAA tournament, the Golden Flashes faced … the fourth-seeded Indiana Hoosiers. The underdog Kent State won that matchup 77-73, before going on to lose to the fifth-seeded University of Cincinnati in the second round.
The Golden Flashes haven’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2002.
That year, Kent State went on a run in the tournament that took them all the way to the Elite Eight, defeating heavily favored teams like Alabama and Pittsburgh along the way.
Kent State’s impressive 2002 tournament run came to an end at the hands of none other than the Indiana Hoosiers. That year, Indiana went to the Final Four, the last time the Hoosiers made it that far in the tournament.
If Kent State does move on, Senderoff might see a familiar face a little later in the tournament. His old Indiana University boss Kelvin Sampson’s Houston Cougars are also in the Midwest Region, meaning there’s a possibility of a Houston vs. Kent State matchup in the Sweet 16.