Kent State and Ohio Offenses Hard to Trust in Friday Night MACtion

Mark Lathrop

Friday, January 12, 2018 1:02 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 1:02 PM UTC

Two offenses with recent struggles come together in Friday night MACtion in a nationally televised game. Mark Lathrop has the details on the matchup and his NCAAB pick.

2017-18 NCAAB Record: 23-13 (+9.15 Units with 1 pending)

Ohio Bobcats at Kent State Golden FlashesFree NCAAB Pick: Under 153.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

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It’s Friday night, which means we get some nationally televised MACtion on the hardwood as Ohio Bobcats travel to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes. The game can be seen on the CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. EST. The loser can likely be taken out of consideration for a regular-season MAC East title as both are 1-2 in conference play and behind undefeated Buffalo in the division. Both teams have been losers for ATS backers on the season, with Ohio coming in with a 4-5 ATS record and Kent State putting in a abysmal 4-7 ATS performance thus far. The early line on this game has quickly settled into a pick’em game across the board, while the O/U total has opened at 153.5 at early movers such as BookMaker.

Ohio has gone cold on offense lately, with one indication being them cashing 3 'unders' in a row after starting with 7 straight 'over' covers. Leading scorer and senior 6’-foot-5 guard Mike Laster was especially inefficient in his last game against Ball State in going 5-for-17 from the field. Laster averages 16.9 points per game on the season, with freshman guard Teyvion Kirk in second with 14.5 points per game. Kirk is not a threat from 3-point but does find himself at the free throw line often. Throwing out a wild game at Marshall that went into overtime and adjusting for regulation for the OT game against Indiana State, the Bobcats have averaged just 60 points on the road this year. That is even with them playing at a pace that is in the top 20% of the country. Part of this is that they don’t get a lot of second chances with their 320th-ranked offensive rebounding percentage.

Kent State is coming off of a disappointing 80-69 loss against a 9-7 Miami (Ohio) team on the road. The Flashes shot terribly from range in that game in converting just 27.8% of their 3-pointers. This is not new, though, since they have the 315th-ranked 3-point percentage in the NCAA. It took them 10 minutes to get more than 10 points in that last game. They are led in scoring on the year by 6’ 1” junior guard Jaylin Walker, who only put in 13 minutes against Miami but also averages 17.3 points per game on the season. He puts up a ton of attempts – nearly double any other Kent State player -- so when he is off he is a huge liability to the team. He shot just 2-for-8 from the field Tuesday and 1-for-5 from range.

Although I am tempted to back the home team here against an Ohio offense that is dead last in conference play, Kent State is no great shakes either at 278th in field-goal percentage in the country. I think the winning team in this matchup just touches 75, which gives value to the 'under' of 153.5 as my Friday NCAAB Pick.

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