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Indiana vs Kent State: Key matchups to watch



Kent State Golden Flashes forward Miryne Thomas (33) celebrates after a three point basket during the second half against the Toledo Rockets at Rocket Mortgage Field House. (Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

The Indiana basketball program tips off its NCAA Tournament on Friday night in the final game of the night. It’s already being discussed as a potential upset with Kent State gaining a lot of attention nationally this week.

The Golden Flashes have a versatile roster at their disposal and have a lot of potential matchup problems for Indiana. On the flip side, there are some key matchups that Kent State will have to focus on as well.

Here’s a closer look at some of the key and intriguing matchups to watch for in Indiana’s Round of 64 game against Kent State.

Jalen Hood-Schifino vs Malique Jacobs

This is going to be a fun one. Jacobs is the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and averages 2.7 steals per game — including one game with 10 steals this season. He’s had 15 games this season with three or more steals. He’s a physical wing with good length and frame but isn’t overly athletic. With an increased importance on Hood-Schifino’s efficiency, this will be a major matchup that should ultimately determine the outcome of the game.

Indiana front court vs Miryne Thomas

Race Thompson has struggled since he returned from his knee injury to defend versatile and stretch forwards. That’s exactly what Thomas is. Thomas is going to be on the perimeter for the majority of his touches offensively. He shoots 35.3 percent from three on 5.6 attempts 3s per game. He’s athletic and relatively quick, so anything going towards the basket, Thomas will look to dunk. Thompson will likely get help from Malik Reneau in this matchup as well as Trayce Jackson-Davis, but all three will struggle at times against Thomas.

Trey Galloway vs Sincere Carry

Indiana’s best defender vs Kent State’s best scorer. While an important matchup, it’s not the biggest one of the game. Carry is going to get his shots up regardless of what the defense is doing but that hasn’t always translated into having an efficient game. Against the other NCAA Tournament teams that Kent State played this year, Carry was just 16-of-60 from the field. Galloway has the quickness and the size that can disrupt him and make life more difficult than other games this year.

Jordan Geronimo vs Chris Payton

This is a wildcard matchup especially since Geronimo has played more than eight minutes just once since Jan. 25. But, he may be needed in this one. Chris Payton is an athletic ‘freak’ and has turned into a critical member of the rotation for Kent State. In the last 16 games, he’s averaging 11.4 points and shooting 79.8 percent from the floor off of the bench. He’s a 6-foot-7 forward who is likely always the most athletic player on the floor. Geronimo’s length and athleticism can offset some of that, especially when you look at the other front court options Indiana has. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Geronimo get some extended minutes if he’s playing well.

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