© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Bringing you a new perspective on Ohio sports every Wednesday morning.

From Kent State to Case Western, college tournament basketball heats up in Cleveland this week

Kent State men's basketball
KSU Athletics
Kent State men's basketball (21-9, 16-4 MAC) closed the regular season by winning 12 straight games.

It's a big week for college basketball, as Division I teams are competing for a spot in the NCAA March Madness tournament.

In the men's Mid-American Conference, Kent State University and The University of Akron are among the favorites. The Flashes (21-9, 16-4 MAC) finished the regular season on a 12-game winning streak. Akron (21-9, 14-6 MAC) finished with a five-game winning streak.

However, Toledo (25-6, 17-4 MAC) is the top seed in the tournament. Kent is seeded 2nd and Akron 4th.

They're all competing at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse beginning Thursday.

"Ideally, if you're a local basketball fan, is what you would like is for Toledo to lose in the finals to either Akron and Kent," WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto said.

Kent and Sincere Carry
For Kent State, the difference has been Sincere Carry. Carry was a standout player at Solon High School.

"He may be the best player in the MAC," Pluto said.

Carry transferred from Duquesne University where he played for two years.

"Last year, the COVID year, he said he got kind of down and depressed and a lot of his friends were going to Kent State. He went into the transfer portal and had his father contact coach Rob Senderoff at Kent."

Pluto said Senderoff was thrilled. "He said he had been recruiting guys like Sincere Carry for years and not getting them. And then this guy falls in his lap," Pluto said.

Akron and Enrique Freeman
Meanwhile, Akron has a standout player in Enrique Freeman.

"He's from the small Catholic school in Cleveland called St. Martin De Porres. He was totally unheralded. He's leading the MAC in rebounding at 11 per game and scoring 13 points," Pluto said.

Akron women's and Jordyn Dawson
On the women's side of the tournament, Toledo (25-4, 19-1 MAC) is the top seed, followed by Buffalo and Akron (16-10, 13-7 MAC).

This has been a turnaround season for the Zips, led by senior Jordyn Dawson, who has been named the MAC Player of the Year.

"She's big time. She scores 22 points per game and gets 9.5 rebounds," Pluto said.

Coach Melissa Jackson has led Akron to the tournament in Cleveland for the first time since she took over the program in 2018.

Case's first Division III tournament
In Division III, the Case Western Reserve University (20-6) men's team has been a surprise. They've reached the tournament for the first time in program history, defeating Dubuque 91-87 in overtime and No. 3 UW-Oshkosh 77-74 to advance to the sectional round.

"This year, they got an at-large bid. They beat big-time school Oshkosh," Pluto said.

The standout player for CWRU is Hunter Drenth, who played high school at Revere in Richfield in northwest Summit County, outside of Akron. He's a pre-med major with a 4.0 grade point average.

The Spartans will host the sectional semifinals on Friday against No. 6 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (27-2).