And it's a doozy, in every way imaginable.
The Golden Flashes (7-3) will butt heads with perennial national powerhouse Xavier (8-2) at 8:30 p.m. tonight in game two of the Gatorade Rock-N-Roll Shootout at Gund Arena, where they suffered a heartbreaking last-second loss to Ohio in the Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinals last March.
"I never even thought about that (loss)," said Kent State coach Gary Waters, who can smile about it now. "But that's not something that concerns me, because this team has played in so many strange places that it doesn't bother them.
"It's Xavier that worries me."
The 30th-ranked Musketeers enter tonight's contest riding a three-game winning streak, which includes two-point triumphs over both clubs that will compete in the Rock-N-Roll Shootout opener _ Cincinnati and Toledo. Their strength lies inside, with 6-foot-8 sophomore David West (team-high 15 points, 9.8 rebounds per game), 6-8 junior Kevin Frey (12.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and 6-4 freshman Romain Sato (11.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
"Xavier's as big and physical inside as any team we've seen," said Waters. "They're a good rebounding team, and we've struggled in that area. But they're also well-balanced. (Senior guard) Maurice McAfee is a player."
Kent State senior forward Kyrem Massey (14.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and senior center Rashaun Warren (7.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg) will attempt to hold their own inside along with 6-9 junior Mike Perry (7.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg), who has provided a consistent spark off the bench.
Backcourt-wise, the Flashes have an advantage on paper with leading scorer Trevor Huffman (16 ppg), veteran point guard Andrew Mitchell (10 ppg, 4 apg) and scrappy junior Demetric Shaw (9.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg).
"If you look at our statistics, we don't shoot well or rebound well. It's not pretty," said Waters. "But what this team does know how to do is put itself in position to win. We could very easily be 9-1 right now, because we had leads late in two of our losses. We've been right there at the end in every game.
"If our pressure forces over 20 turnovers and we keep ours under 10, we'll always be competitive."