Next up for the Falcon Men's Basketball team is the Ball State Cardinals. BG is in a bad way, having lost 9 of its last 11 games heading to the contest on Saturday. At home against Ball State...you just gotta think you need a win here. Really, the last goal left for BG is a home playoff berth (though we are technically only one game out of the last bye--created to account for UT not being in the tournament--BG is in a 5-way tie at 2-5) and this is one you are going to need.
Ball State is 2-5 (as it so happens) and 8-11 overall. Billy Taylor does not usually play a challenging non-conference schedule and they have played the 249th ranked schedule in D1. Their RPI is 261 and their kenpom.com is 247--10th in the MAC.
In typical fashion, their best win is over Norfolk State with an RPI of 193. They did lose to Indiana, Indiana State, Butler and Purdue (and IUPUI) leaving them 0-for-Indiana. BG lost to IUPUI as well, and both teams lost to Cleveland State. Ball State does have two MAC road wins (EMU and Miami).
The Cardinals are led by Majok Majok, a 6'9" Jr JUCO transfer who is one of the surprise players in the MAC. Majok was born in the Sudan and then lived in Australia before coming to school at Midland Community College, where he was the #18 JC Prospect in the US. Rumors that he was named based on a Sudanese translation of Catch-22 cannot be substantiated.
Majok is averaging a double-double...12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds. He's the leading rebounder in the MAC and #14 in D1. He shoots 53% from the field, almost as good as his FT% (58%).
He is joined by Jauwan Scaife at 12.8 ppg but it is costly for him to get there. The 6'2" G is shooting 36% overall and 29.8% from 3. He does get to the line...he's 8th in the MAC in FTs made.
Jesse Barry is actually the team's leading scorer at 12.9 PPG. He shoots 39% and turns the ball over 3.2 times per game, which is 4th worst in the conference.
Chris Bond is scoring 8.8 points and grabbing 5.5 rebounds per game as well.
Ball State is scoring .98 points per possession, which is 8th in the MAC. They are 8th in Effective FG% (47.4%). They are 9th in the MAC in turning the ball over but good on the offensive boards (4th) and in getting to the line (3rd in the MAC). They are, however, the worst free throw % shooting team in the MAC and 6th in FTs made.
They are not a lot better on defense. They allow 1.03 points per possession, which is 9th in the MAC. They are also 9th in EFG% allowed and 10th in forcing turnovers. They are 6th in allowing teams to the line and 2nd in preventing offensive rebounds.
This is a game that BG should clearly win at the Stroh. My biggest worry is whether the losing is taking a toll on the team. I don't know that it is, but I worry about some of the things I'm seeing. On the plus side, the continuing development of Chauncey Orr is a plus and it would be great to see Holmes keep building on what he has done this year and maybe get another strong game out of Craig Sealey.
Finally, both Crawford and Calhoun are coming off poor shooting nights against Akron and have a chance to get back onto the right road.
But, no doubt. This one should be a W. Let's hope that's how it happens.