Monday, January 14, 2019

Ball State MBB Preview

Well, here we go.  BG has beaten Ohio, Kent and CMU, which was all well and good.  Now, they face a team that was picked to be a top contender in the MAC.

Though not without some issues.

They entered the MAC at 9-4.  Their losses were Purdue, Virginia Tech, Evansville and Alabama, so not a bad loss in the bunch.  They won @Loyola and they have a kenpom of 93 right now.  They are 10-6 and 1-2.

I watched them play Toledo and I was really impressed.  They just looked great.  They have 3 really good players--at least--and won by 15 at Savage.  Since then, however, they lost to EMU in OT and then to OU by 18.  Both games were in Muncie.

In other words, they are moving forward with 2 home losses, never a good thing.

And they are scratching their heads over the loss to OU.  You just didn't see that coming.  So now, they get to come to the Stroh to try and put their season back together.  You don't want to start 1-3.

Meanwhile, BG continues to play well, but this is their best opponent in MAC play.  It's a great test to show our continued progress.  It's a good storyline for the game.

Ball State is a good offensive team.  Most of the teams BG has played to date have been.  They are scoring 1.09 points per possession.  They are also good on defense, allowing 1.02 points per possession.  Look at that left hand side of the chart!  BG playing good defense against a really good Ball State offense.  Should be interesting.

Their calling card is top flight shooting.  Their EFG is 55%, which is #34 in D1.  They make 56% of their 2FGs, which is #40 in the country, and they make 36% of their 3FGs, but don't shoot that many, which is actually a dangerous combination.  (BG is #29 at defending 2FGs, so that has the potential to be decisive.

The Cardinals are a little bit above average on turnovers and offensive rebounds and they get to the line OFTEN.  They are #16 in getting to the line and, unlike most of BG's opponents, they are making 70% of their FTs, which is about the D1 average.  In 3 of the 4 areas, you see strength against strength.  (BG is #15 in the nation on the defensive boards).

The Ball State defense gets its stops by defending the shot and not allowing opponents to the FT line.  They allow 48% EFG, which is #67 in the nation.  They are especially tough to shoot 2FGs against--46% and they also defend the 3FG well.  BG will need to work hard on offense to get good looks and then convert them.  The Cards don't force turnovers and they are below average on the defensive boards.

As mentioned, Ball State has three very solid players.  That starts with two-time All-MAC Sr. PG Tayler Persons.  He's scoring 16 PPG on 46% and 38% shooting.  He has over 5 assists per game and makes 83% of his FTs.

Tahjai Teague their second leading scorer.  He's a redshirt junior.  He's scoring 15 PPG on 63% shooting.  He also averages 7.8 RPG.

Their third stud (in my view) is Trey Moses.  He's 6'9" and has been All-MAC and All-Defensive.  He scores 9 PPG and 6.8 RPG.  He's blocked 26 shots and shoots over 50%.

Their new addition is KJ Walton, who transferred from Missouri, where he made 24 starts.  He's scoring 14 PPG on 56% shooting and almost no 3FGs.  He's 6'3".

Oh, and if you remember in the off-season there was a battle between BG and Ball State for Austin Nehls, a graduate transfer.  He's averaging 3.5 PPG.

This is one of the more experienced teams in the country.  Despite their struggles, they remain a formidable opponent and another good test for the Falcons.

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