BY JACK KIZER | Sideline Reporter for Ball State Basketball on WCRD 91.3 FM
After a disappointing loss Saturday at Bowling Green, two different games are on tap for Ball State’s Mid-American conference schedule this week.
A late game on the road Tuesday at Eastern Michigan will be a tough test, while a Saturday afternoon game at home against Western Michigan could serve as a big confidence boost for the Cardinals.
Ball State @ Eastern Michigan: January 24th, 9pm
|Eastern Michigan Team Stats||Ball State Team Stats|
|PPG: 81.1||PPG: 79.3|
|PA: 71.1||PA: 72.8|
|FG%: 46%||FG%: 47%|
|3FG%: 33% (115-352)||3FG%: 37% (168-450)|
|FT%: 75% (327-436)||FT%: 71% (276-390)|
|RPG: 37.6 (Margin +1.7)||RPG: 39.3 (Margin: +4.3)|
|APG: 14.1||APG: 16.2|
|TOPG: 12.6 (Margin +5)||TOPG: 15.2 (Margin -1.5)|
|SPG: 10.6||SPG: 6.2|
|BPG: 4.3||BPG: 3.4|
The first of two games this week for Ball State is one of its toughest of the season. Eastern Michigan was picked to win the MAC West in the preseason and currently lead the standings with a 4-2 record.
The Eagles also boast an 8-1 home record. They are outscoring their opponents by 10 points per game and holding them to 65 points per game during conference play.
Part of that defensive success is due to Eastern’s ability to force steals. The Eagles average nearly 11 of them per game and force almost 16 turnovers per game. That has resulted in a +5 turnover margin for Eastern Michigan.
The turnovers statistics in particular could be deadly for Ball State. The Cardinals average around 15.2 per game and have a margin of -1.5. With Eastern’s defensive prowess, it could be difficult for Ball State to get in an offensive rhythm on the road and result in a tempo that favors the Eagles.
On the defensive side, it will have to start with stopping the ball. Eastern Michigan shoots 75 percent from the free throw line and totals many more attempts than Ball State from the stripe. The Eagles are not an explosive outside shooting team, tossing up nearly 100 less attempts from deep than Ball State this year, and converting only 33 percent of the time.
EMU does have five players who average double-digit scoring, however. This will force every Ball State defender to be locked in on their man. By the numbers, defending the paint on defense and taking care of the ball on offense will give the Cardinals a chance in their game Tuesday night.
Ball State vs. Western Michigan: January 28th, 1pm
|Western Michigan Team Stats||Ball State Team Stats|
|PPG: 74.2||PPG: 79.3|
|PA: 78.2||PA: 72.8|
|FG%: 45%||FG%: 47%|
|3FG%: 36% (112-308)||3FG%: 37% (168-450)|
|FT%: 68% (241-355)||FT%: 71% (276-390)|
|RPG: 34.9 (Margin +1.2)||RPG: 39.3 (Margin: +4.3)|
|APG: 13.4||APG: 16.2|
|TOPG: 13.4 (Margin +0.5)||TOPG: 15.2 (Margin -1.5)|
|SPG: 6.4||SPG: 6.2|
|BPG: 2.2||BPG: 3.4|
The second matchup this week for Ball State looks much more promising.
Western Michigan has the worst overall record in the MAC at 6-12 and is 2-4 during conference play to date. Only two statistical categories in the chart above favor the Broncos: turnovers per game and steals per game.
The offense just hasn’t been efficient enough for Western, as its opponents take more shot attempts, shoot more free throws and total a better percentage from the field each game. This should aid Ball State as many of the Cardinals’ main issues this season have come on the defensive side of the ball.
This is the type of game which could be a knock-out punch early if Ball State hits its shots from outside. With only two players in double-digit scoring for Western Michigan, an opportunity to build defensive confidence on Ball State’s end presents itself with this matchup.
The primary stat, however, that should encourage Ball State fans is Western Michigan’s road record. The Broncos are 0-9 away from home, two of which came in their past two games at Eastern Michigan and at Buffalo.
By the numbers, Ball State has two dissimilar games this week — one looking to be much more difficult than the other. But as usual in #MACtion, anything can happen.