Men’s Basketball Set For Showdown Against Central Michigan

Donnie Harmon / Ball State Sports Link

The Ball State men’s basketball team is set for a MAC matchup against Central Michigan this Tuesday at 7 PM. The 11-11 Cardinals look to carry the momentum from Friday after they handed Toledo just their second conference loss of the season. Central Michigan sits at 5-14 on the year.

Central Michigan Scouting Report

While Central Michigan sits at just 5-4 on the year, they are 4 and 4 in MAC play, 7th in the conference, and have won three of their last four.

The story of the season for Central Michigan has been the roster turnover. In their first season under head Tony Barbee, who spent the previous seven seasons as an assistant at Kentucky after head coaching stints at Auburn and UTEP, the Chippewas returned just four players from last year’s roster. With all of the roster turnover, the struggle in non-conference play was expected.

Finding consistency during the year has been difficult as well, as the team has had six games postponed, and Long Island transfer and leading scorer Jermaine Jackson Jr. decided to leave the team at the midway point of the season to focus on a professional career. The team has also dealt with a slew of injuries throughout the year.

Statistically, Central Michigan is below average in almost every category, as they have scored just 64.5 PPG en route to a -14.5 average margin. They are also out-rebounded by an average margin of 7.5 and are at a deficit in their assist to turnover ratio. One are they are solid is beyond the arc, as they shoot 36.1% from three.

What To Watch For:

Home Court Cardinals

Ball State has an 8-2 record at home on the year, compared to a 3-9 record in road and neutral site games. They are very comfortable shooting in Worthen Arena, as they average 80.1 PPG at home compared to 70.6 away from Worthen. This trend was punctuated on Friday as the Cardinals erupted for 93 points against a Toledo defense that allows just 69.2 PPG.

Tall Chippewas

Central Michigan boasts five players standing 6 foot 10 or taller, with three others standing 6 foot 6 or taller. Against a Ball State team that played just one true big man in their last game, Central Michigan will need to try and use their height to their advantage.

A Spark In Conference Play

Freshman center Payton Sparks has been dominant in conference play for the Cardinals. The team’s leading scorer (12.8 PPG) has been averaging 16.1 PPG in conference play. He also leads the team with 7.8 RPG, while shooting close to 55% from the field.  

“What’s fun about coaching Payton is how good he is and how much better you know he’s going to get,” Coach Whitford explained. “There’re so many things he can keep getting better at and he does, and he works at it. He’s a really good player and he’s just scratching the surface.”

Cardinal Killer

Redshirt senior forward Ralph Bissainthe had a career best performance against Ball State last year, scoring 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. The lone returning starter from last year’s Chippewa’s team, he averages 10.1 PPG, while leading the team in rebounds (6.9), steals (1.6), and blocks (0.8). His ability to impact the game in a multitude of ways will have a big impact on this game.

Where To Listen

The game will be broadcast live on Sports Link Digital Radio on the Sports Link twitter and YouTube pages. Coverage of the game will start about 10 minutes before the 7 PM tip-off, with Donnie Harmon on play by play and Jack Ashby on color for the call.

Author: Donnie Harmon