By: Connor Onion | @Conion22
Play-by-play voice on SL Radio on WCRD
Member of Ball State Sports Link
Ball State enters Friday’s contest with a one-game lead in the Mid-American Conference West Division at 8-5 in league play. Friday’s opponent, Northern Illinois, is one game back at 7-6, along with Toledo and Central Michigan.
In addition to the division race, Ball State is playing for MAC Tournament seeding. The top four teams, regardless of division, earn first-round byes. The Cardinals would be the No. 4 seed if the tournament started today, behind Akron (10-3), Ohio (8-5) and Kent State (8-5).
Reigning Freshman of the Year Thriving
Sean Sellers’ scoring droughts have been well documented this season, especially after leading Ball State a year ago with 12 points per contest. The former Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year has been held scoreless 6 times this year and has seen his minutes cut in half.
Instead of hanging his head, Sellers has embraced his new role. “He is a complete player right now, more than he’s ever been,” said Ball State Head Coach James Whitford of his sophomore swingman.
Over the past two games Sellers has been used predominantly as a shooting guard, drawing the assignment of guarding smaller, quicker players. He stifled Braylon Rayson (6th MAC scoring) of Central Michigan who finished 1-7 from the field with only three points in Ball State’s 75-63 win last Saturday.
Offensively Sellers has regained his touch as well, connecting on eight of his last 13 triples.
Maric a Load
Ball State has seen plenty of capable big men during conference play. Toledo’s Nathan Boothe is a triple-double threat and Ohio’s Antonio Campbell averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds against Ball State this year, but neither has the power of Northern Illinois’ Marin Maric.
“He’s listed at 260, but I’m not sure if that’s pounds or kilograms”, Whitford joked.
The Croatian big man has benefitted from the graduation of fellow forward Jordan Threloff. This year, the bulk of the scoring load has fallen on Maric’s shoulders. He’s capitalized, averaging just short of a double double per night.
Visions of Overtime?
The last two times Northern Illinois has traveled to Muncie it has resulted in overtime wins for the Huskies.
Two seasons ago, current Northern Illinois senior guard Travon Baker drilled a three at the buzzer to force the extra period before Northern Illinois pulled away in overtime. Last year, Ball State returned the favor with a Sean Sellers overtime forcing three, but once again fell short, 71-67.
Tonight’s game is being billed as #MuncieOut, in hopes of getting a large community and student turn out for the nationally televised game on CBS Sports Network. The game is also available on SL Radio on WCRD.