BY JACK KIZER | Sideline Reporter for Ball State Basketball on WCRD 91.3 FM
The two games for Ball State this week provide some challenges, but also opportunity for the Cardinals as Mid-American Conference play heats up.
Ball State vs. Central Michigan: January 17th, 7pm
|Central Michigan Team Stats||Ball State Team Stats|
|PPG: 89||PPG: 78.5|
|PA: 82.1||PA: 71.9|
|FG%: 42.7%||FG%: 47%|
|3FG%: 35%||3FG%: 38%|
|FT%: 330-426 (78%)||FT%: 235-334 (70%)|
|RPG: 40.2 (Margin: -2.4)||RPG: 39.2 (Margin: +4.8)|
|APG: 12||APG: 16.2|
|TOPG: 10.6 (Margin: +3.4)||TOPG: 15.3 (Margin: -1.6)|
|SPG: 6.4||SPG: 5.9|
|BPG: 2.8||BPG: 3.4|
This matchup, by the numbers, has shootout written all over it.
Central Michigan as a team is ranked sevent in the nation in points per game and is led by the nation’s top scorer, Marcus Keene. Keene tops the country’s best bucket producers at 28.7 points per game. Taking approximately 20 shots every time on the court helps those numbers, but Keene shoots an efficient 47 percent from the field and 37 percent from downtown.
The 5-foot-9 guard also manages 4.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. It’s extremely challenging just to stop Keene, but his backcourt partner, Braylon Rayson chips in 19.1 points per game.
Ball State is no slouch itself on the offensive end. Compiling 78.5 points per game with a team shooting percentage of 47 percent, the Cardinals are one of the top offenses in the Mid-American Conference.
The scoring is also much more evenly distributed on Ball State’s end with seven players averaging seven points or more. Five different players are averaging 9.0 points or more per game. Key offensive categories shown above all favor the Cards. The only area on offense that could hurt Ball State, which has also been a season trend, is turnovers. Central Michigan has a +3.4 margin in comparison to Ball State’s (-1.6). With how fast the Chippewas can score, it’s imperative the Cardinals take care of the basketball on Tuesday.
The overall key to a win will be defense for Ball State. The ‘D’ has struggled in conference play, allowing over 81 points per game through four contests.
Ball State’s offense will have a good opportunity to score a lot of points as the Chippewas are giving up 82 points per game themselves. If the defense clamps down enough to compliment the offense, the Cardinals have a very good chance to capture their third conference win at home.
Ball State @ Bowling Green: January 21st, 2:30pm
|Bowling Green Team Stats||Ball State Team Stats|
|PPG: 72||PPG: 78.5|
|PA: 73||PA: 71.9|
|FG%: 42%||FG%: 47%|
|3FG%: 119-331 (36%)||3FG%: 151-403 (38%)|
|FT%: 248-372 (67%)||FT%: 235-334 (70%)|
|RPG: 36 (Margin: -1.8)||RPG: 39.2 (Margin: +4.8)|
|APG: 13||APG: 16.2|
|TOPG: 13 (Margin: +1.5)||TOPG: 15.3 (Margin: -1.6)|
|SPG: 7||SPG: 5.9|
|BPG: 3||BPG: 3.4|
The second game this week by the numbers favors Ball State, despite the fact the Cardinals fell to Bowling Green in Muncie Jan. 7.
In that contest, Ball State shot a mere 16 percent from three-point range and committed 18 turnovers. Those two factors undermined the Cards’ three-point halftime lead over a less talented Falcon squad. Ball State now has to go on the road to try and avenge that loss.
In the chart above, everything but steals per game and turnovers per game are on Ball State’s side. Bowling Green was able to exploit that a couple of weeks ago and made the Cardinals pay.
If Ball State has victory in mind, taking care of the basketball will have to be the first priority. It’s highly unlikely the same horrendous shooting performance will occur, so if the ball security is tight, it’ll be smoother sailing for Cardinal shooters.
On defense, Ball State needs to figure out a solution to the Zach Denny problem.
Denny is the leading scorer for the Falcons at 12.2 points per game, but he averages nearly 18 points per game when playing Ball State in his career. The small forward contributed 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals to Bowling Green’s 76-71 a week ago. Locking Denny down and boxing him out are vital for Ball State.
Another category the Cardinals can take advantage is rebounding margin. Height and weight benefits Ball State, and rebounding on the season does, too. Last game, the Cards had a +13 rebounding margin. What needs to change in relation to that, are the points generated off of the rebounds. Ball State only had four more second chance points despite the significant margin. Capitalizing on those extra opportunities could be the difference in Saturday’s road matchup.