Central Michigan (9-19) at Ball State (13-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 29th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthen Arena (11,500) -- Muncie, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Central Michigan 5-6, Ball State 8-5. Away Record: Central Michigan 2-12, Ball State 5-8. Neutral Record: Central Michigan 2-1, Ball State 2-3. Conference Record: Central Michigan 4-10, Ball State 4-10. Series Record: Ball State leads, 57-20.
GAMES NOTES: With identical records in conference play the Central Michigan Chippewas and Ball State Cardinals will try to get some separation when the teams collide at Worthen Arena in a Mid-American Conference matchup.
Central Michigan has not had a very memorable season with just a 9-19 record overall this year and a 4-10 mark in the conference play, tied with Ball State for fourth in the MAC East Division, The Chippewas grabbed a win in their last time out against Northern Illinois after back-to-back losses in the two previous games. Unfortunately it was only the second win in 11 games for Central Michigan which wraps up the regular season on Friday against Western Michigan.
Ball State had a more promising start to the season than its record indicates. Heading into the end of January the Cardinals had a 12-5 record and were off to a 4-1 mark in conference play. The Cardinals have since dropped nine of 10 games, including all nine games in conference play. The lone win came in a 71-62 decision over Southern Illinois during BracketBuster weekend which Ball State has followed up with back-to-back losses. The regular season concludes for Ball State this weekend as well with the Cardinals set to face Northern Illinois on Saturday.
Ball State was still optimistic about its season when these teams last faced off and came away still feeling so after posting a 73-52 win on the road. The Cardinals have now won 57 of 77 all-time meetings between these teams and have been on the winning end in four straight and six of the last seven meetings.
Central Michigan had four players score in double figures and shot 45.7 percent from the field while holding Northern Illinois to just 36.4 percent shooting in the Chippewas' 74-64 win over the Huskies on Sunday.
The 74 points the Chippewas scored in the game was more than 10 points above their season average at 61.6 points per game. Central Michigan struggles due to poor shooting, with the team converting on only 39.6 percent from the floor. The Chippewas do have one of the better individual scorers in the MAC this season. Trey Zeigler (16.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is currently third in the conference in the category and after a 14-point performance against Northern Illinois, has scored in double figures in five straight games including a 33- point outburst last week in a 72-67 loss to Toledo. Derek Jackson (11.4 ppg) has slowly been climbing the ranks and with double digit scoring efforts in five of the last six games including a game-high 19 points against Northern Illinois. Freshman guard Austin McBroom (10.6 ppg) has also been able to get into double figures on a regular basis this year.
Ball State took a 61-50 loss last time out despite out-shooting the Eagles by converting on 47.6 percent of its shots from the floor to only 36.2 percent by Eastern Michigan. The major difference came at the free-throw line where the Cardinals were outscored 20-4.
The Cardinals are also not particularly efficient, as they are eighth in the conference in scoring (63.1 ppg) and ninth in field goal percentage (.419). The defense has been able to at least put Ball State in a position to win by allowing only 61.1 points per game. Ball State also boasts one of the conference's better scorers in the form of senior forward Jarrod Jones (15.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg), who is fifth in the conference in scoring and first in rebounding. On Saturday Jones put forth another solid performance by scoring 14 points and pulling down 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season. No other player was in double figures in the loss. Tyrae Robinson (8.3 ppg, 3.7 apg) did manage to get in double digits in one statistical category, by handing out a career-high 10 assists.
This game will come down to which team's star players come up bigger. Jones gets the nod on his home floor for the final time in his collegiate career, especially with Ball State's solid defense primed to keep the ball out of Zeigler's hands.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 67, Central Michigan 63
02/29 10:41:56 ET