Ball State (5-24) at Ohio (21-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, March 10, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (6,400) -- Athens, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: Ball State 5-9, Ohio 11-6. Away Record: Ball State 0-15, Ohio 10-4. Neutral Record: Ball State 0-0, Ohio 0-0. Conference Record: Ball State 2-16, Ohio 11-7. Series Record: Ohio leads, 42-34.
GAME NOTES: The Mid-American Conference Tournament continues with a first- round matchup pitting the 12th-seeded Ball State Cardinals against the fifth- seeded Ohio Bobcats at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.
Ball State really struggled during the regular season, losing 12 of the team's last 13 games to finish the season, including a 70-56 defeat at the hands of Northern Illinois in Saturday's season finale. The Cardinals finished in last place in the conference with a 2-16 record.
Ohio just missed out on receiving a double-bye to the third round, as the fourth-seeded Akron Zips ended the schedule just a game ahead of the Bobcats. Now Ohio, which made it to last year's championship game, has to battle through four rounds just to make it back to the MAC title contest. The Bobcats won an 82-76 overtime showdown against Miami-Ohio on Saturday in the season finale.
Ohio leads the all-time series against Ball State, 42-34. The Cardinals weren't very sharp at all in the only regular-season meeting between sides back on Jan. 15, which the Bobcats won, 71-51.
Northern Illinois held just a one-point advantage over Ball State as the team's broke for the half on Saturday. But the Huskies made sure they weren't going to fall to the MAC's last-place finisher, coming out in the second half and outscoring the Cardinals, 42-29, in the period for the 14-point win. Franko House netted a team-high 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss for Ball State, while Majok Majok chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds. The Cards shot 43.9 percent from the floor in the contest, but hit just 18.2 percent from 3-point range.
Chris Bond leads Ball State with 12.3 ppg this season, followed closely by Zavier Turner at 12 ppg. Turner's 103 assists tops the team, but he also has turned the ball over a Cardinals-high 117 times. Majok averages a double- double on the year with 11.1 ppg and a conference-high 10.1 rpg. Ball State brings in a second-worst 73.7 ppg scoring defense into the matchup. Jesse Berry is the team's final double-digit scorer at 11.3 ppg, connecting on a team-best 41.8 percent of his shots attempts from 3-point range.
Ohio led Miami-Ohio at the half of Saturday's season-ending clash, 37-33. But the Bobcats were the ones who faltered a bit in the second frame, allowing the RedHawks to make a comeback run and tie the score at 68 apiece as time expired in regulation. The Bobcats recovered in overtime, outscoring Miami, 14-8, for the six-point win. Javarez Willis scored 15 points with five assists, and Maurice Ndour matched Willis' 15 points but grabbed eight rebounds. Nick Kellogg chipped in 14 points and Antonio Campbell netted 13 with five boards.
Ohio is led by Kellogg (15.3 ppg), who is fifth in the conference in scoring. Ndour chips in 14.4 ppg and leads the Bobcats with 7 rpg and 51 blocked shots. Stevie Taylor's 80 assists is second to Kellogg's 82 total helpers on the year, and Jon Smith nets a conference-best 64.9 percent of his field goal attempts. Ohio is second in the MAC in field-goal percentage defense (40.8 percent allowed) and second in 3-point field goal percentage (34.8 percent).
Ball State was a mess during the regular season, being plagued with injury issues, turnover problems and simple lack of production spurts. The Bobcats should make quick work of the Cardinals at home, but have a long journey ahead of them if they want to get back to the semifinals and finals of the MAC Tournament.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio 78, Ball State 65
03/10 10:32:43 ET