Valparaiso (5-4) at Ball State (2-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 4, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthen Arena (11,500) -- Muncie, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Valpo 5-1, Ball State 2-1. Away Record: Valpo 0-3, Ball State 0-3. Neutral Record: Valpo 0-0, Ball State 0-0. Conference Record: Valpo 0-0, Ball State 0-0. Series Record: Ball State leads, 31-28.
GAME NOTES: Hoosier State rivals square off at Worthen Arena on Wednesday night, as the Ball State Cardinals play host to the Valparaiso Crusaders.
Valpo has won three of its last four games, all at home, to improve to 5-4 on the season. The Crusaders most recently made easy work of NAIA foe Cincinnati Christian last Saturday, 94-58, although they now head back out on the road, where they have yet to win in three tries on the campaign.
Ball State has been trending in the opposite direction as Valpo in recent weeks, as it has dropped three straight games to dip to 2-4. During the Cardinals' brief two-game road trip, they came away with hefty setbacks against Utah (88-69) and Cleveland State (78-55).
Ball State holds a 31-28 advantage in the all-time series with Valpo. The teams have split the four meetings since the 2006-07 season, with the Crusaders winning most recently, 69-52, in December of 2010.
The Crusaders breezed through their latest contest by outshooting Cincinnati Christian from the field, 64.6 percent to 32.8 percent, on their way to the convincing 36-point victory. Six players scored in double figures in the rout, paced by David Chadwick's 14 points off the bench on 6-of-9 from the field. Alec Peters made all five of his field goal attempts for 13 points, and Vashil Fernandez tallied a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Clay Yeo and Lexus Williams also scored 11 points, while Moussa Gueye rounded out the balanced effort with 10 points. Valpo has gotten used to lofty field goal percentages this season, as it is shooting just shy of 52 percent from the field for 86.0 points per game, 12.9 points more than it allows on the defensive end of the floor. Peters (15.6 ppg) and LaVonte Dority (15.4 ppg) are neck-and-neck for the team lead in scoring, and the duo has combined to drain 38 3-poineters. Jordan Coleman (12.4 ppg) and Bobby Capobianco (10.2 ppg) are also off to strong starts.
Although the Cardinals managed to get within six points of the lead midway through the second half the last time out, they were outscored by Cleveland State down the stretch, 26-10, on their way to the blowout loss. The team shot just 35.6 percent from the field on the evening, although Chris Bond managed to piece together a strong effort with 17 points on 6-of-11 from the field. Jesse Berry added 10 points, while Majok Majok hauled in 11 rebounds. On the season, Ball State has yet to find a rhythm offensively, as it is shooting just 42.4 percent from the field for 69.2 points per game while also committing 4.2 more turnovers than its opponents. Zavier Turner (14.2 ppg) and Berry (13.5 ppg) are the top scoring options, but neither shoots greater than 41 percent from the field. Bond brings 11.3 points per game to the table, and Majok (9.8 ppg, 11.0 rpg) is a nightly double-double threat.
Despite Valpo's struggles on the road this season, it has shown in the early going that it is a much better shooting team than Ball State, and the Crusaders should be able to snap out of their funk away from home against the fluttering Cardinals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 78, Ball State 71
12/04 10:33:45 ET