Central Michigan (9-17) at Ball State (11-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 27, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthen Arena (11,500) -- Muncie, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: CMU 5-6, BSU 6-8. Away Record: CMU 1-10, BSU 5-6. Neutral Record: CMU 3-1, BSU 0-0. Conference Record: CMU 2-10, BSU 4-8. Series Record: Ball State leads, 58-31.
GAME NOTES: The Central Michigan Chippewas take their last stab at a season- series sweep as they visit Worthen Arena for a Mid-American Conference tilt against the Ball State Cardinals.
Central Michigan coasted to a 71-57 victory over Ball State on Jan. 19 in the season series opener in Mount Pleasant. The Cardinals now own a 58-31 all-time series edge despite the loss. Kyle Randall tallied 16 points while Olivier Mbaigoto and Blake Hibbitts added 12 points each for CMU in the bout. Majok Majok registered a double-double of 14 points and 11 boards for the Cardinals, who also received 13 points from Jauwan Scaife.
Keno Davis' first season at the helm of the Chippewas' program began with promise, but it began to go south in late January when it suffered a 74-61 setback to Northern Illinois one game after the win over BSU. The loss to the Huskies began an eight-game slide that was extended this Saturday when CMU was defeated, 86-75, at Youngstown State in the BracketBuster event. The Chippewas have been unable to pick up too many wins this season despite the solid play of Randall. The UNC Greensboro transfer averaged just 5.7 ppg as a Spartan in 2011-12 before transferring to the Mid-American Conference to net 17.8 ppg. Unfortunately the 5-foot-10 guard has not had much help as Hibbitts is a distant second in the scoring column with 8.4 ppg.
Randall went 6-of-16 from the floor to net 17 points on Saturday against the Penguins. Chris Fowler led the Chippewas with 19 points and John Simons added 16 on 4-of-5 efficiency from the field. As a team, CMU shot 42.6 percent from the floor, but it let YSU connect on 60 percent of its field-goal tries including 9-of-18 from beyond the arc. The Chippewas did manage to convert 21- of-27 at the charity stripe to give them a 41-of-52 clip at the free-throw line over their past two games. CMU is a middle of the road team offensively in its conference with an average of 66.6 ppg, but it has the worst scoring defense in the 12-team league with an allowed average of 72.2 ppg.
Ball State edged SE Missouri State 85-82 on the road on Saturday in its BracketBuster game to notch its third win in four games. The recent hot streak has moved the Cardinals to an 11-14 overall record and made them 4-8 in league action. The team has seen significant offensive production from Scaife and Jesse Berry, who are netting 14.8 and 12.1 points per game, respectively. Ball State has been mediocre on both ends of the floor this season to place 10th in the MAC in scoring offense (62.9) and just two slots higher in scoring defense (66.7).
The Cardinals struggled from the field in their matchup with SEMO, as they finished with only 40.9 percent efficiency on field-goal tries including an 8- of-22 clip from beyond the arc. Ball State took advantage of the Redhawks' 14 turnovers by converting them into 22 points and also claimed a 46-36 edge in the rebounding battle. Scaife recorded a team-high 18 points while Marcus Posley chipped in 15 points. Majok, who owns a double-double average with 11.6 points and 10.0 boards per tilt, contributed only four points and five rebounds, but Matt Kamieniecki (12 points, 14 rebounds) and Chris Bond (11 points, 11 rebounds) picked up the slack on the interior to keep SEMO at bay.
Ball State has been playing much better than CMU recently and it knows that Randall is the key to the Chippewas' engine after the first matchup. The Cardinals will need a strong showing out of the backcourt on the defensive end as its frontcourt should be able to contain the Cardinals' forwards enough to pick up the decision.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 71, Central Michigan 68
02/27 10:33:43 ET