Ball State (5-23) at Northern Illinois (13-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 4:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,000) -- DeKalb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: BSU 5-9, NIU 8-7. Away Record: BSU 0-14, NIU 5-9. Neutral Record: BSU 0-0, NIU 0-0. Conference Record: BSU 2-15, NIU 7-10. Series Record: Ball State leads, 48-33.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Illinois Huskies and the Ball State Cardinals will close out their respective Mid-American Conference regular-season schedules this afternoon when they mix it up at the Convocation Center in DeKalb.
It has been an awfully trying season for Ball State, which has tasted victory only once in its last 12 games. Most recently, the Cardinals were dealt a 72-58 setback at Eastern Michigan on Tuesday. They are winless on the road in 14 tries this season.
Northern Illinois sits in the middle of the pack in the MAC West Division standings, but has sputtered a bit lately with losses in three of its last four. The Huskies were also in action this past Tuesday as they suffered a 61-56 loss at Western Michigan.
Ball State leads the all-time series, 48-33, although NIU claimed a 67-65 overtime victory when these teams met in Muncie, Indiana on Feb. 1.
The Cardinals were unable to overcome a poor shooting night (.364 from the floor) as well as 18 turnovers, including 11 in the first half, against EMU earlier this week. Majok Majok turned in a solid effort, as he finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds -- both game-highs. Chris Bond contributed 11 points and six boards, although no other Cardinals player finished in double figures. On the season, Bond leads the team in scoring (12.6 ppg) and is second in rebounding (6.1 rpg). Zavier Turner (12.3 ppg) is a 42 percent shooter from 3- point range (58-of-139), while Jesse Berry (11.5 ppg) paces the squad with 64 treys, albeit at only a 31.5 percent success rate. Majok has been a steady presence in the paint, averaging 11.1 points and a league-best 10.2 rebounds per game while shooting 54.1 percent from the floor.
NIU has struggled to get by since Dontel Highsmith (10.5 ppg) was lost to a season-ending knee injury a couple of months ago. There simply are not a whole lot of scoring options for the Huskies, who shoot just 39 percent from the floor, 28 percent from the perimeter, and are putting up just 62.8 ppg. Darrell Bowie leads the team in scoring with only 9.6 ppg to go along with 6.8 rpg, although he is shooting just 36 percent from the floor. He also sat out Tuesday's game against Western Michigan due to illness and, as expected, NIU struggled to find the bottom of the net. The Huskies shot just 37.7 percent as a team, including a 3-of-15 effort (.200) from beyond the arc. Aaric Armstead led the way with 15 points, while Jordan Threloff finished with 13 points and 13 boards.
Should Bowie's health keep him out of action once again, it would provide a significant boost to Ball State's chances of avoiding a winless season on the road. Either way, this figures to be a relatively low-scoring affair.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 59, Northern Illinois 58
03/08 11:29:38 ET