Ball State (4-20) at Toledo (22-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 23, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Savage Arena (7,300) -- Toledo, Ohio. Television: TWC. Home Record: BSU 4-8, Toledo 12-0. Away Record: BSU 0-11, Toledo 8-4. Neutral Record: BSU 0-0, Toledo 2-0. Conference Record: BSU 1-11, Toledo 10-3. Series Record: Toledo leads, 44-40.
GAME NOTES: The Toledo Rockets will try to keep pace atop the Mid-American Conference standings when they play host to the Ball State Cardinals on Sunday evening.
Toledo recently edged out Bowling Green on the road, 60-58, to earn its fourth win in the last five games. The victory also pushed the Rockets to their 22nd win of the season, including a 10-3 mark against the rest of the MAC, which is tied with Western Michigan for the top mark in the West Division, and in the league overall. Toledo visits Northern Illinois next, before engaging in a showdown with the Broncos.
Ball State is nowhere near the top of the MAC standings, with just a single win in 13 bouts. The Cardinals have just a 4-20 record overall, and they have suffered losses in eight straight games. They will play their final two home bouts of the campaign next against Western Michigan and Central Michigan.
The Cardinals put up a fight against Toledo when they hosted them on Feb. 8, but they ultimately fell short in an 80-73 decision. The Rockets have won three of the last four matchups with Ball State, and they lead the all-time series by a 44-40 margin.
Ball State came close to a victory on Wednesday night, but fell in triple- overtime to Central Michigan, 101-95. After trading leads in the first few minutes of the third extra session, the Cardinals finally ran out of gas, letting up a 9-0 run to allow the Chippewas to pull away for good.
As might be expected of a team with only four wins, Ball State has not had much success at either end of the floor this season. The Cardinals are netting only 65 ppg on 40 percent shooting, and they surrender 73 ppg on 46 percent field goal efficiency. Zavier Turner (12.5 ppg) and Chris Bond (12.3 ppg) are the top scoring options, although Turner is only shooting 37.8 percent from the field. Both had huge games against Central Michigan, with Bond posting 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Turner adding 20 points. Majok Majok (10.5 ppg, 10 rpg) and Jesse Berry (10.9 ppg) represent the secondary options on a team that lacks depth.
Rian Pearson drained a jumper with four seconds left to break a tie and lift Toledo to a thrilling win over Bowling Green last time out. The Rockets did not trail in the second half, but they allowed a 19-point lead to slip away down the stretch, as they had only six field goals over the final 20 minutes. However, an 8-of-12 effort at the free-throw line and Pearson's heroics saved the day.
It was a puzzling offensive effort for Toledo against Bowling Green. On the season, the Rockets have been the best offensive team in the MAC, leading it in scoring (80.8 ppg), assists (14.9 apg) and field goal percentage (.470). Balance is the key for the Rockets, with four players averaging in double figures. Julius Brown (14.8 ppg, 6.3 apg) is the best of the bunch, as well as the league's leader in assists. Pearson (14.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg) is just behind him, and Justin Drummond (13.8 ppg) and J.D. Weatherspoon (11.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg) are also reliable options. However, only Brown (21 points) and Pearson (10) reached double figures against Bowling Green.
In their last two games, the Rockets have scored 104 points combined. Against Ball State, a team that has struggled to stop just about everyone, Toledo may be able to match that total today.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 92, Ball State 74
02/23 10:16:49 ET