Ball State (13-14) at Western Michigan (18-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 5, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: University Arena (5,421) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: BSU 7-8, WMU 10-1. Away Record: BSU 6-6, WMU 6-9. Neutral Record: BSU 0-0, WMU 2-0. Conference Record: BSU 6-8, WMU 9-5. Series Record: Series is tied, 58-58.
GAME NOTES: The Western Michigan Broncos face another tough test as they host the red-hot Ball State Cardinals at University Arena for Mid-American Conference action.
The Broncos were defeated, 65-62, on Feb. 9 at Ball State in the first head- to-head between these schools of the 2012-13 campaign. Jauwan Scaife exploded for 30 points in the contest to propel the Cardinals to the decision. The all- time series is now tied as each team has defeated its conference rival 58 times.
After a lackadaisical start to the campaign, Ball State has become one of the hottest teams in the MAC with five wins in the last six outings. The Cardinals coasted to a decisive, 86-72, victory over Toledo on Saturday to deny the Rockets a chance of winning the West Division crown. The recent hot streak has moved the Cardinals to an 13-14 overall record and made them 6-8 in league action. The team has seen significant offensive production from Scaife and Jesse Berry, who are netting 16.0 and 12.7 points per game, respectively. Scaife has been on fire in recent weeks to contribute 25.7 ppg over the span of the last six games. Ball State has been mediocre on both ends of the floor this season to place eighth in the MAC in both scoring offense (65.0) and scoring defense (67.7). However, the Cardinals have upped their performance lately to net 88.7 ppg over the span of their past three games.
Scaife pumped in 28 points beyond 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point range to lead the Cardinals as they took down the Toledo while Berry and Chris Bond scored 22 and 16 points, respectively. Ball State held Toledo to 28.6 percent from the floor in the second half and owned a massive 44-24 advantage on the glass for the game. Ball State's rebounding and defense helped it overcome 21 turnovers. The Cardinals also held a 30-20 advantage in the paint and were able to turn their defense into transition offense.
The Broncos had their three-game winning streak snapped on Saturday as they fell, 50-49, at Eastern Michigan. Western Michigan still clinched the West Division crown thanks to the Cardinals' win over the Rockets. WMU has won 10 of its last 14 games. The loss to the Eagles lessened the team to 6-9 in true road tests, but now it returns home where it has just one loss in 11 outings. Coach Steve Hawkins has seen solid play on both ends of the floor by his Broncos, who are sixth in the conference in scoring (66.3) and second in scoring defense (62.5).
In the overtime loss to EMU, Shayne Whittington registered 11 points and 11 rebounds in 41 minutes. Austin Richie and David Brown scored nine points each but the Broncos were unable to overcome their 15 turnovers. WMU showed its strength on the interior as it controlled the boards, 33-32, and blocked six shots. Whittington paces the team in both scoring (12.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.6 rpg), while Darius Paul (10.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Nate Hutcheson (10.7 ppg) and Brown (10.7 ppg) all provide additional scoring options.
The Broncos have not been defeated at home since Jan. 12 when they hosted Ohio and lost by just two points. The Cardinals showed they can defeat WMU earlier in the season, but they will need another huge performance out of Scaife to get it done on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 74, Western Michigan 68
03/05 10:44:44 ET