Opportunity For 3-0 In MAC Home Opener
The Ball State men’s basketball team can take its conference record to 3-0 when it hosts Ohio Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals are back in action after an 11-day hiatus following a win at Western Michigan. Ball State is the only MAC team with a 2-0 record and both wins coming on the road. Ohio (4-4, 0-2) comes to Muncie after an 83-75 loss at home to Bowling Green.
The Starting 5 – The Top 5 Storylines For This Game
- THE REAL SEASON BEGINS NOW
The heart of college basketball season begins when the calendar changes, and Ball State is at the top of the standings as the league schedule begins in earnest. The Cardinals enter January with a 2-0 MAC record, and both wins came on the road. BSU is the only team at 2-0 with two road wins. Saturday’s game is the team’s conference home opener. Ball State went 8-1 in the league at home last season en route to an 11-7 mark and a MAC West division title.
- AMONG THE TOP SCORING DUOS IN THE LEAGUE
Saturday’s game features two of the top scoring duos in the conference, featuring BSU’s K.J. Walton and Ishmael El-Amin and Ohio’s Jason Preston and Dwight Wilson. The backcourt of Walton and El-Amin combine for 34.8 points per game, good for second in the MAC. OU’s Preston and Wilson average 34.4 points per game is fourth in the league. Look in the notes to see the top scoring duos in the MAC.
- CARDS AND CATS – THE SERIES
Ball State and Ohio have played each other since 1969 and OU leads the all-time series 48-35. Ohio had controlled the series this century, winning eight straight from 2010-17 before Ball State won at Ohio in 2018, and BSU has won two of the last three. The Cards won last year’s meeting 65-54 behind 24 points from Tahjai Teague. Ball State held Ohio to .356 shooting and 5-for-28 from 3-point range. The Cardinals made 14 of their 15 foul shots in the win.
- NEW YEAR, AND CONFERENCE HOME OPENERS
As the calendar flips and league play starts, Ball State has a recent track record of starting on the right track. BSU is 4-1 the last five years in the first game of the new year. BSU won its new year debut in 2016, 2018, 19 and 20. Similarly, Saturday being Ball State’s home conference opener, the Cardinals have won three of the last five of those. Having a 2-0 start on the road and the next two games at home can potentially set up Ball State for an early advantage in the conference race.
- NOT PLAYING WITH A FULL DECK OF CARDS
The deck of cards for Ball State is getting closer to being full after BSU was bitten by the injury bug in the preseason. Notably, 2020 MAC Freshman of the Year Jarron Coleman is still out after having foot surgery in October, but is making progress and may return in the upcoming weeks. Transfer Reggie Jones, who scored 723 career points at Western Michigan and Tulsa, is also out with a lower body injury. Additionally, many players have missed practice time for various reasons in a very disjointed offseason.