Coming off of a narrow loss to Miami (Ohio) in Oxford, Ball State Men's Basketball (14-12, 5-8 MAC) sits out of reach for a BYE seed and are playing for a home game in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The Hoosieroons face another challenge in Central Michigan (18-8, 7-6 MAC) at home on Saturday. Here's your scouting report.
The Hoosieroons visit to Miami was a key matchup for the team and saw the team almost win. A 16-4 run in the final seven minutes of the game would bring Ball State within one possession, but an early hole dug would set the team a step too far back. Redshirt senior guard Tayler Persons shot from just outside half court, to tie the game, fell short at the buzzer.
The game saw the Hoosieroons shooting poorly again. While Persons did lead with 16 on the night, he would shoot for a low 38 percent from field goal range. Redshirt junior forward Tahjai Teague struggled going 1-5 from close to finish the night with just five points.
At the free throw line, the Hoosieroons had a lot of opportunities, but didn't capitalize shooting 17-26 to the RedHawks 18-20. Miami would go 6-0 in the final minute in a half of the game at the line alone. Team leaders Persons and redshirt junior guard K.J. Walton would find most of their points at the line, going 5-8 and 5-6.
The loss put a BYE seed out of target for the Hoosieroons and are currently tied for ninth with Northern Illinois. A win would not move Ball State up anymore, as they have one more loss then the teams battling for sixth. A loss would most likely lock up the 10 seed for the Hoosieroons going into the final two weeks of the regular season.
The Chippewas are in a very different situation. Central Michigan is riding a two game win streak coming off of a 10 point victory over Kent State on Tuesday. The Chippewas are currently on the outside looking in of a BYE seed as they are currently one game ahead of the race for sixth, but one game behind fourth at fifth place.
In Tuesday's win, Shawn Roundtree lead Central Michigan with 20 points, going 8-9 at the line. Roundtree is currently in fifth for scoring in conference play, averaging 17 points per game. Alongside his strong shooting at the line, Roundtree also went 4-7 from deep, contributing to the overall cause at 9-17 from three point. Roundtree is third in the MAC from deep, knocking in 47 percent of his shots from outside the arc.
On defense, Rob Montgomery and Kevin McKay had the bulk of the pulldowns at eight and nine. Mckay is tied for 11th in rebounding in the MAC, with seven boards per game.
As a team, the Chippewas have one of best offensive teams and one of the worst defensive teams in the MAC. Central Michigan is third in the MAC ins scoring, putting up 79 points pert game. However, the team is second to last in 11th in defense as they allow an average of 79 points per game. The team is also winning games by a narrow margin in the conference holding a 0.8 margin of victory.
This will be the second time these teams meet this season as Ball State was victorious over Central Michigan, 83-72, in Mount Pleasant on Jan. 19. The win snapped a three game losing streak for the Hoosieroons. Senior center Trey Moses went all out in the second half to lay in all 13 of his points.
ESPN has the Hoosieroons with the advantage to win at a 76.3 percent chance of victory. Ball State will also be celebrating its Centennial as players will be wearing Ball State Hoosieroons jerseys during the game.
The game can be watched on ESPN+ and listened to on 96.7 WBKQ or 104.9 WLBC. Tip off is scheduled for Saturday Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. inside Worthen Arena in Muncie.
Contact Jack Williams with any comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @jackgwilliams