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Ball State Cardinals preview

January 23, 2016


About Ball State University

  • Ball State Cardinals logoLocation: Muncie, Indiana
  • Founded: 1918
  • Enrollment: 21,196
  • Nickname: Cardinals
  • Colors: Cardinal and white
  • Head coach: James Whitford (3rd season at Ball State and overall)
  • Conference: Mid-American Conference

Fun fact: I refer you to my know-your-foe, regarding Ball State’s long and glorious history of failure.

This season so far

If you haven’t noticed, no one really has any idea who’s good in the MAC this season. The Cardinals opened the season with a loss to Bradley — one of the worst teams in the country — and also lost to a not-very-good Eastern Kentucky team. On the other hand, they beat a Valparaiso squad that’s been knocking on the door of a top-25 ranking.

Series history

Ball State leads the all-time series 57-42, though the Eagles have done much better in recent years, winning six of eight games since Rob Murphy took over in Ypsilanti.

Last season the Cardinals won in overtime in Ypsilanti, and after one more surprising (and surprisingly dominating) win over Central Michigan, the Cardinals proceeded to lose their last 17 games, including the rematch with EMU.


Stat Ball State Cardinals EMU Eagles
Last year 7-23 (2-16 MAC) 21-14 (8-10 MAC)
Exhibition N/A N/A
This year 12-6 (3-2 MAC) 10-8 (2-3 MAC)
Kenpom ranking #167 #132
Sagarin Predictor 71.42 (#171) 73.44 (#148) + 3.27 home advantage

Ken Pomeroy is predicting a 74-68 win for EMU, while the Sagarin Predictor numbers suggest a five point EMU win. The betting line favors EMU by 6-1/2 with the over/under at 142-1/2, suggesting an expected final score of 74-68, in agreement with Pomeroy.

Four factors

EMU v Ball State Cardinals four factors offense preview 2016-01-23

Ball State is a slightly better shooting team, but EMU leads in the other offensive categories, including rebounding. The Eagles have a substantial advantage in forcing turnovers and getting to the free throw line. Unfortunately, defense is a different story…

EMU v Ball State Cardinals four factors defense preview 2016-01-23

This seems as good a time as any to share a remarkable change from the last several EMU teams. Five games into MAC play, this year’s squad boasts the best offense and the worst defense in the league. Ball State’s defense is therefore, obviously, better.

Team roster

Probable starters are in red; ineligible and redshirt players are in gray.

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl.
0 Kiapway, Francis G 6-3 195 So.
1 Smith, Naiel G 6-4 200 Jr.
2 Persons, Tayler G 6-3 213 So.
3 Thompson, Josh G 6-1 185 Fr.
11 Mallory, Kaleb G 5-8 160 Jr.
12 Calhoun, Bo F 6-6 245 Sr.
15 House, Franko F 6-6 247 Jr.
21 Gill, Bik F 6-7 227 Sr.
22 Tyler, Jeremie G 6-2 172 So.
24 Davis, Jeremiah G 6-4 210 R-Sr.
25 Teague, Tahjai F 6-8 195 Fr.
33 Weber, Ryan G/F 6-6 226 Sr.
34 Sellers, Sean F 6-6 208 So.
41 Moses, Trey F/C 6-9 245 Fr.
52 Wells, Nate C 7-1 247 Grad

Player notes

  • The leading scorer is Ryan Weber, with 13.1 points per game. Weber is one of two really outstanding shooters on the team. He averages 45.9% from beyond the three-point arc, and hits 81.3% of his free throws.
  • Franko House is the #2 scorer, averaging 11.2 points per game, all inside. He’s also the #2 rebounder, grabbing 5.3 boards per game.
  • Bo Calhoun is the leading rebounder, at 8.2 rebounds per game, and the #3 scorer (10.5 points per game).
  • The other player who could really bust EMU’s zone defense is Francis Kiapway, who shoots 47.5% from three-point range.

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