Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#697 Ball State -2.5 vs.
#698 Central Michigan 146
Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 4:30pm EST
Written by The Stash



#697 Ball State University
#698 Central Michigan University


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A MAC battle here in the heartland as the Central Michigan Chippewas host the Ball State Cardinals. Both teams have been solid but not spectacular this season, as Ball State enters this one at 11-7 while Central Michigan sits at 10-8. Oddsmakers opened the Cardinals as a slight road favorite for this one, which will be streamed by ESPN3.

Ball State Turning It On

James Whitford is entering his seventh year as head coach at Ball State, and he desperately needs to start winning after back to back mediocre finishes. Fortunately for him, he is reasonably well positioned to have some success. He took over a program that was in the basement of the MAC, and this might be his best chance at glory. Ball State returned a ton of experience from last year, and three of their top four scorers are seniors while the other is a junior. They do have seven losses, but it's hard to hold too many of them against them. They've for the most part either been to really good teams, or by really narrow margins.

Three of the seven losses were by four points or fewer. Not surprisingly, they rank 326th in advanced analytics site's luck factor, showing they've been getting very unlucky this season and could be due for some positive regression. They've started to turn a corner ever since conference play started, winning five of their last six games. They've dominated most of those games as all five of those wins were by at least nine points, and four were by at least 14 points. They have two great scorers in Tahjai Teague and Ishmael El-Amin, as both are averaging at least 14.6 points per game. Their even better on the defensive end though as they rank 58th nationally in overall defensive efficiency, a superb ranking for a MAC school.

Central Michigan Comes Down To Earth

While Ball State seems to have turned a corner recently, Central Michigan has been much more up and down. The Chippewas enter this one at 10-8, but they're just 3-6 in their last nine after starting the season off 7-2. Each of those seven early wins came against terrible teams or non-D1 schools, so I think it's fair to toss them aside when handicapping this team right now. Central Michigan went 23-12 last year, but it looks like they're taking a bit of a step back this season. In their most recent game, they lost by 19 points at home to a mediocre Buffalo squad, so it's not like they have any sort of dominant home-court advantage or anything.

They gave up 86 points in that loss to the Bulls, and defense has been an issue for them all season long. They rank 243rd nationally in overall defensive efficiency according to Kenpom. They've been better on offense but still haven't been too efficient, and they shoot an unremarkable 33.6 percent from downtown. Against a very stout Ball State defense, those shooting issues could get even worse. They've been sloppy with the ball a lot, and they turned it over 16 times in the loss to Buffalo while shooting only 34.2 percent from the floor. The Chippewas have some embarrassing losses on their resume, like when they fell by 22 to Valparaiso or when they lost to a terrible Robert Morris team.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:


I'm playing Ball State here. They got off to a bit of a slow start, but they've been turning it on recently, winning five of their last six games. They got really unlucky at the beginning of the year, but now they're showing what I knew they were capable of. They've got a ton of experience, and they've been blowing out most opponents recently. They might have the best defense in the conference, and Central Michigan has been nothing better than mediocre this season. They just got pummeled by Buffalo in their most recent game, and I don't think they stand a chance here.

Prediction: Ball State

Full-Game Total Pick

Insiders Status:


The under also makes a ton of sense here. Ball State has an insane defense for a mid-major team, and I think they're going to completely shut down this inefficient Central Michigan team. Neither squad is good at shooting from three, which lowers the ceiling of this total. Ball State likes to play at a slow pace, and as the better team, I think they'll be able to dictate the tempo here. Central Michigan has failed to top 68 points in two of their last four games despite playing at a very fast pace, and this one should be pretty ugly.

Prediction: Under

Written By Alex Porter , "The Stash"

Alex Porter is one of the premier minds in basketball and football handicapping. With a degree in statistics, Alex uses advanced metrics as well as copious amounts of film study to make his picks. Since starting his betting career at the age of 18, the recent college graduate has never had a losing football season. We are very glad to have Alex as a part of our team here at StatSalt.