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Western Michigan at Ball State
When and Where: Saturday, Feb. 9, Worthen Arena, Muncie, Ind., 12 p.m. EST.
Ball State looks to put more distance between itself and last-place Western Michigan on Saturday when the two West Division rivals in the Mid-American Conference collide at Worthen Arena.
Broncos mired in longest skid since 2000
Western Michigan (6-16, 0-9 MAC West) has lost 11 straight conference games dating back to last season and looking to avoid its first 10-game overall losing streak since a run of 11 defeats bridging the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons.
— WMU Men's Basketball (@WMUMBB) February 6, 2019
The last three losses have come by a combined 60 points after an 85-72 home loss to Bowling Green on Wednesday night. Freshman Patrick Emilien had season highs of 15 points and nine rebounds for the Broncos, whose problems are stemming on the defensive end. They have allowed 82.2 points per game in MAC play, a noticeable uptick from their overall mark of 76.3 per contest.
Western Michigan has yielded 79 or more points in the last eight contests, with opponents shooting 41 percent from 3-point range and 47 percent overall in that span. Steve Hawkins’ team is also trying to end a seven-game road losing streak since an 88-77 win at Youngstown State on Dec. 8.
Michael Flowers is averaging a team-high 16.5 points and has scored 24 or more in three of his last four games while shooting 17 for 35 from 3-point range in that stretch. Seth Dugan, who is fourth in the MAC with 8.8 rebounds per game, has recorded four of his nine double-doubles in conference play and is chipping in 15.7 points per contest.
Ball State seeks first back-to-back MAC wins
Ball State (12-11, 3-7 West) is looking to move four games ahead of Western Michigan in the West and potentially move ahead of Eastern Michigan into fourth place.
— Ball State Basketball (@BallStateMBB) February 6, 2019
The Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak with a 72-71 victory at Northern Illinois on Tuesday night. Tayler Persons scored a season high-tying 29 points and hit the game-winning free throw with two seconds to play as Ball State finally emerged with a close win after suffering five league losses by a combined 16 points.
“Where Tayler may have showed his greatest maturity is when he really got going, he really stayed within himself down the stretch,” coach James Whitford told Ball State’s official website. “He kept the ball flying around, and he had a really good feel. He stayed aggressive, and he did it in a way that didn’t take away from allowing those other guys to be good.”
The next step for the Cardinals is to get Persons — their leading scorer at 17.0 points per game — going at home. The senior guard has averaged just 12.0 points in his four conference games at Worthen Arena, shooting 28.3 percent overall and 3 for 17 from 3-point range. Persons totaled 29 points in Ball State’s two losses to Western Michigan last season.
Tahjai Teague and K.J. Walton are tied for second in scoring at 14.5 points per game, and Teague is averaging a team-best 8.0 rebounds. The Cardinals are averaging 79.2 points overall but only 72.4 per game in conference play.
Ball State is:
- 1-4 ATS in its last five games.
- 1-5 ATS in its last six home games vs. Western Michigan.
- 10-21-1 ATS in its last 32 games vs. sub-.500 teams.
- The over is 8-2 in its last 10 home games.
- The over is 7-2-1 in its last 10 home games vs. Western Michigan.
- The over is 8-2 in its last 10 games as a home favorite.
Western Michigan is:
- 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games following a double-digit loss at home.
- 5-1 ATS in its last six games vs. Ball State.
- 5-2 ATS in its last seven games as an underdog of 13 or more points.
- The over is 14-4 in its last 18 games following a straight up loss.
- The over is 9-4 in its last 13 games vs. above-.500 teams.
- The over is 6-2 in its last eight games vs. MAC opponents.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The hedge here is the Cardinals finally break through for their first home conference win but do not cover. Ball State is riding the momentum of a fortunate win, but after losing four in a row, it does not matter how a win arrives.
The Broncos have been hit and miss on the road, but with Ball State yet to win at home in MAC play, they should have enough to stay within 8-to-10 points to cover.
Prediction: Pick: Western Michigan +13
Full-Game Total Pick
Western Michigan is not a good defensive team, but specific to this matchup, it does not do a good job forcing turnovers. Against a pair of solid Ball State guards in Walton and Persons, that means the Cardinals should be able to get their shots on offense and help deliver the over. The Broncos have also scored 70 or more in five of their nine MAC losses, adding confidence in this pick.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 149 points
Half-Time Side Pick
Neither team has been a good first-half team in conference play — Western Michigan has trailed in its last four road games and Ball State has yet to lead after 20 minutes at home in MAC play. But on the heels of a road win, the host Cardinals are the pick here to at least start strong.
Prediction: Pick: Ball State -7
Half-Time Total Bet
This is a pick mainly about Western Michigan’s defense, or lack thereof. The Broncos have played to 75 and higher in three of their five MAC road games, including 81 and 74 in the first half of their last two. Ball State has not gotten above 68 in its four MAC home contests, but with the Broncos not able to disrupt the Cardinals, the expectation is there will be enough production in halfcourt sets for the over to hit.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 70.5 points