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The Ball State Cardinals take to the road to try to hold on to first place in the MAC Western Division, as they face the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Tuesday night. The Cardinals had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 75-60 loss to the Akron Zips on Friday. The Eagles fell to 0-3 in conference play with a 71-68 loss to the Northern Illinois Huskies on Saturday.
Cardinals get zapped by ZipsThe Ball State Cardinals had a 10-point lead over the Akron Zips with 7:02 remaining in the first half before the wheels fell off the cart, as Akron outscored Ball State 61-36 over the final 27:02 to run away with the victory. Tahjai Teague paced the Cardinals with 19 points, while Ishmael El-Amin had 17 points. Teague also pulled down 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Ball State shot 40.4% from the floor, 31.8% from three-point range, and just 53.8% from the foul line in the game.
"They came out in the second half and put together a great half," Ball State head coach James Whitford said on ballstatesports.com. "I thought we got a little rattled when they made a run. We let a lot of things get to us. We defended in the first half; we couldn't in the second half."
Before Friday's loss, the Cardinals had won three straight games, two of which were conference games. They haven't played the toughest schedule so far this season, but they are 1-1 against Power Five Conference teams this season, losing to then-22nd ranked Washington and defeating Georgia Tech by 18 points.
Ball State is led by a trio of players who average in double figures. El-Amin tops the list at 14.6 points per game, followed closely by Teague who averages 14.2 points and a team-leading 8.1 rebounds per game. Kyle Mallers adds 10.2 points per game for the Cardinals, who average 71.6 points per game and shoot 43.8% from the floor and 34.6% from three-point range.
Eagles drop third straight conference gameThe Eastern Michigan Eagles lost their third straight game on Saturday, as they fell to Northern Illinois by three points. Trailing 54-36 about midway through the second half, the Eagles made a furious comeback that saw them cut the lead all the way down to one point with 0:23 left in the game, but Northern Illinois iced the game at the foul line to preserve the win. Eastern Michigan had four players who scored in double figures, led by Noah Morgan, who scored 16 points off the bench in 27 minutes, the second-most minutes that anyone played for the Eagles. Yeikson Montero scored 15 points, while Boubacar Toure and Thomas Binelli added 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The Eagles ended non-conference play with a 10-3 record, but that is a little bit misleading considering that four of the wins were against non-Division I opponents (3 from the NAIA and one from NCAA Division II). Their six losses this season have come by an average margin of 20.33 points. They have also lost five straight games to D-I opponents.
Eastern Michigan is averaging just 66.5 points per game, but just 59.2 points per game versus D-I opponents. Ty Groce is the Eagles leading scorer for the season, averaging 11.6 points per game. Morgan and Montero also score in double figures with 10.2 points per game apiece. The Eagles are shooting 42.2% from the floor this season and 30.2% from three-point range.
Trends found on oddsshark.com:
- The Eagles are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall
- The Eagles are 2-4 ATS in their last six games played in January
- The Cardinals are 6-3 ATS in their last nine games versus Eastern Michigan
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Ball State Cardinals have won three of their last four games, while the Eastern Michigan Eagles have lost five straight to Division I opponents. The Cardinals have played a much more difficult schedule than the Eagles have, with four of Eastern Michigan's 10 wins coming against non-Division I opponents. Ball State is a better offensive and defensive team than Eastern Michigan. The Cardinals are averaging 71.6 points per game and give up just 62.2 points per game. The Eagles are averaging just 59.2 points per game against D-I opponents and give up 62.7 points per game overall for the season. The Cardinals are 2-1 in conference play and the Eagles are 0-3. All signs point to a big Ball State win in this one.
Prediction: Ball State -4
Full-Game Total Pick
Both teams are giving up less than 63 points per game this season, and Eastern Michigan has been horrible offensively this season, especially against D-I opponents. They are scoring less than 60 points per game versus D-I opponents and are ranked 258th and 303rd in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. They are also 317th in fou shooting percentage. Ball State isn't much better, ranking 173rd in field goal percentage and 287th in foul shooting percentage. The Cardinals are 218th in pace of play and the Eagles are 240th, which will make for a slower game between these two. This will be a low-scoring affair.
Prediction: Under 125