MAC vs. Sun Belt here as the Ball State Cardinals will square off with the Appalachian State Mountaineers in the third and final round of the Charleston Classic Tournament. It’s merely a consolation game, as each team has already lost their first two games of the tournament. Each team enters this one at 1-3 on the season, and could desperately use a win here.
Ball State drops three straight
Ball State started the season off right with a nice 17 point win over Indiana State, and it’s been all downhill from there. They only lost by nine to Purdue and then by nine to Virginia Tech, but those games weren’t as close as the final scores indicate. In each game, it was closer to a 20 point deficit in the final couple minutes before Ball State poured it on in garbage time to distort the final margin of victory. They then got beat start to finish by an angry Alabama squad, losing by 18 points.
I think Ball State is a pretty underrated team this year, and their advanced metrics through sites like Kenpom look pretty good. They could make some noise in the MAC this year on the back of senior guard Tayler Persons, who is averaging 16.5 points per game this year. That being said, they don’t matchup very well with App State, who has better athletes and is better conditioned for this tournament style setting.
App State Can’t Close
App State has looked really good to these eyes, they just haven’t been able to close down the stretch. After starting off the year with a 50+ point win over a non-DI school, they’ve since dropped three straight. But all three of those games were against very good opponents, and they nearly won two of them. They led against Alabama with 10 minutes left, and were down two with 45 seconds left in their most recent game against Wichita State. They had plenty of chances to win both of those games, but they just couldn’t pull them out in the end.
Around the corner 😈 pic.twitter.com/4WS2Df52EO
— Jfo ✌🏽 (@JustinForrest_1) October 22, 2018
That being said, they’ve looked impressive during the course of this tournament, and I like them a lot moving forward. They have a ton of experience and senior leadership, and they’ve been getting great play from sophomore guard Justin Forrest. Forrest is averaging 19.8 points per game while being very efficient from the field. That’s not surprising, as he showed a ton of potential as a freshman last year, and he should score at will against this Ball State defense.
- 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a losing straight up record
- 0-9 ATS in their last 9 games following a straight up loss
- 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. Sun Belt
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I love App State here. They’ve been able to hang with some big time programs here, while Ball State has trailed by large margins the entire time. Appalachian State has showed a ton of promise and I think they’re the hungrier team. They’re also more athletic, and shouldn’t be tired here on the final day of the tournament.
Prediction: App State +4
Full-Game Total Pick
I like the under a lot here. On the final day of this tournament, each side will be a little fatigued, and shooting percentages should drop as a result. I think it’s possible we see a very low scoring game here, as both teams are desperate for a win.