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In a battle of Indiana mid-major rivals, Evansville hosts Ball State on Saturday. Ball State won its first game to come into this game at 1-0 while Evansville is playing its first game of the season.These two teams played twice last year with Ball State winning the first 82-72 and Evansville winning the second 89-77 -- with both teams winning at home. The game starts Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana.
Ball State wins season openerHopes are high for the Ball State Cardinals this year as they are predicted by some to be one of the best teams in the Mid American Conference. They were just 16-17 last year and finished 6-12 in the MAC, but they only lost 2 players from last year. They have two of their top scorers from last year, guard KJ Walton and forward Tahjai Teague, returning this year, along with forward Kyle Mallers, guard Ishmael El-Amin, and forward Brachen Hazen.
Fun to see a bunch of guys get their first action in last night's season-opening win.— Ball State Basketball (@BallStateMBB) November 6, 2019
ICYMI, here's how it all went down ⤵️https://t.co/BoSd1GMrUk
(Photos by @kcrawfordphotoj)#ChirpChirp | #WeFly pic.twitter.com/ypZHaat8wD
In their season opener the Cardinals beat up on Defiance College, a Division III school, so it is not really a true test of where they are. But the score was pretty gaudy as they won 87-43. Ball State shot 51 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. Mallers led the way with 12 points and 7 rebounds while Walton and Teague each had 11 points. Jarron Coleman added 10 points off the bench.
Evansville looks to improve upon last yearFormer NBA player Walter McCarty took over as the coach of Evansville last year, but his first year did not go so well. The team finished 11-21 overall and 5-13 in the Missouri Valley Conference. This year should be better, according to some pundits, but there are still some growing pains to go through. The good news is that their leading scorer, KJ Riley, is back this year. Riley averaged 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game for the Purple Aces last year. Forward John Hall is also back. Hall averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds per game a year ago.,
There are a bunch of newcomers, including a few transfers from other D1 schools. One of the transfers is Art Labinowicz from Coastal Carolina. Labinowicz averaged 11 points per game 2 years ago for Coastal Carolina but sat out last year. They also got Sam Cunliffe, who transferred from Kansas and center Peace Ilegomah, who came over from Pittsburgh. Neither played much at their former schools, but they'll get a chance to contribute here. Freshman guard Thomasi Gilgeous-Alexander, brother of OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, will also contribute.
Trends are from Covers.com:
- Purple Aces are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Saturday games.
- Purple Aces are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. Mid-American.
- Purple Aces are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Purple Aces are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games.
- Cardinals are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
- Cardinals are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Saturday games.
- Cardinals are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Take the Purple Aces here. Many of the preseason polls suggest that Ball State is the better team. In fact, if you go to the Kenpom rankings, Ball State is ranked 133 while Evansville is at 174. But it's really hard to say with much certainty how these two teams will shake out right now, given that Evansville hasn't played a game yet and Ball State only played a DIII school. So, give me the home team here. The Purple Aces are intriguing because they brought in a bunch of transfers, a couple from big-time programs, so it's hard to say what kind of impact they will have. But I think these newcomers, added to the established players, will make Evansville formidable in the MVC. The Cardinals are 0-4 against the spread in the last 4 meetings between these two.
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the under. Okay, so Ball State shot the lights out and ran up the score against a DIII school, Defiance College, but that tells me nothing about how good they will be. Neither one of these teams was particularly good shooting teams last year, and while that could change this year, I'm not counting on it here in this early season matchup. I'm favoring the under here. The under is 6-1 in the Cardinals last 7 road games and 9-2 in their last 11 overall. Also, the under is 4-0 in the Purple Aces last 4 non-conference games and 5-2 in their last 7 overall.