Akron Zips at Ball State Cardinals – NCAAM February 19

Akron (13-4, 11-3) at Ball State (7-10, 5-7)

  • Time: 4PM PST | 6PM CST | 7PM EST
  • Location: Worthen Arena, Muncie, IN
  • TV: CBS Sports Network

Opening Tip

The Zips jump back into action as Akron has won nine out of it’s last ten games and has jumped into a first place tie in the MAC with Toledo. Ball State has lost five out of six as the lone win in the string was ironically a home win over the Rockets two weeks ago.

Akron defeated Ball State, 74-42, back on Jan. 30, but the Cardinals were shorthanded as they played without leading scorer and rebounder K.J. Walton, another starter in Miryne Thomas and then Jarron Coleman had not developed his game back into where it is now.

The Zips hold a 25-18 lead on Ball State in the series, but the Cardinals had won three in a row until this season’s earlier loss. The Cardinals hold a 12-8 advantage in Muncie.

The Cardinals are 0-2 this season in games against teams in which they have already incurred a loss.

Vs. The Spread

Akron:

  • The Zips are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games
  • The total has gone over in 5 of the last 7 Zips games
  • Akron is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against Ball State

Ball State:

  • The Cardinals check in at 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games
  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Ball State’s last 5 games
  • The Cardinals are 13-4 SU in their last 17 games at home

Last Time Out

Bryan Trimble, Jr. had 22 points and MAC leading scorer Cristian Jackson tallied 19 as Akron won it’s ninth in a row at home in an 81-76 conquest of Northern Illinois. Akron hit an 11-0 run midway through the second half to take a 64-56 lead and the Zips never trailed again. Akron made 30-35 free throws to preserve the win.

Bowling Green outscored Ball State, 41-27, in the second half as the Falcons took a 75-62 win. Ball State made 46.5 percent of it’s shots, but the Cardinals were whipped, 19-11, on the offensive glass as Bowling Green had 21 more field goal attempts which ultimately spelled the Cardinals’ doom. K.J. Walton, Ishmael El-Amin, and Jarron Coleman scored 11 points apiece for Ball State.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Akron -4.5 (-110) -195 O 143.5 (-115)
Ball State +4.5 (-110) +170 U 143.5 (-105)

Advantage, Zips

The matchup features Akron’s potent three-point attack against a Ball State three-point defense that yields only 29.6 percent per game. The Zips have a plethora of players who can step up around the arc and knock down the three including Cristian Jackson (21.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Bryan Trimble, Jr. (13.1 ppg) who have 42 and 60 makes, respectively. Ali Ali and Maishe Dailey have 20 makes each from distance.

The way Akron can spread the floor accentuates the inside play of Enrique Freeman (7.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg), who shoots an unbelievable 73.7 percent from the floor (56-of-76). The Cardinals last three opponents have made only 22 triples in 83 attempts.

Key Akron Stat:

The Lions turn the ball over 15.8 times per game as ball handling has become a chore and costed LMU a couple of close games this season. The Dons are looking for a consistent advantage and this could be it as USF forced 13.8 turnovers per game and has accrued 7.2 steals.

X-Factor:

Michael Wynn has been an added contributor for the Zips as league play ramped up in the middle of January. He had eight points and four boards combined with a key triple in a win over Eastern Michigan and then he was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field with two threes in the last meeting with Ball State.

Advantage, Cardinals

Getting players back and trying to recreate offensive continuity has been a key for the Cardinals as point guard Jarron Coleman was out for 10 games due to an injury in the preseason. Coleman, who was the MAC Freshman of the Year last season, has been averaging 13.7 points and 7.7 rebounds over his last three games. Ball State has had 47 games missed due to injury as Ishmael El-Amin and K.J. Walton have been out three games each.

Key Ball State Stat:

Leading scorer K.J. Walton is an interesting story as he shoots 52.6 percent from the field and has gotten to the line 73 times where he shoots 76.7 percent. However, he is one of only four leading scorers who have not made a three-point field goal. He has only attempted one shot and he missed.

X-Factor:

Trying to win the turnover battle against the sharp-shooting Zips will be important for Ball State. The Cardinals are 5-0 when they have fewer turnovers than their opponents while they are 2-10 when they are on the minus side of the equation. The Cardinals, who average 14.5 turnovers per game, beat Bowling Green and Toledo despite having fewer turnovers.

Winner: Akron (-4.5) 76, Ball State 70

The Bets
Akron Zips -4.5
-110
Akron Zips
-195
OVER 143.5
-115
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.