Last season, the Ball State Cardinals men’s basketball team had a fairly good season. They failed to hit the 20 win mark after reaching that mark in the previous 2 seasons. However, they were able to finish with 19 wins even after they lost the last 4. The core of that team returns, plus there are some interesting additions, which means I am higher on this team than most.
One of the reasons I am high on this team is the coach. James Whitford took over a team that had their struggles, and then struggled mightily in his first two seasons. After that, he has turned the team into consistent winner. Also included in last season where they barely missed the 20 win mark was a brutal non-conference schedule.
The second, and probably more important, reason I am exceptionally high on this team is the make up of the roster. They have interesting pieces in interesting places. Center Trey Moses is a defensive minded center that hustles. He can also score and has shown a competitive drive among the highest in the league. Guard Tayler Persons is a scrappy gamer that is capable of hitting huge shots, either from deep or creating off the dribble. Tahjai Teague has an NBA body that has been growing his skill set to the tune of 12.1 points and 7.5 rebounds last season. Along with that core trio, Kyle Mallers also returns. The 6’7 sharp shooter also led the team in offensive rebounds while nearly averaging 10 points per contest.
Then there is also what I am not 100% sure on, and that’s some guys deeper on the roster that have shown promise and K.J. Walton. The 6’3 Mizzou transfer could be a huge addition. The Indianapolis native is familiar with some of the Cardinals from the high school all-star circuit.
The Cardinals have depth and the Cardinals have coaching. They are battle tested with a lot of veterans. Their starting 5 is among the best in the conference, if not the best. However, it is how all the pieces fit together is why I put them number 1 in my preseason power rankings. When the shots aren’t falling, the defense of Moses and Teague and the overall length of the team will keep them in games. When the offense is clicking, they’ll blow teams out of the gym. Their non-conference schedule is ideal, as they have a few chances for a big win, and a bunch of games they should win. I’ll be shocked if this team finishes with less than 2 wins and not surprised if they approach the high 20s.