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Ball State Cardinals vs. Utah Utes: Basketball Preview

The Cardinals will travel to Salt Lake, to take on the #25 Utah Utes. This is both team's season opener.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Friday marks the first regular season game for both the Ball State Cardinals and the #25 Utah Utes. The Cardinals will be traveling to Salt Lake Utah, to try to get an early win against a ranked PAC-12 opponent. Last year was unfortunately, not the best season for Ball State, finishing the year 5-25. The Utes, on the other hand, went 21-12. They fell first round of the NIT to Saint Mary's. If the Cardinals can pull out a win, it would be a huge momentum boost going forward on the year.

At the point guard position, the Utes have one of the best in the game. Delon Wright is 6 foot 5, and he knows how to score. Last year, Wright averaged 15.5 points per game, and just over five assists on top of that. His 56% field goal percentage is what really makes him stand above the rest of the other collegiate point guards. He will be the Utes main source for scoring.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, they also have a threat at the point guard position as well. Zavier Turner was the MAC freshman of the year. He averaged 12.1 points per game, and 3.7 assists per game. With Jeremiah Davis gone at shooting guard until December, he should also, be the main source of scoring for this team.

Two players to watch out for on the Ball State team that could potentially make an impact are freshman, Francis Kiapway, and Jeremie Tyler. Just watching Kiapway's highlight tape got my really excited to see what he can do at the collegiate level. He has an extremely smooth shot, and can shoot from pretty much wherever. Jeremie Tyler was an All Indiana guard, and also has the potential to do some big things at the collegiate level.

At the forward position, Utah has another stud. Senior, Jordan Loveridge cannot only score, but he is also a phenomenal rebounder. Last year, he averaged 14.7 points per game, while still managing to get 7 rebounds (which led the Utes). The combination of Wright and Loveridge will be hard for the Cardinals to stop.

What is really cloudy for Ball State is who is going to step up and make a huge impact at either one of the forward positions. Right now, expect Franko House to make the biggest impact. Last year, he averaged 6 points per game, and a little over 1 assist. They aren't jaw-dropping numbers, but fortunately, Ball State does have a lot of talent that can step up in the forward position. All Indiana freshman, Sean Sellers, can certainly fit that role. He has enormous potential to be a leader at Ball State. Along with newcomers, Rashaun Richardson and Bik Gill, there is plenty of potential for someone to make an impact at one of the forward positions.

At the center position, the Utes will rely on 7 foot, Dallin Bachynski. He was able to put up almost seven points per game, and almost five rebounds a game. Nothing too incredible, but I do expect him to make an even bigger impact this year.

It hurts the Cardinals to lose their stud center, Majok Majok, and replacing him won't be easy. Mading Thok will take over his position. Thok averaged 2.7 points per game last year, and 2.2 rebounds. Not great numbers, but he didn't get a ton of playing time either (only 7.5 per game). Realistically, he won't make as much of an impact as Majok Majok did last year, but he should still be a key player for the Cardinals.

To put it honestly, this game will not be easy for the Cardinals. They are on the road against a ranked PAC-12 opponent. It will just be interesting to see how the Cardinals can bounce back from the disappointing last season. With all the new talent, and Jeremiah Davis being back in December, the Cardinals could very well have a successful season. Unfortunately, it's hard to believe that they will be able to pull out a "W" in this matchup.