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Ball State Cardinals vs. IUPUI Jaguars Basketball Preview

Ball State will get to check out the improvements to the Fairgrounds Coliseum when they head the state fairgrounds to battle IUPUI.

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

After shredding IU-Kokomo on Monday, the Ball State Cardinals are back in action once again to take on another much improved team from a year ago. Let's take a closer look at Saturday's matchup.

IUPUI

Last year IUPUI struggled in and out of conference play. The Jags stumbled throughout the season, dropping games to teams from inferior conferences, including a season-opening loss to the WAC's Utah Valley and two losses to the OVC's Southeast Missouri State. Last year, wins were few and far between for IUPUI, but the season did include one small bright spot. In early December the Jags put together a three-game winning streak over Bradley, North Carolina Central and the NAIA's Cincinnati Christian. IUPUI's other non-conference wins came over two NAIA schools and the Jaguars picked one 'W' in conference play, a 59-49 victory over Denver.

After playing on-campus at "The Jungle" for most of their existence, the Jags have taken their talents over to the newly-renovated Fairgrounds Coliseum on the grounds of the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This year, the Jags' improvement is easy to see. Last Friday, IUPUI took the defending Missouri Valley Conference runner-ups in Indiana State all the way to overtime, just to run out of steam and lose by 13 in the overtime period. Then, the Jaguars traveled 65 miles northwest of Indy to West Lafayette to take on Purdue. The Jags showed fight in a 77-57 loss to the Boilermakers, and were lead by the bench throughout as IUPUI got just 13 of their 57 points from their starters. 28 more came from a pair of freshmen in DJ McCall and Leo Svete who each chipped in 14. On Wednesday, IUPUI snached their first victory of the young season, a 70-68 win over  the defending Horizon League champion Milwaukee-Wisconsin Panthers. This time though, IUPUI was able to get significant contributions from both their bench and the starters. Five different Jaguars scored at least seven points in the win, with senior forward DavRon Williams leading the way with 11 points off the bench.

Ball State

The Ball State Cardinals are also improving after a disappointing season from a year ago. Last year, the Cards finished at 5-25, with two of those five victories coming over non-D1 members. Even though the Cardinals lost some scoring in Majok Majok, Ball State has been able to find a new star in sophomore guard Zavier Turner. The Pike High School grad led the Cards in scoring and has already had an impact in his first two games of his sophomore season. But, perhaps the most shocking part of the young season has been the play of freshman Sean Sellers. The young forward scored 26 points at Utah, helping to keep Ball State in the game versus the nationally-ranked Utes.

The Cards played Utah tough through most of the game's 40 minutes, with Utah pulling away from BSU with a late run to close out the Cardinals after holding just a four point lead with under six minutes remaining. On Monday, Ball State hosted NAIA foe Indiana-Kokomo, and after an early struggle, used a 41-14 run in the first half's last 11:19 to put away the Cougars. Sellers continued his good play versus IU-Kokomo, dropping 18 points, with many of those points coming during the large first half run. Guard Jeremie Tyler would end up leading the game in scoring with 23 points for Ball State.

Prediction:

This should be a very good game to catch while the Cards take on Eastern Michigan on the football field. IUPUI's balance of scoring should challenge Ball State enough to make this a good game throughout. In the end, I see IUPUI pulling off what could be seen as a minor upset on Saturday, as the Jags' improvement looks to have them competing for some Summit League victories once January rolls around. All in all, a good tune-up for both involved as each team gets ready to enter conference play in around a month.

IUPUI 71, Ball State 67