Raise your hand if you thought the Cardinals would be on top of the MAC West through two league games. I know your hand isn't raised. Because my hand isn't raised.
But we were wrong, friends! Wednesday night the Ball State Men's Basketball Cardinals (7-6, 2-0) will look to stay atop the division when they meet the Western Michigan Broncos (10-5, 1-1) in Kalamazoo. The Cardinals are currently riding a four game winning streak after opening the MAC season with a one-point overtime win over Eastern Michigan followed by an 83-65 win over Central Michigan on Saturday.
The Cardinals seems to be getting better with every game. Last Saturday's win over the Chips was especially impressive. Zavier Turner had perhaps his best performance in a Ball State uniform, connecting on 7 of 10 shots for 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists versus just 2 turnovers. The 2 turnovers were the second fewest in his career when playing more than 32 minutes.
The front court has seen increased success lately as well. Franko House reached double figures in scoring against CMU for the third time in five games. House is averaging 7 rebounds the last four games and was recently named MAC West Player of the Week. Matt Kamieniecki shined against the Chippewas as well, logging a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The senior forward has hit double digit rebounding totals in 6 of 13 games this season.
After exploding onto the scene with 26 points in his first collegiate game, freshman Sean Sellers slowed down a bit. From December 3rd through December 20th, a span of five games, Sellers averaged just 5.6 points a game. He's rebounded of late, averaging better than 13 points a contest since.
Perhaps the biggest surprise has been Cincinnati transfer Jeremiah Davis. Davis was granted a waiver following his transfer and permitted to play the second half of the season. Davis had his best game to date on Saturday against CMU, scoring 14 points to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
Ball State will have its hands full Wednesday night. I mean, I guess. That's the polite thing to say right? Actually the Broncos are hot themselves, winners of 4 of 5, most recently getting by Buffalo 78-68 on January 10th. After a home game with the Cardinals, the Broncos will play four of their next five on the road.
So they'll need this one. Key to getting a win will be Connar Tava, but you knew that. Tava averages just shy of 15 points a game and leads the Broncos in scoring. Against Buffalo he hit 6 of 8 from the field for 12 points, but was 0-6 from the free throw line. Yikes.
David Brown is threat number two for the Broncos. He can score too, averaging better than 14 points a game himself. Unlike Tava, he hit 2 of 3 from the charity stripe against Buffalo. Unlike Tava he shot a frigid 1 of 7 from three-point range. Yikes.
Surely Tucker Haymond has his act together! North of 13 points a game, good. He can score and score big, against Akron he hit 5 of 7 threes and racked up 21 points. Against Buffalo however, he shot 1 of 5 from deep. How did the Broncos beat Buffalo?
Oh here's how WMU beat Buffalo! Austin Richie. Richie hadn't scored in double figures in the last five games and had been shutout in the last two before running into the Bulls. Against Buffalo Richie shot 5 of 8 from the field, 4 of 7 from behind the arc, and 7 of 9 from the line for 21 points. Richie is a superb shooter, and deadly when left open. Defending the perimeter will be critical for the Cardinals on Wednesday.
Ball State and Western Michigan tip off from University Arena in Kalamazoo 7pm ET.