The fast 2-0 start to conference play for the Ball State Cardinals has been drowned out by nine straight losses, while the Bowling Green Falcons stand on a 8-3 MAC record that has them tied for the conference's top spot with fellow MAC East foe Akron and in-state rival Toledo.
Bowling Green's 16-6 start has them high in the RPI range, sitting pretty at 61, and it also has them nearing the bubble if they can't get the dirty work done in Cleveland next month. The Falcons are currently riding a three game winning streak, picking up close wins over Central Michigan and Akron, before topping Western Michigan by 16 earlier this week.
Bowling Green has ran a balanced attack throughout the course of the year, with senior forward Richaun Holmes leading the way, averaging 14.0 points and a touch under 8 rebounds per game. Holmes put up 12 points in the victory over Western and totaled 27 minutes on the night. In all three of Bowling Green's conference losses, Holmes has seen minutes below his season average, finishing with 26 minutes in their first match up with Akron, 26 again in a loss to Toledo and just 24 minutes in the second loss to Akron on Jan. 31. Sophomore guard Zach Denny has also taken a large role, averaging 9.6 points and nearly six boards per game. Denny played 32 minutes in the victory over WMU last Saturday, as well as playing 35 minutes and scoring eight points in a 69-68 loss to Akron.
Ball State went through a up-and-down non conference schedule before winning their first two conference match ups and fading away in the form of a nine game slide that hasn't ended. But a lack of effort hasn't been the problem. The Cards have managed to stay close in several of the games, losing by no more than 12 in any game throughout the course of the streak.
Sophomore guard Zavier Turner has taken a lesser role with the team than last season, but remains one of three healthy Cardinals averaging over 10 points per game. Sean Sellers has taken over the team's biggest role on the season so far, scoring over 12 a game and making his presence felt from behind the three point line. Franco House looks to continue his recent success, scoring 10 in Tuesday's loss to NIU and 19 in last Saturday's loss to Toledo.
The two teams last met in early January, resulting in a 58-46 Bowling Green victory, which was Ball State's lowest scoring out put of the year. The game can be seen here (paywall).