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Ball State Cardinals vs Central Michigan Chippewas men's basketball preview: Both teams looking to break away from rest of MAC West

A battle of MAC West schools looking to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a mixed season for the MAC West this year as Ball State and Northern Illinois were the leaders just six games ago. Central Michigan has had a strong stretch as of late, winning four of their last six games after losing to Northern 75-70 on January 19th. Similarly the Cardinals are 3-3 in that stretch and now both are sitting at 6-5, notched in a three-way tie with Toledo.

It's an important stretch for everyone in the MAC as there are only seven games remaining on the schedule. The Cardinals will be counting on seniors Bo Calhoun and Ryan Weber. Ball State's most impressive win thus far is beating 21-4 Valparaiso at home in non-conference play.

The Cardinals are 3-5 on the road thus far this year which included three losses in their first three attempts. After beating Toledo at home early in the season the rest of Ball States' victories came against the MAC basement. They have beaten Western Michigan twice, Miami, Bowling Green and then squeaked out a victory against Eastern Michigan in double overtime.

Central Michigan has been an interesting case as they can't build a winning streak longer than two games. They did have four game stretch of victories in the middle of MAC play but then followed that up with a two game losing streak. The Chippewa's have handed Akron one of their two MAC losses. They have also have big wins over Kent State and Ohio.

My prediction for the game is a 74-65 win for the Chippewas at home. They will also set their attendance record while Braylon Rayson scores 27 points while going 9 for 13 from the field.