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Ball State Cardinals vs. Toledo Rockets men's basketball preview: Toledo tries to pull Ball State back to the pack

Ball State looks to grow MAC West lead against Toledo at the Savage Arena. Nathan Boothe, Jonathan Williams and Bo Calhoun star for the MAC West teams.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ball State heads to Savage Arena coming off another strong home victory over Northern Illinois. The Cardinals now hold a two game lead over three schools tied at 7-7. One of those schools is Toledo who is second in the tiebreaker between those three schools after getting swept by the Huskies.

Ball State has one of the most impressive wins by a MAC school defeating the Horizon League champions Valparaiso at home 69-66 in non-conference play. The Cardinals opened the season with two bad losses on the road at Bradley and Eastern Kentucky. They responded with an 8-2 record in their next 10 game with that major win against Valpo.

They opened MAC play as a potential contender in the MAC West as the MAC seemed wide open at that point. In the first matchup vs Toledo at home they defeated the Rockets by 18 points. This was mostly due to their three point shooting as the Cardinals made 13 of 30 threes good for 43 percent from the field.

The Rockets on that day got double-digit contributions from Jonathan Williams, Nathan Boothe and Stuckey Mosley but the rest of the team only contributed 22 points. The Rockets, if they are going to switch the result from last time out, will need contributions from their bench as it only mustered eight points in the last meeting. I don't see Ball State going 13 for 30 from three but the Rockets will have to keep an eye on the three point line and do a better job contesting shots.

Boothe has had an incredible season and seems like the frontrunner for the MAC Player of the Year. This game has major implications for both schools as if Ball State were to win this would be a three game lead over the Rockets and they would own tiebreaker with a season sweep of the Rockets. However on the other side of the coin if the Rockets win they would only be one game back with three games to play in the MAC regular season.