Marquette (6-4) came out angry against IUPUI Saturday and thrashed the Jaguars for a much needed sixth win. Against Ball State Tuesday, the Golden Eagles face another low level challenge that should produce another blowout victory.
The Cardinals rank No. 275 in Ken Pomeroy's rankings, just two spots ahead of IUPUI. At 2-5, they have just one win over a Division I opponent this season. That came against No. 194 Southeast Missouri St., by four points at home. Ball State's losses have come against No. 66 Indiana St. (by nine points) No. 77 Utah (by 19), No. 123 Cleveland St. (by 23) and most recently to No. 116 Valparaiso (by 19).
BSU's other loss, to the Big East's No. 56 Butler, is its most intriguing. Ball State led the Bulldogs by as much as 11 points in the second half of that Nov. 23 home game, but blew the lead and lost by just a point, 59-58. The Cardinals completely neutralized Butler stud Kellen Dunham, holding him to 2-for-13 shooting and just eight points. They appear at least capable of a decent performance against a high-major team.
Ball State gets leadership and scoring from its backcourt. Freshman guard Zavier Turner, who stands just 5-foot-9, leads the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game and plays almost 32 minutes per contest. He also dishes out about four assists per contest, and has made just under 50 percent of his three-pointers this season (16-for-33). His backcourt partner is senior Jesse Berry, who scores 13 points per game and dedicates his talents strictly to scoring (under two assists and one rebound per game).
Undersized senior forward Chris Bond has started all seven games for the Cardinals, and scores in double figures at 10.9 ppg. Senior center and native Aussie Majok Majok not only gives Ball State, one of college basketball's best names, but also nearly averages a double-double with 9.1 points and a team-high 10.1 rebounds per contest.
The team has varied it's fifth starter, but it will likely either be senior forward Tyler Koch (3.4 ppg) or freshman forward Franko House (4.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg). Freshman guard/forward Mark Alstork chips in 7.0 points per game off the bench.
BSU doesn't put up any impressive stats on a macro level. The Cardinals shoot just 33.8 percent from distance and sit right around 40 percent from the field for the season. They have a slightly positive rebounding margin (+2.6) and a slightly more negative turnover margin (-3.3). Opposing teams average eight steals per game against them, while they average just four.
Marquette's Big Question
How will the younger players fare?
Facing facts, Chris Otule and Davante Gardner won't pat themselves on the back for chewing up Majok Majok inside for 40 minutes. This will be a victory for Marquette, and most likely a quite comfortable one. The real takeaway will be how players like Deonte Burton, JaJuan Johnson, and maybe even Duane Wilson (if he plays for the first time this season) look. Burton and Johnson continue to come along offensively, and if Wilson plays, he could instantly become Marquette's best three-point shooter.
This falls somewhere in between Grambling/IUPUI and New Hampshire/Southern on the blow out scale. Marquette will win, and should win by more than ten. Ball State has some decent players like Turner and Berry that could keep the game close. Marquette goes to 7-4 with a 77-60 win.