What you should know about Ball State (8-4, No. 196 KenPom):
Ball State beat Valparaiso, but it also lost to Bradley. That shows how varied this team’s performances have been.
The Cardinals are a pretty brutal offensive squad but an above average defensive one. They force teams to rely on perimeter scoring while keeping opponents off the offensive glass.
While Ball State has only one rotation player taller than 6-foot-6, it has two of the MAC’s better defensive rebounders in 6-foot-6 forward Bo Calhoun and 6-foot-4 guard Jeremiah Davis.
Chicago State forwards Trayvon Palmer and Devon Friend rely heavily on putbacks for their scoring.
In addition to Calhoun and Davis, Ball State’s main offensive forces are junior forward Franko House (12.1 ppg) and junior wing Ryan Weber (11.3 ppg), a Youngstown State transfer.
What you should know about Chicago State (4-11, No. 320 KenPom):
Chicago State has started to take on the identity of a team that shoots the lights out. The Cougars have looked like a different team in the last two weeks, upsetting Western Illinois and playing competitive games against Marquette and Oakland. During the three-game stretch, they are averaging 11.3 made 3-pointers at a 42 percent clip.
While junior guard Elliot Cole (38.2 percent) and senior forward Jawad Adekoya (38.5 percent) have been known 3-point threats, another has recently emerged in freshman guard Fred Sims Jr.
Sims is shooting 38.6 percent from deep, and he has been Chicago State’s best player the last two games. He scored 26 points in the loss to Marquette and his averaging 11.2 points in December despite having two scoreless games earlier this month.
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Sagarin: Ball State -12
KenPom: Ball State 74, Chicago State 63 (87%)