Of all the games on the slate this week, the spotlights shone brightly and alarms blared loudly on this matchup.
The Mid-American Conference has been a delight this season, and that should not change as we ease into money time, the Madness of March, when NCAA sports betting situations will present themselves grandly with the proper homework and diligence.
Like Eastern at Ball. Teams in the high-flying MAC are averaging 75 points a game. Only squads of the Southern Conference, at 76, have been scoring at a higher rate. Tonight, Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind., will once again transform into a racetrack.
- Eastern Michigan at Ball State -10, Total 142.5, Tuesday, 7 pm ET
- Action: Ball State -10 and Over 142.5
MAC totals have been very interesting, and this one involves programs whose games have sailed Over in 26 of 33 lined affairs, according to TeamRankings.com. Unless Oakland (21-6 to Over) or Cincinnati (14-4) were to play Ball, it isn’t possible to have better odds at a game finishing Over its total than Eastern Michigan and Ball State.
|Eastern Michigan||+10 (-110)||+275||O 142.5 (-110)|
|Ball State||-10 (-110)||-345||U 142.5 (-110)|
The Cardinals (9-11, 7-8) have been on a sweet scoring run of late, tallying 97 and 90 points in their past two outings, both victories. They recorded 79 in a defeat, and before that put up 81 in a triumph.
Those were all at home, and this is their seventh consecutive tilt inside cozy Worthen. In three of their previous four road games, they averaged 78.7 points.
Eastern Michigan (5-11, 2-10) has been done in by its defense, yielding in the 80s in four of its past six games. It’s given up in the 90s to three foes this season. Six of its past seven games have finished Over.
In six of seven road games, it has allowed 86.3 points. Overall, the Eagles own the country’s 17th-worst scoring defense, at 83.1 points, away from home.
Ball Will Have A Ball
In MAC play, nobody has played worse defense than Eastern, whose opponents own an effective field-goal percentage of 58.3%. That is more than three percentage points worse than the No. 11 team, Central Michigan’s 54.9%.
So it is no surprise that Eastern is at the very bottom of the 12-team league in 2-point defense (57.8%) and beyond the 3-point line (at 39.3%).
These Eagles need to be renamed the Matadors.
Ball State will fare well inside the arc, where it has shot a fifth-best 51.3% in conference action. But it will soar from the perimeter, where it’s been hitting 3-pointers at a 37.2% clip in league games, No. 2 in the MAC.
Eastern, however, will get points at the line, where it hits 77.5% of its freebies, third-best in the conference; Ball has sunk 77%, fifth-best in league, at the stripe.
El-Amin Gets Career-High 33
At the line, Ball State guard Ishmael El-Amin, a 6-foot-3 senior from Minneapolis, has been money all season, top-50 in the nation with an 87.9% touch. He leads the Cardinals with 16.2 ppg.
Saturday, he torched Central Michigan with a career-best 33 points in a 97-91 victory. In this extended home stretch, he has scored 112 points in his past six games.
Senior guard KJ Walton, who transferred from Missouri long ago, averages 15.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg, and senior forward Brachen Hazen—a onetime Arkansas Razorback—has been dependable in tallying double figures in points in 10 of his past 12 games.
Guard Jarron Coleman (12 ppg, 3.5 apg), a 6-5 sophomore from Indianapolis, presents Eastern with a special problem in that he has totaled 50 points in his past two outings.
The Eagles have dropped seven of their past eight, the lone victory at home against hapless Northern Illinois. An analysis of those defeats altered our approach to this game, because they came by 19, 13, 13, 21, 22, 15 and 11 points.
Eastern senior center Ty Groce has registered 97 points in his past five games. Either junior guard Bryce McBride or Yeikson Montero, a senior swingman from the Dominican Republic, could bust out for 20, but that’s the extent of the Eagles’ attack.
Drew Lowder (8.5 ppg), a sophomore guard and Holy Cross transfer, is listed by KenPom as Eastern’s lone “major contributor,” but he has not played in the past four games and there are no details about his absence.
A very wise pro-handicapper-pal has a penchant for picking two sides in a game, when the numbers favor such action. And this is one of those situations, in which taking Ball State and the Over appear to be smart plays.
This is no parlay. People who make their living doing this don’t have that six-letter word in their vocabulary. Should one of those sides not come in, the only loss is the 10% vigorish on that side—in the grand net, only a 4.5% loss.
The loss is limited, and both cashing is worth the risk.