Ball State sophomore forward Zach Gunn tosses the ball to redshirt freshman center Blake Huggins during the Cardinals' game against Kent State University Feb. 2, 2019 in John E. Worthen Arena. Ball State lost 80 to 83 in overtime. Paige Grider, DN
Breaking down Ball State Men's Basketball's MAC schedule
The 2018-19 season saw Ball State Men's Basketball finish at 5-9 in Mid-American Conference play and an 11 seed going into the MAC Tournament. An upset over No. 6 Eastern Michigan propelled the team to Cleveland for the third straight year. However, a loss to No. 2 Bowling Green bounced the Cardinals from the tournament and finish with a 6-10 record.
Upon the release of the team's 2019-20 schedule, Ball State will get two cracks at back to back MAC Champions Buffalo and a overall evenly balanced home to away schedule. Here's a breakdown of the Cardinals conference schedule.
Ball State will have their work cut out for them as the arrive back in Muncie after winter break. Much like last season, Cardinals will take on Toledo (Jan. 3) in Muncie. Rockets have played second fiddle to Buffalo these past two seasons as they have finished behind the Bulls in the final MAC rankings. Last season, Ball State split the season series with Toledo. In Muncie, Cardinals fell to the Rockets, 80-72, on Feb. 26.
Following the Toledo game, Ball State will host Buffalo (Jan. 7) on a Thursday night. This is the first time since 2017 that the Cardinals have hosted the Bulls. In their last meeting, then No. 18 Buffalo ran through Ball State, 83-59. This should be an interesting matchup as Buffalo will not have Montell McRae, Jeremy Harris, CJ Massinburg, Dontay Caruthers and Nick Perkins rostered.
Following the back to back home games, Ball State will go on the road to take on Akron (Jan. 10) and Eastern Michigan (Jan. 14). Cardinals and Zips games have gone down to the wire these past three seasons. Last season, a tip in by guard Trey Moses in the final second lifted Ball State over Akron, 57-56. The last time the Cardinals were in Yipsilanti, they outscored the Eagles 38-14 in the second half to punch their ticket to the 2019 MAC Tournament.
Jan. 18, Ball State meets Miami (Ohio) at home for the second straight season. Cardinals were ousted by the RedHawks twice last season. Ball State heads back on the road to take on Central Michigan (Jan. 25) and Bowling Green (Jan. 28). Falcons handed the Cardinals two tough losses last season, including a last minute loss at Bowling Green, 79-78.
Cardinals snapped a three game losing streak in Mt.Pleasant last season, defeating the Chippewas, 83-72. Redshirt junior guard KJ Walton threw down for a team high 24 points and redshirt senior guard Tahjai Teague followed with 10 pulldowns.
February opens up at home against a team that was a thorn in the Cardinals' back last season, Ohio (Feb. 1). In their last home meeting, the Bobcats mangled Ball State, 70-52. Three games later, the Bobcats made a comeback in Athens for a 78-74 win.
Another pair of road matches take the Cardinals to Kent State (Feb. 4) and Western Michigan (Feb. 8). Last season, Walton hit a late three to send the Ball State to overtime against the Flashes, but would eventually fall, 80-83. Two of Ball State's six conference wins came against the Broncos last season, 79-59 in Muncie and 60-58 in Kalamazoo.
The next home pairing comes against Northern Illinois (Feb. 11) and Bowling Green (Feb. 15). The last time the Cardinals hosted the Falcons was during the 2017-18 season when guard Tayler Persons drained a three with a second left to give Ball State a 59-56 win. The MAC runner up will be returning its two top scorers, Dylan Frye and Justin Turner, to the floor this winter.
Feb. 18 the Cardinals head east to Buffalo (Feb. 18) before heading back home to take on Eastern Michigan (Feb. 22) and Western Michigan (Feb. 25). Ball State took on the Eagles in their first home game of last season, falling in double overtime, 84-82.
Ball State wraps up February traveling to Toledo (Feb. 28) before hosting Central Michigan (March 3) on senior night. Cardinals wrap up the regular season at Northern Illinois (March 6). Ball State had a dramatic finish the last time they were in DeKalb as NIU's James Lacey would foul Persons with two seconds left and allow him to down the game winning shots at the line, 72-71.