Redshirt Junior K.J. Walton dribbles the ball at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, March 14, 2019. Rebecca Slezak,DN
Breaking down Ball State Men's Basketball's 2019-20 non-conference schedule
Two months out from tip-off, Ball State Men's Basketball has released its full schedule for the 2019-20 season. The current 30-game schedule has the Cardinals traveling to Hawaii, Georgia and just south of Muncie to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Here's a breakdown of the Cardinals' schedule for this upcoming season.
Ball State opens up the 2019-20 campaign against Division III Defiance College. The Yellow Jackets' last game against a Division I opponent was Nov. 19, 2018, with Oakland out of the Horizon League where the Grizzlies rolled Defiance, 91-47.
From Nov. 9 to the end of the month, Ball State only leaves the state once in a road game against Illinois-Chicago Nov. 13. On, Nov. 9, the Cardinals face Evansville for the third time in two seasons. Last meeting, a 52-point second half saw the Aces mount a comeback win, 89-77, in Evansville.
Ball State then heads north to the west side of Chicago to take on the Flames of UIC. Over the past five seasons, the Cardinals have only played one other Horizon League opponent in IUPUI.
Alongside football, men's basketball will also be playing in a notable Indianapolis venue. On Nov. 17, Ball State will play Indiana State at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers. The Cardinals hold a slim 3-2 series advantage over the Sycamores over the past five seasons. Ball State defeated Indiana State in an early-season game last season in Muncie, 86-69.
Ball State wraps up the month with a three-game homestand against Northern Kentucky (Nov. 20), Western Illinois (Nov. 23) and Howard (Nov. 26).
The Cardinals have not seen Northern Kentucky over the past five seasons, but they are familiar with the squad as former Ball State guard Tayler Persons was recruited out of Northern Kentucky to play for Ball State. The Norse are coming off a strong season, winning the Horizon League and clinching a birth in the NCAA Tournament. The Norse were eliminated in the first round by national runner-up Texas Tech, 72-57.
Ball State has not seen Western Illinois over the past five seasons, but the Leathernecks have played a handful of Mid-American Conference competitors. Most recently, Western Illinois fell to Northern Illinois, 91-76. Last season, the Cardinals rolled through Howard over winter break, 98-71, Dec. 20, in Muncie.
Ball State's homestand continues into December as the team opens up the month with a pair of games against Loyola Chicago (Dec. 3) and IUPUI (Dec. 7). Last season, Ball State traveled to both these schools and collected wins, defeating the Jaguars, 85-75, and downing the Ramblers, 75-69. Over the past five seasons, the Cardinals have held a win advantage over IUPUI, 3-2.
Finishing out the rest of the non-conference schedule, Ball State will take on Georgia Tech in Atlanta (Dec. 18) before heading to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 22-25) where the Cardinals are scheduled to play Washington and either UTEP or Hawaii.
The Yellow Jackets have had experience with pre-Christmas upsets as last season Gardner-Webb pulled off the win, 79-69, over Georgia Tech. The Cardinals' arrival to McCamish Pavilion will come a day before the year anniversary of the upset.
The last time the Cardinals flocked to Hawaii, the team pulled off memorable upsets over Kansas and UCLA to kick off the 2001-02 season. Ball State is slated to open up against PAC 12 runner-up Washington. Last season, the Huskies also made it to the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to North Carolina, 81-59.
Scouting out UTEP and Hawaii, both teams bring something different to the floor. The Miners are coming off an eight-win season, ending with back-to-back losses to Middle Tennessee. The Rainbow Warriors finished with a similar record to Ball State last season at 18-13. Hawaii went 2-1 last season in the Diamond Head Tournament.