Photo credit: Breanna Daugherty, Ball State Daily News
I’ve spent my previous three years covering the Ball State men’s basketball team for the Ball State Daily News.
I was there the day head coach James Whitford introduced himself to a crowd of students inside of Ball State’s Atrium. I knew what type of program he was going to turnaround after the dismissal of Billy Taylor.
Fast forward to last season, Whitford finally had the team he wanted. He coached the fourth largest turnaround in the country as Ball State went from 7-23 in 2014-15, to 21-14 in 2015-16 ending in the semifinal of the CollegeInsider.com Invitational Tournament at Columbia.
Bringing back an experienced cast from last season plus throwing in Tayler Persons, a Kokomo, Ind. product by way of Northern Kentucky, and a 6-foot-8 motor in the form of Tahjai Teague, doesn’t bode well for anyone in the Mid-American Conference.
This Ball State team currently sits at 15-9 overall and 6-5 in the MAC. The Cardinals have impressive conference wins against Buffalo, the reigning MAC Champs; Central Michigan, who has the nation’s leading scorer in Marcus Keene (30.7 PPG); and against a tough Eastern Michigan team on the road.
Assuming the Cardinals can catch fire at the right time, they are my pick to play Akron in the MAC Championship. Especially after their Feb. 7 showdown that came down to the last seconds. Sure, Akron survived 65-63, but if the Cardinals can meet the Zips on March 11…
Watch out for Ball State.
Peace. Love. Ball State Basketball.