The Ball State men’s basketball team plays its regular season finale at Bowling Green at 7 p.m. on Friday night in a game that has Mid-American Conference Tournament implications.

The game will be streamed on ESPN+ with Brad Woznicki and Brent Klassen on the call, while Mick Tidrow and David Eha handle the radio broadcast on WMUN 1340AM – 92.5FM. This will be the 96th meeting in the series between the Cardinals and Falcons.

Ball State (15-15, 7-10 MAC) must win on Friday and have Akron and Toledo win their games to clinch the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament, which consists of the Top 8 teams in the league and begins on Thursday, March 14 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Zips play at Western Michigan at 6 p.m., while the Rockets host Kent State at 8 p.m. on Friday night.

The Cardinals fell 81-72 to the Falcons (18-12, 9-8 MAC) on Jan. 30 in Worthen Arena despite 22 points and eight rebounds from Basheer Jihad. Bowling Green has secured a spot in the conference tournament and can be as high as the No. 5 seed depending on the outcomes of Friday’s games.

Ball State went on an 11-0 scoring run in the final three minutes of a 76-69 win over Kent State on Tuesday night in Muncie to keep its postseason aspirations alive. Jalin Anderson (23 points) and Davion Bailey (20 points, seven rebounds) led the way to victory in the final home game of the season.

The Falcons have gone 3-6 since the late January meeting in Muncie and are coming off a 73-69 win at Western Michigan on Tuesday night.

SCOUTING BOWLING GREEN: The Falcons are in their first season under the direction of head coach Todd Simon, who most recently coached Southern Utah for seven seasons.

Bowling Green paces the MAC in rebounds per game (38.1) and free throw attempts per game (21.9), ranking No. 56 and No. 53, respectively, in those categories among Division I teams.

Junior guard Marcus Hill went for 28 points in the previous game at Worthen and leads the MAC in total points (615), which is 22nd nationally. Hill’s 508 field goal attempts (No. 5 in NCAA Division I) and 226 field goals made (No. 9) both lead the league and rank in the Top 10 nationwide. Senior forward Rashaun Agee is second in the conference and No. 22 in Division I averaging 9.9 rebounds per game.


Basheer Jihad leads the Cardinals in scoring (18.8 points per game) and rebounding (7.9) averages. The junior forward out of Detroit has led the Cardinals in scoring 17 games so far, scoring in double-figures 28 times, including 11 games with 20+ points. The big man’s rebounding and scoring averages are both fourth in the MAC. Jihad leads the MAC in free throw attempts (215) and makes (160), ranking No. 18 and No. 23 in those categories nationally.

The Cardinals lead the MAC and rank in the Top 50 in Division I in free throw shooting (76.8 percent, No. 25), free throws made per game (16.4, No. 41) and fewest fouls committed (15.1 per game, No. 44). Ball State 3-point shooting (36.5 percent, No. 50 nationally) ranks second in the league.

Ball State’s 20 wins last year were its most since 2016-17 when that team won 21. This season’s Cardinals will look for back-to-back 20-win schedules for the first time since that 2016-17 season.

The Cardinals are a young group, as the roster includes only one senior or graduate student (Ethan Brittain-Watts). Ball State returns only 21.5 percent of minutes played and 19.6 percent of points scored from last year’s team.

Brittain-Watts (Boston University), Jalin Anderson (Loyola Marymount) and Davion Bailey (Southeastern CC) form Ball State’s trio of transfers.

Joey Brown (Indianapolis), Zane Doughty (Indianapolis), Mason Jones (Valparaiso, Ind.), Trent Middleton Jr. (Philadelphia) and Jurica Zagorsak (Zadar, Croatia) are the Cardinals’ quintet of true freshmen.

Ball State signed forward Jai Anthoni Bearden (Phoenix, Ariz.) and guard Jermarhi “Fatt” Hill (Bessemer, Ala.) to national letters of intent to form the Cardinals’ 2024 recruiting class.

WIN AND SOME HELP: Ball State needs to win the Friday night game at Bowling Green and have Akron win at Western Michigan and Toledo at home against Kent State to secure the No. 8 seed in the MAC Tournament.

In that scenario, Toledo would get the No. 1 seed and play the Cardinals on Thursday in Cleveland.

ROAD WARRIORS: Ball State is 1 of 5 Mid-American Conference teams this season to win six road games, with five of wins being in MAC play.

Only Toledo has more MAC road wins (six) leading up to the final games of the regular season.

PUT ME IN THE RECORD BOOK: Junior forward Basheer Jihad’s 544 points scored on the season are one away from joining the Top 20 for most in a single season.

Ed Butler scored 545 in the 1963-64 season, and Jihad would get in the Top 15 with 18 more points.

SINGLE SEASON ASSISTS: Junior guard Jalin Anderson is within striking distance of the Top 10 for Ball State single season assists with his 134.

Randy Davis (2011-12) and Bob Faulkner (1974-75) are tied for 10th at 144 assists.

MAGIC MICKEY: Redshirt junior forward Mickey Pearson Jr. put up a career high 25 points in the Feb. 27 win at Central Michigan.

The Lincoln, Ala., native went 9 of 13 from the field, including 3 of 5 from distance, and 4-for-4 at the free throw line to establish a new career best for the second time this season (24 on Nov.

21 against USC Upstate).

GREAT LAKES STATE FINALE: Last Tuesday’s game at CMU marked the Ball State men’s basketball team’s last game in the state of Michigan on the 2023-24 calendar.

The Cardinals posted a 4-0 record in the state this season after taking down Detroit Mercy on Dec. 6, Eastern Michigan on Jan. 16, Western Michigan on Feb. 3 and the Chippewas on Feb. 27.

1,000 Points: Anderson hit the 1,000-point mark in his career with a last-minute free throw at Northern Illinois on Feb. 20.

The Jackson, Tenn., native scored 604 of those before transferring to Ball State, where he’s averaged 15.0 points per game in 28 games (420 total).

DB FOR THREE: Junior guard Davion Bailey leads the Cardinals in 3-pointers made (65) and 3-point shooting (42.5 percent) so far this season, and the shooting efficiency is first in the MAC among players who’ve made at least 40 triples.

The Indianapolis native’s 2.5 triples made per game and total made rank second in the MAC.

HANDLING THE HUSKIES: Ball State swept the season series with Northern Illinois and has now won 9 of 10 games against the Huskies thanks to the 70-63 decision on Tuesday in DeKalb.

The men’s basketball team has won by double-figures over the Huskies five times in that span and bettered its record to 63-40 in the series, including 26-23 on the road.

CROATIAN DESTINATION: Ball State is the only Division I school featuring Croatia natives on both its men’s basketball (Jurica Zagorsak) and women’s basketball (Hana Muhl) teams.

Zagorsak is one of only nine Croatians currently on Division I men’s basketball rosters. Ball State has played three of the other teams with a Croatian (Detroit Mercy, Little Rock and Toledo).

FREE THROWS FALLING: Pearson Jr. ranks second in the Mid-American Conference among qualifiers in free throw shooting percentage at 86.0 (98 of 114), which is No. 69 in NCAA Division I.

Bailey (82.9 percent, 29-35) and Middleton Jr. (81.3 percent, 52-64) have also been efficient at the foul line, while the Cardinals as a whole lead the MAC in free throw shooting at 76.8 percent, which ranks No. 25 nationally.

BANKING ON BASHEER: Jihad leads the team in scoring (18.8 ppg), rebounding (7.9 per game) and field goal percentage (46.0) among Cardinals averaging at least four field goal attempts this season.

Jihad has established or tied career highs in scoring six times already this season, including on Jan. 20 against Miami (29 points).

The Detroit native’s scoring average has nearly tripled over last year (7.1), while his rebounding average has doubled (3.6). Jihad started only one game in his first two seasons at Ball State, but has been a mainstay in the starting lineup as an upperclassman now.

JALIN JAMS: Anderson, a transfer out of Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, leads the Ball State backcourt in scoring and the team in assists (4.5 per game) as the Cardinals’ lead guard. Anderson leads the MAC in steals (30) in conference play and is fourth overall at 46 total steals so far.

The Jackson, Tenn., native boasts Ball State’s highest offensive output (29 points against Old Dominion) so far and has already established his career high for single season points, assists, rebounds and steals. Anderson has shown a penchant for explosive offensive performances, posting nine 20+ point games so far this season.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK X3: Jihad was named the Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Co-Player of the Week on Jan. 29 after taking home the honor on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11.

Jihad averaged 24.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.5 per game in wins at Buffalo and vs Northern Illinois, including a 28-point, 14-rebound double-double on Jan. 27 against the Huskies.