Cardinals Take on Wildcats in Sweet 16

Good day to you …

Take five for Thursday …

Many believed first-year coach Brady Sallee would struggle during his first go-round. And rightfully so. Sallee inherited an underrated group of players while taking over the reigns after incumbent coach Kelly Packard resigned last year. But Sallee and the Cardinals have shocked everyone this season by going 17-15 overall and 12-4 in the Mid-American Conference, third in the West. Sallee headed the Cardinals to their first winning season since 2008-09. Moreover, the Cardinals have advanced to the Sweet 16 of the WNIT, and will travel to Kansas State for a date with the Wildcats of the Big 12 tonight.

1) This is a good matchup for Ball State … The Wildcats finished 17-17, but just 5-13 in the Big 12. Ball State won four of its final five prior to reaching the semi final game of the MAC Tournament, while Kansas State dropped six of its final eight before the WNIT. The Wildcats are allowing over 64 points per contest while scoring just over 62.

2) The Cardinals will have their hands full … Kansas State is a program full of history. The Wildcats won the Big 12 in 2004 and 2008; they are the 13th D-1 women’s program with 800 all-time wins; they have appeared in 13 NCAA Tournaments; they boast 11 All-Americans and six WNBA draft picks. On the flip side, Ball State is a program looking to reach unchartered territory–a program looking to resurrect itself as a consistent winner. Sallee has this program on the right track. The Wildcats led the Big 12 in 3-pt field goals, averaging nearly nine per game.

3) Brandy Woody is the key … If the Cardinals live to see another day, Woody must maintain the level of play she’s showcased over the final half of the season. The Wildcats score … a lot. They’ll be looking to shoot as many long-range jumpers as possible. Senior guard Brittany Chambers averages leads the Wildcats in scoring with an average of 21.1 pointer per game. She’s second in scoring in the Big 12 behind Brittney Griner of Baylor, and second in 3-pt field goal percentage, 37.2 percent. Chambers is 12 for her last 22 attempts from beyond the arc thus far in the tournament. It’s vital for Woody to contain Chambers, and give the Cardinals offense a chance to put points on the board.

4) Ball State will enter a hostile environment … Ball State has proven it can win on the road this season, but it’s just 7-9 on the year. Tonight’s matchup inside Bramlage Coliseum will prove both tough and challenging. The Cardinals will enter a hostile environment–one where the home team is 10-6 on the year, averaging over 68 points per game in wins while allowing opponents to score 54.9 per game. Expect a large crowd this evening.

5) Team chemistry is vital for Ball State … The Cardinals are led by the “Super Seven.” It’s crucial for them to stick together. If the Wildcats get off to a quick start, the Cardinals cannot afford to panic, or lose their composure. Sallee has done an incredible job of rallying his team at the most opportune time of every game this season, and this one is no different.

Expect a close one tonight … Cards win by four.

Thanks for reading…

-Poz

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