The first two games of the season have not been pretty for the Arizona Wildcats, but they got the job done against two quality mid-major opponents. Sunday's game against the Ball State Cardinals will likely be more of the same; they are an experienced team and feature one of the best post players in the country, which could bring a lot problems from UA.
The Cardinals finished 19-13 in 2010, including a record of 10-6 in the Mid-America Conference. They did not qualify for any of the postseason tournaments. Ball State returns four starters -- and all four of their leading scorers from last season -- and were predicted to finish third in the MAC.
The key player to watch is Jarrod Jones. A legit NBA prospect, the 6'9 big man averaged 15 points and eight rebounds in 2010. A three-year starter, Jones does a great job avoiding foul trouble and can disrupt shots around the basket. Sean Miller said earlier this week that multiple scouts would be in attendance to see the big man under the bright lights and he could be in for a big game against a weak UA front court.
Other than Jones, Ball State returns both of their starting guards in Randy Davis and Jauwan Scaife. Another player to watch is Jesse Berry (no, not Jesse Perry), who had a big second half of last season.
TV Coverage: Fox Sports Net Arizona will air the game nationally, KWBA-58 will have the coverage locally. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. in Tucson.
Matchup To Watch: Jesse Perry vs. Jarrod Jones; Arizona needs a big game on both ends of the court if they hope to cruise to a victory. Jones is a very dominant player and Perry is one of the few on our roster that can guard him.
Mayes, Chol to start? Jordin Mayes made the start against Duquense because Josiah Turner was late to shoot around. How did Mayes react? He came up with the best game of his career, scoring 19 points. As for Angelo Chol, while he did not start over Kyryl Natyazhko on Wednesday, he recorded more minutes off the bench and continued to outproduce Natyazhko.
Final Prediction: Arizona 74 - Ball State 63
I truly believe this game will play out similarly to the way the other two have thus far in the season. Expect a close score at halftime, but in the end Arizona's talent and athleticism will win out as the Wildcats improve to 3-0.