Utah Utes vs. Ball State Cardinals - 11/14/14 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Ball State Cardinals (5-25) at Utah Utes (21-12)
College Basketball: Friday, November 14, 2014 at 10:00 pm (Jon M. Huntsman Center)
The Line: Utah Utes -23 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds
TV: Pac-12 Networks
The Ball State Cardinals and Utah Utes square off Friday night in each team’s season opener at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Utah.
Ball State and second-year head coach, James Whitford, hope to improve on a dismal 2013-14 campaign in which the cardinals went 5-25 which included going 0-16 away from home. Ball State lost its top three scorers from last year’s squad but will return the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the year in point-guard Zavier Turner who averaged 12.1 ppg along with 3.7 apg. Also returning for Cardinals include sophomore forward, Franko House (6.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg), junior center Mading Thok, and senior forward Matt Kamieniecki who missed all of last year due to injury. The Cardinals and Coach Whitford were thrilled to get transfer Jeremiah Davis III from Cincinnati, however, due to a foot injury suffered at practice, Davis III will be out of the line-up for the next two months. If Coach Whitford is going to start to turn this program around, Ball State will need to take care of the ball better as they ranked dead last in all of college basketball with a whopping 17.1 turnovers per game.
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Utah comes into the season ranked 25th and many experts have the Utes as a top 3 team in the pre-season rankings for the Pac-12. Utah reached the 20-win mark last year ending 21-12 under Coach Larry Ktrystkowiak and the expectations will only be higher as coach Ktrystkowiak returns on the of the top overall players in the country in Delon Wright. Delon Wright is leader of this Utah team and if he can continue to display all-around ability that has already made him a star, the Utes could easily be back in the NCAA tournament. Wright, who averaged 15.5 ppg on 56.1% shooting while pulling 6.8 rpg and dishing 5.3 apg, will be joined by returning starters, junior’s Jordan Loveridge (14.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Brandon Taylor (10.6 ppg, 3.5 ppg). Utah has all the makings of a strong team this year, as not only are they talented on the offensive end (62nd in the country last year), they are an above average defensive team (44th in the country last year in scoring defense) and shot the ball well at the free-throw line (74.1%).
Utah beat Ball State 88-69 last year in Utah. Utah is 24-7-1 ATS in their last 32 home games while Ball State is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.
This is a huge line set a -25.5 for Utah, however, Ball State and coach Whitford are clearly in a rebuilding process and without Davis III in the line-up, might have some real difficulties scoring the basketball in Utah. I like Delon Wright and the Utes to provide the home crowd a blow-out victory and even more reason to confirm that they are back as a top-tier basketball program in the country.