The No. 15 Ashland Eagles travel to Big Rapids, Michigan in a huge Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown against the reigning champion Ferris State Bulldogs Thursday, Feb. 7.
How to watch:
The teams are set to tipoff off at 7:35 pm ET, and you can watch on ESPN 3.
What’s at stake?
It hasn’t been an easy road for Ferris State in its title defense. The Bulldogs are currently 16-8 overall and 8-5 in the conference, second in the North Division. While they had an early season win over a very good Fairmont State team in the SCB Hall of Fame Classic, the Bulldogs are still searching for that signature win. Taking down Ashland would be a huge boost on their NCAA tournament resume.
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Ashland is 18-3 overall, tied atop the South Division at 10-3 with No. 25 Davenport. That’s just two wins shy of the Eagles 2018 total, a season that came to an end in the GLIAC tournament at the hands of these very same Bulldogs. Ashland and Davenport are trending in opposite directions. The Eagles have lost two in a row, while the Panthers have won five straight. A win over the defending champs on their home court could be the push the Eagles need to get back on track.
Dylan with the NO LOOK dish! 😏— Ashland University Eagles (@goashlandeagles) February 2, 2019
Grand Valley 3⃣7⃣
9:40 to play pic.twitter.com/87Vzp3trWG
What to know:
9-24. That’s Ashland’s series record against Ferris State. While it’s certainly not a mark, the Eagles snapped a six-game losing streak by defeating the Bulldogs 91-88 at home on Dec. 1. That put Ferris State at .500 on the year. One big factor not in that equation for the Bulldogs was DeShaun Thrower, who was still playing football for the national runner-up Bulldog football team. Ferris State is 11-3 since.
|Points per game||76.4||88.3|
|Points allowed per game||62.0||78.5|
|Rebounds per game||39.2||39.7|
A fun matchup will be in the paint. Both teams are so close in rebound margin that Ashland’s big center Drew Noble can play a big role causing problems for Ferris State’s big-men like Cole Walker and Jaylin McFadden underneath. Ashland has an advantage with Noble, Derek Koch, and Phil Fentsos all 6-7 or taller, whereas Walker is the lone Ferris State player over 6-5 in its regular rotation. This could very well be where the battle will be won.
Eagles’ head coach John Ellenwood is on the verge of career win 200 and he hopes it comes in Big Rapids. Though Ferris State is trending in the right direction, it seems like Ashland has the physical size to counter its quick and explosive offense.
Of course, in GLIAC play anything can happen. Ferris State has established themselves as tournament regulars the past few years, whereas Ashland has made it just once since 1991. But something seems like there may be a changing of the guard. Ashland’s defense tames Ferris State’s red-hot offense in a tight one.
Final score prediction: Ashland 78, Ferris State 75.