Preview: Wisconsin

Or: Tim’s foray into tempo-free statistics.

Michigan takes on conference foe Wisconsin today at 2PM in Crisler Arena. The game can be seen on ESPN2.

Tempo-Free and efficiency comparison (if you need an explanation of what any of these things mean, head to KenPom’s website):

Michigan v. Wisconsinl: National Ranks
Category Michigan Wisconsin Advantage
Mich eFG% v. Wis eFG% D 80 142 M
Mich eFG% D v. Wis eFG% 71 81 M
Mich TO% v. Wis Def TO% 11 256 MMM
Mich Def TO% v. Wis TO% 132 36 W
Mich OReb% v. Wis DReb% 191 11 WW
Mich DReb% v. Wis OReb% 256 172 W
Mich FTR v. Wis Opp FTR 156 25 WW
Mich Opp FTR v. Wis FTR 16 82 M
Mich AdjO v. Wis AdjD 16 81 M
Mich AdjD v. Wis AdjO 134 45 W

Differences of more than 100 places in the rankings garner two-letter advantages, differences of more than 200 get a third.

For the first time in a while, Michigan has a distinct deficit in multiple categories. Many of these are predictable for a perimeter-oriented team: Wisconsin is much better at rebounding and Michigan doesn’t get to the free throw line very often. Defensively, Michigan doesn’t force as many turnovers as one might hope to give them an advantage over Wisconsin. This is somewhat odd because the 1-3-1 is designed to force the opponent to give up the ball, but the Wolverines have been going with more man-to-man defense of late, so that may be a partial explanation. Overall, Wisconsin is a well-rounded team, ranking in the top 100 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Michigan is still the favorite though, and Ken Pomeroy predicts a 67-62 Wolverine triumph, with a 70% chance of victory.

In the game plans, the main area that is strongly correlated with both Michigan’s and Wisconsin’s efficiencies is Wolverine effective field goal percentage. Since Michigan has an advantage in it (however slight it may be), the Wolverines may have an advantage in performing well on offense today. The turnover rate for Wisconsin may also play a role. The Badgers have an advantage of nearly 100 places in the national rankings. Regardless, this is definitely the most evenly-matched game Michigan has played in a while.

Of course, with a team in the national spotlight, and one in Michigan’s own conference, the key players will be more known to Wolverines fans, and there are bound to be more of them. Joe Krabbenhoft, Marcus Landry, Trevon Hughes, and Jason Bohannon are all key players for the Badgers. Each has played in at least 73% of available minutes (the next closest player has less than 50%). Landry has star power, and is most mentioned in the national media, but it is Hughes who leads the Badgers in offensive efficiency, eFG%, and free throw rate. The point guard also (obviously) leads the team in assists, and really makes things go for Wisconsin.

This should be the first real test for Michigan in quite some time (since Oakland? Duke even?), and it’s time for the Wolverines to put up or shut up. Has this Michigan team been putting in a lackadaisical effort because they knew they would beat inferior teams anyway? Or are they really just not as good as we think/hope? A big win today would be a great start to making a run through conference season, and hopefully into the tournament.

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