Preview: Northwestern

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

The Wolverines take on Just Northwestern at 8PM tonight in Crisler Arena. The game can be seen on Big Ten Network.

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

Michigan v. Northwestern: National Ranks
Category Michigan Northwestern Advantage
Mich eFG% v. NU eFG% D 125 89 N
Mich eFG% D v. NU eFG% 167 59 NN
Mich TO% v. NU Def TO% 4 14 M
Mich Def TO% v. NU TO% 141 32 NN
Mich OReb% v. NU DReb% 250 261 M
Mich DReb% v. NU OReb% 214 326 MM
Mich FTR v. NU Opp FTR 321 149 NN
Mich Opp FTR v. NU FTR 14 244 MMM
Mich AdjO v. NU AdjD 35 35
Mich AdjD v. NU AdjO 137 73 N

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

Northwestern, despite its reputation and unceremonious start to the season (namely, an 0-4 start in the conference), has reeled off two straight victories over top tiered competition in wins against Minnesota and AT Michigan State. The Wildcats are similar to Michigan, in that they shoot a bunch of threes and play a 1-3-1 defense. That defense was the key to their victory over Michigan State, as they were forcing turnovers left and right, and Michigan State had one of their worst shooting nights of the year. With Michigan facing the 1-3-1 every day in practice, do they have a slight advantage against it? Since Michigan’s slide began (which, in all honesty, began as early as the Wisconsin game, and at least as far back as the nail-biter over Indiana), the Wolverines have been falling fast down the rankings in terms of shooting percentage and opponents’ shooting percentage. Are these issues that can be corrected? For the most part, Michigan has simply been missing open looks, and opponents have been turning that offensive offense into confidence on their end of the court, where they’re making shots both open and ridiculous (Devan Dumes and Danny Morrissey excelling at the latter). If the long week of practice helps Michigan snap out of their funk, this game may not be as ugly as it first appears. If Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims can both play well tonight (something that hasn’t happened in quite some time), and a third player (one of Novak, LLP, ad Harris) can step up, that will go a long way to solving Michigan’s offensive woes.

Northwestern is led by guard Craig Moore, who leads the team in minutes played and eFG%. Sophomore guard Micheal Thompson is also a sharp-shooter for the Wildcats. The primary big man is junior Kevin Coble, who stamds 6-8, and has range not only in the paint, but also all the way out to three-point land. He could be considered something of a less-athletic DeShawn Sims. Most importantly, he gets very few offensive rebounds, but leads the team in defensive rebounding (among those who play significant minutes). The two most important players to shut down are Moore and Coble, but with Michigan’s luck, that just means some unheralded role player will step up and shoot the lights out.

With the three-game slide behind them, and a difficult slate up ahead, this game has become a must-win if Michigan wants to have any chance to win the tournament. If the long week of practice (and playing the role of underdog) can help Michigan, they may just be able to pull one off.

Posted under Basketball
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2 Comments so far

  1. Jacques Auef says...

    Northwestern will dominate out of the gate and again UM will be cold and lose.

  2. Paul says...

    How glad am I that you were completely off.

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