Opening Thoughts: Happy Holidays, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, what have you! After a close but somewhat comfortable win against UW-Milwaukee, the Badgers are set to take on the Flames of Illinois-Chicago. The Flames are 3-7, projected to go 8-20, although only have a 40% chance or better in 3 of their remaining 18 games. Our game is not one of them. According to Ken Pomeroy, they are only a bit better than IPFW, Cal Poly, and Grambling. It’s a quintessential buy game.
What the Expert Nerds Say:
Jeff Sagarin ranks Wisconsin #17 and UIC #256. He makes Wisconsin a 24-point favorite.
Ken Pomeroy ranks Wisconsin #20 and UIC #248. He predicts a 76-52 Badger victory in 64 possessions and gives the Badgers a 99% chance of winning.
Illinois-Chicago Probable Rotation:
*G – 6’0” JR Robo Kreps (15.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 85% FT)
*G – 6’1” SO Zavion Neely (14.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 1.7 APG)
*G – 6’4” SR Spencer Stewart (3.8 PPG, 6.2 APG, 3.0 RPG)
*F – 6’7” SR Jeremy Buttell (9.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 56.7% 2PT)
*F – 6’7” JR Brad Birton (5.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG)
C – 6’11” JR K.C. Robbins (4.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 8.8 fouls per 40 min)
G – 6’3” SR Chris Buchanan (3.6 PPG, 1.2 RPG)
C – 6’9” FR Louis Green (0.9 PPG, 2.0 RPG)
G – 5’10” FR Corey Gray (1.8 PPG)
This season they have played at a pace of 68 possessions per game, similar to Marquette. They play a mix of defenses, forcing quite a few turnovers. Their rotation is an enigma from game to game, as 5 players average between 6 and 10 minutes, and only 1 of those 5 have played in all 10 of their games.
Robo Kreps – Robo is the most aggressive shot taker on the team, attempting shots as often as Hughes and Leuer. However, he’s not a great shooter. He’s a great free throw shooter, but he’s a below average 31.6% from 3 and a poor 38% inside the arc. He does have a decent turnover rate at 15.4%, all adding up for a below average 95.6 offensive rating. He’s a pretty good defensive rebounder for a guard too.
Zavion Neely – Neely is the second most aggressive shooter on the team. He is also not a very talented shooter. He shoots 46% from 2 and 19% from 3. He turns it over an okay 18.6% of the time, altogether for an offensive rating of 91.2. He goes to the free throw 5 times for every 11 field goal attempts.
Jeremy Buttell – Buttell is not a very aggressive offensive player, but he’s the only player on the team with an offensive rating above Kreps, at 116.2. He’s an okay rebounder, around the same level as Hughes and Bohannon. He shoots 57% from 2, 32% from 3, and 72% from the line.
What Illinois-Chicago is really good at:
1. Forcing turnovers. The Flames are 81st in the nation at forcing turnovers, 23%. Nearly half of those turnovers are forced via steals, as IUC is 104th in steals at 10.9%.
2. Defending 3-pointers. Their opponents’ shoot 31.3% from 3-point range, 81st in the nation.
What Illinois-Chicago is really bad at:
1. Blocking shots. UIC block only 5.2% of their opponents’ 2s, good for 303rd in the nation.
2. Shooting 2s and 3s. They are 314th at shooting 3s, at 28.3%, and 290th at 2s, shooting 43.1%.
3. Rebounding. The Flames only grab 30.2% of their offensive rebounding opportunities (253rd) and give up 37.6% on the defensive end (308th).
4. Pump Faking. UIC are 241st at avoiding getting their 2s blocked, having one blocked about every 9 attempted.
5. Getting to the foul line. The Flames attempt only 3 free throws every 10 field goal attempts, 305th in the nation.
When UIC has the ball: UIC has scored an awful 0.90 PPP in their first 10 games, while UW has given up a great 0.93 in their first 11.
When UW has the ball: UIC gave up an average 1.00 in their first 10 games, while UW has scored a great 1.13 in their first 11.
Pace: UIC has played at 68 possessions per game so far in their first 10 games compared to UW’s 64 in their first 11 games.
1. Badgers dominate the glass, grabbing 75% or more of the defensive rebounding opportunities and 35% or more of the offensive. UIC is a terrible rebounding team and UW isn’t. Plain and simple.
2. Neely and Kreps combine for 20 points or less. Both of them are not efficient offensively and having the likes of Trevon Hughes and Jordan Taylor guarding them will make them even less effective.
3. UIC attempts less than 10 free throws. They normally don’t get to the line much, and the Badgers are better than average at not sending teams to the line. Add it together, and I think they have a legit shot at making the “make more than opponents’ attempt” become true again after this game.
4. Trevon Hughes scores more than 15. From what I can tell, their guards are bad, and Pop always makes bad guards look horrible.
5. The Badgers turn it over less than 15% of the time. UIC forces a lot of turnovers, but I doubt it affects the Badgers at all.
My Prediction: The Badgers win their 4th straight, drowning the Flames 78-49 in 65 possessions.