Opening Comments: Losing Leuer sucks, but now we get to see what some of our bench players can do with some extra playing time. Unfortunately their first test is at a house of horrors of sorts for Wisconsin, Welsh-Ryan in Evanston when they take on the Wildcats of Nerdwestern. During Bo’s tenure, the Badgers haven’t been overly successful in that oversized high school gym, dropping some head-scratchers to usually overmatched Wildcat teams. We’ll see what happens tomorrow night.
What the Expert Nerds Say:
Jeff Sagarin ranks Wisconsin #12 and Northwestern #70. He makes Wisconsin a 6-point favorite.
Ken Pomeroy ranks Wisconsin #6 and Northwestern #73. He predicts a 63-57 Badger victory in 60 possessions and gives the Badgers a 77% chance of winning.
Northwestern Probable Rotation:
*G – 5’10” JR Michael Thompson (14.7 PPG, 4.5 APG, 2.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 41.3% 3PT, 19.3% Poss, 20.6% Shot)
*G – 6’4” SR Jeremy Nash (8.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 15.3% Poss, 15% Shot)
*G – 6’5” FR Drew Crawford (10.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 68.1% 2PT, 19.4% Poss, 22.4% Shot)
*F – 6’8” SO John Shurna (17.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 55.2% 2PT, 27% Poss, 29.7% Shot)
*F – 6’11” SO Luka Mirkovic (7.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.5 BPG, 19.4% Poss, 17.2% Shot)
G – 6’3” FR Alex Marcotullio (6.9 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.4 APG, 18.4% Poss, 22.9% Shot)
C – 7’0” SO Kyle Rowley (2.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 21% Poss, 13.8% Shot)
Note: Poss% = percentage of total possessions used by player when they are on the court
Shot% = percentage of total shots taken by player when they are on the court
They play a mixture of defenses, mostly zones. They are great at blocking shots and forcing turnovers and average at preventing opponents from getting to the free throw line. As would happen against a mostly zone team, they give up a high number of 3 point shots and assists every game.
As usual, they play a Princeton offense, taking the 3rd most 3s in the nation (a hair under 1 of every 2 shots is a 3) and don’t have many players create their own shot, as evident from their 2nd leading assist rate in the nation. They also are very average at getting to the free throw line.
John Shurna – He’s a poor man’s Robbie Hummel. Which is no insult to him, as he’s a great player. His offensive rating is a good 109.4, made up of a great turnover rate (13.3%), great 2-point shooting (55%), and a servicable 3-point percentage (31%). He’s also a decent defensive rebounder.
Michael Thompson – Thompson has the second best offensive rating of all in the rotation, 117.0, and 4th most aggressive in taking shots. He has a ridiculously great turnover rate, especially for a point guard, of 12.9%. His shooting is okay, as he shoots a great 41% from 3, but he is actually worse at 2-pointers by a tenth of a percent.
Drew Crawford – This guy seems like the next star for Northwestern. He doesn’t do anything extremely well yet, but he’s going to be annoyingly bothersome for opposing fans for the next 4 seasons. He has the highest offensive rating at 117.9 via a good turnover rate (15.6%), 68% from 2, and 39% from 3. He is also a pretty good rebounder on both sides of the ball.
What Northwestern is really good at:
1. Shooting. Northwestern is 99th in 2-point shooting percentage (50.1%), 115th in 3-point (35.9%), and 128th in free throws (70.1%).
2. Defending 3s. They give up 29.4% shooting outside the arc (30th).
3. Forcing turnovers. They are 98th in the nation forcing turnovers (22.5%), along with being 103rd at steals, about one every 9 possessions (11%).
4. Defensive Rebounding. They grab 68.5% on defense (115th).
5. Blocking. They are 45th in the nation, blocking one 2-pointer for every 8 2-point attempts (12.7%).
6. Taking care of the ball. They are 23rd in the nation at it, only once in every 6 possessions (17.1%).
What Northwestern is really bad at:
1. Offensive Rebounding. They grab 30.7% of all offensive rebounding opportunities, good for 246th.
When Northwestern has the ball: Northwestern has scored a good 1.07 PPP in their first 15 games, while UW has given up a great 0.90 in their first 16.
When UW has the ball: Northwestern gave up a great 0.92 in their first 15 games, while UW has scored a great 1.12 in their first 16.
Pace: Northwestern has played at 65 possessions per game so far in their first 15 games compared to UW’s 63 in their first 16 games.
1. Ryan Evans gets his first start of the season and becomes the first freshman since Alando Tucker to do so.
2. Dr. J reaches double figures for the first time this season. Tim’s gonna be called on for more offense and what better way than to knock down some open triples against a zone?
3. Badgers grab more than 80% of all boards on the defensive end. More Mike Bruesewitz = more rebounding.
4. Wisconsin shoots better than 38% from distance. With my prediction of Tim shooting well, the zone defense of Northwestern, and Leuer’s post presence being gone, I like the Badgers to be knocking down treys early and often.
5. Shurna scores 12 or less. Ryan Evans is just the type of defender to make Shurna’s life miserable with his good length and quickness.
My Prediction: The Badgers keep doing what they’re doing, winning 65-57 in 61 possessions.