Sunday, January 30, 2011

Iowa vs Michigan Men's Basketball Preview

Iowa is on the road for the second game in a row, taking on another slower paced offense in Michigan. Michigan is fresh off a big victory against Michigan State (what has happened to them?), but is only 2-6 in conference play. Michigan is a winnable game for the Hawkeyes, but they need to play much better than they have in other conference road games this year.

Iowa Offense vs Michigan Defense

Iowa should be able to shoot pretty well against Michigan, as they have been slightly below average at contesting opponents shots. Against Northwestern Iowa shot lights out, but against Penn State they were terrible. Both of those teams were below average in opponent shooting, but one game is a small sample size, so anything could happen.  

Iowa is 8% above average on the year in offensive rebounding, but has seen their offensive rebounding rate dip since conference play has started. For the year, Iowa has an offensive rebounding rate of 35.17%, but in Big 10 play they are only grabbing 33.08% of all offensive rebounds. Michigan has been very good on the defensive boards this year. They are pulling down 69% of all opponent misses in Big 10 play, which means Iowa will have to really battle for their missed buckets.

As you can see from the above chart, Michigan simply doesn't put opponents on the free throw line, and Iowa isn't very good at getting there. So, don't expect a whole lot of free throw attempts today.

Iowa's biggest key could be turnovers. The turnover-prone Hawkeyes should be able to hold onto the ball against Michigan. The Wolverines force turnovers at 10% below the average NCAA rate. Since Michigan is a slower paced team, there will be less possessions in this game. That means every turnover matters even more, giving Iowa less opportunities to score.

Michigan Offense vs Iowa Defense

Michigan is very a very perimeter oriented offense. They love to shoot the deep ball, and as a result, they don't see the free throw line much, if at all. Iowa never allows opponents there either, and that hasn't even changed in Big 10 play. Considering the amount of three's Michigan takes, it should be no surprise that they are above average in effective FG%, 5% above NCAA average, to be exact. Iowa has had problems with Big 10 opponents putting on shooting clinics against them this year. The 57.19% effective FG%, that Iowa has allowed in conference play, has a chance to go up today if Michigan is hitting their three pointers. If Michigan is hitting their shot's then expect their assist rate to also remain above average, because Iowa isn't very good at stopping opponents from racking up assists.

The turnover battle should be interesting on this side of the ball too. Being the perimeter team Michigan is, they simply don't turn the ball over. Iowa has been good at forcing turnovers this year, even in Big 10 play where their opponent turnover rate has only dropped from 23.26% in non-conference play to 22.09% in Big 10 play. If they can force some turnovers out on the perimeter, Iowa could see some fastbreak opportunities.

The one battle Iowa should win is defensive rebounding. Michigan is putrid on the offensive glass, pulling down 16% less offensive rebounds than the average NCAA team. Iowa's defensive rebounding has taken a nose dive since getting into conference play (72.64% defensive rebounding rate in non-conference games, and 61.32% in Big 10 games), but this game should allow them the opportunity to pull that number up facing the worst offensive rebounding team in the Big 10. There is no excuse for losing this battle.

  • Iowa player's shooting tendencies:
  • Iowa player's scoring breakdown:
  • Iowa player's points per minute:
  • Michigan player's shooting tendencies:
  • Look at all that yellow (or Maize or whatever). They love them some three pointers. Hardaway Jr., Novak, Douglass, Smotrycz, and Vogrich are all players that average at least 14 minutes per game, who take more than half of their shots from behind the arc. My personal favorite is Smotrycz. The 6'9" forward shoots almost 64% of his shots from back there. He only averages 6 points per game, so it's not like he's their big offensive threat. I just find his offensive profile interesting. 
  • Michigan player's scoring breakdown:
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. may take a majority of his shots from deep, but he looks to be the most well-rounded scorer on the Michigan team. Not bad for a true freshman. Michigan's best scorer, Darius Morris, gets most of his offensive value inside the three point line. Zack Novak, the Wolverines designated shooter, unsurprisingly gets most of his value from downtown. Also, so does Smotrycz. 
  • Michigan player's points per minute:
  • Like Iowa, Michigan has two scorers who average more than 0.40 points per minute, but then after that it drops off quickly. Michigan and Iowa are pretty similar in how good they are at shooting. Iowa has a 43.6% field goal percentage, while Michigan has a 43.5%. The reason Michigan has a 3% better effective FG% is because they love to shoot the three. If two teams make the same percentage of shots, the team that makes more three pointers is going to have the better effective FG%. So, if Iowa and Michigan have the same field goal percentage at the end of today's game, Michigan probably won since they will likely have made more three balls. 
  •  As a team, Iowa has taken 71.65% of their shots from two point range and 28.35% from three point range. 56.3% of Iowa's points have come from two point field goals, 24.1% have come from three point field goals, and 19.5% have come from the charity stripe. 
  • Michigan has taken 55.69% of their shots inside the three point arc, and 44.31% from outside it. 47.37% of Michigan's points have come from two point baskets, 37.15% have come from three point baskets, and 15.48% have come from free throws.
Opposing Players to Watch
  •  Darius Morris is the top scorer for Michigan, averaging 0.46 points per minute or 15.57 points per game on an effective FG% of 54.1%. He mostly shoots from inside the arc where he makes 57.6% of his shots. Iowa needs to keep him out of the lane, and force him to take long jumpers. If they force him to shoot from outside, they should win the battle, as he has only made 30% of his shots from outside this year. He is more than a scorer, though. His assist rate of 48.5% (7 assists per game if you don't understand assist rate) is first in the Big 10 and second in the nation (for comparison Cartwright's 35% is third in conference). Not only can he put the ball in the basket, but he can also find his teammates too.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. averages 0.40 points per minute or 11.43 points per game. However, his effective FG% is reminiscent of Iowa's Cartwright, as he is shooting 43.4%. Up above I called him the most well-rounded scorer for Michigan, but he also has to take a lot of shots to score all of those points. He shoots almost 55% of his shots from long range, but he has only hit 29.7% of his three point attempts this season. However, he is a pretty good rebounder for a shooting guard, pulling down 13% of all defensive rebounds available while he is in the game. Whoever is guarding him, Gatens or May or Marble, will have to put a body on him when a shot goes up.
  • Zack Novak is the shooter on this Michigan squad. 70% of his field goal attempts have been three point attempts, while shooting 39.8% from behind the arc (best on the team). He is averaging 9.76 points per game on a 56.1% effective FG%. In Michigan's win over Michigan State, he led the team with 19 points, making 6 of the 8 three's he shot. So, Iowa would do good to keep an eye on him.
  • Jordan Morgan is the Wolverines best post player. He averages 8.05 points per game on a 58.7% effective FG%. Unlike Smotrycz who is the big man who loves to go outside, Morgan is the classic post player who never takes a shot from beyond the arc. He is also Michigan's best rebounder that gets the most playing time (Jon Horford has been the best, but only averages 8.74 minutes per game this year). Morgan has grabbed 12.2% of all offensive and 16.4% of all defensive rebounds available while on the court. He will be Basabe's competition for rebounds in this game.

Iowa needs to have a better shooting day than they had when they visited Penn State last Wednesday night. If they don't, this game could also be a double digit loss because Michigan's propensity to shoot three's could put Iowa in a deep hole. Turnovers are also important for Iowa. Michigan doesn't cough the ball up much, but they don't force a whole lot of them either. If Iowa can limit their turnovers on offense they will have more opportunities to put points up on the scoreboard. Those possessions are precious in a game where Michigan will probably only allow the pace to stay in the low 60's (they held Michigan State, who averages 68.7 possessions per 40 minutes, to 59 possessions all game).

The rebounding battle, like always, is critical. Iowa may not get a whole lot of offensive rebounds, as Michigan is good at pulling down defensive boards. But, they must pull down their defensive rebounds. Michigan is horrible at grabbing offensive rebounds, and if Iowa allows them to do so, you know this game is going down hill fast.

The Hawkeyes will need Matt Gatens to be shooting well from downtown, as Iowa is pretty much devoid of three point shooters, outside of May (who doesn't shoot them nearly as much as Gatens) and McCabe (who is shooting just 19.05% from three point range in conference play). Since DeShawn Sims no longer has any eligibility, I'm not sure Michigan has a post player that can stop Basabe offensively or on the boards. Expect him to have a pretty good game. A double-double is probably even reachable. If May can put together a nice game, then Iowa should be able to compete. The Hawkeyes have yet to really get a good game out of all three of their best players (you could even add Cartwright to that list) since Big 10 play has kicked off. If they can against Michigan, their chances for winning increase greatly.

Overall, I think these teams are pretty evenly matched. But, I give the advantage to Michigan because this game is at Crisler Arena. Until this young Hawkeye team can prove they can come away with a win on the road, I can't pick them to win. I say Michigan wins this game with a score of something like 67-58. I think I can speak for every Hawkeye fan though, when I say I hope they play a tough competitive game. The last thing I want to see is this turn into a 40 minute shooting drought for Iowa, and a three point fest for Michigan. So, pleasantly surprise me Iowa. I won't be mad if my prediction is wrong.

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