Thursday, February 17, 2011

Iowa vs Northwestern: Round II Preview

Life got in the way of me posting an Iowa vs Minnesota recap. Not that it really matters, as I can sum it up for you real quick: Iowa got spanked. Now, onto the Wildcats.

Iowa Offense vs Northwestern Defense

Last time Iowa played Northwestern, they shot about 11% above their season average effective FG% of 48.6%. That is actually pretty normal for Northwestern's defense this year, as Northwestern has let opponents shoot a 7% better than NCAA average effective FG% against them. Hopefully, that will mean good news for an Iowa team coming off a terrible shooting game.

Iowa is a pretty good offensive rebounding team, grabbing 6% more offensive rebounds than the average NCAA team. Northwestern has been better on the defensive boards, though. Coming down with 8% more defensive rebounds than average. In the previous match up, Iowa got embarassed on the glass all night. Basabe did his part, but Iowa will need bigger contributions from Cole and Brommer. Archie too, but I doubt he plays.

Looking at free throw rate, Iowa gets to the free throw line 9% less than does the average NCAA team. Northwestern puts their opponents on the free throw line at almost the NCAA average rate. Just like last time, Iowa could have a chance to get to the free throw line at least 20 times. If Basabe stays out of foul trouble, he could see a lot of those attempts.

Moving on to the final of the four factors, turnovers. Iowa, unsurprisingly, has turned the ball over 6% more than average this year. Northwestern, on the other hand, has forced turnovers at slightly better than NCAA average. When these two faced off back in January, Iowa turned the ball over on 22.1% of their possessions, which is about their season average. I think it's pretty safe to assume a similar turnover rate for Iowa in this game.

Northwestern Offense vs Iowa Defense

Northwestern's offense is bi-polar. They are either really good in one category, or really bad. One thing Iowa knows they can do very well, is shoot the ball. Their effective FG% of 54.1% is 10% above NCAA average. Iowa, meanwhile, is slightly below average at contesting shots. This proved true in the previous meeting, where Northwestern shot a 64.5% effective FG% against Iowa's defense.

Northwestern is also very good at taking care of the ball. They dish out a lot of assists, and never turn the ball over. They have turned the ball over 29% less often than the average NCAA team. Good thing for Iowa, this has been a strength on defense. They have forced turnovers at a 10% above average clip this year. Last time they played, Iowa forced the Wildcats into a turnover on 20.6% of their possessions, which is about 5% higher than their season average. This should be a good battle.

This chart says Iowa has been average at grabbing defensive rebounds, and it's right... when you take into account non-conference games. But, during Big 10 play, Iowa has been horrendous on the defensive glass. Luckily, Northwestern has been 15% below average at pulling down offensive boards this year. However, need I remind you, that Northwestern did grab 43.8% of their missed shots in the last match up. I'd be very surprised to see that happen again, but anything can happen in one game.

Finally, don't expect many free throws out of Northwestern. They don't get their very often (18% less than the average NCAA team), and Iowa doesn't put people their very often (45% better than NCAA average), unless your last name is Mbakwe.

  • Iowa player shot tendencies:
  • Iowa player scoring breakdown:
  • Iowa player points per minute:
  • Northwestern player shot tendencies:
  • Northwestern player scoring breakdown:
  • Northwestern player points per minute:
  • Ignore Fruendt. He's played 68 minutes all season. Shurna, Crawford, and Thompson are their main scorers. 
  • Iowa has taken 72.21% of their shots from inside the three point arc this year, and 27.79% from behind it. They have scored 58.1% of their points from two point field goals, 22.7% from three point field goals, and 19.2% from free throws.
  • Northwestern has taken 57.77% of their field goal attempts from two point range, and 42.23% of their attempts from three point range. They have scored 46.3% of their points from two point shots, 36.9% from three point shots, and 16.8% from free throws. As Iowa knows, Northwestern loves their three pointers.
Opposing Players to Watch
  • John Shurna is their best player. He averages 17.27 points per game (0.54 points per minute) on a very very efficient 61.5% effective FG%. He has also hit 49.5% of his three point attempts this year. He's also a pretty decent defensive rebounder, pulling down 14.6% of all opponent misses while he is on the court. The last time he played Iowa, he put up 16 points (61.5% effective FG% and 2-4 from three point range), 4 rebounds (3 defensive for a 13.3% defensive rebound rate), 5 assists, and 3 steals. If Crawford and Thompson don't have as good of games this time, I could easily see Shurna putting up a better game. Probably taking and making more three's.
  • Point guard Michael Thompson averages 14.42 points per game (0.40 points per minute) on an efficient effective FG% of 56.9%. He likes to shoot the three even more than Shurna does (58.96% of the time), but he doesn't shoot quite the same percentage that Shurna does, only hitting 37.3% of his attempts this year. He's basically a scorer. He does have the team's highest percentage of field goals assisted while he is on the court (23.9%), but Shurna and Marcotullio are only a few percentage points below him. Last time he played Iowa, Thompson had 17 points (62.5% effective FG% and 3-6 from three point range), 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 rebounds. 
  • Drew Crawford is the other scorer averaging double digits for Northwestern. The 6'5" guard averages 12.54 points per game (0.42 points per minute) on a  somewhat-efficient 50.5% effective FG%. Crawford shoots three's on about 40% of his attempts, just like Shurna, but only makes them at a 35.6% clip. Aside from scoring, Crawford is pretty talented on the defensive boards. He has pulled down 15.1% of all defensive rebounds available, while on the court this year. That's pretty damn good for a guard. Last time he faced Iowa, he put up 19 points (67.8% effective FG% and 5-9 from three point range) and 6 rebounds (3 offensive and 3 defensive). Since he's about a career 35% three point shooter, I highly doubt he'll go 5-9 from downtown again.

Northwestern has a gigantic advantage in shooting. Some of that advantage is lost, by the fact that they don't seem to realize they have to play defense. However, that didn't hurt them against Iowa last time as 46.7% of their points came from behind the arc, going 14-28 from three point range. Not many teams could withstand a three point barrage like that. On the season, they are only making 37.8% of their three point attempts, which means they will hopefully cool down a bit this game.

I expect the turnover margin to be close, like it was last game. Northwestern is a hard team to force turnovers on, and they aren't particularly great at causing any themselves. Rebounding is up in the air. Northwestern embarrassed Iowa on the glass last time. But, Iowa got 0 rebounds from Archie and Brommer in 19 minutes of play. I don't know if Archie is playing, but Brommer should get more rebounds than 0. Also, Cole has been playing a little better lately, and he should grab more than just 4 rebounds.

On offense, Iowa needs Gatens to find his stroke like he did against Northwestern the first time. He's in a bit of a slump since after the Michigan State game. His effective FG% for the last three games is a paltry 31.67% (season average 48.31%) and he is averaging a minuscule 0.71 points per scoring attempt (season average 1.08). Let's hope that changes. Cartwright also had a good game last time out against Northwestern. I don't think Northwestern has anybody who can guard him. So, he should be able to get in the lane and find the open man or hit the floater. If Northwestern goes to their patented 1-3-1 zone, hopefully Cartwright will be agressive and attack it (unlike what Iowa did against Minnesota's zone).

I'm not sure what to expect out of May, as he was just coming off of injury, and only played 15 minutes, the first time these teams played. If Northwestern does go to their 1-3-1, it could be a long night if May puts up 5 three point attempts like he did against the Gophers. For Basabe, I'm predicting a double-double, just like I did against Indiana. He pulled down 12 rebounds last time he went up against Northwestern's big men, but only had 6 points. If Iowa can find Basabe down low more often this game, he should have no trouble putting the ball in the basket and even getting to the free throw line.

Overall, I think Northwestern is going to win this game. Iowa on the road, against a good shooting team like the Wildcats, is not a match up that favors the Hawkeyes. Assuming there are about 65 possessions in this game, I would expect Northwestern to win by about something like 75 to 64. But, as always, I'll be rooting for Iowa to pull off the upset. I think I can speak for every Iowa fan, when I say that I hope I don't have to hear the "Just like football" chant. Please shut their fans up Iowa. All twenty of them.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment