Saturday, January 11, 2014

NIU preview

So the Falcons come right back at it tomorrow at the Stroh Center.  I don't know how to put this any other way.  Expectations were low this year and then things looked like they might be better and then things are looking bad again...if BG does not win this game, we're back to the low or lower expectations we had to start with.

 NIU is 6-7 this year, with five wins against teams of an RPI over 250 and one against a non D1 team.  They have on twice on the road, once against Loyola-Chicago and once against UC-Riverside, both sub-300 teams.  They lost their MAC opener by 21 @Buffalo.

I'm a little surprised at their points per possession, which are lousy but not as bad as I expected.  I believe we will find this to be an anomaly.  They scored 111 in one game against a non-D1 team.  Their high point total is 71 for the season and they dropped .72 points per possession against Buffalo.

Anyway, remembering that average points per possession is 1.05 this year in D1, we are clearly looking at two teams that are not very good on offense and better than average on defense.  I don't see either team having the ability to run away from the other, and I would anticipate a pretty ugly affair Sunday.

Looking into the numbers more closely...we have talked about how poor a shooting team BG is, but NIU is, in fact, worse.  They make only 39% of their overall FG attempts, and make 25.9% of their 3FGs, which is almost the same as BG.  This is a team that struggles to put the ball in the basket.  Also, they are turn the ball over as much as BG does.  They are good on the offensive boards and they get to the line a lot, but they shoot 67% which is below average.  In short, there is nothing here to suggest the NIU is as good on offense as their overall efficiency number suggests.  BG has been pretty good on its own defensive boards and at not fouling, so I think this looks like a pretty good matchup.

Flipping things around, you can see that NIU is used to holding teams to worse shooting than BG is getting.  In fact, these numbers are all pretty close, which means you can probably expect BG's normal offensive game.  It will be interesting to see how NIU defends BG...I would expect a lot of lane packing, but who knows?  They don't have Riley, either way.

Individually speaking, it is important to remember than no Huskie is averaging more than 25 minutes a game and 11 are averaging 10 minutes or more.  Their leading scorer is Dontel Highsmith, who is averaging 10.5 points per game on 54% shooting.  Highsmith is a 6'2" FR G.  

Their second leading scorer is Darrell Bowie at an inefficient 9.8 points, shooting 36%.  He's a 6'6" SO who also averages 7.3 rebounds per game.

The team has six players who have taken 60 shots or more and average 37% or less.  FR Aaric Armstead is shooting 28%.

Sunday's game will, therefore, feature two of the least productive teams in D1 on offense.  I have to believe that Falcons win this one at home, but, as mentioned, if they don't we're in for a long cold season at the Stroh.

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