Saturday, January 18, 2014

On the road....Bronco Preview

OK, so BG makes its first road trip to Kalamazoo to play the WMU Broncos.  That's a tough opening assignment for the Falcons.

BG has a two-game winning streak against WMU, which is notable because they had lost something like 14 out of 15 before that in all manner of venues.  BG won the last game at K-Zoo.

Still, WMU is 6-1 at home, including a smack-down of the Rockets, who are, as I write this, about to score a double-digit win at the JAR.  Overall, they are 9-6 with 1 non-D1 win.  They opened the season with a very good win over New Mexico State.  The remainder of their wins are less impressive.  On the other hand, their worst loss was @Northwestern, which has an RPI of 150, so there are no bad losses on the docket.

They are 2-1 in the MAC.  They won vs UT, @Miami and then lost in a blowout @EMU.

FWIW, twice they have been held under 40 points this year, which is 1 time more than BG.  Never at home, though.

WMU has always played a very physical game.  During last year's game, they were very physical.  They seem to have adjusted to whatever is going on in the college game, however.  they are only getting 1.7 fouls more per game than last year and they are in the middle of the NCAA pack, so it appears to have not been an issue.

Here is how the basic game stacks up.  WMU has been a very efficient team on offense and BG has been very efficient team on defense.  We have wondered for a while how BG would defend against a good opponent, and we'll find out more tomorrow.  As noted, there have been a couple stinko offensive performances for WMU, but on average they have been efficient.  They have typically played at 67-68 possessions, which is the same as BG and right around the NCAA average.

On the other end, WMU is a good defensive team, considerably better than the NCAA average.  BG is going to need to bring the offense they had against CMU in this one against a better defensive team.

Breaking it down a little bit more, we can see what has made the offense efficient.  They are a solid shooting team (45% and 32%).  They try about twice as many 3s as BG does, which is still not a lot.  They take decent care of the ball, are above average on the offensive boards and get to the line a ridiculous amount.   That's the 10th best FT% rate in the country, and they are 11th in the country in terms of percentage of point from FTs.  They shoot 70%, which is just a little above average but good enough when you are getting all those attempts.

That's a good place to keep your eye on.  BG has done a nice job keeping teams off the line, as you can see, but this will be a challenge.  And, I am concerned about offensive rebounds.  The season numbers are similar, but BG has not always excelled in this area, and will need to at least do this well in order to get the stops they need to win...which is a big number.

Flipping things around, this looks to be a pretty even .  WMU is allowing its opponents to shoot pretty much where BG has been shooting so far.  WMU does not create a lot of turnovers and they are just OK on the offensive boards.  They are keeping teams off the line (they have tried 94 more FTs than their opponents).  BG is going to need to get to the line and make FTs for this road game.

Individually, the Broncos are lead by the MAC's leading scorer, 6'3" SR G David Brown, who is scoring 18.8 points per game.  He is not terribly efficient...he is shooting only 41% with 29% from 3 (#7 in MAC, surprisingly) and he leads the MAC in 3FG attempts.  BG has been mixing zone and man, but this would seem to point us to the idea that BG is going to need to play man and take care of Brown.

Shayne Whittington is also a very effective player.  He's scoring 13.8 points per game on 49% shooting and 9 rebounds per game, which is 3rd in the MAC.  He is 6'11" and a Sr.  Obviously, this is a big assignment for Cam Black and the BG bigs.

They are supplemented by a very good 6'5" SO...Conner Tava.  He is scoring 13 points a game on 63% shooting and adds 5 rebounds per game.

This is a tough assignment for BG.  BG has won on the road and has shown the ability to compete in a tough assignment (EG, Xavier), but there's no margin for error.  They have to play good defense against a team that can play inside and out, avoid fouling, play physical and then BG has to bring at least a respectable offensive effort.

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