Saturday, February 08, 2014

Zipper Problems Come to BG

The Akron Zips are the most consistent program in the MAC.  They are always near the top and this year is no exception.  Heading into the weekend's games, they are tied with UT for the top spot and have to be considered a favorite to win one of the two semi-final byes.  This team is good every year without exception.

Akron seems to have found the one thing MAC teams dream about---getting a winning coach that wants to stay.

In total, it has been a good if not great season for them.  They are 15-7, but 7-2 in the MAC.  They had nice wins over Oregon State and @Cleveland State.  In conference, they have lost at home to UT and @Kent.  They are 5-4 on the road, and have won @OU, @EMU and @CMU in the MAC.

Here is how the teams stack up.  You can see precisely how Akron is winning.  Note that we are now using MAC-only stats for these analysis to eliminate pre-season biases and to get a better reflection of how teams are playing now.  Akron has a good offense--that efficiency is #4 in the MAC--and they are playing very good defense especially in the MAC season.  In fact, during MAC play their defense is now better than BG's, which has been steadily creeping up.  Now, BG is also playing better offense of late.  You can see where BG might be able to get this game in a winnable range.

Let's see how that all happens, starting with the Akron offense against the BG defense.  Two of the four factors look pretty evenly matched.  The AK offense and BG defense are comparably average in turnovers and offensive rebounds.  The two areas where there the contest will be decided is shooting and free throws.  BG is going to need to hold Akron's shooting below that number and they have to do it without fouling.  BG is allowing a ton of FTs in MAC play and that's going to need to be fixed.  To BG's advantage, Akron is not a good FT shooting fact, they are worse than BG.  This is a good team but not a terrible matchup for BG.

Flipping things around...I mentioned that Akron has a strong defense in MAC play and BG, in total, has struggled on offense in MAC play.  Some of that is held down by the dreadful start BG got off to, but as you can see here, what BG gets and Akron allows are exactly the same.  I think BG has a shot at putting some numbers up here, however.  I would expect Akron to concentrate on Holmes--as other teams have done--and the game will fall onto the guards and Parker.

Akron plays a very deep rotation, and this year is no exception.  This keeps down some of the overall stat totals.  The guys leading them are no surprises.  They have 3 seniors who are all between 6'6" and 6'8" who are leading their team in scoring and will put the pressure onto Holmes, Black and Parker on the inside.  Demetrius Treadwell is scoring 15.9 PPG on 45% shooting..with only 4 3s, which makes him relatively inefficient.  He is also getting 10 rebounds and 4 offensive rebounds per game, which is pretty huge.  Averaging a double-double.

Quincy Diggs is scoring 13.4 per game.  He's also pretty inefficient though, at 41% and 27%.  He is 2nd on the team with 5 rebounds per game.

The third leg of the stool is Nick Harney.  He is scoring 10.8 on 56% shooting.  He has 4 rebounds a game to go with that.

A couple other notes.  Their best 3-shooter is Jake Kretzer at 36% and he's 6'7" as well, which could be a matchup issue for BG (or any team, given the inside guys).

The PG position was well documented here last year, and there's no reason to get into it again.  Rafael Bettancourt is on the point, and he is not getting a ton of assists (3.1) but he is still at a 2:1 ration with 1.6 assists.

Akron is a good team and they know how to win.  This will be a game where BG has to play its very best game.  I don't think this is an awful matchup for the Falcons, though, and I'm looking forward to seeing BG keep the Zips off the line and win this one.

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