Sunday, March 09, 2014

Huskie Redux. PTSD edition.

Back on the bus.

The Falcons are heading to DeKalb to play the much improved NIU Huskies in the first round of the MAC Tournament.  If the Falcons win, they will head to Cleveland.  And who knows?  BG has lost home games in the first round the last 2 years so maybe this is a chance to turn the tables.

If BG had PTSD when they see the Huskies, it would be understandable.  Their 45-36 loss to NIU at the Stroh Center might rank as the season's low point.  True, NIU ended up being better than we thought at that time.  You don't expect to score 36 at home and you don't expect to lose that game.  It was BG's lowest point total since 1994 and as far as I could tell, the lowest in a home game in 71 years--and that was against Camp Perry.  It is the 21st lowest point total by any D1 team in any game this year and the 5th lowest on a home court.

NIU is on the rise.  Their coach is from the Izzo tree, and they had some tough years as they retooled, but they were 8-10 in MAC play with the second youngest team in the conference, based on the analysis on  (Basically, they multiply freshmen minutes x 1, sophomores x2, etc and then use it to develop an average.  You get an idea about the lineup they actually used).  Anyway, NIU is the 2nd youngest team and the first and third youngest are CMU and Ball State and they were awful.

NIU is very similar to BG.  As you can see below, NIU is only a little better than BG on offense and is slightly better than BG on defense, as the Falcons have seen their defensive numbers slip with the lst two games, which were really poor.  We can expect a similar game to the first one--low scoring.

Here's how the whole thing stacks up.  NIU is a poor shooting team.  In fact, they are the worst shooting team in the MAC.  They are 10th or below in all your major shooting categories and they are 2nd worst in turnovers, as well.  That's a disastrous combination.  The only thing keeping them afloat is that they are the best offensive rebounding team in the league and 2nd best at getting to the line.  (They foul a lot, too, so that's not as big an advantage as you would think).  They make 70% of free throws, which is about average.

BG has struggled to defend against teams that rebound well, so BG will need to be able to defend the boards well to keep NIU's scoring down where it usually is.

Flipping things around, you can see that NIU and BG are closely matched when BG has the ball.  NIU now has the 2nd ranked defense in the conference, so this is a tough assignment for BG.  They do force some turnovers and they give up a bunch of fouls--something BG has been inconsistent in capitalizing on this season.

In conference play, their leading scorer is Darrell Bowie, a SO F who is averaging 10.1 PPG.  However, that's on 39% shooting and nearly all of those shots are 2FG.  He also averages 6.3 RPG.  The second leading scorer is 6'9" big JR Jordan Threloff, who is scoring 9.9 PPG on 47% shooting and a team-high 7.9 rebounds.  Aaric Armstead and Travon Baker also average around 9 points per game, but they are poor shooters, especially from beyond the arc.

Anyway, it figures to be a throwback day for NIU and BG--we might actually look for the boys from Camp Perry for a model.  It is certainly a winnable game for BG.  NIU was only 5-4 at home.  BG is not playing well right now, and will need to find some energy to get the road win and make it to Cleveland.

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