Saturday, March 01, 2014

Zipper Problems, Part II

So, BG begins the final week of the regular season with a trip to the JAR to take on the Akron Zips.  The Zips are 17-11 and 9-6.  They are not playing especially well, losing 4 out of their last 5, but the losses were @WMU, @Buff, OU and @Miami, with only the last one qualifying as a bad loss and BG lost @Miami, too.

The Zips are 4-2 at home in MAC play this year and 10-2 overall.  They are in a tight battle for the last bye.

Akron has exercised complete ownership of BG.  They have won the last 10 meetings over BG and 19 out of the last 20.  You have to go back to 2001-3 to see BG having consistent wins over the Zips. I don't have any data, but I doubt if BG has had a similar string of futility against any conference opponent ever.

Hey, I saw a quote this week.  "Everything that has a beginning has an end."  So, we have that going for us.

Which is nice.

This game stacks up like a lot of BG games.  As you can see below, Akron is an average offensive team (6th in the MAC) and a decent defensive team (4th in MAC).  BG is poor offensively and a top 25 defensive team nationally...conference games only.  Those gaps are the key.  If BG can hold Akron down around .95 points per possession, they have a shot at winning.  The only other option is a hot shooting night, which we have not been accustomed to.

So, how could that happen?  Well, there are two areas where BG's defense excels and they are the two most important categories.  BG is top 40 in D1 in defending the shot and top 50 in forcing turnovers.  Akron turns the ball over about as often as BG forces turnovers, so we should expect that to hold.  The key is shooting.  Akron is not a great shooting team but there is a gap between where they are and where BG is.  The Falcons need to execute on those two points.  Akron is a poor FT shooting team, which makes them an even better match up for the Falcons.

The Buffalo loss was a shoot out, but Akron shot very poorly in their other losses in this streak, so perhaps that's an opening for the Falcons.

On the other side, we kind of know what to expect.  As you can see, BG's offensive numbers and Akron's defensive numbers are weirdly in sync.  It does matter.  BG has wasted a bunch of really good defensive performances and needs some kind of offensive production to be able to win.  The last word was that Anthony Henderson was expected to play tonight, we should help.

The last time the teams played, Akron got over 1 point per possession and BG got .98.  The game looked to be headed to OT until Quincy Diggs drained a buzzer beating shot to give Akron the win in a turnover-plagued game.  The key thing for BG was the inability to take advantage of a 19-10 foul advantage, shooting only 61% from the line.

On an individual basis, you know the names.

Treadwell is scoring 16 points per game on 44% shooting, which is solid.  He also averages 9.9 rebounds per game and is a clear All-MAC quality player.  Diggs is scoring an inefficient 12.3 on 39% shooting, paired with 5.1 rebounds per game.  Their other double-figure scorer is Nick Harney, who was suspended through the period where Akron has struggled.  He played against Miami.   He is scoring 10.3 points on 53% shooting.

Jake Kretzer is their big 3-threat at 36%.  Carmelo Betancourt, their PG, has 2.4 assists over 1.5 turnovers.

Can BG break the Zipper-hold that Dambrot at his boys have.  And can they do it at the JAR.  Obviously, this was a close game at the Stroh.  Odds are against it on the road, but who can tell?  BG has played well on the road, even when losing, so perhaps this time they get over the hump.

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