Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Chips Preview

So, off a loss, BG heads to the road for 2 straight.  This is clearly a challenging time on the schedule.  To add to it, they are playing another surprise team, the CMU Chippewas.  They are 15-4, with 3 non D1 wins and 5-3 in the MAC.  They are 4-0 at home, with wins over Miami, Buffalo, EMU and Ohio, and a road win over UT.  They have also lost @Akron, @Kent and @Ball State.  With BG and WMU at home over the next 2 games, they are facing an important part of their schedule as well.

They are the best offensive team in the MAC.  They are scoring 1.11 point per possession in MAC play.  They are at only 65 possessions, which is somewhere in the middle of the pack of the MAC, so it isn't on high octane.  They are 8th in defensive efficiency.  Therefore, as you can see below, we have a contrast of two styles.  BG is a defensively-oriented team and CMU is an offensively-oriented team.  As those styles clash, we will see who prevails.

CMU combines a potent mix in achieving that offensive efficiency:  they are very effective shooting the ball and they rarely turn it over.  They are 2nd in the MAC in FG%, 1st in 3FG and 1st in 3FG%.  That's potent, but they also first in not turning the ball over.  So, bunches of shots and they are good at making them.  They are last in offensive rebounding and in the middle pack at getting to the line, but those can't ruin the shooting and ball possession they have.  This will be a huge challenge for the BG defense.

Teams are rarely good on both sides of the court, and CMU is not either.  They are 10th in allowing FG% and 10th in 3FG% and they are second to last in allowing teams to shoot against them.  They don't force a ton of turnovers, are not great on the offensive boards and allow a good amount of free throws.  The question here is how well the Falcons do at taking advantage of these weaknesses.  BG is clearly not a high octane offensive squad and even with CMU's soft defense, the Falcons need to be ready to take advantage.  Some shooting from the guard position surely would help.

Individually, they are led by Chris Fowler, the JR PG who is the best player no one has heard of.  He's scoring 14.4 per game on 52% and 37% shooting, very good numbers for a guard.  He also has 6.1 assists per game (2nd in MAC) over 2.3 turnovers.  John Simons  (6'8") is scoring 11.5 on 51% and 45% which makes him the 5th best shooter in the MAC.  He also leads the team with 6.2 RPG.

Braylon Rayson, a 5'9" SO G is scoring 10.4 PPG in only 21 minutes.  He's a little less efficent, at 42% and 36%.  Josh Kozinski is also a dangerous 3FG shooter.

This should be a very interesting game.  BG is going to need to guard very, very well, especially against Simon, who might be the MAC's best inside-out threat.  This will be a clash of styles, with CMU clearly favored on home court, where they have won all their MAC games.  On the plus side, BG has responded very well to losing during the Jans "era" so perhaps that can happen again.  My fear is that BG is running out of gas a little--something we have seen from our teams in past years.  They are running a much shorter bench, and just seem to be losing a little zip.  One last important factor.  BG needs Dickerson and Holmes to avoid foul trouble.  CMU is much less of an inside team (compared to Akron, for example) so maybe that can be done.

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