Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chips Redux

So the Falcons are in Mt. Pleasant for their first rematch of the season.  CMU won the opener at the Stroh.  The storyline for that game was how BG would match up with a very strong CMU offense and a weaker CMU defense.  The answer, as you can see below, was that CMU won both of those battles.  They shot almost half of their FGs from 3, made 40% and made 51% of their FGs overall.  BG shot a 2-heavy mix and made only 44%.  Really, not much analysis needed once you have looked at the shooting.

So, not to Captain Obvious, but those are going to have to turn that around.

CMU is 4-3 in the MAC, same as BG.  In addition to BG, they have beaten Akron, Ohio and @Miami and lost to @NIU, @Buffalo and EMU.  CMU has been a mystery for much of the season, which they started as the favorites, and the MAC season hasn't really resolved that.  The win over Akron is good, but getting scorched by EMU at McGuirk is not.  The exciting thing is that the MAC is wide-open and the bye structure is more friendly to late-blooming teams, so even at 4-3 CMU can still play their way to the can BG.

Looking at the stats, CMU is the most efficient team in the MAC on offense.  Just as importantly, their defense is much improved...they are about 1.08 for all games and 1.05 for MAC games.  This would be a good indicator for them as the year moves on.  FWIW, 1.05 is in the middle of the MAC pack.  So, you can see BG responds with slightly above average offense and playing slightly worse defense than CMU.

CMU does not play at a fast pace.  They just score a lot.  They are 10th in the MAC in average pace.  They have a potent combination...they lead the MAC in taking care of the ball--meaning they get a lot of shots--and they are 3rd in shooting.  The combination is so potent, in fact, that they are near the bottom in offensive rebounding and getting to the line and still lead the MAC in offensive efficiency.
A few other notes.  They are a becoming a little bit more 2-focused in MAC play.  They are "only" 3rd in the MAC in attempting 3FGs as a portion of all FGs and are 8th in 3FG%.  (Again, all MAC play).  They are, however, 2nd in 2FG and FT shooting.

CMU remains easy to shoot against.  They are 11th on this measure in the MAC.  They are 10th defending 3FG and 10th defending 2FGs.  So that's an opportunity that BG is going to need to seize this time that they did not in the first game.  CMU's defense has improved by becoming average in forcing turnovers and preventing offensive rebounds and keeping teams off the line.  They have received an additional unearned benefit in that teams are shooting the lowest FT% against them in the conference.  This is another area where BG has a chance to take advantage.

Individually, CMU is led by two studs--Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler.

Rayson torched BG for 27 at the Stroh, including 5 of 8 from 3FG.  He is scoring 17.8 PPG in MAC play, 3rd in MAC play and is shooting 46% overall and 39% from 3.  He is also 2nd in the MAC with 92% FT shooting.  He has been in double figures in every MAC game though his day at the Stroh was his best.

Chris Fowler is the other stud.  He is scoring 15 a game, though less efficiently.  He's shooting 41% and 23%.  He's very good at the line as well 83%--he made all 11 in a 21 point and 9 assist win over Miami.  Oh yeah, he is 2nd in the MAC with over 6 assists per game.  He also leads the MAC in minutes per game.

Their leading rebounders are John Simons (6 per game) and Luke Meyer (5.4 per game).

So that's how it stacks up.  BG's home court struggles have made this game pretty important as the Falcons work toward conference seeding and, at least, a home game to get to Cleveland.  I will say this...BG is an interesting team to watch.

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