Monday, January 18, 2016

Rivalry Night at the Stroh

And here come the Rockets.

What has turned into a very interesting MAC season--for everyone, and for BG in particular--plays out another act this week.  Coming off two road wins, BG now has 2 straight on the Stroh Center floor, and these will be tough tests.  First, the UT Rockets and then the Kent State Golden Flashes on Saturday for the Centennial game.  As with the whole thing, we will learn more about the team as we go through it.

Toledo has won 4 straight...including one absolute heart-breaker.  They lost a ton to graduation last season...they are 11-6 this year and 10-6 against D1 opponents.  They haven't played a terrifically tough schedule...their average RPI win is 227 and they have 4 wins over teams with an RPI over 320.

Having said that, they are 2-2 in MAC play.  They have beaten Akron and Miami and lost to NIU and Ball State.  They have 1 MAC road win (Miami) and are 3-3 overall on the road this year.

The Rockets have been very competitive under Tod Kowalcyk and they continue to be.  They have always played an offensive style of ball and this year's team is no exception.  They are going at about 71 possessions/40, which is a touch above the overall average, and as you can see below, they are scoring very efficiently.  That's a top-50 offense.  They are paired with a pretty good defense as well...that's partly schedule-aided and partly some good players they have, two in particular.

The offensive production comes pretty much the best way possible...they combine really good shooting and taking really good care of the ball.  They don't have great rebounding and they don't get a ton of FTs, but they are top-50 in FG% and top-20 in turnover%.  Their shot mix is slightly more 3FG oriented than the average NCAA team and they are a good FT shooting team.  When they go shoot 3s, they are in the top quarter of the nation in making them.

As you can see, BG is used to doing better in both shot defense and in turnovers, so that's where a significant part of the tension is going to come.  BG is going to need to defend the shot to have the best chance at winning this game.

When you flip it around, things are a lot more closely-matched.  BG has been playing better offensively lately, so if this is on an upward trend, this could be a good chance.  The biggest gap is on rebounding, where UT is great and BG is average but rebounding really well of late...and FTs, where BG is used to getting to the line and UT is among the top 30 teams in D1 at keeping teams off the line.  

Offensively, the Rockets feature one of the top players in the MAC and a MAC POY candidate, if not the leader, and that's Nathan Boothe.  He's leading the MAC with 19.6 PPG, 2nd in rebounds at 8.8 RPG, shooting 54% (8th), 6th in assists, 10th in FT%,  and 12 in 3FG%.

They also have Johnathan Williams who is scoring 18.9 PPG on 47% shooting, which is very good for a guard.  He makes 39% of his 3FGs.

They are also getting production out of SO G Stuckey Mosley, who is scoring 11.4 PPG.  He shoots 44% and 42% from 3FG and is 2nd on the team with 5.2 RPG game.

With the way things are going, I'd expect a pretty decent crowd at the Stroh tomorrow.  Would be awesome to see BG turn around the Rocket series and continue to point the record up.  In fact, last season feels weirdly like last year, right now.

One other thing.  For the first time in a long time--honestly, I don't know when--BG has a coach who doesn't have to ask someone about the rivalry.  He's played in it, he knows what it means.  I have a pretty high degree of anticipation for this one...

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