Monday, January 09, 2017

Can it be 2 in a row? EMU Eagles @ Stroh

So here is the thing. I just don't have any respect for how EMU runs their basketball program. I don't think teams should play 4 non-D1 games in their non-conference schedule. If that means you have to go on the road a little more than fine. But you aren't building a program that way and you aren't building a fan base. And it is exactly what EMU does.  Last year, Murphy went into a tirade on this topic.  (In fact, the 4 games this year were not even DII games...they weren't even NCAA games.  All 4 were NAIA games.)

I just don't think that's right.  I don't think the MAC should allow it.  I honestly think teams should only play 1 non-D1 game per year.

So, while EMU is 9-6, they are only 5-6 in D1 and 1-1 in the MAC.  They did play some real non-conference games.  They lost @Pitt, @SMU, @Vermont and @Syracuse, all top 100 losses.   (The others are @IUPUI and Buffalo at home.)  They are 0-5 on the road.  This is their first MAC road game.

The stats below are based on D1 games only.  As you can see, this game should be pretty even.  EMU is a pretty good offensive team at 1.07 points per possession, and BG's defense has been less than stellar, at 1.05 points per possession.  The D1 average is 104.4.

EMU plays at 70.5 possessions, which is about .5 a possession less than BG per game.  With that, they scored 94 against Omaha, 87 against Detroit, 98 against Long Beach, 85 against CMU and 77 against Buffalo.

On the other side, they are above average on defense and BG is below average on offense.  Now, that has been changing a little bit and if BG can continue to score more consistently, they might turn those numbers around. If everyone plays to the average, then EMU would win, so you'd hope for BG to play better both ways at home.

It is interesting.  Unlike most teams with a strong offense, EMU doesn't shoot very well...below the NCAA average.  Having said that, they are excellent in all 3 of the other areas.  They take care of the ball, are #42 in the nation in offensive rebounding and they get to the line.  They are also excellent at the line when they do get their, shooting 75.5% and being #34 in the country in that stat. This is a challenge for BG, who gave up 38% offensive rebounds to Akron and over 50% against Ball State.  If BG can keep EMU off the boards, you eliminate one part of their remaining 3 areas.

I don't know it for a fact, but Akron and Ball State were both teams that shot the 3 a lot, and BG defended it really well on Saturday.  Whether that plays into the offensive rebounding, I don't know.  EMU is #269 at how many 3s they take and #309 at making them, so BG should be able to pack it in a little more.  EMU makes only 48% of their 2FGs, which is just below the D1 average.

On defense, they have been known for years that EMU plays the Syracuse 2-3 zone and they do it effectively.  In a good sign for BG, they are relatively easy to shoot against.  That's especially true against the 2FG, where they allow 52%.  That's a good part for BG.  The bad part is that they are #16 in turning opponents over.  That's going to be a challenge for Ali and Caldwell. and they will need to stay out of foul trouble and protect the ball.  They are very bad on the offensive boards (which plays into that 2FG shooting) and they foul a lot.  That kind of FT rate is in the bottom 10 in the country.  Teams score 27% of their points on the line against the EMU defense, the 8th highest such number.  So anyway,

Individually the stats are for all games.  Their leading scorer is Willie Magnum IV, who has started only 2 games this year.  He's scoring 16.7 PPG on 42% shooting overall and 36% shooting from beyond the arc.  He's tried 121 3FGs in 25 minutes per game.  That's #45 in the country.  He's a SR G who was a JUCO transfer.

The next leading scorer is Ray Lee, a R-SR G.  He scores 15.6 PPG but inefficiently, on 40% and 32% shooting.  Their third leading scorer...and probably best James Thompson IV, who scores 14 and has 10.8 RPG.  He's a 55% shooter who is 6'10" and 220 pounds and presents an immediate challenge to BG.  Finally, Tim Bond leads the team with 3.5 assists per game.

I think this game has the potential to be really interesting.  BG is playing better and probably is a better fit against EMU's offense than they have been.  Having said that, they will have to manage Thompson, clear the boards and continue to make shots on the other end of the floor, as well as convert FTs.  This is a game that could go either way.  Kenpom makes BG a slight underdog.

BG has 2 home games this week and they are not against the MAC's top teams.  If they can hold serve, they can get off to a very nice start and continue to build confidence.  Last year, BG won only 1 game at home in the MAC, so doubling that total before the middle of January would be good.

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