Monday, December 04, 2017

Purple Ace Preview

So, next up are the Evansville Purple Aces.  This is a very interesting matchup and I'm looking forward to it.  First of all, this is an iconic mid-major program from the heart of basketball-land.  Two years ago they had back to back 25+ win seasons, they won the CIT in 2015.  Plus they used to wear t-shirts as their uniform.

What will be truly interesting today is that they are going to present a stylistic challenge to the Falcons.  More on that in a second.

They were 8th in the MVC last year, lost 3 starters from that team and were picked to be 8th again.

BG played them last year in Evansville.  It was a very tough game with the score tied with 2:32 left but then the Aces pulled away to win by 3, with BG rimming out a three at the buzzer that would have sent the game to OT.

They are 6-2 this year with a Kenpom of 151.  They have five relatively non-descript wins, over Arkansas State, North Carolina Central, SMO, Binghampton and Oakland City, all at home.  They played in Cancun and really represented, beating a really good Fresno State team and losing in a close game to a very good Louisiana Tech team.  They also lost @New Mexico by 19.

That last one is significant because it is the first game they played without their leading scorer Ryan Taylor, who is out six weeks with an injury.

Here's why I think the styles will be interesting.  BG has played an uptempo game this year.  They are #38 in the nation in possessions per game.  Conversely, there are not enough Ooooooo's in sloooooooooww to describe how Evansville plays.  They are 330 out of 351 in possessions per game.  They are tied with Wisconsin....that's how slow we are talking.  So that's one.

The other is that BG has been successful by scoring points and making baskets.  BG scores 1.1 points per possession, which is #69 in the country.  Evansville allows .93, which is #38 in the country.  On the other side, they are also a below average offensive team whereas BG is below average defensively.

Evansville--even with Taylor for 6 games this year--is not a great offensive team.  They are 200th in EFG, #288 in turnovers and #215 in offensive rebounding.

They don't take a lot of 3s (#318) but they are #8 at making them when they do.  After our experience with San Jose State (and their similar approach), this should make us nervous.  Beyond that, the Aces do get to the line and make an excellent 77% when they are there.

As identified, here is the key place for the game.  BG's offense meets the Purple Ace defense.  As you can see, while Evansville is pretty good guarding the shot, they really excel at forcing turnovers and not sending teams to the line, which is an unusual combination.  They are #32 in forcing turnovers and #20 in keeping opponents off the line.  Those happen to have been two things BG has been really good at.  BG is #32 at not turning the ball over and #92 at getting to the line.  Again, this has the potential to be a pretty interesting matchup.

The Ryan Taylor thing is nothing to sneeze at.  He's averaging 21 a game and will be out.  They have only two other double-figure scorers.  One is Blake Simmons, who is scoring 10 PPG, including 49% 3FG shooting.  The other is Dru Smith, who is scoring 10 PPG on 61% shooting.  Since Taylor's injury, KJ Reilly has picked up some of the slack.  Danius Charkevicius is a 6'9" Lithuanian who leads the team in rebounds.

So, this will be a good match up.  Looking forward to seeing it unfold.

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