Friday, January 05, 2018

EMU MBB Preview

BG will head north Saturday to take on the EMU Eagles.  This is always a hard team to figure early in the year, because they play an incredibly weak pre-season schedule.  This year, it included 4 non D1 games.  Rob Murphy is in his 7th year in Ypsi and while there was some minor success early on, they have had a .500 or less record in MAC play the last three years.

To that point, their reputation is playing super-tough defense out of a 2-3 Syracuse zone.  Early in the Murphy regime they did play great defense, but the last three years they have been pretty much average in the MAC.

They are 9-5 overall and 5-5 in D1 games.  Their best win has been at home against Oakland, and their losses include @Syracuse, @Indiana and @Ball State.  In fact, they also lost @Oakland.

They destroyed BG at the Stroh last year, by 28.  The year before BG won in Ypsi.  EMU is undefeated at home this year.

So, here you have the season averages for both teams.  As noted after the Miami game, BG's offense has been struggling over the past few games, so this may or may not be representative of what will be seen on Saturday.  Anyway, based on this BG and EMU are pretty evenly matched.  On the other hand, if BG's opponents continue to overshoot their season average against the Falcons, EMU will have an easy day.  BG did play USC-Upstate earlier this year and they play a similar zone, which could help the Falcons.

This is pretty much would you would expect to see.  An EFG of 51% is slightly above the D1 average.  The teams are pretty evenly matched down the line.  EMU tends to rebound well on the offensive boards, and after the success Miami had on the boards this is something BG will need to buckle down on.

Their focus is on getting the ball inside.  They are 304th in the nation at taking 3s, and 260th at making them.  They are making 51% of their 2FGs, which is considerably better than the national average.  They are not a great FT shooting team.

So, when BG has the ball, there are some interesting points.  As you can see, EMU is allowing about average FG shooting, but BG is slightly below with its shooting.  BG does take good care of the ball, and EMU does force some turnovers, so BG will have to continue to excel there.  Like most zone teams, EMU is not great on the defensive boards.

Individually, we all know about James Thompson IV, the 6'10 post player who is a two-time All-MAC player and is only a junior.  He continues to fill a stats line as well as anyone, averaging 16 PPG on 66% shooting and adding 11.5 RPG.  They have added 6'9" F Elijah Minnie, who is a transfer from Robert Morris.  He is scoring 17 PPG, shooting 45% overall.  He's more a stretch 4, leads the team in 3FG attempts (makes only 33%) and adds 6.1 RPG.

Their second leading scorer is Paul Jackson, a transfer from Eastern Kentucky. He's scoring an inefficient 16 PPG on 44% shooting, but does add 4.6 assists per game.

BG's certainly the underdog in this one, but it isn't something that can't be done.  It would be great to see the Falcons get back on serve with a road win.  We remain a young team, but I think we are better than we played Tuesday.

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