Sunday, January 07, 2018

NIU Preview

So, the beat goes on.  Next up, on the short turn around, are the NIU Huskies into the Stroh on Tuesday.  They are 8-7, with the second-lowest kenpom ranking in the MAC, but then again the lowest is Miami and they beat BG at the Stroh.  

The 8-7 includes 2 non-D1 wins.  In a common opponent, they beat Green Bay by 20 in DeKalb.  They are 1-1 in the MAC, with a home win over Kent (by 14) and a road loss to OU (by 10).  (Of the 12 MAC games so far, only 2 have been decided inside of 4 points or in OT).

Mark Montgomery, their coach, is in his 7th season, and has had only one winning record.  On the other hand, he was 10-51 in his first two years and the Huskies are now at least a .500 team, though picked to be near the bottom of the MAC.  They were bitten by the graduate transfer bug when Marin Maric left for DePaul, where he is scoring 14 PPG and getting about 6 boards.  (He was expected to leave early, but supposedly to go home to play in Croatia).

Anyway, they are a young team this year, though not as young as BG.

This game is pretty evenly matched.  NIU isn't terrible at anything and yet they don't have any real strong points either.  Let's look.

As you can see, they are an average offensive team and BG is just slightly below average after a couple of improved performances recently.  On the other hand, BG is now a below average offensive team and NIU is a considerably below average defensive team.

So, you just don't see teams matched like this.  NIU is basically right on the national averages all the way across that line and BG is right there with them.  One thing.  NIU is 2FG-focused.  Only 15 teams in D1 basketball take fewer 3FGs.  They are average at 35% when they do shoot a 3, and poor (48.5%) on 2FGs, given them an Orrian kind of profile.  They make 72% of their FTs and prefer a slower pace.

Things are a little more interesting on defense.  NIU is easy to shoot against, and that extends to 2FGs and 3FGs.  They do force some turnovers, They are OK on the offensive boards and they do a good job keeping teams off the line.  BG has been struggling to shoot--even in the EMU game--and this is an opportunity to make life easier by making shots again.

Their leading player is Eugene German, who was all-Freshmen last year.  He scores 19.5 PPG on pretty good 46% shooting, those he is a frequent and poor 3FG shooter (32%).  Junior Levi Bradley is their second-leading scorer.  He is 6'7" and scores 14.6 PPG but only shoots 43%,  and gets about 6.3 RPG.  JUCO transfer Dante Thorpe is scoring 12.7 PPG and is very efficient, shooting 61% and 50% from 3FG.

From BG's standpoint, a key issue is the availability of Dylan Frye.  Beyond that, this is a game that BG needs to get on home floor.

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