Thursday, November 21, 2019

Hilltopper Preview

The Falcon MBB team is in the Virgin Islands preparing for some guys that will provide what I believe will be an excellent test for this team, which has high expectations.

The first one is going to be very interesting.  Western Kentucky (also from Bowling Green) is predicted to win Conference-USA and is currently ranked ahead of BG on kenpom (#83 to #102).  They are 4-0 with no real impressive wins and BG is 3-1 and that's with only one D1 win.  BG has had one real test so far, which is one more than WKU...but both teams are looking to establish the season.

This is not a normal non-conference opponent for BG.  The Falcons and the Hilltoppers have actually played 33 times.  It was actually a real rivalry in the 1950s with the two teams playing twice a year sometimes...Battle of the Bowling Greens, you get it.  So, WKU leads 23-10.  WKU won the last meeting and BG won the meeting before that.  Since 2000, the teams have split four games.

WKU was 20-14 last year and 11-7 in CUSA.  The year before that they were 27-11 with a four-game run in the NIT.  They lost only one starter from last year's team, returned their top four scorers and added some significant transfers.

The guy BG most has to watch out for is their SO C Charles Bassey.  He was first team all-conference as well as Freshman of the Year AND Defensive player of the year.  He's 6'11, averaged a double-double last year and so far this year, shot 63% and averaged over 2 blocks a game.  He's a top flight post player and will be a challenge for the Falcons.

Their leading scorer is Carson Williams, a 6'5" JR who was Mr. Basketball in KY.  He went to Northern Kentucky originally.  He's averaging 17.5 PPG on 68% shooting, about 6 RPG.

Their third leader scorer (Bassey is 2nd) is Tavieon Hollingsworth, a 6'2" JR who is scoring 13PPG on 52% shooting, plus 4 apg.

Their fourth double-figure scorer is Carmon Justice, a grad transfer who is also a former Mr. Basketball in Kentucky.  He's scoring 12.8 PPG on 50% shooting.

There you have four players who can efficiently score with the basketball, at least to date this season.

And again, they haven't played anybody yet.

Having said that, they are scoring at 1.06 points per possession, which is 59th in the country.  They are the 8th best shooting team in the country...60% on EFG, 61% on 2FG and 39% on 3FG.  They are also #18 on the offensive boards and #8 in getting to the line.  Their only weakness on offense is that they turn the ball over on 25% of their possessions.

Defensively, they are much nearer to average.  They do force turnovers and are very difficult to shoot the 3FG against.  They are not great on their own defensive boards.

One note is that after Bussey they are not big.  Most of their 4 minutes go to a guy who is 6'5", so that might give BG a matchup advantage here and there.  This WKU team looks very good--yes, their games to date are not great tests.  But, to win the MAC Championship, this is the lane BG will need to swim in.  I look forward to seeing this neutral floor game unfold.

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