Preview: Northwestern

Submitted by Tim on January 9th, 2010 at 9:15 PM

The EssentialsNorthwestern.gif

WHAT Michigan v. Northwestern
WHERE Ann Arbor, MI
January 10th, 2010
TELEVISION Big Ten Network

*Line provided by online sports betting site


Michigan is coming off yet another interesting game in terms of predictive power: a big win might make them overconfident, and the game itself was a tale of two halves, with Michigan getting dominated in the first frame, and bouncing back in the second for the win. So which Michigan team will we see against the 'Cats? It remains to be seen.

The Wolverines should continue to feed DeShawn Sims if the threes aren't falling, instead of continuing to jack up marginal looks. If the open look is available, you can't fault a guy for taking it, even if he misses. The shooting woes have come and gone, but hopefully they won't be a factor in Crisler Arena.


Coming into the season, Northwestern was planning to have a big year, and potentially land their first-ever(!) NCAA tournament bid. Those dreams seemed to be dashed when two of their biggest stars, Kevin Coble and Jeff Ryan, were injured at the beginning of the season. A team effort has kept NU in the hunt, and their only losses have been to Butler, Illinois, and Michigan State.

John Shurna, Drew Crawford, and Michael Thompson have seriously picked up the slack, keeping the NCAA dream alive. The 5-10 Thompson leads in shooting, assists, minutes played, and offensive rating. Shurna, however, gets the most usage on the team, taking the most shots.

Tempo-Free Breakdown

If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.

Michigan v. Northwestern: National Ranks
Category Michigan Rank Northwestern Rank Advantage
Mich eFG% v. NU Def eFG% 171 70 NN
Mich Def eFG% v. NU eFG% 216 81 NN
Mich TO% v. NU Def TO% 3 126 MM
Mich Def TO% v. NU TO% 40 21 N
Mich OReb% v. NU DReb% 264 105 NN
Mich DReb% v. NU OReb% 269 233 N
Mich FTR v. NU Opp FTR 329 180 NN
Mich Opp FTR v. NU FTR 12 173 MM
Mich AdjO v. NU AdjD 67 73 -
Mich AdjD v. NU AdjO 87 101 M

Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.

This is a pretty even statistical matchup, with neither team having more than a 2-letter advantage in a particular category. Northwestern does lead in more categories, but Michigan has advantages in overall efficiency on either side of the ball (however slight it may be when Michigan has the rock). There is something to be said for strength of schedule as well, with the Wildcats coming in ranked #249 overall, and Michigan #37. The Wolverines' numbers came against tougher units.

Michigan should be able to hold onto the ball, and keep Northwestern off the free throw line (especially since the 'Cats are a perimeter-oriented team). Michigan might have trouble coming down with rebounds, like usual, but Northwestern doesn't have great size outside of 6-11 center Luka Mirkovic, so the competition factor may play a role here.

Overall, this feels like a game that Michigan should win, especially at home. Kenpom thinks so, giving the Wolverines a 2/3 chance of coming out with a win. Northwestern has only beaten 3 opponents in the top 100 teams in the nation, with only Iowa state currently ranked ahead of Michigan by Pomeroy. I think this is a game that see-saws back and forth in the first half, but Michigan manages to maintain a lead throughout the second half, though never running away with the game.


UMHoops previews the game.


GoBlue in Madison

January 10th, 2010 at 10:07 AM ^

Not related to the northwestern game but an article of high interest. The high school player of the year (US army), an RB commit to USC is now reconsidering his commitment, and the only other school he had previously consider is M:

The most intriguing case is Baxter, who had no contact with any schools other than USC and Michigan. Baxter took an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, but he never seriously considered the Wolverines. In fact, he said, he committed to USC so early to avoid the precise situation he finds himself in now. Baxter said he must finish a few tests, but then he plans to examine other schools. He said he still plans to enroll at his chosen school for the spring term.…


January 10th, 2010 at 1:43 PM ^

I would love to see Vogrich, Morris and Gibson have a great offensive game today and gain some more confidence. I think our length/height in the backcourt is a big advantage, but Novak needs to really bug the crap out of Shurna and deny him the ball. Stu is due for a bounce-back game. Fingers crossed Sims has seen the light and will demand the ball in the post and get after it on the boards...


January 10th, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

For those wondering, the line is UM -8 over is hoping they serve as better chalk today than the Patriots.

Some other games of interest....for those with local TV, turn on FSD right now as Butler is playing at UD. UD is the second best team in that league. UM's recent surge began with the second half in our game with UD. I'd love to see Detroit--with a pair of IU transfers from the Sampson regime--get this game and go on a run in the horizon and put up something like a 12-4, 13-3 record.

Also, later on FSD, all FSN's really, is an ACC Doubleheader: FSU at Maryland; Va Tech at UNC

Like the last two years, Terps and Hokies find themselves fighting their asses off on the NCAA Bubble. I'm inclinced to cheer against them for Michigan's purposes, you know to maybe make some room up there on the eventual bubble for them. Those games begin at 5:30 and 7:30

Cheer and Go Blue!

Hoken's Heroes

January 10th, 2010 at 4:18 PM ^

...but can they turn up the D and stop NW from scoring? Less than 4 mins to go. Now we'll see what this team is made of. BTw, LLP, coming off a great performance last game, is absolutely cold today. Consistency is just not part of this team yet.


January 10th, 2010 at 10:49 PM ^

Watching them blow the 17 point lead was the most terrible thing I've seen this season. They had absolutely no answer offensively to that trapping zone Northwestern threw at them. Turnover after turnover after turnover. That was incredibly frustrating to watch.

It was also interesting to see the bench (w/ the exception of Morris) get almost 0 playing time: 10 for Wright (???), 2 for Vogrich, 4 for Gibson.