|WHAT||Michigan v. Northwestern|
February 2nd, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +2.5|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Michigan came out of the gates a little sluggish, but raced out to a lead of 17 points with just four minutes left before the break. Freshman Drew Crawford scored 12 points (on 3/3 shooting behind the arc and a trio of free throws) to help Northwestern close to within 9 points by halftime. After the break, the Cats upped the pressure in their 1-3-1 defense, forcing 11 Michigan turnovers. On the other end of the court, Michigan continued to let Crawford light up the nets.
After scoring 28 in the first half, Northwestern scored 40 after the break. They held Michigan to just 25 after the Wolverines scored 37 prior to halftime. Northwestern's defense and Michigan's lack thereof was the story in the second frame, and Michigan limped out of Crisler Arena on the wrong end of a 68-62 decision.
Since Last We Met
Immediately after the choke to Northwestern, Michigan exacted revenge on Indiana for beating them in December, then upset UConn in Crisler. A tough three-game stretch at Wisconsin, at Purdue, and against Michigan State led to a three-game losing streak, but the Wolverines pasted Iowa at home on Saturday to break the streak. Michigan's transformation into a very good defensive team has continued, while the offense has stabilized, and maybe even gotten slightly worse (though the Iowa game is misleading, because Michigan could have scored nearly every trip down the court if they wanted to exert the necessary effort).
In Evanston, Northwestern has fallen from "FIRST TIME EVER NCAA TOURNAMENT BABY WOO!!" to a bubble team that has some serious work to do to ensure a tournament bid. They lost a home game to Wisconsin, while dropping roadies against Ohio State, Michigan State, and an otherwise-struggling Minnesota squad. At home, they've knocked off Purdue and Illinois, keeping the tourney dream alive. They'll be playing with a sense of urgency to keep that going.
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%||203||120||N|
|Mich Def eFG% v. NU eFG%||143||86||N|
|Mich TO% v. NU Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. NU TO%||67||25||N|
|Mich OReb% v. NU DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. NU OReb%||221||283||M|
|Mich FTR v. NU Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. NU FTR
|Mich AdjO v. NU AdjD||100||100||-|
|Mich AdjD v. NU AdjO||38||51||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 super-even battle statistically, with Michigan barely edging Northwestern in overall efficiency. When you take into account recent play, Michigan is on a much better run than the Wildcats, with improvement all over the board, while Northwestern has stayed mostly stagnant.
Michigan should have a big advantage in holding onto the ball against Northwestern's defense, but we saw how that worked out last time these two teams squared off. It's imperative that the Wolverines don't turn it over, and given recent results against non-baby-seal-esque competition, and the continuing improvement of Darius Morris, that hopefully won't be much of an issue.
Vegas gives the Wildcats 2.5 points on the road, and Ken Pomeroy likes them by 3. IN case the tone of this preview didn't tip my hand, I don't see that being the case. I think Michigan will be able to knock of Northwestern in Evanston.