Preview: Northwestern

Submitted by Tim on February 2nd, 2010 at 4:21 PM

The EssentialsNorthwestern.gif

WHAT Michigan v. Northwestern
WHERE Evanston, IL
WHEN 7:00PM EST

February 2nd, 2010
THE LINE Michigan +2.5
TELEVISION BTN

*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.

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% 203 120 N
Mich Def eFG% v. NU eFG% 143 86 N
Mich TO% v. NU Def TO%
24 158 MM
Mich Def TO% v. NU TO% 67 25 N
Mich OReb% v. NU DReb%
249 157 N
Mich DReb% v. NU OReb% 221 283 M
Mich FTR v. NU Opp FTR
333 150 NN
Mich Opp FTR v. NU FTR
13 183 MM
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.

Comments

mmiicchhiiggaann

February 2nd, 2010 at 9:32 PM ^

From michigan daily news paper on twitter..Manny Harris after the game "A lot of these guys gotta come back, you know what I’m saying, like myself, gotta come back and play next year"...That would be nice..

Don

February 2nd, 2010 at 9:50 PM ^

For three years they've been the model of consistency: worst in the B10 in overall shooting percentage, and worst in the conference in 3-pt percentage. With tonight's performance, they move past Iowa to take the bottom position in the conference in overall shooting after shooting up briefly to ninth. They already have a stranglehold on the bottom position for 3-pt shooting.

I wonder how many teams in the country from major conferences shoot worse than we do. I don't know how Beilein can stand watching it. I can't.