Our Journey Through Big Ten Basketball To Date

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on February 18th, 2013 at 1:15 PM


Now that there is some respite from the meat grinder that seems to be the Big Ten basketball schedule (at least until this weekend), I felt it might be an appropriate moment to step back and look at some of the basic numbers and breakdowns for our Wolverines. Much has been said in the postgame threads over the last stretch of games, and indeed, some of it bears itself out in the trends that you will see here. The caveat here is that the conference schedule is not yet complete and these numbers are not final.

I had wanted to do something like this since the Indiana game, but I held off because there simply was not enough data regarding conference play to make much of a determination about where the areas of focus should be at that point. Now, I think you can see some definite trends. I also compiled our statistics in a Michigan win versus Michigan loss format so you can easily see just how stark some of the differences are in some cases.

TABLE 1 – “Michigan Win Vs. Michigan Loss”


The one thing that leapt out immediately, at least to me, is that in conference play, we are shooting about 11% when we win as opposed to when we lose, which is significant considering that our four losses have been at the hands of some of the most defensively efficient teams in Division I basketball, not just the conference. The difference is small for our opponents, who shoot only about 6% better in wins as opposed to losses. It’s a fairly similar story for three-pointers – we are down about 13% in losses compared to wins, whereas our opponents again show a difference of only 6% between the two scenarios.

Here is the shooting data broken out into individual games:

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Many of the findings aren’t entirely unexpected – we have fewer assists when we lose, we rebound less, and so on, but there are actually sustained trends that are worth noting at this point. Below are trends for point totals and the running average of points:

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In both of these, you can see an overall decline in our own production and a gradual increase in the production of those we have played. Since Indiana, in fact, we are giving up three more points per game on average, which may not seem like much, but when you consider that the fewest we have given up since then is 65, it is noteworthy. Our average in the same period has declined about two points, but our average is bolstered some by some of our early performances in conference play.

Tied somewhat to that would be offensive and defensive efficiency, shown below. This is the running number, cumulative as of each game:

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The trends are obviously not favorable, but overall, the efficiency numbers have not slid too much, as you will note. In both case, it is less than a 10% slide. It is enough, however, to say that there are items to address soon on both sides of the ball.

Rebounds and assists have also tailed off somewhat, but turnovers show one notable aberration:

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This is here for your perusal. The discussion which hopefully follows will become the conclusion of the board, or at least that is my intention. If there are other statistics that you would like to see charted, let me know and I will insert the data as time permits. I thought I might just get the discussion going with what I did here.





February 18th, 2013 at 2:07 PM ^

So as your stats work shows (and thanks again as always for the great charting work), our defensive stats have all been trending downward as of late.  What percentage of the following possible explanations would you attribute that slide towards?

  • Morgan's injury
  • Tougher competition in terms of the offenses we face in the B1G
  • General exahustion from rough schedule
  • Not playing the zone defenses that Coach B is known for and has used more in the past, i.e. the 1-3-1 that drives some teams nuts
  • Defensive lack of hustle/heart/grit/Novak
  • Too many freshmen
  • Other teams figuring out our weaknesses and exploiting them
  • Some other mystery causing regression by the players on the team as the season wears on

I personally would break it out as follows:

  • No Morgan: 5% - I think his absence hurts us more on O than D given his backups
  • Tougher Os in B1G than in OOC: Not so sure on this one, OSU, PSU and Wisc's Os tend to suck outside of when they play us, but when they play us they're on fire. I'd say 5%
  • Exhaustion: 15%, especially in the last 5 games.
  • Not going to the zone: 15%. With how weak some of our defenders are in man coverage, why aren't we breaking out the 1-3-1 more?
  • Lack of Novakian qualities: 20%.  How many times have you wanted to scream at your TV when you see someone dogging it back on defense, especially GRIII?
  • Too many freshman:  15% GRIII and Stauskas seem to be defensive liabilities.  McGary gets out of position sometimes, but he at least has some major hustle.
  • Other teams scouting: 15% the B1G has some smart coaches that are able to shut down our offense with their schemes, so I'm sure they are able to exploit our D weaknesses as well.
  • Mysterious other: well, I've got 10% left after my distribution, so maybe it goes here?  I dunno.  Maybe they hung out with Shane and got mono?






snarling wolverine

February 18th, 2013 at 2:26 PM ^

No Morgan: 5% - I think his absence hurts us more on O than D given his backups

Why do you think this? Big Ten Geeks crunched the numbers and found that Morgan, pre-injury, was the most productive defender in the entire conference based on its "stops" metric.


I would put the lack of a functional Morgan a lot higher - like 20% or more.



February 18th, 2013 at 2:45 PM ^

I guess I just didn't understand and realize how much Morgan contributed on D.  I thought I saw Brian do a stats comparison between him and McGary that didn't show as much of a drop-off between the two on D.  So based on some feedback from the OP on twitter and your informative post above, I'd reclassify him to at least 15% and get rid of the mysterious other category altogether.


February 21st, 2013 at 11:06 AM ^

I would agree that Morgan deserves this 15%, or maybe even more. He is the play caller out on defense. He has the most experience on the court for us, and his ability to on-the-court coach the freshman on how to handle ball screens, pick-and-rolls, etc. is something that Horford or McGary can't replace.

I think he is literally the glue that holds our defense together. 

He definitely chose the wrong time to roll his ankle...

OT: This is why I'm so invested to see how we do against Illinois this weekend. If he is back to 100%, I would like to see a defense that doesn't allow easy lay-up all game long. Illinois doesn't have a dangerous post man or anyone that should over power Morgan, so I think this could be the game to finally find our defense again.