11 January 2010

On Northwestern and early Big Ten statistics

OK. Three conference games does not a season make. NU fans are well aware of how skewed NU's conference schedule is this season with the first ten games against NCAA tournament teams from last year. Still Carmody Court was curious to see how NU stacks up after three games in the meat grinder. Some results will be familiar to close followers of the program, but other results are pretty surprising.

The Familiar:
1. Rebounding Defense: #11
2. Rebounding Margin: #11
3. Assists: #2
4. Turnover Margin: #1
5. Defensive Rebounds: #11
6. FG% Defense: #11

The Surprising:
1. Scoring Offense: #1
2. Scoring Defense: #11
3. Offensive Rebounds: #1
4. 3FGM: #1 (by a wide margin)
5. FG% Offense: #11

Two road games (one going to OT) and a home game against MSU will do some screwy things to team statistics. The most striking is the scoring offense and defense which is a HUGE departure from prior years. Carmody clearly adjusted his approach now that NU can match up better athletically in the Big Ten and let the kids play with more urgency on offense. This might not be a bad strategy generally speaking (e.g., second half of UM game), but MSU is still way out of NU's league athletically. Combine that with some poor interior defense down in C-U and you have a recipe for some anomalous results.

One other striking aspect of these early conference statistics is that NU is 1-2 despite being last in FG% offense and FG% defense. Just goes to show how much the 3 point line has affected the game and how protecting the ball can make up for alot of evils.

The defensive rebounding and overall rebounding statistics look familiar, but the offensive rebounding statistics are eye opening. And it's not like NU has played against poor rebounding teams (MSU in particular). Yes NU is doing more crashing of the O-boards and Shurna, Mirkovic, and Crawford give some more presence there than in the past, but this will not keep up. Rebounding statistics are correlated with FG% statistics so as the latter normalize (as Carmody Court expects) the former will also normalize.