30 January 2014

GAMBLE Report 1.18

NU 65 @Wisconsin(#14) 56

OMGz!!!!!!   We're changing the name of this blog to Collins Court!!!!!!!!!!!!!  For realzzzzzzzzzzz.

NU trailed Wisconsin 22-23 at halftime at The Kohl.  That was promising.  The first nine minutes of the second half were more or less a continuation of the first half with the score 34-35 at the 11:00 mark.  We thought to ourselves: "we'll take it!"

Then all hell broke loose.  And by hell we mean the lid that's been over NU's offensive basket for the past two months was lifted.  Out of thin air the NU offense ignited and went on a 20 to 4 run over the next seven minutes.  This run turned the narrow one point deficit into a 54-39 romp with less than four minutes to play!  During this improbable stretch NU went 8-11 from the field including 4-5 from downtown!  Conversely the Badgers shot 0-9 from the field including 0-5 from deep. 

Most of the damage during this pivotal stretch was done by game MVP Drew Crawford.  Tre Demps also did what he does during the second half.  JerShon pitched in as is to be expected.  Even Alex Olah got into the act when he rattle in a rare three-pointer!

Despite the 15 point margin and 99%+ win probability there were still some Maalox Moments for NU fans.  The last three minutes of the game were desperation mode for the Badgers.  They went full court press and turned NU over SEVEN TIMES in just a little over two minutes.  It was Illinois game deja vu time all over again!

Inexplicably CCC did not put in his best ball handlers during this stretch.  Hey Coach...  We get that you built the lead with Sobo permanently glued to the bench.  But dontcha think it would be a good idea to get a PG in there against the press?!?!?!?  It's not like Sobo has struggled from the FT stripe this year either.  Bonehead move to keep Sobo on the bench.

The Badgers took advantage and whittled down that 15 point lead to just a 6 point deficit at 62-56.  If Josh Gasser had expected Traveon Jackson's pass to him beyond the arc and drained the three pointer the NU lead would've been just four points with about 20 seconds to play.

Alas crisis was averted as fate smiled on NU and Jackson's pass sailed into the stands.  Crawford iced the game with two free throws to extend the score to the final tally.


The stunning upset had a profound effect on the GAMBLE Report.  For the first time since B1G play began NU's Pomeroy rating is better than where NU ended the 2013 season.  With the 30(!!!) spot leap up the rankings NU is now ranked #118 which is 14 rungs above last year.  We hope this continues so that we can refocus our attention to the NIT years where CBC had the program before the anomalous 2013 campaign.

That second half outburst helped to improve the adjO statistic for the first time in B1G play.  Yes it was only a four spot improvement to #320 in the land but beggars can't be choosers!  A 13 rung jump in eFG% was responsible for the overall improvement -- the other three factors all worsened somehow.

The adjD continues to defy gravity.  NU is up another six spots to #11 in the land.  That's right.  Not #11 in the B1G where we've seen NU over the CBC years all too often.  This is a national comparison!!!  Behind the improvement was a 16 rung leap in eFG% and a 12 rung leap in OR%.  This is heady stuff!!!  NU is a bunch of tough nuts as Keith Jackson might say!


Even with the upset the story stays mostly the same within B1G play.    The offense remains mired in the B1G basement while the defense is upwardly mobile while bumping around in the middle of the overall rankings from game to game.

We do have one new piece of good news to report.  Overall NU's Pomeroy rating is now better than it was in 2013.  In fact NU's rating would be good enough for 10th in last year's B1G. That NU is still ranked 12th in B1G is a testament to just how competitive the B1G is this year from top to bottom.


NU travels to Minneapolis.  While we are becoming increasingly gun shy in making predictions in this brave new CCC world we have to expect that Minnesota coach Richard Pitino is going to employ his effective full court press early and often against NU.  We've been saying ever since Sobo went down that this would be a good strategy to use against NU.  We will be watching with great interest to see how NU responds to the early pressure if/when this happens.  The Illinois and Wisconsin games have us expecting horrifying results for NU but maybe CCC has some more rabbits up his sleeve.  We hope so because our preseason hopes for an NIT bid this year are rekindling.