13 February 2014

Better (Statistically) Know an Opponent: MIchigan State

kenpom has installed Michigan State a 14 point favorite for tonight's game in East Lansing.  Vegas is even more pessimistic about NU's chances although Sparty is without Appling and Dawson. 

Northwestern comes into the game angry after losing to Nebraska in Etown.  Northwestern also knows it can win on the road -- they've won three straight: Bloomington, Madison, Minneapolis.

What do we know about Sparty other than that they are tied with Michigan for fewest losses in B1G play?   MSU's B1G CCR does not bode well for NU's chances.  In only one game has MSU played its opponent worse than an average team (Michigan).  Even there it is barely below the threshold.

MSU's offense has been particularly dependable at home while its defense has been generally good with the exception of its last two home games.  However, the most statistically consistent B1G CCR feature has been the below average performance of NU's offense against its opponents.  Therefore we view it as highly unlikely that MSU's defense will underperform once again at home tonight.

There are two somewhat weak cases for guarded optimism.  (1) Sparty is banged up, and (2) NU is trending up in B1G play while MSU is trending down.  The second is interrelated with the first where MSU is concerned.  If the game were in Etown we'd might latch onto these things.  However between MSU's superiority and the game taking place at the Breslin we expect pain tonight.  Lots of Payne.