02 February 2014

GAMBLE Report 1.19

NU 55 @Minnesota 54

NU built an early 12 point lead behind hot shooting from beyond the arc that was aided by open looks created by breaking the Gophers' half-hearted full court press.  Then Crawford picked up his second foul and was forced to sit.  The Gophers took advantage of Crawford's absence and clawed their way back into the game.  From there it was nip and tuck the rest of the way.

The scored was tied at 52 with about a minute to play when Tre Demps once again played the role of hero and knocked down another cold-blooded triple.  Minnesota had two very good looks in the waning seconds of the game but neither shot fell from short range.

We had joked on the twitter that it's almost as if "The Eye" of the NU Curse has turned its attention away from the program -- prematurely thinking that its work had been done early this year after the abysmal 7-6 non-conf schedule and 0-3 start to B1G play.  Think about it.  No injury bugs this year.  NU catching teams on the downswing (Illini, Wisconsin) or with key players hurt (Michigan State, Minnesota).  These things never happen to NU.   At least they didn't under CBC.  Whether it's good luck or something that is of CCC's doing it really doesn't matter.  As long as it keeps up is what matters.

With the win NU (12-11, 5-5) stands alone in 4TH PLACE!!!!  What's more is when one looks ahead NU has 5 of its 8 games against the lowest rated kenpom teams (other than NU): Nebraska x 2, Purdue, Penn State, Indiana.  A .500 finish looks very doable.  Especially given how NU has turned it on.  More on that later.


NU was expected to lose by 10 at the Barn.  With the upset the GAMBLE Report continues to improve.  Most importantly the overall ranking is 10 rungs higher at #108.  This is now 24 rungs better than 2013 and 42 rungs below the NIT years.  Almost halfway there CCC! 

The offense improved 5 rungs.  Is this a dead cat bounce or a sign that the players are adjusting to the new offense at long last?  We think and hope the latter.

The defense improved another spot to #10 in the nation despite allowing Minny to score 1.00 PPP.  It's an odd result that we don't think too much about other than the defense continues to hold its own.


FWIW here it is.  The B1G GAMBLE Report looks much the same.  Not much to say other than that. 

B1G CCR Analysis

In our last post we dusted off our B1G CCR analysis for NU's 2013-14 season.  We are going to add that analysis to our GAMBLE Reports because it's really of the same "State of the N-Union" spirit as the GAMBLE Report.

We have changed the presentation from the last post to combine the offense (B1G CCR-O), defense (B1G CCR-D), and overall (B1G CCR) statistics all in one chart.  Only the B1G CCR trendline is shown to keep the chart somewhat readable.  The other trendlines are interesting of themselves -- and we will note what those say when they are noteworthy -- but the B1G CCR trendline is what really matters at the end of the day.

The first thing to note about this analysis is that Minnesota game is above the 0.000 Mendoza line -- as a reminder this line represents how an average B1G team would've fared against a given opponent.  That the solid purple line is above the 0.000 suggests that NU played better than an average B1G team up at the Barn yesterday.

The bad news is this was just the third game that NU has played better than the average B1G team.  The good news is that it was the second straight game that NU played above-average.  The even better news is that the performance continued the positive trend for NU's overall play over the course of the conference season; in fact that positive 0.0445 slope of improvement from game-to-game is even more statistically significant than our last analysis: the t-statistic is now significant at a 95% confidence level.

What that means is that NU's improvement over the course of the season and NU's performance at Minny are not flukes or fictitious.  NU fans can expect NU to continue to play toe-to-toe for the rest of the year.  With the softening of the schedule mentioned above that bodes VERY WELL for NU's NIT prospects.  The NCAAs remain an extreme longshot until further notice (a win at Michigan State would rapidly change that equation).


NU has the weekday game off.  NU won't play until Saturday Feb 8 when Nebraska comes to town.  Nebraska is also on an upturn -- currently riding a 2 game win streak of its own and winners of 3 of 4.  They travel to Michigan on Wednesday where they are likely to get roughed up by an angry Michigan squad that suffered its first B1G loss this afternoon in Bloomington.  Normally this game would have us nervous because it's just the kind of winnable game that NU would let slip through its fingers.  NU's stout defense gives us a quiet confidence that this is unlikely to happen again in E-town.  Knocking on wood!