The Chris Collins led Wildcats of Northwestern will be the Wolfpack’s opponent in tonight’s matchup in the ACC/B10 Challenge (ESPNU 7:30pm). Northwestern is currently 4-4 after a playing in the Las Vegas Invitational. They have played actual competition in their losses to Stanford, Missouri, and UCLA, with their worst loss coming against Illinois State. Where they are unknown is their wins, Eastern Illinois, Illinois Chicago, IUPUI, and Gardner Webb. They are a guard oriented three point shooting team that mainly plays man defense, though we all know it’ll be a heavy dose of zone against the Pack. One of their best players, Drew Crawford, has been sidelined due to back spasms that forced him to miss all of their last game, UCLA, and limited to a handful of minutes in the previous game, Missouri.
Henry Bushnell (InsideNU.com)
Northwestern Basketball Practice Notes: 12/3
- Crawford practiced yesterday, and is sure he will play on Wednesday. Collins was a little more reticent given the nature of the injury (back spasms), saying that they were “cautiously optimistic” about Crawford’s availability.
Crawford did say that one added benefit will be the charter flight that the team will take to Raleigh. He also noted that he will use an electronic muscle stimulation machine on the plane in an attempt to subdue the negative effects that the flight can have on his injury – it flared up on the plane to Vegas.
Collins also talked about how big of a blow it was when Crawford left the Missouri game due to injury. “That lets the air out of the building a little bit,” he said. “He [Crawford] is our leader. He’s kind of the big brother on the team. I think the guys saw him go down and it knocked them back a little bit. You’re always more confident when your big brother is at your side.”
Crawford himself downplayed the impact a bit. “I think my teammates are capable of playing great without me,” he insisted. “But that being said, I want to be on the court, to help my team, to show them that I’m leading by example.”
If Crawford can play these are the likely starters:
#23 JerShon Cobb : 6-5 Jr. Guard (43.3% 3FG)
#1 Drew Crawford : 6-5 R-Sr. Guard/Forward (44% 3FG)
#3 Dave Sobolewski : 6-1 Jr. Guard (25% 3FG)
#14 Tre Demps : 6-2 So. Guard (37% 3FG)
#22 Alex Olah : 7-0 So. Center
The Wildcats don’t like to push tempo, 64.6 (ranked 319 in the country), but they are fairly efficient. Now being a guard heavy team that loves shooting the 3 (34.3% of their points come from 3pointers) while averaging 37% from behind the arc they aren’t bad inside the arc either (51%) and okay at the line (71%). On defense they mostly use a man defense and are pretty bad at taking the ball away so we’ve got that going for us.
Coming off the bench will likely be:
#34 Sanjay Lumpkin : 6-6 So. Guard/Forward (55.6% 3FG – 5/9)
#32 Nathon Taphorn : 6-7 Fr. Forward (30.8% 3FG)
#13 Kale Abrahamson : 6-7 So. Forward (45% 3FG)
When Taphorn comes in the game the only place he’ll shoot from is behind the arc. Of the 10/30 FG’s this season he’s 8/26 3FG. It’s pretty clear, this team is going to slow it down, run a half-court offense, and take as many 3 point shots as they can.
More from KenPom:
Adj. Offensive Efficiency = 110.1 (58 – National Rank)
Adj. Defensive Efficiency = 102.6 (153)
Adj. Tempo = 68.2 (200)
Effective FG% (Offense) = 52.7 (76) …. (Defense) = 46.4 (89)
Turnover % (Offense) = 15.0 (35) …. (Defense) = 19.9 (94)
Off. Reb % (Offense) = 38.3 (38) …. (Defense) = 30.7 (139)
FTA/FGA (Offense) = 34.0 (283) …. (Defense) = 44.4 (225)
Adj. Offensive Efficiency = 106.3 (118)
Adj. Defensive Efficiency = 102.1 (140)
Adj. Tempo = 64.6 (319)
Effective FG% (Offense) = 53.2 (67) …. (Defense) = 48.6 (150)
Turnover % (Offense) = 18.0 (163) …. (Defense) = 16.5 (270)
Off. Reb % (Offense) = 26.3 (301) …. (Defense) = 28.6 (73)
FTA/FGA (Offense) = 44.8 (123) …. (Defense) = 48.6 (269)
Pomeroy likes us to win 72-66 giving us a 73% chance.
Just so you know, State is currently on a 5 game losing streak in the ACC/B10 Challenge with a 5-8 Overall Record and a 4-2 Home Record during the Challenge. Northwestern is on a 1 game losing streak with a 6-8 Overall Record and 2-5 Away Record in the Challenge.
Here’s a couple of previews for the game:
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Wolfpack zoning in on perimeter improvement
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Pack expects to see threes and zone defense