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Wednesday Random Basketball Thoughts

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The big game against Illinois is tonight, I'll post a preview/game thread later. For now, random stuff.

- conference play kicked off last night with two games, as Purdue beat Iowa and Minnesota beat Penn State, with both games closer than anticipated. BHGP had a nice recap of the game, focusing on the out of nowhere great play from coaches son John Lickliter. That youtube video is must see stuff. It was also fun to watch Lawrence Westbrook and Talor Battle go back and forth hitting threes and trash talking. Penn State showed some heart in that game, I was impressed even though they lost.

- to satisfy my love for stats, I've been checking out Ken Pomeroy's website for advanced statistics, and I found a lot of interesting stats on Northwestern's page. Some team stats of note:

     - Northwestern ranks 11th in the nation in 2 point field goal percentage, shooting 55.6%. Of course, this is in part due to the fact that the Wildcats rank 4th in the nation with 50.2% of their shots coming from behind the line, so they take a lot of high percentage 2 pointers. Still, it would be nice to see them take the ball inside more.

     - On defense, Northwestern has been getting a bit lucky. One stat that is clearly all luck is they rank 27th in opponent's free throw percentage (63.1%). Some of the student section might try to take credit for their distraction techniques, but I'm not buying it. Also, the 'Cats rank 23rd in opponents 3-point % at just 28.4%. There is certainly some skill involved here, but when you play nearly entirely zone like Northwestern does, especially their signature 1-3-1 zone, you make it tougher for teams to get the ball inside and force turnovers in exchange for conceding some open 3-point shots. This is reflected by the fact that 39.5% of opponents field goal attempts have been threes, which is the 27th highest percentage in the country. So expect teams to keep taking a lot of threes, but also making more of them as the quality of competition improves.

- And now some individual stats:

     - Juice Thompson is 4th in the nation is percentage of minutes played, as he's on the court 93.2% of the time. Expect that to increase in Big Ten play.

     - Drew Crawford and Thompson are both in the top 75 in the nation in something called offensive efficiency (60th and 74th). I have no idea what that is or how its calculated; I assume it's some complicated algorithm like QB rating in football. Still pretty cool though. edit: upon further review, Purdue's offensively challenged defensive wiz Chris Kramer ranks 47th. I'm declaring shenanigans on this stat. Forget I mentioned it.

     - Now for the stat that totally blew me away. All NU fans know that Alex Marcotullio has done a great job on defense. But if you guessed he was leading the nation in a defensive category, you'd be crazy but right. Marcotullio is #1 in the country in steal rate, which measures the percentage of steals a player gets per defensive possession. Marcotullio checks in at 6.3%, well ahead of notable steals experts Chris Kramer (4%) and Jeremy Nash (3.8%). We'll see if he can keep this up against quicker and smarter Big Ten guards.

- and finally, this has nothing to do with basketball (although I did see this while watching a basketball game), but I have to give some love to the following commercial

opinions on it are polarized between amazing and the worst, most annoying thing ever. I personally voted amazing, your mileage may vary. I think we need to see a freestyle battle between this girl and Rodger's boy Bangs asap.

Ok, that's it from me for now, more coming later. and get connected, FOR FREE, at. (sorry, couldn't help myself)