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Northwestern vs. Minnesota recap: Cats release the Kraken, love That Tempo Free.

'Cats ride the Kraken to notch another Top 25 win. In the same week. Let's look under the hood and see where the Welsh was won. Time for the tempo-free.

Cats' bench urges on the Kraken!
Cats' bench urges on the Kraken!
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Indulge me as I quote what I said in my last LTTF:

Moving forward: #9 Minnesota comes to Welsh-Ryan in mid-week. They're reeling from back-to-back losses (to Michigan and Indiana), and kenpom thinks they've got an 83% chance at winning. They'll be ornery and will assault our backboards. If we see the salty kraken, I think we turn those guys over.


Pace and Points per Possession

For the first time this season, both teams had an identical amount of possessions: 58.8. Let's round up and put it at 59.

In terms of efficiency:
Minnesota 0.81
'Cats: 0.93

Wow. We held a top 25 team to under 1.0 PPP! That's huge.

Four Factors

Effective Field Goal Percentage:

Minnesota 38.0%
'Cats: 47.5%

Turnover Percentage:

Minnesota: 25.4%
'Cats: 18.6%

Offensive Rebound Percentage:

Minnesota: 48.6%
'Cats: 16.7%

Free Throw Attempts/Field Goal Attempts:

Minnesota: 31.5%
'Cats 80%

Takes on the Tempo Free:

  • Yes, we got housed on our defensive glass. But there's a reason why Dean Oliver puts eFG and TO% higher than OREB%, and the 'Cats were decisive winners in those two factors.
  • Yes, the 'Cats were brutal at the line shooting 53%, but Minnesota was worse at 41%, and we got to the line a TON. Also, getting to the meant that Team Tubby was in foul trouble, which manifested itself in Austin Hollins being gone for the final 12 minutes of the game.
  • We had steals on 15% of possessions tonight - that may be a season high for us in the B1G. The bulk of that was Kraken-related, but even before the Kraken, Minny just didn't look comfortable in the backcourt.

Burning Storylines

Savvy Veteran Watch (a.k.a. "How'd Swop, Sobo and Reggie do?")

Swop: 39 m, 16 pts, 8 rebs, 1 ast, 2 stls, 2 TO
Reggie: 38 m, 13 pts, 5 rebs, 2 stl, 1 blk, 3 TO
Sobo: 37 m, 5 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl, 0 TO

Again, ironman minutes for the three amigos. Swop and Reggie came to the rescue, and Sobo did just enough in the other areas (rebounding and assists) to be productive. Sobo and Swop were very poor from the line: 6-14, and marred a strong performance. Nevertheless, they rebounded well to overcome that poor FT performance. As Swop goes, so goes the Wildcats.

Life without Drew and Jershon

Ladies and gentlemen, here is your wing play:
Kale Abe: 1 m
Marco: 18 m, 6 pts, 3 stl, 1 reb, 1 ast, 1, TO
Tre Demps: 22 m, 10 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast, 1 TO
Nikola Cerina: 6 m, 1 reb

Tre Demps' eFG was only 35%, but he sure looked the part of the starter. He seemed pretty comfortable out there, and was able to create his own shot. Thankfully he kept his TOs down. Marco may not have produced a bunch of stats, but what he did were memorable: huge triples, steals as the head of the kraken, and that beautiful feed to Swop underneath when we needed that late bucket to keep our foot on the Gopher's necks. As Marco goes, so goes the Wildcats? He was that 6th man we've desperately needed.

How'd we do at the 5?

Alex Olah: 32 m, 3 pts, 1 reb, 3 ast, 1 blk, 3 TO
Mike Turner: 6 m, 2 pts, 1 reb, 1 blk, 1 TO

While these are Mirkoletti numbers, they had to deal with the Gopher assault on the glass - and they're an elite rebounding team. Credit to Olah playing well down the stretch with Turner in foul trouble. His post-up of Mbakwe is that glimmer of hope that we've got a true low-post threat. To Olah's defense, he didn't get alot of looks from the wings tonight. Hopefully they'll give him a better look in the games to come. Plus, I loved that hug that Olah gave Swop after Swop got fouled after getting a clutch rebound - even if Olah's game isn't B1G ready, his "body language" is always positive. (See what I did there?) The kid wants to win.


  • Trevor Mbakwe is a beast. Sometimes it looks like he's playing like one of those characters from NBA Street out there. Or is that Rodney Williams? Man, they can just get up.
  • The 'Cats only attempted triples on 30% of their possessions, which is down from their season average of 41% chucking rate. This team was committed to driving to the hoop (blocks be damned, as Minny swatted us on 13.6% of possessions), which helped us draw fouls.
  • Man the refs blew some calls tonight. Marco got bumped out of bounds, and Minny was awfully handsy on the cutters. Despite this, I think they gave us some make-up calls - those Hearn "and 1s" seemed awfully ticky tack, and having Hollins out definitely helped us out bigtime.
  • Will Coach Carmody get some love? The Kraken worked, Tre is starting, and he's retooled the offense where it's not so Burn-centric. Beat two Top 25 teams, and that's how you beat back the "Fire Carmody" pitchfork and torch mob. Of course, lose to Nebraska, and that bandwagon gets permission to start up again.
  • Moving forward: 'Cats fire up the Caravan to head up to Lincoln, NE to face kenpom #165 Huskers. Road games in the B1G are not a given, but let's say the 'Cats win. That puts them at 4-4 after a brutal sked stretch that had 5 Top 25 teams. Might still be too early to talk postseason talk, but it sure feels good to even have an excuse to entertain that notion.