4:00 Saturday. Breslin Center. The Phoenix of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Big Ten Network.
This game interrupts a 13-day period between the Texas game last Saturday and the first conference game vs. Minnesota a week from tomorrow. Eight of the 11 Big Ten teams start conference play next Wednesday/Thursday.
UW-Green Bay comes in at 7-4, including a 1-1 mark in the Horizon League. This will be UWGB’s third game on the road against a Big Ten team. They lost to Ohio State 91-68 and to Wisconsin 70-52. MSU beat UWGB 76-64 last season.
UWGB’s tempo-free stat sheet says they’re pretty good on offense and not so good on defense, so this could be a fairly high-scoring affair–for MSU at least. The Phoenix’s opponents have not turned the ball over much (TO%=19.5%) and have shot the ball quite well (eFG%=51.9%). The only area UWGB is at least average in defensively is rebounding the ball (DReb%=67.3%).
On offense, the Phoenix excel at (1) not turning the ball over (TO%=18.5%) and (2) scoring from the the free throw line. They shoot 78.5% from the line, fifth best in the nation. And they get to the line quite frequently. Their free throw rate is 29.4%–50th in the nation. Free throw rate is the one major offensive statistical component I’ve underemphasized to date. It measures free throw attempts as a percentage of field goal attempts. Getting to the line frequently (and making the free throws) can compensate for poor shooting from the field.
Junior Forward Mike Schnchtner leads UWGB in scoring, averaging 18.9 points per game. And his scoring prowess seems to be legit. He’s shooting .565 on 2-pointers, .400 on 3-pointers, and .880 from the line. He shot just 2-13 against Wisconsin, though.
The Sagarin Ratings like MSU by 19 and a half in this one.
In other conference action, Wisconsin travels to Texas to play at noon on ESPN2 tomorrow. This should provide some sense of whether Wisconsin’s defense is the real deal.
As noted in the prior post, the game recap is left in the hands of the comment-section faithful.
Whew. Three posts in one night. You can see why I need a long vacation.