Let’s take a quick look at how Vanderbilt and Northwestern matchup, at least according to the advanced analytics. All data from Kenpom.com.
|Offensive Rebound %||30.9||114||76||27.1|
|Free Throw Rate||30.8||292||66||30.6|
|3PA / FGA||35.8||188||62||33.2|
|Assists / FGM||60.3||24||45||46.5|
|% Pts From 3||29.9||187||247||28.5|
|% Pts From 2||51.2||131||56||53.2|
|% Pts From FT||18.9||228||249||18.3|
|% Bench Minutes||28.0%||266||273||27.9%|
|Average Height (Inches)||77.8||41||20||78.3|
Northwestern has a pretty solid offense matching up with Vanderbilt’s late-season-surging defense. Northwestern is a below average effective field goal team; Vanderbilt should aim to replicate the success they’ve had limiting its opponent’s eFG% since the South Carolina game (91.4 - USC , 84.0 - UT, 72.6 - MSU, 99.7 - Florida, 70.9 - Texas A&M, 86.6 - Florida). Northwestern doesn’t turn the ball over very much but Vanderbilt defensive gameplan isn’t designed around pressure, so this probably won’t be much of an advantage for the Wildcats. Northwestern is an average offensive rebounding team while the Commodores are actually deceptively solid on the defensive glass. This might be an area where Vanderbilt’s height advantage could come into play. The Wildcats are well below average at generating free throws and Vanderbilt is really good about not sending teams to the line.
Northwestern is below average from deep and scores a majority of its points from inside the arc. The Wildcats also score almost 38% of their points in the paint. Vanderbilt’s defense limits transition baskets by design, so Luke Kornet will likely play a large role. If Northwestern is successful from midrange, they may be able to find shots against Vanderbilt.
Northwestern is one of the country’s better assist rate teams, though the Commodores do a solid job of limiting assists.
|Offensive Rebound %||25.0||299||242||30.7|
|Free Throw Rate||34.9||189||186||35.5|
|3PA / FGA||48.6||6||110||34.4|
|A / FGM||55.5||102||204||53.1|
|% Pts From 3||41.7||6||193||29.8|
|% Pts From 2||37.7||349||178||49.7|
|% Pts From FT||20.6||135||144||20.4|
|% Bench Minutes||27.9%||273||266||28.0%|
|Average Height (Inches)||78.3||20||41||77.8|
On the other end of the court, Vanderbilt’s edge in offensive efficiency is offset somewhat by Northwestern’s slight edge in defensive efficiency. Vanderbilt’s above average effective field goal percentage will face off against the Wildcat’s solid defensive eFG%. Vanderbilt can get loose with the ball but Northwestern is still below average in forcing turnovers. The Commodores are not a great offensive rebounding team, though some of that is by design (see transition defense above). Northwestern is a pretty poor defensive rebounding team. Luck (or the scoring margin) may determine who benefits. Vanderbilt gets to the free throw line more than Northwestern does, but the Wildcats are about average in terms of sending opponents to the charity stripe, so this probably is a slight net positive for Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt shoots better from the outside (at a much higher volume). Northwestern’s defense is more solid inside the arc than out, which could give the Commodores a significant advantage. The Wildcats are also below average at limiting assists while Vanderbilt’s assist rate is fairly solid.
What are your observations?