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2017 NCAA Tournament: Scouting Northwestern vs Vanderbilt

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It’s all about matchups

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a quick look at how Vanderbilt and Northwestern matchup, at least according to the advanced analytics. All data from Kenpom.com.

WHEN NORTHWESTERN HAS THE BALL
NU
OFF
RANK RANK VU
DEF
Tempo 64.7 300 284 65.2
Adjusted Efficiency 111.2 58 41 96.1
Possession Length 17.8 239 113 17.0
Effective FG% 49.7 208 63 47.9
Turnover % 15.9 26 315 16.0
Offensive Rebound % 30.9 114 76 27.1
Free Throw Rate 30.8 292 66 30.6
3P% 34.1 210 92 33.6
2P% 33.5 198 72 46.7
FT% 75.1 40 170 70.4
Block % 10.0 248 136 9.7
Steal % 8.5 144 341 6.1
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
SOS Component 108.6 55 9 98.7
SOS Overall +7.75 53 17 +11.16
SOS Non-Conf –2.84 241 34 +6.58
% Bench Minutes 28.0% 266 273 27.9%
Experience (Years) 1.69 184 127 1.84
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.

WHEN VANDERBILT HAS THE BALL
VU
OFF
RANK RANK NU
DEF
Tempo 65.2 284 300 64.7
Adjusted Efficiency 112.3 48 35 95.7
Possession Length 18.7 306 339 18.3
Effective FG% 52.3 91 24 46.0
Turnover % 18.3 153 209 18.0
Offensive Rebound % 25.0 299 242 30.7
Free Throw Rate 34.9 189 186 35.5
3P% 37.7 57 86 33.5
2P% 48.3 218 18 43.9
FT% 77.6 9 18 66.7
Block % 11.0 305 23 13.6
Steal % 8.2 119 255 7.6
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
SOS Component 109.9 32 50 100.8
SOS Overall +11.16 17 53 +7.75
SOS Non-Conf +6.58 34 241 –2.84
% Bench Minutes 27.9% 273 266 28.0%
Experience (Years) 1.84 127 184 1.69
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?