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Wisconsin basketball: previewing the Northwestern Wildcats

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A statistical breakdown of the Badgers next opponent.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Since losing to something called Merrimack to start the year, the young Northwestern Wildcats have been stuck in a season-long slump. NU comes to Madison to face the Wisconsin Badgers tied for the worst record in the conference. Let’s take a look at the numbers to find out why.

Four Factors

KenPom’s Four Factors are eFG%, turnover%, offensive rebound% and FTA/FGA. These are good indicators of whether or not a team is, well, good. The numbers in parentheses are the national rank. (All stats as of Wednesday morning, Mar. 4)

Northwestern Four Factors

4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
eFG% 47.1 (290) 49.7 (184) 49.6
Turnover% 15.8 (19) 16.4 (311) 19
Off. Rebound% 22.6 (317) 29.5 (252) 28
FTA/FGA 25.6 (327) 29.5 (101) 32.6

Wisconsin Four Factors

4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
4 Factors Offense Defense D1 Average
eFG% 50.2 (147) 46.7 (64) 49.5
Turnover% 15.9 (22) 17.6 (260) 19
Off. Rebound% 24.7 (282) 26.1 (92) 28
FTA/FGA 26.8 (314) 24.7 (23) 32.6

The only thing that Northwestern is good at is taking care of the basketball. They don’t turn the ball over much but that in no way has led to them having a decent offense. The ‘Cats do not shoot the ball well and they don’t make things easier on themselves by getting to the free throw line. Much like the Badgers, they are more focused on getting back on defense than they are on grabbing offensive rebounds, but unlike the Badgers it doesn’t seem to be helping their defense at all.

Adjusted efficiency numbers


Offense: 105.2 (No. 124 in nation)
Defense: 102.2 (No. 172 in nation)
D1 average: 102.3


Offense: 106.1 (No. 100 in nation)
Defense: 101 (No. 151 in nation)
D1 average: 102.3

Look, there’s no real nice way to put this...Northwestern stinks out loud this year. Their adjusted efficiencies aren’t bad, if they played in the MAC. Beyond Nebraska, who is somehow worse than them, the next closest offensive efficiency in the B1G is Rutgers at No. 72 and the defensive efficiency is 29 spots worse than Nebraska’s who is 59 spots away from the next worse team.

Overall rankings

7-21 overall
2-16 B1G
1-4 in their last five games
3-10 in non-home games

KenPom: 133
T-Rank: 115
NET: 175

Northwestern top players

Player ORtg Usage eFG% 3P% FT% PPG RPG APG Turnovers
Player ORtg Usage eFG% 3P% FT% PPG RPG APG Turnovers
Miller Kopp, 6-foot-7, sophomore 105.2 21 51.3 39.9 88.9 13.3 3.6 1.3 1.3
Boo Buie, 6-foot-2, freshman 91.6 26.9 44.2 29.6 71.2 10.7 2.1 2.7 1.7
Pat Spencer, 6-foot-3, senior 96.3 23.8 47.8 24 80.6 10.6 3.8 3.8 2.4
Ryan Young, 6-foot-10, freshman 106.9 19.7 54.4 15 65.1 9 6 1.5 1.4

The top offensive option for the Wildcats is definitely Miller Kopp. He’s their leading scorer and best shooter and, if we are being honest, one of the only players you have to worry about once NU crosses half court. He’s also one of the best free throw shooters in the country, but the Cats probably wish he got to the foul line a little more often.

Boo Buie is an exciting, young player who is already a good passer but really needs to work on his shot selection and making. He’s an above average free throw shooter so one would imagine that he can spend this summer in the gym and improve his three point shooting, but we’ll see.

Former Loyola (Md.) lacrosse star, Pat Spencer, has been a welcome addition to Northwestern’s young team. He’s a good passer and makes his free throws, but much like Buie and Kopp he doesn’t bring much on the rebounding front.

The only good rebounder on this list is, surprise, the 6-foot-10 player! Ryan Young is the only player on Northwestern who might luck into an offensive rebound and he and Pete Nance are the only players who hit the defensive glass with any regularity. Young’s eFG% is also the highest on the team.

Northwestern Twitter accounts to follow

@InsideNU: SB Nation’s Northwestern account
@coffman_noah: Inside NU’s manager
@rodger: Former SB Nation Northwestern writer, current Ringer writer
@westlotpirates: NU sports podcast that uses stats and also shouting