Saturday, March 17, 2012

VSL Gets You Ready: Previewing Vanderbilt vs. Wisconsin

#5 Vanderbilt takes on #4 Wisconsin in the "third" (second) round of the NCAA tournament. The game tips at 6:10 ET/5:10 CT.

Wisconsin is a computer's dream when it comes to efficiency and performance. The Badgers rank in the top 25 in offensive efficiency, and are #4 in defensive efficiency. Part of this is because the Badgers love to make every possession count, and like to slow the game down to a crawl. Wisconsin plays at an adjusted tempo of 58.4, which is only slightly faster than one team, Western Illinois. Bo Ryan's system relies heavily on fundamental defensive basketball, slowing the pace down, forcing tough shots in the half-court, and capturing defensive rebounds. On offense, the Badgers are primarily a three-point shooting squad, though Jordan Taylor adds an additional factor with his ability to get to the rim. In all, this will be an interesting match-up of strength vs. strength, which is why Vegas has the Commodores at nearly a push line of -1.5. KenPom likes the Badgers a bit more, giving us a 34% chance of winning the game.

Bo Ryan's squad is very disciplined, and the key will be in not letting them dictate the pace. If this game is low-tempo, Vanderbilt will have to match Wisconsin's efficiency, which can be done but is the best way for Wisconsin to win the game. Wisconsin does not turn the ball over much at all, only 15.2% of their possessions. The key weakness to exploit will be if Vanderbilt can get to the offensive glass. For as disciplined as Wisconsin is, they are not as athletic at the 3-5 spots as Jeff, Lance and Festus. Ryan Evans is a very good defensive rebounder and may get a good opportunity to limit Jeff's put back attempts, but Festus and Lance should have opportunities against the less athletic Jared Berggren and Mike Bruesewitz. If Vanderbilt can create second-chance opportunities, they can win the game.

Also of note is that Wisconsin does not draw a lot of fouls. This should allow us to keep most of our athletes on the floor for an extended period of time. Wisconsin's three-point defense has been well-documented, though as Seamus points out, Wisconsin allows 36% on road/neutral courts and hasn't faced as proficient a 3-point shooting team as Vanderbilt all year. I think the three keys to this game will be to shut down Ryan Evans (likely by placing Taylor on him), pound into the paint and let Fez attack Berggren, and finally, try to come up with a way of mitigating Jordan Taylor's offensive output without getting JJ too tired. As Bobby notes, and while Wisconsin is reliant on the three, I wouldn't be surprised to see us play some zone to try and keep Jordan Taylor out of the lane. He will get his, but as long as he doesn't go ape and we have taken Ryan Evans out of the game, Vanderbilt should have a good opportunity to win the game.

VSL will be live-blogging the action (and having a pint or two on this fine St. Patty's Day). Come join in if you're not out and about.


Erin Richardson said...

Appreciate the analysis. In terms of getting to the line, though, I thought Jordan Taylor did that alot. Maybe it's just that no one else on Wisconsin really does. Are y'all as concerned as I am about Fes not catching the ball cleanly down low?

Stanimal said...

Taylor and Evans do it a decent amount (a little over 4 fouls drawn per 40 minutes), but as a team they only have a Free Throw Rate (FTA/FGA) of about 31.3%. Keep in mind these are "tempo-free" statistics, so that means that this is looking at the totality of their profile. That number makes them 299 out of the Division 1 teams. They got their more frequently in conference, but not by much. Vandy gets there at a 40% rate, thanks greatly to Fez, who gets hacked often, and Lance, Jeff and John, who draw a little over 4 fouls per 40 minutes each.

Towards the end of the season, Taylor was getting there more frequently, but he only attempted 10 or more free throws 6 times in 30 games.

As for Fez, Wisconsin isn't a team that relies on steals and they don't force all that many turnovers. With Fez you always have to worry about "active hands" but I'm not sure we'll have a situation like Arkansas or the first Kentucky game where the opposing team is slapping at the ball the second Fez grabs it. I'm more concerned about limiting our own careless turnovers. Assists are great, but I am not a proponent of too many high risk passes, which our PGs at times have a tendency to do.

Anonymous said...

Awesome preview, as always. What you've described sounds like a slow, steady diesel engine (Wisconsin) versus a turbo-charged Vanderbilt offense. If we come out flying, full-throttle intensity, and cause problems for Wisconsin, we will control the pace of the game and come out on top.

Fez will have to continually frustrate down low. Just like Thursday night's monstrous performance, if Fez can shut down the lane, force Wisconsin to dish outside, we will be able to limit their open looks. We'll need to keep our defense (agreed that a zone seems to make sense) from collapsing if Jordan Taylor attacks. Must anticipate the dish-out, intercept, or at least prevent those open looks in the corner that seem to creep up on us.

We can assume that Jeff Taylor absolutely shuts down whoever he's guarding. He has become one of the premier defenders in the country, when he wants to be, and I think he's ready for this.

Looking to see a big game from Lance tonight. He was the victim of merciless refereeing last game, and he's strong enough to channel it into his game tonight, to effectively get two games' worth of slashing and scoring in a single game, along with his customary double-digit rebounding performance. Look to Lance for offensive rebounds when Fez can't get them.

With all of those things in place, this will open up Long Live the King John Jenkins to play his game comfortably, confidently, knocking down at least six from behind the arc.

Vanderbilt by 7. Go Dores.

Stanimal said...

Another key matchup. Vanderbilt will have to deal with Berggren's 3 point shooting ability. It may prove a challenge for Festus (and take him away from the rim on defense unless we adjust).

Bobby O'Shea said...

As always, Stanimal gets it done with another awesome preview. Reviewing the Wisconsin Game Notes, a few other statistics (albeit not as in-depth) that stand out to me:

1. Wisconsin is 19-1 this season when leading at the half, while only 3-7 when trailing. Given the slow-pace the Badgers want to impose, this makes sense. It also underscores the importance for Vanderbilt to start sharp.

2. Bo Ryan's team is 20-2 when holding their opponents to 59 points or less, and just 5-7 when their opponent scores 60 or more. Again, this goes to tempo and pace.

3. They aren't deep. Over the course of the season, only 7 guys averages 10 minutes or more a contest. The Commodores need to be aggressive and try and get to the line. If Vanderbilt can attack their bigs, the middle should open up significantly, as the Badgers only have 2 guys on the roster playing 10+ minutes who are over 6"7.