Northwestern Shocks Michigan St: Box of the Day
CHN now features a live scoreboard, stats, standings, etc.. here. Occasionally, we'll be featuring a box score of the day, with some commentary on why the box score is interesting. It might be involve a huge upset, a big personal effort, some odd statistical occurrences, or other intriguing tidbit.
Box Score of the Day:
Today's pick is.. Northwestern's upset over Big Ten flagship Michigan State.
You might think Virginia Tech's win over #1 ranked Wake Forest would be an obvious choice for Box of the Day? But Northwestern's win at Michigan State was actually the much more surprising upset. Virginia Tech is a fringe NCAA Tournament team with a history of playing well against top teams, who continually gives ACC foes troubles. Northwestern , on the other hand, is simply.. Northwestern.
First of all, up until this week, Northwestern had only won a single Big Ten game in 27 tries, and that was over a mediocre Michigan team last year. That win, oddly on the road, was their only Big Ten road win, before last night, since January 26th of 2006. In that two year stretch, Northwestern barely won a game of even slight notice. Since February of 2004, Northwestern had only won a single game over an RPI topped 25 team (50-48 over Iowa in 2006). Then on the flip side, you have Michigan State who hadn't lost at home in 28 tries, and had won 15 straight in Breslin over league opponents. That last loss was to Greg Oden's Ohio State team. And over the last handful of years, the only losses MSU has accrued at home (and there's been very few) have all been to teams ranked in the RPI top 12.. needless to say, this was a shocker.
A lot of times you'll look at the boxes of big upsets, and see that the surprise team just had a particularly hot shooting night which offset their usual issues. But here, Northwestern's FG & 3-point %'s were actually pedestrian, and even below their norms. The rebounding advantage went heavily in MSU's favor, which is usually a strong indicator of success, but not so here. There were four deciding factors:
A) Kevin Coble - Northwestern's leader was clutch the entire game, finishing with 31 points, and offering a level of offensive stability that MSU simply didn't have.
B) Chris Allen - Michigan State, on paper, has a very well rounded team with speed (Lucas), athleticism (Morgan), and size (Suton). But the team's fatal flaw, which will prevent them from being a real title contender, is their lack of consistent threat from the shooting guard position. After last night's dreadful 1-11 shooting performance, Allen is down to shooting 36% on the season and only 33% from three.
C) Turnovers - Considering how MSU dominated the boards, and how one would think the Spartans would be the more athletic team, its hard to imagine the reverse turnover disparity that occurred. 18 for State and only 7 for Northwestern.
D) Leadership (Lack of) - The Spartans had chances in the final minutes to tighten the gap and take the lead as Northwestern missed nervy free throws. But MSU's complete lack of any concept of what to do on the offensive end was astounding. Their last 4 or 5 positions involved virtually no purpose, or execution, and involved someone taking a poor off-balance three.