Friday, December 2, 2011

MIAA-CCIW Classic Preview

 Games Seven and Eight  
WhoCarthage and #13 Wheaton
WhatMIAA-CCIW Classic
WhereVan Noord Arena
WhenFriday -- 8:00 PM
Saturday -- 5:30 PM
AudioStretch Internet
VideoStretch Internet
StatsLive Stats

When We Last Met
Calvin went 0-2 last year in Kenosha. The Friday night game was an embarrassing 22 point loss to the Wheaton Thunder, and Saturday saw an eight point loss to the host Carthage Red Men (although Calvin had the deficit down to two points with under two minutes to play. Calvin is 2-6 versus these CCIW rivals in the last full four-year rotation of the MIAA-CCIW Classic, with both wins coming against Carthage in West Michigan.

Calvin's last win against Carthage: 2009-10
Calvin's last win against Wheaton: 2005-06
Calvin's last CCIW sweep: 2005-06

Calvin hasn't lost to Carthage in West Michigan since this series started in 2004-05.

I believe the host conference has yet to lose a Friday game in the seven-year history of this series.

About Carthage
Carthage immediately jumps out as being the more "winnable" of the two games for Calvin this weekend. The Red Men are without multi-time All-American Steve Djurikovic (he's graduated now), but it's difficult to get a beat on exactly how good they are without him.

They won an exhibition game against D1 Northern Illinois last month -- a very, very bad D1 team, but impressive nonetheless -- and they've started the "real" portion of their schedule 2-1. They've beaten Martin Luther (by 31) and Carroll (b7 6) (both are D3's), and they lost a double-overtime contest to NAIA-I Olivet Nazarene. Martin Luther is very, very bad, Carroll is probably good, but not great, and Olivet Nazarene is probably similar in quality to Cornerstone. So, none of the results suggest to me that the Red Men are world beaters, but also they've done nothing to suggest that they're not a strong team.

About Wheaton
The Thunder have certainly rolled up some impressive scoring margins in the early going of this season. They're 5-0, but they haven't just beaten their opponents, they've crushed and humiliated them. Their wins are by 25, 37, 35, 30, and 22 points. I've heard it said that their schedule has been soft, but it ain't been that soft as to not be impressed by a 30 point average scoring margin. Success against Wheaton will be not losing by more than 20.

Reminder: the Hope-Wheaton game (Friday at 6:00 PM at Van Noord Arena) is in-region, so we need to be good hosts to our "friends" from Holland on Friday night. A Hope win would help out Calvin's strength of schedule number for possible tournament selection. If you feel dirty afterward, just cheer for Carthage extra hard the next afternoon.

'Four Factors' (click to enlarge)

Again, it's easy to see that Wheaton is the favorite to win a couple of games this weekend. They've been exceptional at shooting, taking care of the ball, and getting to the free throw line. Their only struggle seems to be in offensive rebounding, but it doesn't look like they miss too often, so that should be less of a problem for them.

Calvin and Carthage look to be more similarly matched. Carthage has the advantage in factors one and four (shooting and free throw rate), but Calvin actually shows an advantage when it comes to rebounding and (surprisingly) in taking care of the ball.

TeameFG%PPWSFTrORb%Rb%ArTOrBlk%Stl%OEffDEffPOS POS/40 

Carthage and Wheaton play at a little bit slower tempo than Calvin has so far this year, but it's nothing drastic. Only about four possessions different per 40 minutes of basketball.

Carthage's line across the board is pretty much where Calvin needs to be. I think they have the talent to play at that level, but we haven't seen the Knights play 40 solid minutes yet. For Calvin to win either of these games, they're going to have to play extremely efficient offensively against two teams that have darn good defensive numbers.

Sure-to-be-Wrong Predictions
I don't want it to happen, but my head is telling me that Calvin's going to lose both games this weekend. It would be nice to see some killer instinct though. A full 40 minutes and a take down of a quality opponent would be appreciated.
Carthage by 5
Wheaton by 18

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