Analytics Tracker: Week 5 Statistical Deep Dive

Kevin Minor

No. 5 Michigan opened Big Ten play with a 40-minute dismantling of Iowa’s defense in a 103-91 victory, its second 100-plus scoring output of the season. The Wolverines topped the century mark just twice over the previous four seasons combined.

The 103-point outburst marked U-M’s highest scoring total in conference play since 1998, and a 60-point turnaround from the 43 points managed in a loss at Louisville earlier in the week. Against the Hawkeyes, Michigan matched its point total against UL with 3:51 left in the first half. By halftime, the Wolverines had already stockpiled seven more points, four more assists, two more made shots and three more made three-pointers than it had in the entire game against the Cardinals.

Led by freshman forward Franz Wagner’s 18 points, six different Wolverines finished in double-figures and six scored better than their season average. Paced by junior forward Isaiah Livers’ 174 Offensive Rating (ORtg), six Michigan contributors registered an ORtg of 130.0 or better, well above the threshold of 100.0 that is considered good by KenPom’s advanced statistics.

Just three days removed from shooting an abysmal 30.8 percent on two-point field goal attempts and 15.8 percent from three against Louisville, U-M connected on 22 of 34 shots inside the arc (64.7 percent) and 10 of 24 from deep (41.7 percent).

The Wolverines have converted at least 60.0 percent from two-point range five times this season, including a season-best 70.0 percent against Creighton. Michigan currently sits 12th in the country, and first in the Big Ten, in two-point percentage at 57.0, and also ranks fifth in the nation with a 58.1 effective field goal percentage (eFG%) and 24th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (110.4), according to KenPom.

Here is a closer look at more notable trends and advanced stats using the KenPom statistical model. If you are unfamiliar with KenPom and its metrics, you can read a quick primer here.

*To qualify for individual conference rankings, players must log between 40 percent and 60 percent of possible minutes played, depending on the metric.

Key Trends:

•Senior point guard Zavier Simpson has transformed his three-point shooting ability from a liability to a significant strength as a senior. He drained 2 of 3 from beyond the arc against Iowa (66.7 percent), marking the fifth game this season shooting 50.0 percent or better from three. His 43.5 percent three-point percentage (3P%) ranks 12th in the Big Ten—last season he was 44th in the conference with a 30.8 3P% and his 28.9 3P% in 2018 placed him 50th in the league.

•In yielding 91 points to Iowa, Michigan’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency ranking dropped from 12th to 14th in the country. It was the most points given up by U-M at home since a 104-83 loss to Duke in 2000, and Hawkeye junior center Luka Garza’s 44 points was the most by a visiting player at Crisler Center in the arena’s 52-year history.

•The Wolverines’ defense has struggled to create turnovers all season, and recorded only seven takeaways against the UI. On the season, U-M is forcing just 11.2 turnovers per contest, and its 15.5 defensive TORate rate is 334th in the country and dead-last in the Big Ten.

•Michigan shooters have been blocked only 12 times this season and the resulting 3.7 Block Percentage (Blk%) registered by opponents is second-lowest in the nation. Conversely, the Maize and Blue have blocked 47 shots equaling a 10.7 Blk%.

•U-M gave the ball away a season-low nine times against Iowa, and has decreased the number turnovers committed in each of its last four games. The Wolverines are averaging 10.0 turnovers in their last three contests, a 23.7 percent decrease from their 13.1 season average.

Starting 5

Point Guard: Senior Zavier Simpson

Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 12.3 points, 8.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds

Simpson continues to put his teammates in position to score, ranking third in the country with a 47.8 Assist Rate (ARate). He’s also been generous to opponents, however, with a 26.7 Turnover Rate (TORate) that puts 88th in the Big Ten in the metric.

Shooting Guard: Junior Eli Brooks

Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 11.7 points, 2.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds

Brooks has played in 79.4 percent of available minutes (%Min) this season, the second-most of any Wolverine, and has seen at least 35 minutes of action in three of the last four games. Despite a plethora of playing time, Brooks has scored in double-figures only twice in Michigan’s last six contests.

Small Forward: Junior Isaiah Livers

Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 15.1 points, 1.4 assists, 3.6 rebounds

Livers bounced back from a season-worst 36.0 ORtg against Louisville to notch a 174.0 score in the metric against Iowa. It was his second time in the last three games achieving an ORtg of 174.0 or better, and his 121.9 ORtg on the year is the 11th-highest in the conference.

Power Forward: Freshman Franz Wagner

Traditional Stat Line: 8.4 points, 0.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds

Wagner enjoyed a breakout game against the Hawkeyes, earning career-bests with 18 points and a 133.0 ORtg. He currently leads the Wolverines in shooting 91.7 from the free-throw line but continues to struggle from deep with a team-worst 26.3 three-point percentage.

Center: Senior Jon Teske

Traditional Stat Line: 14.1 points, 1.2 assists, 9.2 rebounds

Teske has been a workhorse on both ends for the Maize and Blue, taking a team-high 25.2 percent of U-M’s shots while on the floor and amassing a 7.32 Blk% (8th Big Ten). He hit 7 of 8 shots from two-point range against Iowa (87.5 percent), and his 61.1 two-point shooing percentage this season is good for 16th-best in the conference.

Off the Bench (Played in at least 10 percent of teams total minutes)

Sophomore Guard David DeJulius

Traditional Stat Line: 7.4 points, 1.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds

Over the last two games, DeJulius has scored a total of four points on 1 of 9 shooting (11.1 percent), including 0 for 4 from three (0.0 percent). Despite the recent cold spell, he is shooting 40.7 percent from deep through nine games— a vast improvement from his freshman year, when he connected on just 1 of 15 three-point attempts (6.7 percent).

Sophomore Forward Brandon Johns Jr.:

Traditional Stat Line: 3.9 points, 0.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds

Johns made the most of his season-high 19 minutes against Iowa, logging a team-best 194.0 ORtg and 83.3 eFG%. His 12-point, eight-rebound outing boosted his overall ORtg to 105.2 this season, and he leads the Wolverines with a 37.0 Free-Throw Rate (FTRate).

Sophomore Center/Forward Colin Castleton:

Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Average): 5.1 points, 0.2 assists, 2.9 rebounds

In a game where starting center Jon Teske was limited due to foul trouble, Castleton saw many of his potential back-up minutes allocated to fifth-year senior Austin Davis. The sophomore saw only seven minutes of action against the Hawkeyes, and is averaging just 7.8 minutes per game over the last four. On the season, Castleton has made 19 of 27 two-point shot attempts, good for a 70.4 percentage that tops all U-M shooters.

Sophomore guard Adrien Nunez:

Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Average): 3.4 points, 0.1 assists, 0.0 rebounds

Nunez did not see action against Iowa, and has averaged 1.5 minutes played over the last four games.

KenPom Most Frequent Lineup Combinations (last five games):

1. Simpson, Brooks, Livers, Wagner, Teske — 33.9%

2. Brooks, DeJulius, Livers, Wagner, Teske — 7.6%

3. Simpson, DeJulius, Brooks, Livers, Teske — 5.8%

4. Simpson, DeJulius, Livers, Wagner, Teske — 5.4%

5. Simpson, Brooks, Livers, Wagner, Castleton — 5.0%

KenPom Depth Chart (last five games):

PG: Simpson (74%), Brooks (26%)

SG: DeJulius (52%), Brooks (46%)

SF: Livers (69%), Wagner (12%), Brooks (11%), Nunez (8%)

PF: Wagner (58%), Johns (29%), Livers (14%)

C: Teske (68%), Castleton (23%), Davis (9%)

How do you think the Wolverines will fare against the top defenses in Big Ten play? How many more times will they score 100 points this year? Comment below!!

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