Maverick Maniac's Musings

February 23, 2013

2012-13 Omaha Men’s Basketball – Game #29 Preview–North Dakota

Filed under: Men's Basketball,Omaha Mavericks,Previews — Jon Green @ 12:26 pm

Omaha Men's Basketball Preview - North Dakota - 2-23-13Live Stats
Live Video ($8? and No Audio?)
Live Audio (Gary Sharp – 1620 AM)

Omaha has 10 wins locked up thanks to their victory over Chicago State on Tuesday. Today they get their final non-conference game of the year and definitely their best chance left to get a 10th D1 win.

North Dakota
When these two teams last met it was at the NCC Championship in Mankato, Minnesota on March 9, 2008. Omaha was the better team that year but North Dakota had upset South Dakota and advanced to the NCC championship game while Omaha knocked off Minnesota State-Mankato to get there. The Mavericks swept the season series (84-69 in Omaha, 96-88 in Grand Forks) and were victorious again in the conference title game 75-68. My favorite part of the story… the attendance (in the final NCC game) was 128.

Fast forward a few years and North Dakota has developed into a solid D1 program in the Big Sky. They spent the last three years in the Great West conference going 19-15 in conference and finishing with winning records overall the last two seasons. They won the conference tournament the last two years to move into the postseason losing 77-67 to Air Force in the CIT in 2011 and 70-64 to Drake in 2012. North Dakota has had a few upsets over the last couple years, perhaps most notably South Dakota State last year.

This year the… Nickname less school (yes they are no longer the Fighting Sioux are don’t have a replacement name yet) has been a strong competitor in their first season in the Big Sky. They had a slow start to the season going 2-8 before Christmas with the only two wins over non-D1 competition. After that they really got going winning 10 of their last 16 games as they got into the conference portion of their schedule.

They have only won one non-conference D1 game this year (56-53 at home vs. Bowling Green) and the Big Sky is not particularly strong, 28th out of 31 conferences in the RealTimeRPI conference RPI standings. For comparison the Summit League is 18th.

UND doesn’t play quite as quick as UNO but does have a few good scorers in Troy Huff, 18.6 points per game, and Aaron Anderson, 13.6 points per game. Those two along with Jamal Webb, 9.4 points per game, create the strong backcourt for North Dakota and combine to play 97.1 minutes a game and score 63% of North Dakota’s points. If Josh Schuler is healthy he plays a full 28.6 minutes and chips in another 9 points. Those four combine for 77% of their points. This is not a hugely deep team.

Omaha’s got a fighting chance in this one and I expect we’ll see a nice paced game with both team’s guards taking a lot of the offense and putting on a show.

Top Five Wins, ranked by RPI – realtimerpi.com
244 – Bowling Green (56-63)
254 – @ Northern Arizona (81-79)
286 – Sacramento State (49-48)
294 – @ Northern Colorado (64-62)
322 – @ Montana State (82-73)

Worst Five Losses, ranked by RPI – realtimerpi.com
298 – @ Southern Utah (67-79)
294 – Northern Colorado (66-75)
292 – Kansas City (70-73)
286 – @ Sacramento State (58-67)
254 – Northern Arizona (72-74)

Chicago State has played a fairly grueling schedule but they do have some bad losses as well. Their only really good win was at Toledo on the last day of December.

Omaha vs. North Dakota – Overall Stats

Team FG% 3FG% FT% O-PPP D-PPP TO Rt A/TO A/B% Def FG% Def 3FG% Opp TO Rt Reb% Off Reb% Def Reb% BPG
Omaha 46.9% 36.4% 69.3% 0.981 1.138 20.2 0.882 50.0% 48.8% 37.9% 17.0 46.0% 25.2% 63.3% 2.7
UND 41.8% 33.1% 72.5% 0.947 1.021 18.8 0.881 48.0% 44.6% 34.5% 19.0 49.4% 29.8% 67.9% 3.4
Favors.. Omaha Omaha UND Omaha UND UND Omaha Omaha UND UND UND UND UND UND UND

Green = 1,2, or 3 in the Summit League. Red = 7,8, or 9 in the Summit League. Bold indicates the better team in each category.

Omaha is a better shooting team and better offensively in general. North Dakota doesn’t turn it over as much and is a better FT shooting team. North Dakota is better in the defensive categories and in rebounding.

Expected Starters
North Dakota
Guard – Aaron Anderson – 5-10 – Junior – Averaging 13.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists.
Guard – Shane Benton – 6-3 – Freshman – Averaging 2.9 points and 1.1 rebounds.
Guard – Jamal Webb – 6-1 – Junior – Averaging 9.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.4 steals.
Forward – Troy Huff – 6-5 – Junior – Averaging 18.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.2 steals.
Center – Mitch Wilmer – 6-11 – Senior – Averaging 5.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks.

Omaha
Point Guard – CJ Carter – 6-0 – Sophomore – Averaging 9.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
Guard – Alex Phillips – 6-3 – Junior – Averaging 8.4 points and 2.7 rebounds.
Guard – Justin Simmons – 6-3 – Junior – Averaging 16.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.0 assists.
Forward – Alex Welhouse – 6-7 – Senior – Averaging 7.9 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Center – John Karhoff – 6-8 – Junior -  Averaging 12.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

Three Things to Watch
1) Justin Simmons vs. Troy Huff – Two really talented scores in this one. Not at all predicting they will guard each other, but Simmons averages 16.4 and Huff averages 18.6. Huff has scored 20 or more on eight occasions this year (in just 18 games) while Simmons has done it nine times in 28 games. Should be fun to watch.

2.) Injuries – Omaha doesn’t have any to speak of really and hasn’t much all year. North Dakota can’t say the same thing. While the Mavericks have eight players who have played at least 27 of 28 games, North Dakota has just five that have played at least 25 of their 26 games. Brandon Brekke has averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds for North Dakota but has only played in 13 games including missing the last two. Josh Schuler has averaged nine points off the bench but he’s missed the last five games. Wilmer averages 1.3 blocks and Archer adds 1.1 so Omaha will need to be wary of them when they drive inside.

3.) Inside Battle – Two ways to look at this. One is that North Dakota Starts at 6-11 center and boasts three other players in the 6-7/6-8 range that average 15+ minutes per game. That sounds like some inside strength, but consider that one of those other players is Brandon Brekke, who might not play. Jordan Allard averages 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds. Doug Archer averages 2.6 points and 2.0 rebounds. Even starting center Mitch Wilmer only averages 5.7 points and 4.3 rebounds. Combine all three and we’re only talking 11.4 points and 9.8 rebounds. One would think that perhaps John Karhoff is more talented inside and that between him and Alex Welhouse there is good chance for Omaha to take advantage.

Prediction
It will be fun to see how the two teams seem to compare. North Dakota left for D1 in 2008-09 when the NCC ended, so they are three years ahead of Omaha in terms of transition. Omaha was a better program in their last year together in the NCC though and has grown into D1 quickly. I’ll take the Mavericks 81-74.

RealTimeRPI – Omaha wins 72-67

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