Northwestern has officially finished half of the Big Ten season after the Wildcats' loss to Michigan State on Saturday. 3-6 certainly doesn't look like the best record, but it's not the worst one either. Win two home games on Tuesday (against Michigan) and Sunday (against Indiana) and Northwestern will be right back in the middle of the pack.
As a team the Wildcats are -47 in Big Ten play thus far. That number is skewed a bit by 20-point (and plus) blowouts against Michigan State and Ohio State, but it represents the "baseline" of plus-minus statistics as we move forward. After the jump are some conclusions I've come to while parsing through the available data.
All results are based on plus-minus data for Big Ten conference play only. What you did against North Florida doesn't really matter anymore. What have you done against the Wolverines, Buckeyes and Gophers?
Please note that almost all of these numbers are going to be negative. Northwestern as a team is -47 in 360 minutes of Big Ten play.
The first observation is that after his +1 performance in 3 minutes against Michigan State center Kyle Rowley has escaped the plus-minus doghouse. Sure, he's still an absolutely terrible -33 in 84 minutes of Big Ten play, but one guy is worse.
That guy is Nick Fruendt. Now, this isn't really Fruendt's fault. He's trying admirably to fill a role on the court, but the fact is this: He's no Michael Thompson. Fruendt has the worst plus-minus per minute on the team at -0.65.
Another thing worth noting is that Alex Marcotullio has really struggled in Big Ten play. The freshman gunner hasn't been able to find his shot and hasn't been able to have as big of an impact in conference as he did outside of it. Marcotullio's plus-minus is a Rowley-esque -0.35 points per minute. What's fascinating though is the fact that he's still gotten 118 minutes of playing time in conference. Bill Carmody trusts Marcotullio and I'm sure he's hoping that his three-point shot returns soon.
On a more positive note, the starter with the best plus-minus numbers is Luka Mirkovic. Even after a tough game against Michigan State on Saturday Mirkovic leads Northwestern starters at -4. Northwestern has been out-played by 0.02 points per minute when he's been on the court. Compared to Rowley this statistic speaks volumes to Mirkovic's improvement and how well he's been able to handle the post in conference play. His development has been very important for Northwestern and he'll need to keep his confidence up during the second half of conference play.
Finally, in case you're curious, the plus-minus statistics of the other "major minute" players on the Wildcats.
- Michael Thompson - -34, 344 minutes
- Jeremy Nash - -35, 307 minutes
- Drew Crawford - -39, 286 minutes
- John Shurna - -56, 343 minutes (Does anyone else find this shocking?)
Can anyone else find something interesting in these numbers? Are there more conclusions to draw? It'll be interesting to see as the season progresses. It starts with the big game on Tuesday against Michigan.