Big Ten Wonk
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Wonk 360: Michigan State in Dayton
A look at the teams competing against Michigan State in Dayton this weekend to make it to Washington, D.C., and the Sweet 16.

(6) Michigan State Spartans (22-11, 8-8 Big Ten)
Feast your eyes: Never mind the poor-me facial expression: Paul Davis is one of the best players in the country. He's the most efficient scorer on a team that scores very efficiently. And he's far and away the best defensive rebounder on a team that needs good work on the defensive glass to prop up its D (which is merely average). Not that Davis is alone, however. Shannon Brown is a genuine threat to either drive or hit the three (39.1 3FG pct.--if Brown does stick around next year, he bids fair to reach Luther Head territory). And Drew Neitzel churns out assists like a point guard possessed.

Look the other way: Observers comment incessantly on State's lack of depth when in fact this year the Spartans' depth merely resembles that of a normal team. But perhaps the men in green have taken the talk to heart: they play like a thin team at times, especially on defense. MSU never forces turnovers from their opponents and their FG defense is mediocre at best. (And has this team officially given up completely on trying to push the tempo?)

Etc. Leading scorer Mo Ager bears that distinction, by a small margin, because he shoots more than any other Spartan, by a less-small margin. When he's hitting his shots alongside Davis and Brown, this is a very tough team to beat, whatever its (relative) defensive shortcomings.

(11) George Mason Patriots (23-7, 15-3 CAA)
Feast your eyes: The Patriots rely on their "scramble" defense--Tom Izzo has termed them "a poor man's Illinois." Iowa would be another good parallel, in as much as George Mason held opponents to a low-low effective FG percentage this season: 43.9 percent. But don't stereotype the Patriots just yet: they're also one of the 25 best shooting teams in the country. Leading scorer and (Oliver Miller body-double) Jai Lewis scores his points with Paul Davis-like efficiency.

Look the other way: If Michigan State complains about being thin, they're not likely to get a sympathetic hearing from George Mason. The Patriots have played most of the season without regulars John Vaughan and Jesus Urbina. Then last week starter Tony Skinn was suspended for punching an opponent, um, below the equator, shall we say. (He will play again this year only if GMU wins its first-round game.) This team is dangerously thin.

Etc. There shouldn't be a lot of threes in the first-round game between the Patriots and Michigan State: neither team devotes more than 32 percent of their shots to attempts from beyond the arc....George Mason cracked the top 25 in the polls this year for the first time in the program's history.

(3) North Carolina Tar Heels (22-7, 12-4 ACC)
Feast your eyes: They may be young but this is already a great team, balanced offensively and defensively. (Roy Williams has some horses, granted, but I ask you: can this man not coach?) This offense reminds me a lot of Michigan State last year: they shoot extremely well and, on the rare occasions when they miss, they attack the offensive glass with highly-effective ferocity. Just look at this Tyler Hansbrough character: only a freshman and already putting up Paul Davis-style numbers for scoring efficiently and hitting the offensive boards. Scary. (And check out 5-11 diamond-in-the-rough Wes Miller--a 134.3 offensive rating? I didn't know the numbers went that high. Give him the rock, Roy!) As for the D (and as long as we're invoking the memory of Big Ten teams from last year) the Heels are a lot like Illinois on defense in 2005. No one thing UNC does defensively jumps out at you but they're solid at everything. (OK, a little less solid at creating turnovers.) The result is one of the 20 best defenses in the country.

Look the other way: The Heels turn the ball over a lot. (But, as seen above, they compensate.)

Etc. Reyshawn Terry gives Williams defensive boards and a solid second scorer. But Terry needs to stay out of foul trouble.

(14) Murray State Racers (24-6, 17-3 Ohio Valley)
Feast your eyes: The Racers' FG defense is superb, holding opponents to an effective FG percentage of just 45.1. Pearson Griffith, a 6-10 shot-changer, is the Ohio Valley's answer to Erek Hansen. (And, like Hansen, he needs to avoid foul trouble.) And leading scorer Shawn Witherspoon sports an almost Mike Gansey-like 63.1 2FG percentage.

Look the other way: Murray State's a borderline POT, devoting about 36 percent of their shots to threes--yet they only make 35.7 percent of their shots from out there.

Etc. The Racers have one of the worst offenses in the dance--only Penn, Monmouth, and Southern score less efficiently.

<< Home

wonk back!
email me

a very special wonk
the blog's final days

me, simmons, and 150 million other american males
the four dullest topics for a hoops blog
drama, magnitude, and finality
2007 "power"-conference velocity report
special report: in tedium's path
stop DAD: defensive attention deficit
consistency, threes, and stereotypes
they shoot free throws, don't they?
every rebound needs an adjective
fouls: call fewer or allow more
was norman dale wrong?
what's PPWS?
POT: perimeter-oriented team
symphony of altruists
mammalian theory of extreme home-court advantage
law of november weight change
scoring and preventing points: how to

tempo-free aerials
(conf. games only)
big east
big ten
big XII

geek chorus
intro to tempo-free stats
2007 big ten team tempo-free stats
2006 big ten team tempo-free stats
2005 big ten team tempo-free stats
state of the stats, april '06

canonical bloggers
yoni cohen
ken pomeroy
kyle whelliston
ryan kobliska
chris west
brian cook

November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
August 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
August 2006
September 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
October 2007