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

(2) Ohio State Buckeyes (25-5, 12-4 Big Ten)
Feast your eyes: Behold Terence Dials, Big Ten POY. Over the past decade as the NBA has increasingly and now completely cornered the market on carbon-based life forms who are 6-10 or taller and can walk and chew gum at the same time, we have seen more of Dials' ilk. He is a "dominant" big man (especially on offense) though in fact he is but 6-9. (Back in the day he would have been a solid power forward.) In the Buckeyes' 1-4 offensive sets, Dials is given ample opportunity to convert post feeds into two points. OSU also takes care of the ball (kudos to sophomore point guard Jamar Butler) and plays outstanding perimeter defense.

Look the other way: The Buckeyes are a POT (40 percent of their shots are threes) and consequently they struggle on the offensive boards. Nor do they go to the line a lot: when their shots aren't falling, they don't score, period.

Etc. Key reserve Ron Lewis is a master of getting to the line and made the game-winning shot at Northwestern....Ohio State has struggled mightily to hit their threes of late and no one's struggled more than Je'Kel Foster, currently mired in a 9-of-62 slump that is beginning to feel positively Rick Ankiel-esque.

(15) Davidson Wildcats (20-10, 10-5 Southern Conference)
Feast your eyes: There will be a lot of threes flung through the air when the Wildcats take on Ohio State--both teams devote large portions of their shots to attempts from beyond the arc. And Davidson sports an impressive ratio of assists to FGs. In fact point guard Kenny Grant is at this writing the top assist man in the nation in tempo-free terms. And with numerous starters sporting healthy offensive ratings, Davidson looks a little like Gonzaga-lite (though with a different style, of course--much heavier on the threes). Lastly, if the Wildcats can somehow embroil Ohio State in a close game, Davidson will have one factor in their favor: at 77 percent, they're one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the country.

Look the other way: Davidson has the worst defense of any team still in the tournament. I say "still" because Belmont's actually ranked even lower (for reasons on vivid display Tuesday night).

Etc. Leading scorer Brendan Winters, a 6-5 wing, is comfortable launching shots from outside or in close and hits 84 percent when he goes to the line.

(7) Georgetown Hoyas (21-9, 10-6 Big East)
Feast your eyes: They may be slow (a hair under 60 possessions per 40 minutes) but don't be fooled--this is a highly efficient offense. (By the way, was apparently fooled: "The Hoyas aren't going to blow teams out." True but a little misleading. "Georgetown wins its games at the defensive end of the court." False. I am an inveterate optimist, however, and honestly believe this may well be the last season that a national content provider such as the WWLIS makes such glaring tempo-deaf gaffes.) Georgetown shoots the rock very well (if you take out their two leading scorers, Jeff Green and Brandon Bowman, the Hoyas shoot extremely well) and they take good care of the ball. On D Georgetown menaces opponents with 7-2 shot-blocker Roy Hibbert. He's no Erek Hansen or Pearson Griffith, mind you. But he'll change a shot or two.

Look the other way: While the Hoyas' D is solid overall, opponents shoot slightly above-average on their threes.

Etc. Georgetown plays a variant of the Princeton offense that they choose to call (can you guess?) the Georgetown system. But if this is a Princeton or even a Georgetown system, how come the Hoyas' numbers on the offensive glass are so, well, normal? In fact if one classifies the Hoyas as a POT (it's close), then this is one of the best offensive rebounding POTs I've seen. Though they devote more than 37 percent of their shots to threes, Georgetown's still able to rebound over 35 percent of their misses, thanks in no small part to Hibbert's work on the offensive glass.

(10) Northern Iowa Panthers (23-9, 11-7 Missouri Valley)
Feast your eyes: These guys are absolute animals on the defensive glass--fifth-best in the nation. Where some teams don't have any players with a defensive rebound percentage north of 20, the Panthers have two: Grant Stout (23.9) and Eric Coleman (20.2). UNI also plays very good FG defense. The strength of this team is its D.

Look the other way: Keep in mind this is by design (kind of like West Virginia with the same stat): the Panthers rank 304th in the nation in offensive rebounding. They would rather deny opponents any possible transition opportunities than try to get an offensive board. Which is fine--but when the first shot doesn't fall there won't be a second for UNI.

Etc. The numbers suggest coach Greg McDermott might want to take some shots away from leading scorer Ben Jacobson and give them instead to the highly efficient Stout and the pretty efficient John Little.

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