Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Wonk 360: Indiana in Sacramento
A look at the teams competing against Indiana in Sacramento this weekend to make it to San Jose and the Sweet 16. (Non-"power"-conference stats of course graciously provided (they have a choice?) by that indispensable two-headed K-Dub/KenPom beast.)

(7) Indiana Hoosiers (20-10, 10-6 Big Ten, aerial view)
Feast your eyes: These guys can really hit the three. (I know, I know: they didn't the last time we saw them, but for the season as a whole they have.) In conference games the Hoosiers hit 41 percent of their attempts from behind the arc. This level of shooting's been made possible in part by the surprising Roderick Wilmont, a player who came into this year shooting just 32 percent on his threes. This year he has hit 39 percent, a mark bested by teammates Armon Bassett (42 percent) and A.J. Ratliff (41). IU also takes good care of the ball (giving it away on only 19 percent of their possessions in conference play) and gets a goodly number of turnovers from their opponents.

Look the other way: The Hoosiers aren't what you'd call big—and Big Ten opponents made more than half of their twos against this team.

Etc. D.J. White is the best defensive rebounder Kelvin Sampson has—but not by much. For a guy listed at 6-4, Wilmont is something of a terror on the defensive glass.

(10) Gonzaga Bulldogs (22-10, 11-3 West Coast)
Feast your eyes: Not to sound like a broken record but, these guys can really hit the three. The difference here versus the Hoosiers is that the Zags don't shoot many from beyond the arc. But when they do they go in. The strength of this team is its shooting—outside and inside. Derek Raivio is a 41 percent shooter on his threes and, though he takes fewer shots, key sixth man David Pendergraft has one of those gaudy north-of-60 effective FG percentages. Gonzaga also values the rock, committing turnovers on only 19 percent of their possessions. Indeed, except for the number of threes flung up, this offense shares a number of similarities with Indiana's.

Look the other way: Opponents never turn the ball over. Ever. If IU's hitting their shots, look out.

Etc. The Hoosiers would be well advised not to foul Raivio, who is a 96 percent FT shooter. (Not a typo. He's taken 152 shots from the line this season and missed six. Six. A number so low you can spell it.)

(2) UCLA Bruins (26-5, 15-3 Pac-10, aerial view)
Feast your eyes: Even with the first-round loss to California in the Pac-10 tournament, what I said a couple weeks ago still applies: "The men from Westwood simply smother the defensive glass, pulling down no less than 72 percent of their opponents' misses in Pac-10 play. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is the lead glass-eater for Ben Howland, but Lorenzo Mata isn't far behind. Opposing teams actually shoot threes surprisingly well against the Bruins but if they miss, that's it. Put simply, UCLA is a Big Ten team without the snow: voracious defensive rebounding at 63 possessions per game." They also force their opponents into a lot of turnovers. And one more thing: this is an excellent two-point shooting team. Though he shoots mostly threes, Arron Afflalo makes 56 percent of his twos.

Look the other way: UCLA, much like Wisconsin, chooses to focus on transition defense at the expense of offensive rebound opportunities. It's not a weakness, per se—more like a style. But it does mean opponents should be able to control their own defensive glass (and unable to fast break).

Etc. Darren Collison records steals with alarming (for opponents) frequency and makes 45 percent of his (somewhat infrequent) threes. On the other hand he himself turns the ball over with alarming (for his coach) frequency.

(15) Weber State Wildcats (20-11, 11-5 Big Sky)
Feast your eyes: Good grief. Dezmon Harris (1.26 PPWS), Juan Pablo Silveira (1.25), Arturas Valeika (1.27), Tyler Billings (1.34)...the Wildcats are a veritable murderers' row of scoring efficiency. The 6-9 Valeika in particular has been busy this season: making his twos, getting hacked, and cleaning the defensive glass. Coach Randy Rahe hopes all of the above continues against the Bruins.

Look the other way: Weber State has turnover trouble, giving the ball away on 23 percent of their possessions this season. Not a good omen when the next opponent is UCLA.

Etc. The Wildcats are remembered, and not fondly, by North Carolina fans. As a 14-seed in 1999, Weber State beat the Heels in the first round and took Florida to OT before falling in the second round.

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