Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Wonk 360: Purdue in New Orleans
A look at the teams competing against Purdue in New Orleans this weekend to make it to St. Louis 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.)

(9) Purdue Boilermakers (21-11, 9-7 Big Ten, aerial view)
Feast your eyes: The Boilermakers thrive when their opponent turns the ball over—and Matt Painter's team makes sure that happens more often than not. In Big Ten play, Purdue opponents gave the ball away on 24 percent of their possessions. The men in black and gold have been lured into felony by precocious freshman Chris Kramer, who records a Big Ten-leading 4.8 steals for every 100 defensive possessions he plays. Speaking of thriving: good things happen for the Boilers when Carl Landry attempts a shot. The undersized but hard-working senior makes 63 percent of his twos and led the Big Ten by a country mile in free throw proficiency (FTM/FGA). And David Teague has provided surprising accuracy from the perimeter this season, hitting 43 percent of his threes.

Look the other way: Purdue creates turnovers—and not just from opponents. The Boilers coughed it up on 23 percent of their possessions in their own right against Big Ten competition. That has hampered a team that actually shoots better than its point totals would indicate. Another item to bear in mind this weekend: this is not a big team.

Etc. All hail Chris Lutz, the most efficient scorer in the Big Ten this year. Having hit no less than 47 percent of his threes, Lutz sports a gaudy 1.35 PPWS.

(8) Arizona Wildcats (20-10, 11-7 Pac-10, aerial view)
Feast your eyes: Think of the Wildcats' offense as the North Carolina of the west coast, only slower. Lute Olson's men, like Roy Williams' group back east, largely do without threes and hit their twos at a prodigious rate. Marcus Williams, precocious freshman Chase Budinger, and Ivan Radenovic (1.25 PPWS) account for most of those makes, often off a Mustafa Shakur assist.

Look the other way: Very good news for a turnover-prone Purdue team: Arizona opponents never turn the ball over. That has allowed opposing teams to rack up a lot of points on this defense. (Not as bad as Oregon's D. But close.)

Etc. Speaking of Oregon, in losing to the Ducks in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, 'Zona scored just 50 points in 63 possessions, their worst performance on offense against a conference opponent this year.

(1) Florida Gators (29-5, 13-3 SEC, aerial view)
Feast your eyes: No team in the country shoots as well as the Gators do. Billy Donovan has the luxury of being able to call upon no fewer than five players (!) who sport effective FG percentages above 60: Walter Hodge, Chris Richard, Lee Humphrey, Joakim Noah, and Al Horford. So, no, I can't explain how this team could have lost at LSU. In fact, I'm not sure it really did happen. It's inconceivable.

Look the other way: Not counting their defensive rebounding (which has been excellent), Florida's defense has been indifferent. (Speaking of the defensive glass: the Gators' otherwise unobstructed march through the SEC tournament was curious for the Gators' uncharacteristically abysmal performance in rebounding opponents' misses. Horford, Noah, et. al., secured only 59 percent of their foes' missed shots. Odd.)

Etc. With the possible exception of Aleks Maric of Nebraska, Horford may just be the best defensive rebounder in "power"-conference hoops. He is a monster and his ink-to-chops ratio is surely one of the lowest around.

(16) Jackson State Tigers (21-13, 12-6 SWAC)
Feast your eyes: You've of course heard of Trey Johnson, 27 points per game, etc. But did you know he plays 94 percent of the available minutes? (Good grief, Johnson makes Big Ten iron man Drew Neitzel look like a seldom-used sub.) Also note: the Tigers force opponents into many turnovers.

Look the other way: Jackson State's offense is really bad.

Etc. The SWAC hasn't won a tournament game since 1993, when Southern beat Georgia Tech in a 4-13 game.

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