Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Wonk 360: Wisconsin in Chicago
A look at the teams competing against Wisconsin in Chicago 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.)

(2) Wisconsin Badgers (28-5, 13-3 Big Ten, aerial view)
Feast your eyes: Consistency thy name is Badger. This team always defends, always takes care of the ball, and never fouls. It's been that way since Bo Ryan arrived in Madison. It works. And with Kammron Taylor having a nice little late-season spurt here, the opportunities given to Alando Tucker on offense figure to improve. (Speaking of spurts, Tucker, his last two games notwithstanding, has started to make threes late in his senior year.)

Look the other way: By this point we're all well into the fourth or fifth stanza in a nice chicken-and-egg minuet regarding the Badgers and their alleged "recent struggles" on offense. On the one hand, um, they've struggled on offense recently, scoring just 0.93 points per possession over their last six games. On the other hand, those six games have been played against three of the best defenses in the country: Michigan State, Ohio State, and Illinois. (And, mind you, the offense looked great in one of those three games against the Spartans.) Now we'll see what Wisconsin can do offensively against TAMU-CC and, fate willing, the winner of UNLV-Georgia Tech.

Etc. Tucker takes a larger share of his team's shots than any other player in "power"-conference ball.

(15) Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders (22-11, 16-2 Southland West)
Feast your eyes: There are precisely two teams in the country who shoot better than TAMU-CC: Florida and Air Force. That puts the Islanders in elite company where shooting's concerned. Look at Chris Daniels and Josh Washington: together they take more than half of their team's shots while they're on the floor, yet each sports an effective FG percentage north of 60.

Look the other way: The Islanders turn the ball over on 23 percent of their possessions. And TAMU-CC opponents shoot pretty well (though, granted, nowhere near as well as the team they're playing against).

Etc. Kevin Menifee leads the way for a team that rebounds 39 percent of their misses.

(7) UNLV Rebels (28-6, 12-4 Mountain West)
Feast your eyes: They're the Butler of the west! The Rebels are "merely" slightly above average in their shooting and on the offensive glass. But they never give the ball away. Wendell White, Jo'Van Adams, and Kevin Kruger each average double-digits in scoring, with Kruger being the most efficient of the group. And though listed at a mere 6-9, Joel Anthony belongs to that most select of clubs, the better-than-Oden shot-blocking group. (It's a seven-member society nationally—as I said, very exclusive.)

Look the other way: UNLV's defensive rebounding is poor. The Rebels get to just 65.3 percent of their opponents' misses.

Etc. The Rebels haven't won a tournament game since the 1991 West regional final.

(10) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (20-11, 8-8 ACC, aerial view)
Feast your eyes: The Yellow Jackets are parable in human form for any traditionalist dinosaur who professes to hate threes, to wit: this year Tech's 3FG pct. has plummeted—and their offense has improved dramatically. The Wreck's getting it done on offense this season by holding on to the ball a little better (they've improved from horrible to well below-average) and crashing the offensive glass. (They get almost 40 percent of their misses. See above: there might be a Georgia Tech offensive board or two in the game against UNLV). The Yellow Jackets have also proven adept at creating turnovers: ACC opponents gave the ball away on 23 percent of their possessions. Mario West ranks as the most felonious team member.

Look the other way: Georgia Tech's ACC opponents shot better than the Jackets did. And it's the interior defense in particular that's poor: conference opponents made 54 percent of their twos.

Etc. This is a young team: leading scorers Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young are freshmen.

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