Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Wonk 360: Ohio State in Lexington
A look at the teams competing against Ohio State in Lexington this weekend to make it to San Antonio 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.)

(1) Ohio State Buckeyes (30-3, 15-1 Big Ten, aerial view)
Feast your eyes: Let's get the clichés out of the way at the top, shall we? This team is peaking at the right time and is a picture of balance offensively and defensively. On offense the Buckeyes turned the ball over just 23 times in 185 possessions over three games at the Big Ten tournament. Meaning only 12 percent of their possessions ended in a turnover. Do that and play some D and you can beat anybody—even with mediocre shooting (see below). And speaking of D, Thad Matta's team has allowed just 0.92 points per possession over their last nine games. During that time opponents have made just 42 percent of their twos. (Can't imagine why.)

Look the other way: This team doesn't shoot as well as I thought they would with Ron Lewis, Ivan Harris, Jamar Butler, and Daequan Cook on the perimeter and Greg Oden down low. If they ever did, ay, carumba.

Etc. In the entire Big Ten this year there was only one player that posted a higher offensive rebounding percentage than his corresponding number on the defensive glass. Meet Othello Hunter: the best offensive rebounder in the conference (and an efficient, if infrequent, scorer).

(16) Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (22-11, 16-2 Northeast)
Feast your eyes: CCSU shares at least one similarity to those other Blue Devils (last year's edition thereof)—their most frequent shooters are their most efficient scorers, namely: Obie Nwadike, Tristan Blackwood, and Javier Mojica. This is a good perimeter-shooting team.

Look the other way: The rest of the roster's only so-so on their shooting.

Etc. Well, I declare. Nwadike's almost as good on the offensive glass as the allegedly singular Othello Hunter (see above). And he goes to the line more than anyone else in the entire tournament.

(8) Brigham Young Cougars (25-8, 13-3 Mountain West)
Feast your eyes: Wow. This team can shoot the rock. (Which actually is odd because their FT shooting is horrendous.) BYU has that weird Florida thing going on where they don't shoot many threes but when they do they hit them (41 percent of them, to be exact). Keena Young and Trent Plaisted shoot often and well. Lee Cummard and Austin Ainge shoot rarely but very well. The Cougars also do a pretty good job taking care of the ball and rebounding their (infrequent) misses. Lastly, with Young, Cummard, and Plaisted all chipping in, BYU's excellent on the defensive glass.

Look the other way: Opponents never turn the ball over. Ever. If said opponent is making their shots, look out.

Etc. Plaisted shoots more free throws than any Big Ten player not named "Carl Landry."

(9) Xavier Musketeers (21-10, 8-8 A-10)
Feast your eyes: Man. There will be no missed shots in the BYU-Xavier game: the Musketeers shoot almost exactly as well as the Cougars. But it's a different kind of "well"! Xavier shoots a lot of threes, makes a lot (39 percent), and still manages to get to 36 percent of their misses. That is a very good combination of traits. Behold Justin Doellman, Drew Lavender, and Justin Cage: all averaging double-digits, all sporting a PPWS of 1.20 or above. (Stanley Burrell is less efficient but then again he absorbs a goodly share of defensive attention from opposing teams—to the benefit of his mates' efficiency.) And 6-7 freshman Derrick Brown wins today's double-take award: no matter how many times I look it still says that this youngster makes 72 percent of his twos. Zounds.

Look the other way: Interior D is a problem. Opponents make almost half their twos.

Etc. At 5-7, Lavender may have had the best height-to-performance ratio in the country this year. His shots go in (he's shooting 46 percent on his threes), he dishes assists, and he never turns the ball over.

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