Saturday, January 22, 2011

Iowa vs Indiana Men's Basketball Preview

Everybody is claiming that this is one of Iowa's best shots to win a Big 10 game. While I think Penn State (even with their upsets) is Iowa's best chance, Indiana is beatable. However, it won't be easy. Indiana has some serious offensive firepower, and Iowa well, they are offensively challenged at times. I could see this game being close, but I could also see Indiana pull a Northwestern on the Hawkeyes too.

Iowa's Offense vs Indiana's Defense:

Iowa has shot a 47.97% effective FG%, which is right around what Indiana has held opponents to shooting wise. So, expect Iowa to shoot pretty close to their average against this Indiana defense. The offensive rebounding battle will be interesting. Iowa has been 9% above average at getting second chances, while Indiana has been 9% better at limiting them. Indiana seems to have a fouling problem, as they are a ridiculous 24% below average at keeping their opponents off the free throw line (so bad, I had to rescale all the graphs down to 70 for this post). Iowa is slightly below average at giving out assists. Indiana is decent at limiting them, but not so good that Iowa couldn't have a pretty good game in this regard. The same goes with turnovers. Indiana is about average at forcing turnovers, which could be key in this game. If Iowa can keep the turnovers under control (I'm looking at you Cartwright and Basabe), they have a very good chance at winning this game.

Iowa's Defense vs Indiana's Offense:

This is the scariest part of the game to me. Look at the disparity between how well Indiana shoots the ball, and how well Iowa defends it. Indiana is shooting a 55.31% effective FG% this year. If you think that it is inflated due to them shooting really well in non-conference play, think again. In Big 10 play Indiana has shot a 54.4% effective FG%, which is good enough for third in the conference. Iowa has allowed opposing Big 10 teams to shoot a 60.06% effective FG% so far this year. I would expect more of the same.

The offensive rebounding battle, again, should be interesting as both teams are almost equal in grabbing offensive boards and limiting them. Indiana has been good at getting to the free throw line this year, but Iowa has been good at keeping opponents off of it, minus that catastrophe in Minnesota. Assists wise, expect Indiana to get more than their average this game, especially if they shoot as good as I think they will. Finally, turnovers. This should be an advantage for Iowa. They are fresh off of a game against Ohio State where they forced a turnover on 29% of Ohio State's possessions. Going into that game, Ohio State was averaging a turnover on only 16.15% of their possessions. Iowa is 12% better than average at taking the ball away, and Indiana has a little bit of a turnover problem. Iowa is going to need to win this turnover battle to offset the shooting advantage Indiana has.

  • Iowa player shot tendencies:
  • Iowa player scoring breakdown:
  • The new addition to the preview, Iowa players points per minutes:
  • Since this is new, I'll add some commentary. A true freshman in Basabe, is leading Iowa in points per minute (three more years of this!). Interesting, that he leads Gatens, who sits at number two. Cartwright is number three, just ahead of May who has struggled to really do anything offensively, outside of the Minnesota game, since the early part of the season. After those four, Iowa's scoring takes a pretty sizable dip. Not much depth for Iowa scoring wise.
  • Indiana player shot tendencies:
  • Jordan Hulls and Maurice Creek (who is out for the season, so Iowa doesn't need to worry about him) are the guys who get the most playing time, that really like to shoot the three's. Hulls is lights out, shooting 51.4% from behind the arc. Creek likes to shoot them, but isn't quite as consistent as Hulls, only making 31% this year. Matt Roth and Kory Barnett like shooting from downtown too, but Roth averages 6 minutes per game, and Barnett has only played in 9 games this year.
  • Their best post player Christian Watford can also step back and hit a shot from deep when he wants to. He has made 20 out of his 53 attempts this year, good for 37.7%.
  • Verdell Jones III, their second leading scorer, is mainly a player who does better inside the three point line. He is 10-29 from behind it this year, good for 34.5%. 
  • Indiana player scoring breakdown:
  • As much as Watford is a threat from downtown, he has done a lot of his damage from the free throw line. He is a very balanced scorer for a big man.
  • Unsurprisingly, Jones III does most of his damage from two-point range and a little bit from the free throw line too. Also, Creek and Hulls get the most of their value from behind the arc.
  • Indiana players points per minute:
  •  Indiana is obviously a better offensive team than Iowa. The Hawkeyes have only four players who average over 0.35 points per minute, while Indiana has 8 guys. However, about three of those guys don't get regular playing time and one is out for the season, so don't expect every one of them to go off on Iowa. 
Opposing Players to Watch:
  •  Jordan Hulls is the three point shooter that should worry every Hawkeye fan. Even though Hoffarber and Diebler struggled to find their shot in the last two games vs Iowa, there is still a number of cases before that where Iowa simply couldn't guard the other team's shooter. Hulls is averaging 10.32 points per game, shooting 51.4% from downtown, which is good for a 72.8% effective FG%. Iowa better stay on him tight. 
  • Christian Watford is Indiana's post threat, who can also step back and shoot decent from long range. He averages 16.11 points per game, but is not very efficient in how he reaches those 16 points. He is shooting a 47.9% effective FG%, so hopefully Iowa can also make him work for his points. Rebounding wise, Watford is not very good at grabbing offensive rebounds, as he only pulls down about 6% of them. On the defensive boards, however, he is better. He has grabbed 17.5% of those this year. Basabe, Cole (when he's not slumping), and Archie (when he plays, are all much better rebounders than Watford. Brommer is worse on the defensive boards, but better on the offensive ones. If Watford is on the floor for over 30 minutes of this game (averages 28 minutes per game), Iowa should outrebound them.
  • Verdell Jones is their third double digit scorer, averaging 12.94 points per game. As I said earlier, he pretty much lives inside the three point line, and isnt' a great perimeter shooter. He is a decent shooter, maybe a little below average for a guy that doesn't shoot a lot of three's, shooting a 51.3% effective FG%.
  • Pritchard and Elston are both 6'9" forwards that are their best rebounders. Neither of them do much offensively, and they both only average about 15 minutes per game. On the glass, Pritchard pulls down 11.1% offensively and 17.3% defensively. Elston is bad on the offensive glass, grabbing only 4.9%. Defensively he's their best, grabbing 20.4%. Elston is the only one that grabs defensive rebounds like Iowa's trio (all above 20%, except for Cole who sits at 19%), and nobody on Indiana averages as many offensive rebounds (Cole is the lowest at 12.7%). 

I honestly have no clue how this game will go. Indiana will probably shoot very well against Iowa, just like every other Big 10 team so far. But, Iowa should shoot pretty well too, considering Indiana hasn't been world beaters at stopping opponents from shooting the ball well. Iowa should force a lot of turnovers in this game, and if they can limit their mistakes on offense, they should be able to hang with Indiana too. The rebounding looks similar, but I give the edge to Iowa. If this game is close, Watford will probably play more than 28 minutes, and he is an okay rebounder, but Iowa's guys are better. I hope Cole shows up for this game, because the rebounding advantage could really hinge on how well he crashes the boards. Also, Indiana has trouble keeping opponents off the free throw stripe. If I'm Iowa I dump the ball down early and often to Basabe to try to get him to the free throw line. Even Cartwright may be able to slash inside and draw some fouls too.

I'm going to predict a close Iowa win, something to the tune of 77 to 71. But, don't be surprised if Indiana blows the doors off this game with their shooting performance either. I'll be busy watching my Packers try to make it to the Super Bowl, but hopefully I'll be watching this game during breaks. If the Packers get to the Super Bowl and Iowa wins their first Big 10 game, it'll be a great weekend. For me anyways.

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