When this season began, everyone was proclaiming the Big 10 as one of the toughest conferences in the nation. This was bad news for an Iowa team trying to rebuild. Iowa went 7-5 in non-conference play, but has gone just 1-7 in Big 10 play. We all knew that Iowa's stats from non-conference play wouldn't necessarily translate to Big 10 play. So, now that the Hawkeyes have 8 conference games under their belt, I wanted to look at why Iowa has looked so much worse. First, though, let's see how good the Big 10 actually is.
The Average Big 10 Offense vs The Average NCAA Offense
What you see above is the average of all 11 Big 10 teams plotted against the average of every NCAA Division I team. As you can see, the Big 10 is above average in everything except for getting to the free throw line. So, the average offense in the Big 10 is better than the average NCAA offense. Bad news for Iowa.
The Average Big 10 Defense vs The Average NCAA Defense
Once again, the Big 10 is above average on defense in every category but one. Iowa, night in and night out, in conference play is going against way above average teams. So, how does Iowa compare to the rest of the Big 10?
Iowa's Offense Compared to the Average Big 10 Offense
First we'll see what Iowa looks like when you compare them to the NCAA average:
This is the version I put in every pre-game preview. Now, let's look at when you replace NCAA average with the Big 10 average:
Yeah. They look like a much worse offensive team.Their shooting drops from 1% below NCAA average to 7% below Big 10 average. Offensive rebounding drops from 8% above average to 4% above average. Free throw rate actually goes from below NCAA average to above Big 10 average, but that's because the Big 10, as a whole, is terrible at getting to the free throw line. Iowa's assist rate goes from NCAA average to 17% (!) below Big 10 average. Finally, Iowa's turnover problems are magnified in Big 10 play, as they go from 5% below NCAA average, to 16% below Big 10 average.
Iowa's Defense Compared to the Average Big 10 Defense
Once again, Iowa's defense compared to NCAA average:
Now, compared to Big 10 average:
Iowa goes from 1% below NCAA average at contesting shots to 4% below Big 10 average. Iowa's defensive rebounding drops from 4% above NCAA average to 3% below Big 10 average. Iowa's strength of keeping opponents off of the free throw line also takes a hit. It drops from 42% above NCAA average to 20% above Big 10 average, which is still good. Since the Big 10 was below average on allowing opponent assists, Iowa actually stays 11% below average in that category. Iowa's ability to force turnovers also hasn't changed much. It went from 11% above NCAA average to 10% above Big 10 average.
Obviously, the Big 10 is a very strong conference this year, which makes it even harder for a young rebuilding team like Iowa to compete. Iowa's offense looks a little worse than their defense when you compare them to the average Big 10 team instead of the average NCAA team. However, it seems to make Iowa look worse as a team overall. I'm going to have a post later on, looking at Iowa's numbers in non-conference play and in Big 10 play. I just wanted to show how strong the Big 10 is this year, and why Iowa will continue to struggle in conference play.