Current record: 7-1
Current RPI: 35
Current Sagarin: 29
Current Pomeroy: 27
2008-09 record: 31-5 (15-3), lost to Villanova in regional final
2008-09 RPI: 2
2008-09 Sagarin: 3
2008-09 Pomeroy: 5
Pomeroy scouting report
Series: Pittsburgh leads 4-3
TV: 9 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN
The Hoosiers haven't played since losing to Maryland last Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and IU's participation in made-for-TV events continues as IU plays Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic. IU last played in the Jimmy V Classic 10 years ago, when the event still was played across the Hudson at the Meadowlands. On December 21, 1999, early in Bob Knight's last season, IU beat North Carolina 82-73. AJ Guyton scored 31 points for IU that night and freshman Jeff Newton added 11 on 5-7 shooting. IU again will be relying on freshmen tomorrow night against Pitt.
Pitt leads the all-time series 4-3, but only one of those games, a 74-52 loss to the Panthers in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, is within the memory of most readers of this site. The other 6 meetings occurred before 1942. The Panthers, under the leadership of former coach Ben Howland and current coach Jamie Dixon, have been one of this decade's most surprising success stories. Before 2002, the Panthers had won only 8 NCAA Tournament games in their history and had not qualified for the Tournament since 1993. From 2002 to present, Pitt has qualified for the Tournament every year and has won 13 tournament games. Pitt has never been to the Final Four, and has never come closer than last season. The Panthers lost a heartbreaking East Regional final to conference rival Villanova after spending nearly the entire season ranked in the top 5 and three weeks ranked #1 in the AP poll, the first time in program history the Panthers had held the top spot.
Of course, the 2009-10 Panthers bear little resemblance to last year's team. Here are last season's stats, and this year's are below:
All five of the Panthers' leading scorers for 2008-09 are gone (ignore those Chase Adams stats in the Yahoo link above: Adams is a transfer from Centenary who is eligible to play immediately because Centenary dropped to Division III). Of the current Panthers, only Gary McGhee started a game last season (and he only started one). A quick look at the raw numbers leads to the conclusion that the Panthers' style differs from the fast pace that Tom Crean is implementing at Indiana. Pitt, even in the best years, has been a relatively slow-paced team, but this year's team, which ranks #328 in Division I with 62.6 possessions per game, is extreme even by Pitt standards. The Panther defense has been stifling, holding opponents to .87 points per possession. On a tempo free basis, the Panthers rank #5 in defensive rebounding, limiting opponents to an offensive rebound percentage of 24.1. The Panthers field goal defense doesn't overwhelm, but the offensive rebounding and the low free throw rate by opponents are the most impressive defensive stats for Pitt.
On the offensive side, Pitt continues to be a fairly interior-dominated team. The Panthers draw fouls and get to the line (they rank #37 in free throw rate) and shoot over 50 percent from two point range. The main offensive difference between this team and the excellent Pitt teams of recent years is in the Panthers' pedestrian offensive rebounding numbers. This year, Pitt is in the middle of the pack with a 34 percent OR percentage, after finishing #2 in the nation with 42 percent last year. By far, the best statistical news for IU is in the turnover category: the Panthers aren't particularly good at taking care of the ball and don't force many turnovers. For all of IU's weaknesses, the Hoosiers are #40 in the nation in defensive turnover percentage (25%).
The Panthers' stats are above, but one player to watch is Gary McGhee. McGhee, from Anderson Highland, can make an impression against his home stat team.
I really don't know what to expect from this game Certainly, Pitt is not nearly as inexperienced as IU, but the Panthers starting lineup has turned over completely. Pitt is 7-1 and, unlike IU, has been good enough to handle lower-tier teams. Other than a blowout loss to Texas and a double overtime win over Duquesne the Panthers have won all of their games by double figures. I never thought I would think this of IU basketball, but I won't believe we're capable of beating a decent or better team from a major conference until it actually happens. Here are the up-to date IU stats. Pitt is inexperienced, but three of IU's five leading scorers are freshmen. Brett Finkelmeier is the only Hoosier who played a game for IU before November 2008. It's tougher than anyone imagined, but hopefully something can begin tomorrow night.
|Verdell Jones III||7||28.0||4.4||12.0||36.9||0.4||1.7||25.0||2.1||3.7||57.7||1.1||2.9||4.0||3.1||2.1||1.4||0.3||1.6||11.4|