IU’s defensive problems this season have been on the interior. Our 2-point field goals allowed percentage is very pedestrian, but at least for most of the season, our three point defense was the best in the Big Ten. Gonzaga, despite the aforementioned loss of Josh Heytvelt to the devil ‘shrooms, is still pretty tall, with two 6-9 guys in the starting lineup. The Zags leading scorer is Derek Raivio, who averages 18.2 points on only 12 shots per game. As the Wonk has noted, the Bulldogs don’t shoot three pointers often, but they shoot them well. Raivio is the most frequent long bomber for the ‘Zags. He shoots 6.6 threes a game and makes 41 percent. Other than the departed Heytvelt, Gonzaga has only one other double digit scorer, point guard Jeremy Pargo, who averages 12.2 points a game on 8.4 shots per game. This article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer notes the production increases of 6-6 David Pendergraft, 6-8 Micah Downs, and 6-9 Abdulli Kuso since Heytvelt’s suspension. Pendergraft and Downs have doubled their points per game since then, which makes a look at Gonzaga’s season stats a bit misleading. For programs that play in major conferences, the latter two thirds of the season tend to be a more reliable indicator of a team’s quality because of better competition and more uniform competition as compared to other major conference teams. For Gonzaga, it’s a bit different. The Bulldogs play the bulk of their high quality opponents in the non-conference season to offset the comparatively weaker WCC schedule. Accordingly, it is tough to give as much weight to those players’ increased production as it would be if they had done so with a more "conventional" major program.
I don't have any parting thoughts of any significance in this, my last post before IU begins (and possibly ends) its 2007 NCAA Tournament appearance. By the numbers, by seed, by the Vegas odds, IU is a narrow but decided favorite. The Hoosiers should win, but a Gonzaga win would not be a momentous upset. As of noon today, the ESPN Bracket Challenge entrants favored Gonazaga by about a 55/45 margin. I love picking against the trendy upset. I don't expect great things from IU in this tournament, and I will be quite surprised if I am writing a preview this time next week, but winning an NCAA Tournament game would be a nice step and a nice reward for team and coach after a promising first season. Let's go Hoosiers.