Western Carolina Catamounts
Current Record: 3-5
Southern Conference record: 0-2
Current RPI: 313
Current Sagarin: 279
2006-07 record: 9-20
2006-07 RPI: 244
2006-07 Sagarin: 253
Series: First meeting
If IU fans have any memory of Western Carolina, it's because in 1996, the Catamounts came painfully close to pulling off the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament, losing 73-61 as a #16 seed to top seed Purdue. I found an interesting New York Times article about that game that was written during last season's NCAA Tournament. WCU's head coach in that game is not a junior high coach. His top assistant that day? Current Ohio State coach Thad Matta. It's worth a read.
WCU hasn't sniffed the NCAA since then, certainly not last year, when the Catamounts finished 9-20. This season, WCU has been more competitive that the record would suggest, never losing by more than 10. WCU lost by only two to Cincinnati and beat Bowling Green. Still, this is another low-major patsy for the Hoosiers, and hopefully will go better than the game against IU's last such opponent, Tennessee State.
WCU looks to be a fairly inefficient offensive team. Of its four leading scorers, all shoot less than 47 percent from the field and two less than 40. Nick Aldridge leads the way with 18.8 points per game and Blake Galagher (who shoots 70 percent from the field on about 4 attempts per game) is the leading rebounder. WCU scored only .982 points per possession (#202 nationally) and allows one point per possession defensively. The Catamounts take care of the ball well (they turn the ball over 20 percent of the time, #80 nationally) and rebound well offensively (37.9 percent, #55 nationally). They also rebound well defensively, ranking #60 nationally. If only the Catamounts could shoot or get to the free throw line, they would have something.