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The ugly story from Pomeroy, and other midterm thoughts.

IU opens the Big Ten season in Iowa City Saturday afternoon. Since this is a good breaking point, it seems worthwhile to see where the Hoosiers stand.

First, here is where IU’s Pomeroy scouting report stands at the conclusion of IU’s nonconference schedule. Sorry for the formatting. Column one is offense, column two is defense.

Raw Efficiency : 87.3 (309) 99.4 (155)
Adj Efficiency : 90.8 (284) 95.2 ( 89)
Effective FG% : 46.8 (240) 51.5 (260)
Turnover Pct. : 28.9 (342) 25.1 ( 30)
Off. Rebound% : 32.9 (190) 35.7 (248)
Free Throw Rate: 25.3 (148) 31.3 ( 82)
3-Point FG% : 28.6 (304) 33.5 (159)
2-Point FG% : 48.8 (145) 52.1 (293)
Free Throw Pct.: 65.6 (244) 65.1 ( 64)
Block Pct. : 14.5 (340) 6.8 (240)
Steal Pct. : 15.0 (343) 11.7 ( 70)
3PA/FGA : 34.5 (132) 30.2 ( 76)
A/FGM : 57.1 (106) 53.0 (133)

For reference, there are 344 schools in Division I. The D-I rank is in parentheses next to the stat. IU’s pace is at 69.1 possessions per game, faster than usual. A few observations:
  • This is truly a horrid team offensively. IU averages only .87 points per possession, near the bottom of D-I. IU turns the ball over more and has the ball stolen more than all but a couple of teams in the country. IU has lots of its shot attempts blocked. With 344 teams, that means that a ranking below 300 places a team in the bottom 13 percent of D-I teams. IU ranks below the 300 line in five of the 13 statistics tracked by Pomeroy.
  • The offensive stat line is not completely without merit. IU is slightly above average in two point field goal percentage (thank you, Tom Pritchard), is #106 in assists per field goal made, and is in the middle of the pack in offensive rebounding. Really, though, there isn’t much good to say about this team offensively.
  • On the defensive side, there are some positives. IU’s defensive efficiency numbers are pretty good despite less than overwhelming field goal defense. As poor as IU’s offensive turnover numbers are, the defensive turnover numbers are very good. IU forces turnovers on 25.1 percent of possessions, #30 nationally, and steals the ball on 11.7 percent of possessions, #70 nationally.
As for individuals:
  • Devan Dumes now leads IU in scoring with 13.6 points per game. He is shooting 52 percent from two point range but only 28 percent from behind the arc. Still, he has improved recently: he is shooting 37.4 percent from behind the arc in the last five games, and that includes a 1-8 performance against Kentucky.
  • Tom Pritchard, averaging 12.9 per game, is shooting 57 percent from the field, but only 60 percent from the line. He is IU’s only inside scoring threat, and so it will be interesting to see how effective he is during the Big Ten season.
  • Nick Williams, Verdell Jones, and Malik Story all have struggled to consistently contribute.
  • Kyle Taber, considering how thin IU is up front, is playing a surprisingly slim 20 minutes per game. According to Hoosier Scoop, Tom Crean had some surprisingly harsh words for Taber in his weekly radio show, suggesting Taber should be doing more to get his teammates in the gym to work on their own. I think Crean may be forgetting that while nominally IU’s lone senior leader, at this time a year ago Taber had spent his entire career as practice fodder.
  • Daniel Moore leads the team with 4.2 assists, and his turnover numbers have been steadily declining over the last few games (declining in the good way).
  • I expect Matt Roth to be a key contributor as his career continues, but it’s not surprising that a three point specialist would struggle to find shots under these circumstances. IU’s offense presents few tough decisions for opposing defenses.
So, there we are. As some of you may know, Pomeroy, in addition to logging a huge variety of stats, uses those stats to project records. Pomeroy currently projects IU to finish 7-24 (he doesn’t count the Chaminade game, I do) and 1-17 in the Big Ten. He also projects the individual game outcomes. While he does predict that IU will win a game, he doesn’t give IU better than a 22 percent chance of winning any particular game. According to Pomeroy’s model, IU’s best chances are: Penn State at home (22 percent); Wisconsin at home (14 percent); Michigan at home (13 percent); Iowa at home (12 percent); Minnesota at home (11 percent); and Michigan State at home (10 percent). All other games rate a less than tenpercent chance of victory. I don’t completely buy Pomeroy’s numbers this year. It will be an odd year indeed if Northwestern finishes several games ahead of MSU and Wisconsin. Still, the raw numbers suggest a very difficult season ahead.

The Northwestern story may be worth watching. Pomeroy currently projects Northwestern at 20-9, 11-7. If that happens, NU almost certainly will earn its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. We should know fairly early if the Wildcats are for real. After this afternoon’s game at Penn State, NU plays MSU at home, at Wisconsin, and Purdue at home. If the Wildcats start 3-1, look out. Given IU’s current status, I think NU may be my on-the-side rooting interest this year.

Well, this most unusual season moves to the next stage this weekend. I think I'm going to be prediction-free and will just let it play out.