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Indiana Hoosiers v. North Carolina Central Eagles (preview).

North Carolina Central Eagles
Current record: 2-8 (indepedent)
Current RPI: 336
Current Sagarin: 341
Current Pomeroy: 330
2008-09 record:  4-27
2008-09 RPI: 335
2008-09 Sagarin: 344
2008-09 Pomeroy: 343
Pomeroy scouting report
Series:  First meeting
TV: 8:30 Saturday, Big Ten Network
Blog: n/a

IU last played against one of the best teams in the country.  After a week-long layoff for final exams, IU resumes play with a game against one of the very worst teams in Division I.  When reading the rankings listed above, keep in mind that there are 344 teams in Division I.  NCCU is in its third season of Division I play and is not a member of a conference.  The Eagles' only two wins this season have come against non-Division I teams, and the Eagles have only six wins against Division I competition since moving up.  NCCU has played some tough competition this season.  Already, the Eagles of lost to North Carolina by 47, Miami by 30, and Iowa by 10.  Yes, a team 10 points worse than Iowa!  Other than NCCU's most recent game, a 9-point home loss to Florida Gulf Coast, the Iowa game is the Eagles' closest against a Division I team.  Let's meet the Eagles:


Or, let's not.  NCCU is so far off the beaten path that I don't have a stats widget to insert.  Look here for stats.  The Eagles' leading scorer is junior college transfer CJ Wilkerson, who averages 15.5 points per game but shoots only 35 percent from the field.  Vincent Davis, the Eagles' #2 scorer, averages 12 points per game but shoots only 34 percent.  Wilkerson is fairly adept at getting to the line (7.1 attempts per game) and averages 3.9 assists per game (but nearly as many turnovers).

How do the Eagles, who average a fairly quick 71 possessions per game, look tempo-free?

The good:

  • Defensive turnover percentage.  The Eagles force turnovers on 23.5 percent of possessions, #55 nationally.  This warrants watching.  A related number is the steals percentage, 11.1 percent (#79).
  • Three point defense.  30.7 percent, #74 nationally.

The bad:

  • Effective field goal percentage, defense. 57.8 percent #337.
  • Two point field goal defense. Opponents are shooting an unspeakable 63.1 percent from inside the arc.
  • Offensive turnover percentage.  As good as this number is a defense, it's worse on offense.  The Eagles turn the ball over on 26 percent of their possessions, #336 nationally.
  • Two point offense.  NCCU shoots only 39 percent inside the arc. 

This is simply a bad, overmatched team, and nothing but a beatdown should be considered progress for Indiana. You might be wondering how a team with sub-300 ranking in both offensive and defensive efficiency managed to hang with Iowa?  Well, here's the box score.     Simply, the Eagles were much better than usual offensively.  They shot 44 percent from behind the arc, only turned the ball over 10 times in a 66 possession game, and held Iowa to 3-20 from behind the arc and forced the Hawkeyes into 17 turnovers.  In particular, IU should take the turnover issue seriously.  Although NCCU lost badly in both games, they forced Miami and UNC into turnover percentages of 30.3 and 26.3.  I'm guessing that the Eagles will sell out for the steal and overplay perimeter defense, hence their opponents' high turnovers, low 3 point shooting, but high two point shooting percentages.  We will find out tomorrow night.