This marquee match-up of Men's soccer is coming pretty early in the conference season, and should be a significant factor in determining who wins the B1G Ten regular-season championship. PSU, you might remember, knocked out the Hoosiers in the first game they played in the conference tournament last season. The Nittany Lions so far look to be the Hoosiers' main competition in conference play, although I am still not counting out OSU. In any case, if you're faffing around the house right now in Bloomington, get over to Bill Armstrong stadium (7:30ET) to catch what should be a great game!
I've got a couple of notes on Indiana, & the pre-conference power poll and quick stats after the jump.Even though IU looks awesome in results, a closer peek at the numbers reveals some concerns. Simply put, Indiana has held up well defensively due to big saves from Soffner, but is just allowing too many shots overall and hasn't posted a signature win against a ranked team yet. Indiana looks like the favorite still, but a very vulnerable favorite. It's just hard to feel good about the two 0-0 ties against ranked teams, when the Hoosiers were dominated in the shot counts in both games. If you had told me at the start of this year that Soffner would have to make more than 10 more saves than his counterparts on the field, I would've expected some heavy losses to be in the cards.
The story of the conference from last year could be summarized as "top scorers move on" and indeed, everybody except last-place Wisconsin lost one of their leading scorers. I've crunched last season's stats a bit, but essentially IU was the best team in the conference despite due largely to controlling the shot & shot-on-goal counts. That advantage has basically dissipated in the pre-conference, which, you know, worries me.
Pre-Conference results Power Poll
(1) #9 Indiana 5-0-2
A couple of good ties, but posses no quality wins as they beaten up on less-than-stellar competition.
(2) #14 PSU 5-1-1
Also, not a lot of tough competition -although they're clearly B1G conference crown rival for IU, a loss to Stetson and tie to Hartford should call into question their consistency.
(3) OSU 4-3-1
The Buckeyes do have four wins, but also three loses. I expected them to allow more shots on goal than their opponents, but they've given up the second-highest amount of goals in the conference.
(4) NU 3-3-1
Newbie Chris Ritter is a nice pairing with Oliver Kupe offensively, and the Wildcats have been downright stingy defensively, allowing their foes less than 8 shots a game. Still, it seems like they should have more to show for it.
(5) UW 3-3-1
Coach John Trask's Badgers are looking improved statistically, if not quite at a point of winning consistently. The upcoming Marquette match should be very revealing.
(6) Michigan 2-6-1
I did see quite a bit of hype in the preseason (including top 25 rankings), but personally felt that Wolverines had lost too much to really reload despite their College Cup finish last year. And they are dangerous, but they're losing the close ones as you might expect from a young-ish team.
(7) MSU 1-5-1
The Spartans have been dangerous, staying in their matches due to their defense. I'm really surprised, actually, as they returned four double-digit scorers but have demonstrated essentially no offensive capability thus far.
Here's a quick and sloppy comparison of the preconference statistics. After goals and goals against, I list shots (all shots) and shots against per-game, and then the percentage of those shots that are actually on frame (i.e. requiring a save) are the next category. Then I list the total Save differential, in which the positive number isn't really a good thing. For example, Soffner has had to make 11 more saves than IU's opponent's goalies.
Goals GoalsA Sh/gm Sh.A/gm SOG% SOGA% Save Differential
IU 16 4 12.4 13.3 .483 .376 +11
UM 10 12 16.4 12.2 .321 .337 -11
MSU 6 7 16.5 8.7 .374 .500 -12
NU 7 5 10.9 7.9 .474 .400 -12
OSU 13 9 17.6 13.0 .305 .413 +4
PSU 10 3 14 8.7 .306 .393 -1
UW 11 11 11 14.7 .429 .340 +2