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Game Preview: Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils

Basketball season is beginning! Let's talk bouncyhoops!

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports


Who? Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (0-0, #347 KenPom) at Indiana Hoosiers (0-0, #26 KenPom)

When? 7:00 PM, Big Ten Network

Vegas? INDIANA -27.5

Pomeroy? INDIANA by 28, 99% chance of victory


... who?

Yes, I know, the first of a parade of cupcakes that will come through Assembly Hall this year. MVSU gets the advantage of being the first one, so we'll all be excited regardless. The first handful of these blowouts are always enjoyable because it's actual orangeball that counts! Unfortunately, because of the opponent and the lack of statistical goodness, this will be more of a skeleton format preview that will get meatier as we get more information about ourselves and our opponents.

Indiana will, of course, be without Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, and Emmitt Holt due to suspensions; along with Devin Davis as he recovers from his tragic injuries. Much like with the exhibition games before this, the lack of depth in the frontcourt won't be as obvious against what will still be an overmatched Delta Devils squad. MVSU only has three players over 6'6", two of which are community college transfers and the other one coming off a season in which he played 57 minutes.

We typically don't know a whole lot about these cupcakes and we know a whole lot less about this one than usual, as MVSU did not retain their head coach from last season, Chico Potts. Regardless, new coach Andre Payne is likely to lean heavily on his guards all season long out of necessity. Indiana will likely have the better backcourt in most games they play this year, so any matchup with a team that lacks the ability to punish them up front is a favorable one for the Hoosiers.

The Four Factors:

Basketball "advanced metrics" are actually a lot more accessible than football, at least in my opinion. For starters, their only four, and it's probably stats you've heard of, or, at the very least, can figure out what they relate to. They are:

  • Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%): just like FG% except each made three pointer counts 50% more.
  • Turnover Percentage (TO%): this probably explains itself. What percentage of the team's total possessions ended in a turnover?
  • Offensive Rebounding Percentage (OR%): how many ORs did the team get based on the opportunities to get them (OR / OR + Opponent DR)
  • Free Throw Rate (FTRate): measures your ability to get to the line, divide free throw attempts by field goal attempts.
What isn't as cut-and-dry, however, is how to weight each factor. You'll recall that Bill Connelly weights the Five Factors for college football (Efficiency 25%, Explosion 35%, etc.) but I'll let Ken Pomeroy explain how it works for college basketball:
In the NBA, eFG% is easily the most important factor, followed by TO%, OR%, and FTRate. A "RoboScout"-type analysis of games from the 2005 season shows that the importance of each factor is similar in college, with free throw rate being slightly more important in the college game, but still taking a back seat to offensive rebounding. Each team is different though. For instance, Gonzaga’s free throw rate was the second most important contributor to their offensive success. For Michigan State, offensive rebounding ranked second.

There realy isn't a way to do a Four Factors preview with no data available, and the previews will be a little screwy during non-conference as there will be wild variance between opponents. For example, it'll be tough to get a true comparison of Minnesota (playing Louisville) to the Hoosiers until they play a few more games of similar level, as the Four Factors numbers are not opponent-adjusted. KenPom's overall efficiency ratings are, but this raw data is not.

That said, the Hoosiers are probably going to win the majority of these factors by a large margin. For as down on the Hoosiers as some are, they aren't suddenly facing a realistic chance of getting beaten by the Delta Devils.

So there's an idea of what we'll be digging into as the season progresses to give you a preview of what kind of game you'll be watching.

Three Things to Watch For:

  • Can we push the pace without losing the ball? Turnovers haunted this team all last season and they didn't look vastly improved in that department through two exhibition games. Since Indiana will likely be playing with three (or four) guards the majority of this season, you would hope to see some better ball-handling than has been exhibited through the first eighty minutes of the season. These Hoosiers like to run and that can give them an edge when they are able to dictate the pace, but throwing the ball out of bounds in an effort to get it down the floor isn't dictating the pace, it's actively destroying opportunities to score points.
  • Can Hanner Mosquera-Perea build on a decent exhibition season? We know this team will likely go as Hanner goes, and his season-long evaluation of whether or not he can be a reliable 5 for the Hoosiers officially begins tomorrow. I discussed how I thought his ability to play with two fouls for the majority of the last exhibition game was a big step forward, now it's time to do it when it really matters.
  • Can we assist one another? Without a bona fide, proven scoring option down low for the first time in three years, great ball movement will be even more crucial for the Hoosiers. And, unlike last year, Yogi Ferrell has some legitimate options to swing the ball to on his drives. Crisp passing leads to open shots (and will also help with the turnover issues), and this isn't breaking any news to anyone, but we weren't very good at that last year. Yogi is a natural distributor and with a wealth of shooters on the roster, it'd be nice to see some big assists numbers right out of the gate.