GAME INFO / HOW TO WATCH:
Who? St. John's Red Storm (3-1, #175 KenPom) v. Indiana Hoosiers (3-1, #18 KenPom)
When? 2:00 PM, ESPN2
Vegas? INDIANA -18.5
Pomeroy? INDIANA by 13, 88% chance of Indiana victory
So yesterday sucked.
Somewhere along the line, this blog got a reputation for cheerleading and / or carrying the water for the basketball program. I imagine it's because we don't tweet / write "GAH FIRE TOM CREAN I AM MAD ONLINE" every time the team loses. But let me be perfectly clear: this amateur sports blog that you're reading free of charge will never ever carry water for the basketball program.
(We will, however, carry water for the football team. #EXTENDKEVINWILSON)
Yesterday's loss was inexcusable for a team that is allegedly going to contend for a Big Ten title. I'm not going to sit here and say "well actually Wake Forest might be pretty good." Wake Forest is, in all likelihood, not going anywhere this year; but Indiana allowed them to repeatedly penetrate and score point blank baskets throughout the majority of the game. That's a defensive failure at all levels, and it cost Indiana the opportunity to play someone worthwhile out in Maui. A trip that could have included games against Vanderbilt (#15 KenPom) and Kansas (#5 KenPom) will now, at best, be games against St. John's (#175) and UNLV (#104), with an outside possibility of the third game being against Division II Chaminade.
That's the real loss here. Yes, Indiana will have to wear this loss all the way through Selection Sunday, but teams lose weird-ass games in November all the time. By losing this particular weird-ass game, Indiana lost the opportunity to show how it stacks up against the top teams in the country. They'll get two more chances on the road against Duke and in a "neutral" game against Notre Dame, but will otherwise have to wait until the conference season gets rolling to show if the learned anything from yesterday.
A lot of times, you write off early season losses by top teams because you know they're working the kinks out and will be a well-oiled machine by the time the games really count. But for Indiana, well, when was the last time the Indiana Hoosiers played better at the end of the year than they played at the start?
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#3 Adj. Offense)||62.0% (5th)||22.8% (310th)||39.8% (29th)||26.3% (318th)|
|ST. JOHN'S (#96 Adj. Defense)||44.6% (80th)||17.3% (215th)||32.2% (200th)||28.9% (49th)|
|INDIANA (#66 Adj. Defense)||49.4% (175th)||23.4% (31st)||28.0% (119th)||25.5% (28th)|
|ST. JOHN'S (#243 Adj. Offense)||44.8% (262nd)||19.8% (232nd)||25.7% (264th)||39.8% (160th)
As their overall ranking indicates, there isn't a great deal St. John's does well. They've excelled at keeping people off the free throw line, but (just like Indiana) that's probably more of an indication of guys running uncontested to the rim than solid, fundamental defense. St. John's does a decent shot of blocking shots and forcing misses from 2PT range but that's completely undone by their inability to guard the perimeter (248th in 3PT defense) nor force turnovers.
And despite the bit of good that can be said about their defense, which is a top-100 unit overall, their offense is abysmal. They can't score from anywhere, with below-average percentages from both sides of the arc and the charity stripe. They turn the ball over almost as much as the Hoosiers do, and can't rebound their own misses. When you struggle to put the ball in the hoop, you can't afford to give possessions away or fail to secure additional possessions but the Red Storm do both.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
- What kind of team shows up today? Indiana can't reverse yesterday's outcome, the only thing they can do is go out and throttle St. John's. Vanderbilt beat these guys 92-55 yesterday, and a similar result for the Hoosiers would be an encouraging thing to see. I think today will tell us a lot about this team. Can they show the kind of effort and pride that was missing from yesterday's game? They'll be playing today's game at 9 AM local time, will we see a top notch effort on both ends?
- Thomas Bryant remains a work in progress. A lot of people declared Thomas Bryant to have "arrived" after his sensational performance against Creighton, but yesterday served as a reminder that Bryant will be up and down throughout the year as he learns the college game. He was running a step or two behind the game for much of the day yesterday and Wake Forest noticed, choosing to go right at him for their final few possessions. With Indiana hurting for depth at the 5, Bryant's maturation will likely be the single-most important factor for this team moving forward.
- Bill Walton's commentating. I, for one, am a big fan of him saying ridiculous stuff during the broadcast. Color commentary for college basketball is about as predictable as it gets, so if the dude wants to get weird with it on a Tuesday afternoon in Hawaii, I'm more than fine with it. Also, it seems to be a lightning rod for debate so I want to see some scorching hot commentary takes in the comments.