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Fort Wayne at Indiana: game preview, stats, analysis, odds, how to watch, and more

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‘DONS COMIN’.

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NCAA Basketball: IUPU - Ft. Wayne at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Who? Indiana Hoosiers (6-5, #74 KenPom) vs. Fort Wayne Mastodons (7-5, #185 KenPom)

When? Monday, December 18 at 8:00 PM EST - BTN

Where? Assembly Hall, Bloomington, IN

Vegas? INDIANA -12

Pomeroy? Indiana 84-72, 85% chance of Indiana victory

_____________________________

I want to thank the scheduling gods for throwing this game on the Monday night following the Crossroads Classic. It’s just hidden right there in the schedule, I barely noticed it and it’s arguably part of my job volunteering gig to notice. As you may recall, the Hoosiers went up to the Fort just last season and left with an embarrassing L. By throwing this game on the Monday before Christmas, we only had one interceding NFL Sunday to build-up the game.

Which means I have been subjected to exactly zero screencaps / highlights from last season’s debacle. (cue a bevy of these in the comments, you predictable bastards)

Of course, you don’t need me to tell you last year has zero bearing on this year. Fort Wayne will trot out guys who scored 54 of their 71 last season while Indiana, uh, will not! Let’s remember some guys who played significant roles last year:

  • James Blackmon Jr.!
  • Thomas Bryant!
  • OG Anunoby!
  • Curtis Jones!
  • Tom Crean!

So what are the ‘Dons up to these days?

FOUR FACTORS

- eFG% TO% Off. Reb % FT Rate
- eFG% TO% Off. Reb % FT Rate
INDIANA (#65 adj. offense) 51.5% (145th) 18.6% (158rd) 35.1% (36th) 36.4% (110th)
PENN STATE (#16 adj. defense) 46.4% (32nd) 22.2% (35th) 26.6% (85th) 32.5% (155th)
-
PENN STATE (#82 adj. offense) 52.9% (96th) 18.8% (169th) 33.6% (60th) 33.7% (181st)
INDIANA (#151 adj. defense) 51.5% (206th) 19.5% (146th) 29.9% (218th) 31.1% (118th)

Well the numbers say they aren’t very good! #185 in KenPom doesn’t give you the most flattering contemporaries. You’re looking at teams like Colgate, Stony Brook, or Indiana State— ah.

The last time a similarly-measured state school wandered into Assembly Hall they completely ruined the Archie Miller debut party and now another one is coming in to try and ruin Christmas for all of us.

And they brought a Scott.

The reigning Bloomington terror lord is descending south of the wall yet again. Bryson Scott poured in a double-double last time he was on the court against Indiana and now he’s back, in what I ASSUME IS HIS TENTH DANG YEAR OF ELIGIBILITY to try to add yet another dominant performance against the Hoosiers to his mantle.

No one is using more possessions and no one is taking more shots than Scott is for the Dons. But, to-date, he’s only putting up an eFG% of 49.7%*, including 28.1%* from outside the arc.

*Just go ahead and double those numbers to get an idea of what to expect out of him tonight.

His struggles are not abnormal for the Dons, as they shoot just under 50% from 2PT range and 34.5% from 3PT range as a team, those are near-bottom-third figures, nationally. They also struggle to hold onto the ball and rarely find themselves at the free throw line. To their credit, they’re excellent rebounders, posting top-third figures on both ends of the floor. Center Xzavier Taylor and G/F John Konchar do a lot of the heavy lifting in that department, and both offer fine size for their positions (6-9 and 6-5, respectively).

Konchar is the Dons most well-rounded player, as he complements his rebounding with 42.3% 3PT shooting, a 19.9% assist rate, and a 4.3% steal rate, all good for national ranks. He also leads the team in minutes and offensive rating. Should I go on? He poured in 15/11/5 against Indiana last year. The kid is extremely good. I’m running a search on Ancestry.com to find out how distant of a cousin he is to Bryson Scott.

There are a lot of glaring deficiencies in their defense, however. They force a lot of turnovers and rebound well, unfortunately they let shots in at a torrid pace and have a nasty habit of sending guys to the foul line. Based on the fact that their average defensive possession is a mere 16 seconds (64th nationally) it’s rather obvious that the defensive philosophy basically revolves around gambling on steals a lot. Which is great when you get the ball and disastrous when you don’t.

THREE THINGS

  • SLOW DOWN FELLAS: Jon Coffman has his guys playing at an absolutely blistering pace, as the Dons’ tempo is 28th nationally. They’ve played eight games with at least 77 possessions already this season (Indiana has played zero). Expect them to speed the game up and try to get Indiana out of their comfort zone. The Dons are fine going up and down the court all night, and we know the Hoosiers of not-all-that-long-ago would be, but is this version of Indiana ready for a track meet?
  • Letdown Game? Now that Indiana has tasted a little bit of actual success after several moral victories, how will they handle themselves? I wouldn’t expect a team to get too full of themselves after going 6-5 to start the season, but an emotional comeback, overtime victory a week before Christmas can certainly lead to some depressurized kids heading into the year’s homestretch. It helps that the team’s starters, by and large, know that Fort Wayne has the goods to make another upset happen and I’m sure no one on this team has forgotten what happened the last time a mid-major Indiana school came into Assembly Hall.
  • Defend. The. Arc. Fort Wayne does not let their poor shooting percentages deter them, as they fire at will from downtown. They’re 28th nationally in 3PA/FGA despite hitting less than 35% of them. If they are given a split second of time and a few inches of space, the shot is going up. Indiana has struggled to run guys off the line all year and the prolific shooting of their opponents from distance is becoming a regular occurrence. Hot three-point shooting leads to upsets, period.