I finally caved and bought a yearlong subscription to Ken Pomeroy's genius college basketball website, www.kenpom.com. It's possible I may have mentioned this advanced stats site to some of you before.
So in order to make my $19.99 pay for itself, it's about damn time to get back to AMATEUR SPORTSWRITING! Wahoo! (You can call it a comeback when I manage to stick to a writing schedule for more than one day.)
It also helps that the Big Ten is having the most exciting men's college hoops season I can remember, and that Indiana is back in the mix. Here's the plan. I'm going to try to write an article at least once per off-day (Saturday, Monday, Thursday), focusing mostly on this incredibly awesome basketball season, and of course the Hoosiers, Northwestern Wildcats, the Big Ten, and maybe even the Bulls in particular.
Enough jibber jabber. I'm shakin' the rust off, baby. Indiana gets Wisconsin at the Kohl Center tonight at 9, which means it's Yogi's Time (gunning for a corporate sponsorship by March...). Here's a little preview. Inside the Hall does a better job of these things than me, by the way, and you can check them out at their FREE site. Take that, peegs.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Oladipo's defense on Jordan Taylor. Taylor killed us last year - courtesy ITH's Justin Albers, "the Wisconsin guard ruined two upset attempts by scoring a combined 67 points in two meetings last season." If he goes off again, we're in some trouble. However, Victor has had to guard Bo Spencer and Tim Frazier now in the last two games, who happen to be the conference's other undersized do-everything guards.
If he's learned anything from the last two games, and can hold Taylor to under or around twenty, that's huge. 'Dipo doesn't need to force a lot of turnovers, just contest every shot and not foul much.
2. Cody Zeller needs to get Jared Berggren in foul trouble. Jared who? Berggren was a godawful reserve last year (think Capobianco level bad) but has turned into a solid scorer and inside presence as a junior. He's also the Badgers' only player over 6'6 other than freshman Frank Kaminsky. (That, by the way, is a CLASSIC Wisconsin name right there.)
I don't really need to spell this out. Do like Dicky V says and get Cody the damn ball. Wisco plays good team defense, but Cody can score at will over just about anybody smaller than him, and I think he can own Flat Top Ryan Evans and/or Bruesewitz in the paint if Berggren goes out and leaves them shorthanded.
3. Wake up Christian Watford on offense. Wat's been rebounding well, but not scoring like he's capable of doing. I think IU needs to get to around seventy points to win this game, and we need Christian to get at least 12-14 to get there. Now would be a great time to break out of this little mini-slump and get your name headed toward's people's All-Big Ten lists, buddy. I would say that you can't live off the Kentucky shot forever, but.... well, you can totally live off that shot forever. Please don't.
This is a pretty good Wisconsin team but I think with our superior size and scoring punch we match up surprisingly well. The Badgers are allowing the lowest 3pt percentage of any B10 team and the fifth lowest in the country at 26.4% (thanks, Pomeroy!). Is it the Kohl Center rims? Because if it's not, we may just mess that stat up for them pretty badly tonight.
Indiana 72 - Wisco 66
Michigan vs. Michigan State last week was one of the best games I've seen all year, thanks to ESPN3 for televising (computering?) it and a great job by the ESPN crew catching Denard Robinson in the student section partying his ass off and having a blast like the star quarterback at a major state university ought to be doing. Oh, and supporting his fellow student-athletes, of course.
Draymond Green is my favorite non-Indiana player in the Big Ten. I love his attitude, I love watching him play. His court demeanor reminds me of DJ White as a senior. This is a Very Good Thing. It's been cool watching him grow into a leader at Michigan State. By the way, that braces picture? That's the #1 image result for "Draymond Green" on Google. Hah.
Northwestern, at 12-7 and having gotten shellacked by Minnesota, is probably looking at the NIT now. Hey, as long as they go to the NIT Final Four, I'm happy. This is Not Such a Good Thing.
Kenpom has this cool thing now where you can see a player's profile year by year, and also guys that have had similar stats throughout the years the site has been up. Will Sheehey's #1 parallel? This year's edition of UNC's Harrison Barnes. I know Barnes hasn't been quite as good as hyped, but he's still been The Guy for the #8 team in the country. That's pretty cool.
By the way, UNC vs. NC State starts at 7, and I'm goanna go watch it. Zeller double feature! (I stole that line). Also an important game for Indiana's NC SOS (that's non-conference strength of schedule).
Matt Roth's #1 parallel, by the way? '11 Jon Diebler. That's almost as good as Sheehey's. It's great to see Roth playing well as a senior.
Thanks for reading and I hope to have a lot more for you as the year goes on. Much love. Go Hoosiers!