Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday With the Ocho

Caught three good games online today, thanks to ESPN3 ("The Ocho"). West Virginia-Syracuse from the Carrier Dome, followed by Freddy Hoiberg's Iowa State Cyclones upsetting Kansas in Ames, and then back home to the Big Ten for Purdue-Northwestern. Here's a few thoughts on each before I preview the Indiana-Iowa matchup tomorrow and maybe write about some other stuff.

West Virginia - Syracuse

The ending of this game was extremely controversial, as officials missed what appeared to be a clear goaltending call that would have tied the score with five seconds to play. After further examination... yep, that was definitely a goaltend. 'Cuse escapes.

The Mountaineers have always been one of those programs that I have a random soft spot for, since the days of the legendary Kevin Pittsnogle, back when John Beilein was coaching there instead of at Michigan. This year's team looks pretty good.

Senior forward Kevin Jones is a beast and will be in the POY conversation for the entire country (Pomeroy has him ranked at #9 overall right now). Truck Bryant is a streaky but entertaining point guard. So I like those guys. I think West Virginia's Euro guy with the beard needs to learn how to pass the ball in the post.

Big win for 'Cuse at home. That's a deep team. Are they title contenders? Of course. Do I think they're goanna win? Not really. Too reliant on that 2-3 zone, and no superstar, though Dion Waiters comes close.

Iowa State - Kansas

Ames, Iowa is upset city! The kids stormed the court after the Cyclones beat Kansas today. Iowa State has been getting a lot of attention on recently, with profiles on Fred Hoiberg and his rebuilding job as well as a puff piece on Minnesota transfer Royce White (I shouldn't hate, it's actually a pretty good read if you can stand the cheese.)

White is a star, no doubt, and this team looks well coached and well balanced. They made some serious clutch plays today and solidified their tournament resume.

Kansas doesn't have a whole lot to worry about from the loss. Iowa State is a good team, and they were at home with a raucous crowd. Tyshawn Taylor and POY frontrunner Thomas Robinson are still enough for Kansas to make a deep tourney run.

Scouting report extra: I think one HUGE factor in this game was Kansas center Jeff Withey sitting with foul trouble late. Iowa State may have provided the rest of the Big 12 (uhhh.. Big... how many teams do they have now?) with something of a blueprint.

Purdue - Northwestern

Robbie Hummel hit a leaner with eight seconds left that provided the margin in a typical low-scoring Big Ten nailbiter. Huge shot for him. Isn't his back supposed to have blown out by this point in the season?

On the other end, Northwestern couldn't get a clean shot off as John Shurna bricked a three at the buzzer that was reminiscent of the Bracey Wright era at IU - thirty feet deep, off glass, nowhere close. Oops.

Northwestern desperately needs to start winning some conference games. Purdue, like West Virginia and Iowa State, looks to be in decent shape for an at-large bid. Northwestern needs more players. I'm pretty sure they're going with a seven-man rotation, and that's just not goanna get it done. Luka Mirkovic, Jer'shon Cobb, where are you guys?

Previewing Indiana-Iowa

Let's keep this short and sweet. Iowa has not sucked too badly this year. They have already beaten Wisconsin and Minnesota on the road, and Michigan at home. Indiana must not overlook this team.

The Hawkeyes' weakness is their defense. Indiana is at their best when they score the ball. They managed to score 70+ points on some of the best defenses in the nation in Kentucky and Ohio State earlier this season, so you know they have firepower. It's time to rediscover it.

Our team defense isn't bad, but this is an Indiana team that should be scoring a lot of points every single game. If Iowa's weak sauce D (Pomeroy has them rated 183rd in the country) causes the Hoosiers any trouble tomorrow, we're in for a looooong second half of the season in Bloomington. Just make some shots and run away from the Hawks.

Like the Penn State game last week, this is an absolute must win for Crean, Cody, and the rest of the Hoosiers.


The Bears hired a new GM in Phil Emery. He was the clubhouse favorite to get the job. I'm not covering the NFL until March Madness is over, dammit. Noffke?

The Bulls got a huge game out of Derrick Rose and beat Milwaukee to move to 17-5 on the season. This team is just grinding in a tough year for the entire NBA. The playoffs are going to be nuts. I'm expecting injuries to play a huge role in who goes deep - the favorites are the Bulls, Heat, and Thunder, but with games almost every day, staying healthy seems like a crapshoot.

Indiana-Wisconsin was decided, in my mind, by Cody Zeller's foul-plagued evening. It's too bad he didn't do better, because his brother Tyler put up 21pts/17rebs as UNC smacked NC State in the mouth Thursday. Woulda been cool to have a double Zeller showcase. T. Zeller and John Henson are a terrifying frontcourt if you're a smaller team. I'm pencilling them into the Elite Eight, at least.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Don't Call It a Comeback (Please)

I finally caved and bought a yearlong subscription to Ken Pomeroy's genius college basketball website, 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.


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

Random Notes:

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!