Sunday, February 10, 2008

Preview: Indiana vs. Ohio State

The Hoosiers take their 4-1 Big Ten road record to Ohio State today, looking to keep pace and pull back with a half game of conference leaders Purdue. Amazingly (at least to me), Purdue managed to win at Wisconsin last night to run their record to 10-1.  But that's not the point right now. The point is to look at today's game between Indiana and Ohio State.

When the Buckeyes Have the Ball

The Ohio State offense is ranked pretty highly, 57th overall, and that's based on being jacks of all offensive trades, masters of none. Their biggest strength lies in hitting two point shots, while their biggest weaknesses are in hitting threes and getting to the free throw line.

That sets up a clash with the strength of the Hoosier D, which is quite adept at defending 2's (29th in the country). Also, the Hoosiers defend the three pretty well, and don't send their opponents to the foul line much.

When the Hoosiers Have the Ball

Indiana finds itself once again facing an excellent defense, as the Ohio State D is ranked 13th overall.  What the Buckeyes excel at is keeping the ball from going through the hoop. They rank 16th in the country in 3 point percentage D, and 20th in the country at 2 point percentage D. One could argue (much like I have for Indiana) that their defensive efficiency is a bit propped up because their opponents only hit 64% of their free throws (good for 8th nationally), which is nearly as good as Indiana's free throw defense. However, I'm not sure that's not the result of good choices when it comes to fouls. It may not matter what the cause is, though, because no team in the land does a better job at keeping their opponents off the line than the Buckeyes.  That's right, Ohio State's D is first in the nation in defensive free throw rate.  Weakness-wise, OSU doesn't force many turnovers (which may feed the fact that their opponents don't make many shots), and they don't block out very well on D, ranking 240th in the country in defensive rebounding.

What does that mean for Indiana? It means that two the main drivers of Indiana's O are in for a tough day. Those drivers are their 2 point offense and getting to the free throw line.  If the Buckeyes are their normal stingy selves on D, Indiana could possibly counter some of that by doing good work on the offensive glass. A lot of O rebounds for DJ White, Jamarcus Ellis, and -- dare I say -- Kyle Taber could be the key to this game for the Hoosiers O. 


The kenpom ratings suggest that Ohio State will win 66-64 in 67 possessions, giving the Hoosiers a 42% chance of pulling out a victory. Those things sound about right to me.  I would be pretty surprised if the Hoosiers managed to win this game after the emotional double OT game on Thursday night. If they can do it, though, they'll look pretty good heading into a tough 3-game home stand against the other three conference leaders.

No comments: