Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Tough One Tonight

That's what the Wisconsin men's basketball team will have on their hands when they play Indiana tonight in Madison. Not only does Indiana feature a sure lottery pick in Eric Gordon, and a probably first round draft pick in DJ White, and boast the highest scoring offense in the league, but they also measure up well statistically, according to Basketball Prospectus.

The Badgers have been the darlings of BP's ratings all season, consistently in the top ten. Indiana is currently rated 11th, while les Badgers are 7th. While that sounds positive, the last two teams Wisconsin played that are currently rated in the top fifteen are Marquette and Duke, and we know what happened in those two games. Looking a little deeper, the hype about Eric Gordon and DJ White is deserved. They are both pretty efficient offensive players who have the ball a lot. Gordon is great at drawing fouls and is shooting 40% from outside and White is a beast on the glass and a fine shot blocker. Expect him to block Landry or Butch at least once tonight. They're complimented well by Indiana's version of Joe Krabbenhoft, Jamarcus Ellis, who plays a ton, rebounds, assists and grabs steals, by Lance Stemler, who doesn't shoot much but makes it count when he does and doesn't turn the ball over, and by Armon Bassett, who has attempted 67 threes this season, and only missed 30.

Plus, Indiana's D is ranked in the top 10 by BP. Again, looking a little deeper, they're kind of like UW. They make opposing teams take tough shots, and they don't give up offensive rebounds.

Indiana's main visible weakness is that they're not that big. White is their tallest guy at 6'9". UW has Butch, Stiemer and Leuer, all of whom are 6'10" or taller. Of course, that was basically the same situation UW had with Duke, and that didn't pan out so well. But still, that seemed to be behind Indiana's recent home loss to UConn-- UConn's two big starting forwards (both 6'9") dominated the glass, and apparently forced a fair amount of tough shots. In fact, the Hoosiers only made 12 of 42 two point attempts. The game was kept close by torrid outside shooting-- IU made 55% of their threes. Still, the Badgers are better at defending twos than threes, and UW's big men are likely not as mobile as the tall trees UConn trots out.

As far as match-ups, I don't know if I like anyone UW has on Gordon or White, individually. Maybe Stiemsma on White, but he may foul too much. Butch plays better position-wise, but he's not as strong or athletic. Gordon is too big and strong for Flowers, but will probably be able to go around Krabby or over Hughes. Defending the Hoosier stars will probably be a team affair. And that scares me, because several other guys (notably Stemler and Bassett) are excellent long-range shooters.

So while I think I'd pick Indiana on a neutral floor, with the homecourt, I think this will be a close one. UW's upperclassmen may recall their tough loss at Indiana last season. Maybe they'll be thinking about the pro scouts that are undoubtedly following White and Gordon around. Younger guys will be wanting to make their mark. ESPN is showing this one, so there'll be a fair amount of eyes watching. Both teams will be looking to rebound from tough, close losses. Contested down to the final minute, I say.


Randy Moss said...

"Armon Bassett, who has attempted 67 threes this season, and only missed 30."

that should be bohannon.

Mr.Man said...

I wish. I think Bohannon's shooting something like 35%. Not bad, but not great. Then again, with White and Gordon drawing so much attention, Bassett likely gets better looks.