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Saturday, February 26, 2005
 
Iowa 78, Penn State 56
Wow, Penn State is bad. That's no surprise to you if you follow the Big Ten, but today was the first time I actually saw them play, and it was not pretty. The Hawks took advantage of poor Penn State passing, turning steals into easy fast break points. Iowa ran out to an early lead and had a 27 point advantage by half time. They led by as much as 31 in the second half and were able to give big minutes to a handful of guys who rarely play.

Let's get a few numbers out of the way -
Stats Glossary

Iowa - 61 FGA - 9 Oreb + 12 TO + 0.4 x 11 FTA = 68.4 poss.
PSU - 51 FGA - 10 Oreb + 16 TO + 0.4 x 20 TO = 64 poss.
Average = about 66 poss.
IA off rtg = 78 / 66 x 100 = 118
IA def rtg = 56 / 66 x 100 = 85

What amazes me is that, despite hitting nearly half their threes and scoring numerous easy layups and dunks, Iowa's offensive rating was still lower than what Illinois is averaging for the Big Ten season (122 through last weekend). Truly an impressive season by the Illini.

Game Notes

Random Stuff


 
Next Up - Penn State
This blog was a lot more fun to maintain when Iowa was actually winning a few games. Watching Iowa and Alford continue to repeat mistakes we've seen throughout the conference season (giving Hansen enough PT for Hagen to accumulate 11 offensive rebounds, anyone?) in their game at Minnesota bugged me enough to sit out a couple days. Maybe you can say I was following the old "if you can't say anything nice. . ." maxim.

But I think my losing-induced sabbatical is at an end, so I should have a post up later today about Iowa's quest for it's first road win of the season.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
 
Hawks Land Verbal Commitment
Hawkeye Nation reports that Nathan Skinner verbally committed to next year's basketball team. Read about him here (I'd advise against clicking the link if you enjoy good grammar and spelling), including this favorable comparison -
For the season Skinner is averaging 26 points and just over 10 boards an outing
for his 30-6 squad. He has a solid stroke from beyond the arc and is an
excellent slasher and driver who hits over 80% from the free throw line. He
reminds me of current Minnesota wing Vincent Grier in high school.
The report mentions that Skinner attended the Iowa-Illinois game last weekend. I hope the atmosphere from that game wasn't a major factor in his decision, as he'll likely be playing most of next season in front of 3-5,000 empty seats.

Seriously though, he sounds like a pretty exciting player, as the article praises his jumping and dunking ability and his overall athleticism.
 
Next Up - Minnesota
Iowa (16-9, 4-8) at Minnesota (17-9, 7-6)
Wednesday, 7:05 pm Central

Stats Roundup
- conference games only
- conference rank in parentheses
- Stats Glossary
....................................Iowa.................Minnesota
Offensive Rtg...........102 (8).................95 (9)
Defensive Rtg...........102 (5)................96 (1)
Pace - Poss/G...........63.2 (3)..............65.5 (1)
adj FG%....................0.486 (9).........0.457 (10)
Opp. adj FG%..........0.483 (4)..........0.476 (3)
TO / poss.................0.223 (7)..........0.245 (10)
Opp. TO/poss.........0.226 (4)...........0.241 (3)
O Reb Rate..............0.335 (5)...........0.326 (6)
Opp. O Reb Rate.....0.317 (6)...........0.287 (3)
FTA / FGA................0.395 (4)...........0.408 (2)
Opp. FTA/FGA.........0.436 (11).........0.338 (5)
Pomeroy Rtg.................26......................45

Iowa heads up North for the first of four straight must-win games. Winning the rest of their regular season games would leave Iowa at 20-9 overall and 8-8 in the conference, with enough quality non-conference wins to hopefully win over the selection committee. Lose any of the next three, though, and the resulting 7-9 record in the less-than-stellar Big Ten doesn't look very impressive.

Fans hoping for an aesthetically enjoyable game tomorrow might be disappointed, as these teams are both near the bottom of the league in adjFG% and rather turnover-prone. Each team rates as better than average in defense, too, so entertaining basketball could be unlikely.

That proved to be the case the last time these two teams played, when Iowa won 66-60. The Hawkeyes and Gophers combined for a 39% adfFG% in that one, as well as 34 turnovers.

Individual Breakdown
Minnesota
Player.................................MPG........Floor%........Off Rtg......%Poss
Vincent Grier.......................36.8..........0.494.............101..........27.1%
Jeff Hagen...........................27.1..........0.532.............108...........25.0%
Dan Coleman......................23.3..........0.421...............92...........19.9%
Aaron Robinson..................34.5..........0.358...............93...........14.1%
Rico Tucker........................17.1...........0.325...............75...........23.0%
Brent Lawson.....................31.6..........0.419...............98............11.7%
J'son Stamper....................16.9...........0.479...............95...........19.4%
Spencer Tollackson...........12.6...........0.374...............76...........18.5%

Iowa
Player.................................MPG........Floor%........Off Rtg......%Poss
Greg Brunner.....................34.3.........0.550..............115.........24.2%
Adam Haluska....................30.1.........0.502..............115.........21.1%
Jeff Horner..........................37.8.........0.425..............102.........19.7%
Erek Hansen.......................17.6.........0.432................89.........10.7%
Doug Thomas.....................16.6.........0.521..............103.........16.0%
Mike Henderson.................19.8.........0.317.................65.........15.7%
Carlton Reed......................13.5.........0.382................88..........14.0%
Alex Thompson..................10.1.........0.482..............100..........13.1%

Minnesota's Vincent Grier is second in the Big Ten in scoring in conference games at 17.6 ppg. Pierre Pierce held him to 6 points and only 1 made field goal last time, which was Grier's only conference game under 10 points. This time around, Adam Haluska will have primary responsibility for guarding Grier. Haluska showed some solid defense in holding Illinois's Luther Head to just 7 points on 1-7 shooting last weekend. If he can shut down Grier, Iowa shouldn't have much to worry about from the rest of Minnesota's backcourt (unlike Illinois).

Stopping Jeff Hagen will be another concern for Iowa's defense. They've struggled with talented post players all season, and Hagen went for 15 and 12 last time, including a dominating 6 offensive rebounds. With Erek Hansen and Doug Thomas hacking every chance they get, and with Hagen getting the ball as often as he does, don't be surprised for Seth Gorney to pick up a few minutes. At 7-0, 245 lbs, he comes closest of any Hawkeye to matching Hagen's 270-pound frame.

The schedule looks favorable if Iowa can get past Minnesota. Winnable road games remain with bottom-feeders Penn State and Michigan, as well as a home game against Ohio State.
Monday, February 21, 2005
 
Applying the Pythagorean Theorem
If you've read many baseball blogs over the past few years, you're likely familiar with Bill James's Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball. He created a formula that compares a team's runs scored to runs allowed that produces a fairly accurate prediction of that team's win-loss record. It's a simple formula based on a simple assumption - the greater the gap between a team's runs scored and its runs allowed, the more games you would expect them to win.

The same idea translates well to basketball. A team that scores 70 ppg while allowing 60 ppg should win more often than one that scores 65 ppg and allows 60 ppg. Ken Pomeroy provides a good explanation of the formula, since I'm rushing through the details to get to the results.

The formula looks like this -

Expected Winning Percentage = Points Scored^10 / (Points Scored^10 + Points Allowed^10)

Then you multiply the team's expected winning percentage by its games played to see how often they're expected to win and lose.

Let's see how accurate it is by looking at last year's final Big Ten standings.

TeamPts ForPts AllExp W%Exp WExp LAct WAct LDiff
Illinois1115979.78612.63.4133+0.4
Michigan St11411041.71411.44.6124+0.6
Wisconsin1093916.85413.72.3124-1.7
Iowa11361113.5518.87.297+0.2
Michigan10761046.5709.16.988-1.1
Northwestern966979.4677.58.588+0.5
Indiana10281065.4136.69.479+0.4
Purdue979981.4957.98.179-0.9
Ohio State10151109.2924.711.3610+1.3
Minnesota10661169.2844.611.4313-1.6
Penn State8931110.1021.614.4313+1.4

The projections resemble the final standings fairly well - most teams finished within a win and a half of their expected win total. Teams that finish far from their projection are usually termed "lucky" or "unlucky" because of their performance in close games. Penn State, for example, was typically an easy victory for opponents, but had more wins than expected by sneaking in 2 wins of three points or less.

Another explanation for wide differences between wins and expected wins is blowout wins and losses. A win by 30 is the same as a win by 3 in the standings, but a blowout win will inflate a team's expected winning percentage. This partly explains Wisconsin's underperformance, as they won six games by at least 15 points.

Let's see how this year's group is shaping up, as sorted by expected winning percentage.

TeamPts ForPts AllExp W%Exp WExp LAct WAct LDiff
Illinois983806.87911.41.6130+1.6
Michigan St873732.85310.21.8102-0.2
Wisconsin815760.6688.04.0840.0
Ohio State850812.6128.05.076-1.0
Iowa808810.4945.96.148-1.9
Minnesota811820.4726.16.976+0.9
Indiana752761.4705.66.475+1.4
Purdue783803.4375.26.839-2.2
Northwestern735782.3504.27.857+0.8
Michigan737878.1481.911.1310+1.1
Penn State694877.0881.110.9111-0.1

Iowa has clearly been the Big Ten's tough luck loser this year (or just a plain disappointment, depending on your perspective), with five losses by five points or less. Their other three losses were somewhat "expected," as they came to teams above them on this list. Given that they've scored just about as many points as they've allowed, you'd expect them to be right at .500.

I was surprised to see Purdue so far below their projection, but beating Michigan and Penn State by a combined 56 points helped close their gap between points scored and allowed.

This Wednesday's game between Iowa and Minnesota should be one worth watching. Each has essentially performed like a .500 team in the conference (based on points scored and allowed), and each will be playing with no margin for error in order to keep their tournament hopes alive (as noted in today's Sunday-NY Times-length read from the Big Ten Wonk).


Sunday, February 20, 2005
 
Updated Conference Stats
The rankings lists for team stats in Big Ten games is ready. Check it out here. It's current through this weekend's games, including today's Indiana-Michigan game.

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