Big Ten Begins! Power poll, stats
Conference play 2007 finally kicks off with a great match-up tonight, the Hoosiers at the Buckeyes. It's gonna be tough for IU, but they've played well on the road so far, but just not really winning any games. If I were Kelvin Sampson, I'd probably take the air out of the ball, slowing it down to decrease the amount of possessions to try to stay close and then make a run at the end. Not turning the ball over will be very important, as the Buckeyes have a great transition attack. Also, I'd probably play man-to-man, but double Oden at every opportunity, trying to make the Buckeye freshmen pass as much as possible, and hope it leads to some miscues.
Also, my latest HPer/possession calculations indicate that Xavier Keeling (.4742) is second only to DJ White (.4899) in production per possession. Keeling had a great game against Ball State, but we'll see if he can bring it against tougher competition. Earl Calloway (.4197), Rod Wilmont (.3860), and Joey Shaw (.3255) round out the top five, but I'd still probably go with a starting five of DJ, Stemler (.2751), Wilmont, Calloway, and Bassett (.3054) due to Buckeye's trapping defense. I'd also look for Suhr (.1698, 11th on the team) to get some time due to his calming influence on the team.
Good luck, Hoosiers!
Final pre-conference power poll!
1. Wisconsin (14-1)
They just win. The most consistent team, the deepest team, the best player (Alando Tucker) and the best coach. Pretty simple pick it would seem except for...
2. Ohio State (11-2)
The most talented team, for sure, but freshmen inconsistency will probably wreck their Big Ten title hopes. Also, figuring out how to compete on the road, not that Florida isn't a really great team (they are), but the Buckeyes didn't challenge at all.
3. Michigan State (13-2)
Haven't been tested lately, and they need Raymar Morgan and Maurice Joseph back and playing at their best if the Sparties are to hope for a top three finish.
4. Indiana (9-3)
If IU can pull an upset tonight at OSU, they might just be on a title track. A forgiving schedule, if there is such a thing in the Big Ten, will help IU through the conference.
5. Illinois (12-3)
Not great, but getting better. As McBride, Smith, and Randle get back into playing shape, they'll get better and better.
6. Purdue (11-3)
Still fighting for a NCAA spot, but their hopes took a big hit when they got stomped by Indiana State. The road could be pretty ugly for Matt Painter's squad.
7. Northwestern (10-3)
Bill Carmody can coach, and Kevin Coble is a pretty good player. I wasn't sure if NU would get to 10 wins the entire season, but now they've got a decent shot at the NIT.
8. Michigan (12-3)
Every bit as bad as I thought they were. Tommy Amaker has got to go, how he outlasted Dan Monson and Mike Davis, I'll never know.
9. Iowa (8-6)
Not gonna scare anyone, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them beat Michigan State. Really, the difference between teams #3-#10 I don't see being bigger than homecourt advantage.
10. Penn State (9-4)
Good wins over Maine and VMI, but still haven't proved that they're back at last year's level.
11. Minnesota (6-8)
Small turnaround since Dan Monson left, but a long year awaits.
Some pre-conference stats for tonight's game:
0.87 opp. pts/pspg
0.91 opp. pts/pspg