Friday, February 12, 2010

Checking the stats

A disturbing statistic I found: In Big Ten play the Hoosiers are scoring 61.7 points per game, nearly seven points below their season average of 68.6 points per game. And probably more of a concern, IU is allowing more points per game in conference play. The Hoosiers are giving up an average of 70.3 points per game to Big Ten opponents, an increase over the season average of 69.6 points per game.

The scoring difference in Big Ten play mostly has come in the second half. IU was outscored by 73 points in those 11 games, while in the first half, the scoring difference was 24.

The Hoosiers' field goal percentage is 39.5 in Big Ten play, which is essentially tied for worst in the conference with Iowa. That wouldn't bother me very much, except that IU is allowing opponents to shoot 45.2 percent.

I think these numbers will improve soon. But I don't think it will happen Saturday at Wisconsin or Tuesday versus Michigan State. There may be two games left where the Hoosiers have a fighting chance: at Iowa and at home against Northwestern. If not, we'll be hoping for a surprise in the Big Ten tournament.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Better results coming tonight

Based on recent history this season, the Hoosiers are expected to put up a much better game against Ohio State tonight. It may not lead to a win, but I think the team will take another step forward.

After a clunker at Michigan in January, a 24-point loss, the Hoosiers won two in a row, over Minnesota and Penn State. After a 15-point home loss to Iowa, a game they were expected to win, the Hoosiers lost by a combined five points to Illinois on the road and Purdue at home.

The 17-point loss at Northwestern on Sunday was another clunker, another byproduct of a young team trying to improve while playing a tough Big Ten schedule. The Hoosiers shot a meager 35.3 percent for the game, including 32 percent in the second half. Their three-point shooting percentage was just under 12 percent.

Northwestern, on the other hand, had a fantastic day, shooting 52 percent for the game, including 59 percent in the first half. The Wildcats shot 40 percent from behind the arc, making six three-pointers in the first half. The Hoosiers made two threes the entire game.

The defense simply was not there, but this team will not back down. It faces another tough task tonight. The Buckeyes (18-6) are ranked 13th in the AP poll and 16th in the ESPN poll and haven't lost a conference game since Jan. 9. The Hoosiers will have to start strong to stay in it. I don't see them coming back from a 15-point deficit in the second half. If they can grab an early lead or keep it close into the second half, they may have a chance.

Tip-off is early, 6:30 p.m., on Big Ten Network. Here's hoping tonight brings win number 10.