Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 29, 2016 at 5:00 PM
Though it was understood that the Big 10 was going to have several good teams this season, NOBODY expected the Indiana Hoosiers to have a two-game lead on the field heading into the final week! Indiana is currently 13-3 in Big 10 play…enjoying some distance over a four-way tie for second place that includes Iowa, Michigan State, Maryland, and strong-finishing Wisconsin all at 11-5.
Obviously a win tonight would clinch an outright regular season championship. Indiana would still be at only three losses with one game left. But, Iowa will certainly be breathing fire for this one. The Hawkeyes know it’s a must-win game…AND are coming off a Sunday loss to Ohio State…AND have REVENGE from an earlier season meeting! (Note that Indiana finishes the regular season this weekend at home against Maryland, which is another toughie).
Let’s see that happened the first time around in Bloomington…
First Meeting: Indiana 85, Iowa 78
Two-Point Shooting: Iowa 49%, Indiana 53%
Three-Pointers: Iowa 7/18, Indiana 9/25
Free Throws: Iowa 13/23, Indiana 18/21
Rebounds Iowa 35, Indiana 39
Turnovers: Iowa 9, Indiana 11
Phantom Score: Iowa 79, Indiana 79
A dead heat in our “Phantom Score” stat, which is two-point scoring plus rebounding (a helpful “secondary” score for handicappers. Indiana was a little bit better in most stats…but that “little bit” could largely be from home court advantage rather than a meaningful talent difference. Flip the three-point shooting and you flip the result. Same thing with free throw makes. So, Iowa can clear get the win here and stay alive for a shot at a co-title.
Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats (using the publicly available “adjusted” efficiency stats from kenpom.com) have to say about the matchup…
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Indiana: 118.5 per 100 possessions (#7 in the nation)
Iowa: 116.3 per 100 possessions (#16 in the nation)
Both teams are very good on offense, exploiting a quick but not out of control pace. You’ll see in a moment that defense is going to be the Achilles heel for both in the tournaments. You can count on exciting basketball from these two teams. And, they’ll be capable of taking out anybody in a 40-minute dash. Can they survive a poor-shooting game? Or, running into a smart opponent that works for good shots? This category is probably a wash after you factor in home court advantage.
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Indiana: 98.3 per 100 possessions (#67 in the nation)
Iowa: 96.4 per 100 possessions (#42 in the nation)
These are okay numbers for the full national landscape, but weak numbers once you’re talking about elites in the Dance. We usually say that for teams even in the 30’s in rankings. So, Iowa’s vulnerable and Indiana is very unlikely to run the table unless they stay hot for a month. In terms of Tuesday night’s rematch…the stage is set for a real thriller. Excellent offenses matched up against defenses who won’t fare well vs. excellent offenses! An edge to Iowa is likely helped by home court.
Indiana is the slightly slower of the two….which may matter late if the game slows down near the finish. All told, probably a replay of the first meeting in terms of pace and intensity, with three-pointers and free throws likely determining who wins and covers. A great way for viewers to start this very exciting month!
Against the Spread
Nothing to write home about, but nothing to be embarrassed about either. The market has been in the neighborhood for both overall. Very tough for any team to string together a bunch of covers in such a competitive conference…particularly when all the powers are so expensive vs. the cellar dwellers.
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More great basketball coming up this week in the NOTEBOOK…
Wednesday-Thursday: California at Arizona Thursday in the Pac 12
Friday-Saturday: North Carolina at Duke in the ACC (long awaited rematch!)
Sunday: SMU at Cincinnati in the AAC (last day of the regular season!)
Monday: Conference Championship Previews (Colonial, Metro-Atlantic)
Very important games in the Pac 12, ACC, and ACC to finish the regular season…with SMU actually finishing their regular season because they’re ineligible for postseason play! Keep riding the NETWORK gravy train down THE ROAD TO MARCH MADNESS. Hook up today with JIM HURLEY!
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