Hindsight Review: 2012-13 Big Ten Predictions

April 24, 2013
Hindsight Review: 2012-13 Big Ten Preseason Predictions

Note: All teams except for Minnesota are discussed below. A separate article on the Gophers is available at this link.

We looked back at our 2012-13 Big Ten preseason team previews with the objective of helping us to continue to improve. Some of these notes are ‘internal jottings’ more than anything else, but some readers may find them interesting or entertaining (for example, our projection of Oto Osenieks dramatically improving his 3FG% in 2012-13).

At the beginning of the year and again on the first day of Big Ten conference play we said that there were six teams that looked like NCAA tournament teams (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Ohio St. & Wisconsin) and two that looked like potential tourney teams (Illinois and Iowa). We didn’t believe the bottom four had a chance.

We noted Ohio St., Michigan St. and Indiana as the top three in the Big Ten and that there was a narrow margin between the three. As things turned out, Indiana won the conference title outright with Ohio St. and Michigan St. tied for second.

Our picks for #4 and #5 in the Big Ten, Wisconsin and Michigan, tied for 4th with Wisconsin winning the tiebreaker for Big Ten tournament seeding purposes.

Minnesota and Illinois both made the tournament with 8-10 conference records, while Iowa fell short despite a 9-9 conference mark.

The other four conference teams had losing records (both in conference and overall).

Notes: Excerpts of preseason previews are indicated by “blue quotes”. More about “Value Add” can be found at www.valueaddbasketball.com and Breitbart Sports. Many of the efficiency statistics referred to in this article are from KenPom.com.

Indiana (Big Ten 1st place finisher)

We disagreed with consensus pick of Indiana as the nation’s best team going into the season. Specifically, we stated that while the Hoosiers could contend for a Big Ten title we didn’t consider them contenders for a national championship. In addition we predicted that although they would be ranked No. 1 in final months of the season, Indiana would be pushed out of the top spot by the end of the regular season.

“The Hoosiers should have an excellent season, but we cannot rationalize them as being the best in the country……Indiana will be entertaining to watch and they can certainly contend for the Big Ten title. However, concerns……are too much for us to consider them contenders for a national championship.”

The schedule set up well for them and things played out much like we expected. The Hoosiers were ranked No. 1 up until the end of the regular season where multiple losses added up and they fell to No. 3.

“Their schedule lends itself to high expectations continuing for much of the year. After a weak non-conference portion, the season heads into conference play where Indiana’s four most difficult road games are all on the back half of the conference calendar……Indiana will lose road games during the last month of the regular season, pushing them away from the top spot in the polls at year end.”

We were impressed with road wins against some of the Big Ten’s best, capped off with a dramatic 72-71 victory at Michigan. The late season performance on the road resulted them in doing just a bit better than we projected.

“Cody Zeller is absolutely legit, but he has a difficult comparable to deal with after a great freshman year.  As a sophomore he’ll showcase an expanded game and be even more fun to watch. However, we project his offensive rating will decline a bit. His total value to the team should improve some, but he won’t provide nearly the same incremental boost as last season.”

As projected Zeller’s Total Value Add improved slightly, but his offensive rating declined (119.4 ORtg vs. 126.8; Usage of 26.6% vs. 24.3%).

“The 3-pointer wasn’t used a lot, but it did provide a big boost to the team’s overall shooting because of their incredible accuracy from deep. We do not project the Hoosiers shooting as well from distance in 2012-13.”

Indiana’s 3FG% did drop nearly three full percentage points, but 40.3% (down from 43.1% in 2011-12) is still excellent. Their shooting in Big Ten games was very impressive.

Relative to Value Add projections…

Watford and Sheehey performed favorably to projections.
Zeller was down a bit as his offensive Value Add didn’t measure up to projections.
Oladipo was off-the-map great.
Freshmen Perea, Hollowell and to lesser extent, Ferrell, were all below projected Value Add.

Of the above, Oladipo was the only one that caught us by surprise.

Ohio State (T-2nd, #2 in B1G tourney)

We picked the Buckeyes to win the conference by a narrow margin over Indiana and Michigan State.

“Even if Ohio State’s offense is down slightly from a year ago, we believe they have a strong enough defense to win the conference.”

The Buckeyes lost a couple of close road games (at Michigan State by 3 and at Michigan by 2 in overtime), but ended the season strong. After winning their last five regular season games, Ohio State won the Big Ten tournament and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.

Ohio State’s defense ranked just inside of the top ten nationally and their offense wasn’t far behind, but they both could have been a bit better.

There were several players who were candidates to take steps forward as a reliable and consistent second scorer, but they never really did. Lenzelle Smith (9.2 ppg), LaQuinton Ross (8.3 ppg) and Sam Thompson (7.8 ppg) each scored 20 points or more in a game, but the consistency wasn’t there.

This meant more weight on the shoulders of Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft. One result was lower shooting percentages for both of them.

“He’s (Craft) been very efficient and shot well (55.0% eFG), although his tendency has been to defer. We believe he’s more than capable of scoring the ball efficiently at a higher usage and as a junior still has room to reduce his turnover percentage.”

Craft’s usage rose from 16.8% to 19.3% and his %Shots jumped from 12.9% to 17.7%, partly reflecting the lack of a consistent number two scoring threat. He did reduce his turnover percentage considerably (from 23.8% to 18.2%), but Craft often struggled shooting the ball.

As a sophomore whose main function on offense was to facilitate and distribute the basketball, Craft shot 55.0% eFG including 55% 2FG and 36% 3FG. In 2012-13 he had to step up his scoring and his eFG% dropped down to 46.1% (47% 2FG & 30% 3FG).

“If Thomas can draw more contact by taking ball inside and improves his long distance shooting, he might be an even greater offensive contributor than Cody Zeller at Indiana.”

Deshaun Thomas’ Offensive Value Add was slightly higher than Cody Zeller’s in 2012-13, but not because of Deshaun’s shooting. Thomas saw his eFG% go from an impressive 57.4% in 2011-12 down to 50.7% this season. His 3FG% remained flat year over year, but his 2FG% fell from 60% to 50%.

Thomas was able to get to the line a bit more often (and his fouls drawn per 40 minutes rose to 4.3 from 3.4 a year earlier).

Relative to Value Add projections…
Aaron Craft underperformed both offensively and (to a lesser extent) defensively.
Deshaun Thomas’ Offensive Value Add didn’t reach projections
Shannon Scott excelled defensively (5.1% steal rate)
Not a huge contribution relative to other players, but Evan Ravenel put together a good year, beating out both his Offensive & Defensive Value Add projections.

Michigan State (T-2nd, #3 in B1G tourney)

We had the Spartans at #2 to begin the year while most others had them at #4 or worse.

“There is a fair amount of risk that this year’s team falls short of expectations and we think both the team’s offensive and defensive efficiency may be slightly down this year, but Tom Izzo’s track record is too strong to bet against.”

Both the offensive and defensive efficiencies were down, but Coach Izzo still had his team in the hunt for a Big Ten title late in the year. They lost three games in a row from February 19 to March 3, but finished tied in 2nd place with a 13-5 Big Ten record.

“The true freshman (Gary Harris) is an absolutely legit talent and will make an immediate impact.”

Harris was excellent despite playing through injuries. He averaged 12.9 points per game and shot 55.5% eFG, including 41.1% 3FG. His offensive rating of approximately 115 and %Shots of more than 24% were both the highest on the team.

By midseason others were adding his name to discussions of potential 2013 NBA lottery picks. Fortunately for Michigan State and college basketball fans in general, Harris says he will return for his sophomore year.

“Michigan State’s opponents last year shot only 29.9% 3FG overall and a stunning 27.5% 3FG in regular season conference games. We believe that MSU’s Big Ten 3FG percentage defense will rise at least 2.0%.”

One reason we projected MSU’s defensive efficiency weakening a bit was 3-point defense against Big Ten teams.  The comparable they were going against was simply too good. In 2012-13 their defensive 3FG% against Big Ten teams rose 2.4% to 29.9%.

“(re: Nix & Payne) …we’re not sure how often they can get their minutes together. Certain match ups will likely dictate that they’re not on the court together, but if they gel it’s a combination that can be scary good. Payne…Not a primary offense weapon last year, but he did convert 56.7% of his 2-point attempts and was used in about 20% of the team’s possessions while on the floor. Payne can face up and score away from the bucket.”

Nix and Payne on the floor together worked well at times and both had strong seasons. Late in the year Payne added 3-point attempts to his regular arsenal. For the season, he made 16/42 3FG for 38.1%.

Relative to Value Add projections…

Derrick Nix & Adreian Payne both posted better Value Adds than projected. We made upward adjustments on these two for our projections, but they did well even against those.
Branden Dawson’s Offensive Value Add was significantly lower than projected.

Wisconsin (T-4th, #4 in B1G tourney)

“We wouldn’t be shocked to see them fall past the fourth place spot this year with the recent ACL tear in Josh Gasser’s knee, but there are enough veterans available to Coach Ryan to keep them at No. 4 in our preseason projections.”

Even after Josh Gasser’s ACL tear in October we kept the Badgers at #4 ahead of Michigan and Minnesota. Bo Ryan manages to get his guys up into the top four in the conference standings every year.

“Berggren was an adequate rebounder, but has room to improve.”

Jared Berggren’s offensive rebounding percentage rose from 6.5% to 10.1% and his defensive rebounding improved from 15.3% to 18.1%.

“Bo Ryan isn’t afraid to redshirt players, even McDonald’s All-Americans, but Sam Dekker should get a chance to prove himself as a true freshman….he’s going to be a great player – maybe even as a true freshman. At a minimum, he’s a unique weapon and good all-around player that can help Wisconsin this season.”

Dekker put together a very good year (22.3 mpg, 9.6 ppg, nearly 117 ORtg, 57.9% eFG, 57.1% 2FG, 39.1% 3FG). He won’t be surprising anyone next season – if anyone didn’t realize how good he is prior to playing for the Badgers, they know now.

“Last year the Badgers were efficient with the ball, but left something to be desired with their relatively weak 2-point shooting. The achievable improvement they could see in their 2FG% could greatly offset the impact of star point guard Jordan Taylor’s graduation.”

Wisconsin’s 2FG% improved by 1.5% (48.0% vs. 46.5%).

“On defense they’ll be strong as usual, but should be concerned about their 3-point field goal defense, which likely will be worse than a year ago when they kept their opponents under 30% from deep.”

No sir. Wisconsin’s defensive 3FG% was even better in 2012-13, dropping to 28.9% compared to 29.4% in the prior year. (Their defensive 3FG% was 30.1% before their final two games of the year, but Ohio State and Ole Miss combined for 4/31 3FG shooting.)

Relative to Value Add projections…

Ben Brust was great, Ryan Evans (offensively) was not.

Michigan (T-4th, 5th in B1G tourney)

We picked Michigan as the 5th best team in the Big Ten at the beginning of the season and their play earned them the 5th seed in the Big Ten tourney. However this team was far better than we projected due to the play of Trey Burke and the freshmen class.

The contributions Coach Beilein got out of his freshmen were remarkable.

“By the second week of February we believe it’ll be evident that Michigan’s No. 5 in the nation preseason rankings was far too high.”

For the week of January 28 the AP had Michigan ranked #1. From Feb 2 – 12 the Wolverines went 1-3 with their only win by 2 points in an OT win vs. Ohio State. For the week of February 18, their AP ranking had slipped to #7. However, they were much better than we expected.

“More than 44% of Michigan’s field goal attempts came from 3-point range in 2011-12, but based on this year’s roster that figure is likely to be significantly lower.”

In 2012-13 this figure fell to approximately 34%.

“While it’s not unreasonable to expect progression as a sophomore, we believe most projections of Burke in 2012-13 are too generous….Burke was able to convert 49.0% of his 2-point attempts and 34.8% of his tries from behind the arc, both respectable but with room for improvement.”

Burke was sensational. Huge year. Absolutely amazing. Not only did his shooting percentages improve (50.6% 2FG, 38.4% 3FG and a 2.8% increase in eFG%), but his assist rate jumped and his turnover rate dropped.

“As a freshman, he (Hardaway) hit 36.7% 3FG but that figure dropped to 28.3% as a sophomore. Hardaway should have a better year from long range and it’s vital that he does.”

Hardaway made 38.4% of his 3-point field goal attempts.

Relative to Value Add projections…

Burke – greatly exceeded projections.
McGary – he had a very good year, but his Offensive Value Add was down from projections which we expected.
Nik Stauskas & Glenn Robinson – both destroyed their projected Offensive Value Add projections. Extremely impressive.

Iowa (6th place)

“Fran McCaffery has things headed in the right direction for Iowa and it’s possible that a year from now the Hawkeyes will be in the conversation of Big Ten championship contenders…Iowa projects to be scary good in 2013-14. Eric May is the only scholarship senior this year and transfer Jarrod Uthoff, a versatile 6’8” forward who played AAU with Oglesby, will be eligible.”

We thought Iowa had an outside chance at making the NCAA tournament, but would probably fall just short. However, we projected them as a team to watch in 2013-14.

Although they didn’t earn a trip to the NCAA tournament, the Hawkeyes did win 9 Big Ten games and extended their season into April and the NIT championship game.

“Iowa’s defense could not stop 2-point field goals last year and that remains a concern. Opponents frequently got to the rim for easy buckets and the Hawkeyes must improve defensively if they’re going to reach the NCAA tournament this year…. Certainly having big Adam Woodbury in the middle should help, but there are still significant concerns about Iowa’s defense.”

Iowa’s defense did better than we expected (unadjusted defensive efficiency rank of #37, KenPom adjusted rank of #22) and some of this can be attributed to a low defensive 3FG% of 29.5% (11th-best in the nation).

However, their 2FG% was also improved compared to 2011-12 (44.0% vs. 51.8%). Thanks to Woodbury, Basabe and Olaseni, the Hawkeyes block percentage rose to 12.6% from 9.3% and opponents attempted fewer shots near the rim.

Relative to Value Add projections…

Eric May wasn’t projected to contribute much of anything, but had a solid year. In his first three seasons his ORtg was never more than 94, but rose to 118 as a senior.
Not a surprise, but freshman center Adam Woodbury’s Offensive Value Add trailed his projection a bit.
Josh Oglesby was far under his Offensive Value Add projection (shot just 26.9% 3FG).

Purdue (T-7th, 7th seed in B1G tourney)

“Matt Painter’s eighth year as head coach at Purdue has the appearance of a program rebuilding. Perhaps “reloading” will prove to be a more appropriate description, but the 2012-13 season will present challenges for this squad.”

We were down on Purdue a bit more than others and didn’t see them as a team that could reach the NCAA tournament. Things started to come together for the Boilermakers as the season progressed. They won three of their last five regular season Big Ten games to go 8-10, but finished the season just 16-18 overall.

“The offensive efficiency of Purdue won’t come close to what they were able to do a year ago.”

Purdue’s offensive efficiency plummeted from 116.7 to 106.3.

“While the team’s defense can improve this year, it won’t be enough to offset the drop in offensive efficiency.”

Purdue’s defense efficiency improved from 97.1 to 94.4.

“Defense can improve – Matt Painter’s personnel and preparation in 2012-13 should result in a reduced eFG% and at least a moderate improvement in defensive efficiency.”

As noted above the Boilermakers improved their defensive efficiency by 2.7. Their defensive eFG% was significantly reduced from 49.9% a year ago to 45.5% in 2012-13.

“D.J. Byrd was remarkably efficient off the bench last season, knocking down 43.0% of his 3-point shots and rarely turning the ball over. On the other hand, his 2-point shooting has always been poor and his makes from behind the arc last year came off assists from teammates almost without exception

Byrd is a very good player and his energy and effort is appreciated, but we do not project his senior year to be magical. Look for a drop in efficiency here.”

Byrd’s ORtg fell from 123 to 109 despite a lower usage rate (20.6% to 17.4%). His turnover rate jumped from about 8% to more than 19% and his 3FG% dropped from 46.0% to 36.2%.

“Purdue limited their turnovers better than not only everyone else in the Big Ten, but better than any other team in the entire country. With the roster turnover, you can forget about them being tops in the nation. They can still be good at taking care of the ball, but they will not be nearly as good as they were in 2011-12.”

Purdue’s turnover rate went from 13.6% (1st in college basketball) a year ago to 19.0% (124th) in 2012-13.

“Painter’s teams at Purdue have never shot the deep ball as well as they did in 2011-12. Without shooting specialist Ryne Smith (86 3FGM; 43.2 3FG%) and Robbie Hummel (72 3FGM; 38.3 3FG%), not to mention assists coming from penetrating point guard Lewis Jackson, Purdue won’t be able to match the 284 makes and 37.7 3FG% of last year.”

The Boilermakers 145 made 3-point field goals were about half of last year’s 284. They shot just 32.0% 3FG.

Relative to Value Add projections…
Good year for A.J. Hammons.
Several players trailed their Value Add projections by a moderate amount including Anthony Johnson, Terone Johnson and Ronnie Johnson.

Illinois (T-7th; 8th seed in B1G tourney)

“The 2012-13 season isn’t a bad entry point for Groce. If he gets the right things out of the right guys, Illinois could be a solid team…Illinois returns several experienced players, including two senior guards and a number of talented sophomores ready to show their progression. We believe there are reasonable scenarios under which the Illini fight their way into the NCAA tournament this year.”

With a strong nonconference SOS and a couple of signature wins, the Illini made the NCAA tournament with an 8-10 conference record. Many dismissed their chances of being a tournament team before the season began, but a brief analysis should have told them Illinois had a good shot at dancing.

“(re: Brandon Paul) Better decision making as a senior could mean better shooting, fewer turnovers and inclusion in the discussion of first team all-conference players.”

Paul improved his shooting (from 46.5% eFG to 48.6% eFG) and lowered his turnover rate (from 22.5% to 17.7%). His offensive rating improved significantly to ~105 from ~95 and he was named to the All-conference 3rd team.

“The other senior on this year’s squad is 6’9” forward Tyler Griffey (4.9 ppg, 3.3rpg). He’s only made 27 3-pointers in his career and shot just 31.0% 3FG, but between his offensive rebounding and unproven scoring ability that we believe is there, Griffey could be a nice piece.”

In nonconference games Griffey made 28 3-points this season, converting on 42.4% of his attempts. However, in conference games the senior shot just 15/58 for 25.9%. For the year that adds up to 43 makes and 34.7% 3FG.

Griffey averaged 7.2 points per game, a decent increase from 4.9 as a junior. His offensive rebounding slipped in 2012-13, partly due to sophomore Nnanna Egwu and graduate transfer Sam McLaurin.

“3-point field goal shooting: Things can’t get much worse.“

We noted there was good news coming in 2012-13: The Illini’s offensive and defensive 3FG% would both be better than 2011-12 because they were coming off such a bad year.

The team started off hot from 3-point range and this caused many in the national media to change their stance from “Illinois doesn’t’ belong in the conversation of potential tournament teams” to “I’m on the Illini bandwagon!” within a matter of weeks.

Before the January 9 game between Minnesota and Illinois we commented that the Illini continued to look more like a bubble team (as they did before the season began) than their #12 national ranking.

Part of this was due to their excellent 3-point shooting in nonconference play. It wasn’t going to last.

For the year Illinois shot 32.1% 3FG (up from 30.4% in 2011-12) and allowed 34.2% 3FG (down from 37.9%). However, their performance in regular season conference games wasn’t nearly as good as all other contests (3FG% offense: 36.7% nonconf, 29.4% conf; 3FG% defense: 32.8% nonconf, 35.8% conf).

Relative to Value Add projections…

Both Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson exceed their Value Add projections by a considerable margin.
Tyler Griffey and Joe Bertrand had nice seasons compared to Value Add projections.
Mike Shaw didn’t see much PT and as a result, trailed his projection.

Nebraska (10th place)

“This season will be painful for Nebraska, but as long as there are some beneficial growing pains mixed in with the pure frustration of another year in the cellar, new head coach Tim Miles will find things to build on in the future.”

Penn State and Northwestern both lost key players to injury. Their loss was Nebraska gain as the Huskers went 3-0 against those two teams and won a total of 5 Big Ten games. That was good enough for a 10th place finish.

“ (on Brandon Ubel) Lots of room to increase his usage and I think he can still be a highly efficient offensive player who shoots for a good percentage even with a big boost to his workload.”

Ubel’s usage shot up from 14% to 22% and he kept a respectable eFG% of 49.1% (down from 53.5% his junior year). His ORtg of 104 was down considerably from the prior year, but that mark and his Offensive Value Add were both the best on the team by far.

Relative to Value Add projections…

Not much expected, not much delivered.
Andre Almeida’s defensive impact wasn’t as significant as projected (blocks down, fouls up)…

Northwestern (11
th place)

“The Wildcats’ offense has been their strength for the past four years, but an issue for head coach Bill Carmody will be finding a number two guy on the attack…Meanwhile, there are prospects of a better year defensively and on the boards thanks in large part to transfers into the program…Northwestern has a nice mixture of experience and youth, but the questions that exist are too significant to expect this to be the year that the Cats finally go dancing.”

Drew Crawford decided to end the season after 10 games and have shoulder surgery. If he (and several other Wildcats) had been healthy all year, Northwestern would have done better than 4-14 in the Big Ten, but it still wasn’t going to be a great year even with him.

They did improve defensively, but as expected (and made more dramatic due to Crawford’s injury) their offense took a bit fall. The ‘Cats were still poor on both sides of the glass, but slightly improved on the defensive boards.

“He (point guard Dave Sobolewski) averaged more than 35 minutes per game and posted an offensive rating of approximately 111, while keeping his turnover percentage under 17%. His shooting percentage left room for improvement, but we’re hesitant to expect a meaningful rise in his Value Add even as a sophomore.

If Sobolewski comes through as an efficient 20% possession usage guy, the outlook for Northwestern brightens significantly.”

Sobolewski’s usage did expand to 19.5% (from 15.1%), but his offensive rating dropped significantly from approximately 111 as a freshman to 98 as a sophomore. Part of this can be attributed to Crawford’s injury, but Sobo also faced a difficult comparable after a very strong first year in Evanston.

“Like Sobolewski, this is a comparability issue. (Reggie) Hearn, a 6’4” former walk on and more of an interior forward type in high school, deserves a lot of respect. Last year (26.1 mpg, 7.4 ppg, 62.5% 2FG, 37.1% 3FG) he got his chance and impressed, especially in conference play (28.6 mpg, 8.9 ppg, 44.0% 3FG). Hearn could cut down some on his turnovers, but we can’t expect him to equal his 58.8% effective field goal percentage.”

It was an impressive season and career for Reggie Hearn, but his ORtg did fall as our projection of a drop in eFG% did prove to be accurate. Hearn did down his turnover rate a bit (22.2% down from 16.2%) however his eFG% went from 58.8% in 2011-12 to 50.7%.

Relative to Value Add projections…

Crawford (injury), Sobolewski and Swopshire all were far off their projected Value Add.

Penn State (12th place)

“Penn State is capable of pulling off a couple impressive victories, but they’ll be near the bottom of the Big Ten again in 2012-13.”

The injury to Tim Frazier changed the season for Penn State. They started the Big Ten season 0-14 before shocking Michigan and finishing with a conference record of 2-16.

“(on D.J. Newbill) He’s a big, physical but skilled guard that can do it all and will make his presence felt.  One area Penn State needs to improve on is getting guys other than Tim Frazier to the line and Newbill will certainly help in that regard. He’s an impact newcomer to the conference this year.”

Newbill, an All-Big Ten honorable mention, got to the line almost 200 time and drew 5.8 fouls per 40 minutes.

“If for no other reason than regression to the mean, the gap in 3-point shooting between Penn State and their opponents will probably decline in 2012-13. Penn State’s 3FG% figures on offense and defense were awful”

There’s still a lot of room to improve, but the gap did close this season. Overall: 7.1% last year, 4.6% this year; Big Ten: 10.7% down to 3.1%.

Relative to Value Add projections…

Jermaine Marshall was solid.
D.J. Newbill didn’t reach his Offensive Value Add projection…
…neither did Tim Frazier (injury)

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