B1G Opening Day Thoughts

The last day of the calendar year brings us two great games to start off the Big Ten season: Michigan State at Minnesota (1pm CT) and Indiana at Iowa (3pm CT). Both games are on ESPN2.

Looking back on our preseason thoughts at this 2012-13 Big Ten Previews page, there’s not much we’d change. The following is all consistent with the beginning of the year:

  • We see 6 teams that look like tourney teams: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin;
  • There are 2 teams that could reach the tourney: Illinois and Iowa;
  • and the other 4 teams we don’t see as tourney teams: Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue.

Illinois outperforming most expectations thus far is not a surprise – we gave reasons for why this was likely in their preseason preview (where we ranked them #7 in the Big Ten, higher than the consensus). That said, they are currently overrated and we still like the #7 prediction.

Purdue is down and worse than most expected. Again, the reasons why we didn’t believe in Purdue’s prospects for a decent 2012-13 although many others did are included in their preseason preview (we ranked them #10).

Iowa (11-2) is a trendy pick for some and their stock could rise even more with a victory over Indiana today, but they’re still a year away from making significant noise in the conference. Next season the Hawkeyes project to be very good.

What’s been the biggest surprise to date is how good Michigan freshmen Nik Staukas and Glenn Robinson have been. We’re still not quite believers in them being a top 5 (much less the #2) team in the nation, but the Wolverines have been excellent and exciting to watch.

As for the Gophers, we still see them as a tournament team, but still not up at the top of the conference. They’re a dangerous and talented team, but probably more in the 20-25 range rather than the top 10.

A big reason for this view on Minnesota is a concern with their 2-point field goal shooting. We’ll share a lot more of the detail later this week, but a couple of things to consider for now:

Minnesota’s nonconference field-goal shooting for this season and 2011-12 is summarized below. The data includes all games other than the 18 scheduled Big Ten games.

eFG%

2FG%

3FG%

2012-13

50.6%

51.5%

32.2%

2011-12

53.4%

53.5%

35.5%

The team data is important, but we also have gone into individual player data. For example, Rodney Williams has improved his nonconference shooting percentages for both shots at the rim (i.e., dunks, tip-ins, layups) and all other 2-point shots, respectively. However, the information depicted in the pie charts below is very important. We’ll explain more later this week. (Current year data from hoop-math.com; prior year data from Late Night Hoops research.)

Rodney Williams Shot Attempt Location Splits

Shot Chart

RW 12-13 shot chart

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