Sunday, December 15, 2013

DeAndre Kane - 2013-14 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year

I found something I'd worked on over the summer when it was announced DeAndre Kane was coming to ISU.  His numbers from Marshall were certainly impressive and I wondered how it would translate to the Cyclones.

Five players have transferred into ISU and started immediately during the Hoiberg era.  I looked at their stats from their last year with their former teams and their first year with Iowa State.  What did it show?

Unsurprisingly, FG% improves slightly, 3P% improves by 10%, and assists improve by more than 20%.  On average, every statistic improves or increases from the transfers season prior to ISU and their first with the Cyclones (except FT% and blocks).  DeAndre's stats were already gaudy.  If they improve, what will they look like?

His stat line would look like this - 18 pts/game, 8.4 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 2 steals.  Wow.  Those wouldn't be newcomer of the year stats, those would be Big 12 player of the year stats.  Marcus Smart last year went 15 points, 4.2 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 3 steals.  That was good enough for consensus player of the year.  

DeAndre's current line is 14.1 pts, 5.8 assists, 7.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals.  That's not quite what I'd calculated above but those are still huge numbers.  The logical thing would be to assume that his numbers come down in conference play, but I predict they'll stay the same or get better.  He'll play more minutes (29/game so far) and likely will keep up his high usage rate (24.6%).  

I'm changing my outlook for DeAndre.  He'll finish as a first team all Big 12 player. 

ISU 2013 Football Season in Review

Now that the season is “officially” over, it’s time for a look back.  I’ve heard a lot of excuses – young team, injuries, etc – for the poor year.  Certainly, injuries struck early and often, especially on the offensive line.  And the two starting quarterbacks were a RS Sophomore and RS Freshman.  But many teams suffer injuries, and many freshman quarterbacks perform at a high level.  One just won this year’s Heisman. 
I’m more sympathetic to an argument that the issue was a lack of consistency.  The injuries on the offensive line resulted in 10 different starting fives over the season.  And the young quarterbacks getting substituted in and out would make it difficult for either to find a rhythm.  Unfortunately this has been a hallmark of Paul Rhoads’ tenure at ISU.  Three different starters last year, two this year.  With four total QBs in the mix next year, it might be the same again.  Other positions were handled questionably as well, including running back, where the obvious #1 took at most half the snaps this year. 
If inconsistency is the only constant at Iowa State, why would 3-9 be disappointing, instead of expected?  There’s another trait of Rhoads’ tenure, and that is the ability to compete with everyone, and pull an upset or two a season.  ISU had done very well against teams they were favored to beat (winning 76.9%).  While not a lot of games every year, this was usually good for about three wins per season.  More importantly, ISU had been known for their upsets.  Not always against the #2 team in the country, but they won 35.9% of the games in which they weren’t favored.  This averaged to 3.5 wins per year. You should see where this is going.  Coming into the season, it was reasonable to expect four games favored plus 3 upsets and ISU would be bowling.  
 Now I had ISU only favored in three games, and underdogs in the rest, which put ISU’s expected wins right about six.  Not a lot of wiggle room.  The three games in which they were favored, they really, really needed to win for bowl eligibility.  In 2013 they dropped two of those three.  ISU also had only two upsets - below their average.  So they disappointed both in games they should have won, and by not having the upsets to which we’ve grown accustomed.  If they’d played to their averages in one aspect or the other, the record would have been 4 or 5 wins.  Not bowling, but not so deflating either. 
The good news is, this should be the bottom when it comes to ISU’s performance under Paul Rhoads.  The bad news – ISU needs to win EVERY game in which it is favored AND pick off 3 upsets a year to have a shot at a bowl game.  That’s concerning, and maybe the most disappointing thing about 2013.  The upsets had been adding up, moving the lines toward ISU.  Record numbers of season tickets looked like it would fuel some Jack Magic.  A couple early wins and ISU should have been favored against Tulsa, against TCU at home and at WVU to finish the season. But since everything fell apart, the Cyclones will have to start earning respect all over again in 2014.  It doesn’t take an analysis of next year’s schedule to know that a bowl game will again be a stretch for ISU.

Bracketology 12/15

I had thought about waiting until Monday to factor in the new polls and Lunardi's most recent bracket but I don't think ISU's position will change much in the polls and Lunardi released an update S-Curve yesterday.  Once again we revisit Bracketology and ISU is still undefeated (and will be for at least the next week).  What is different is that the Cyclones have added another big time win and one win that just might be a Top 100 RPI win when its all said and done.

Once again, here is my formula:

Computer Average (1/3)
Poll Average (1/3)
Lunardi S-Curve (1/3)

I will also include updated RPI and BPI information as it does matter to the committee but I don't factor it into my formula.

AP Poll (12/9): 17
Coaches Poll (12/9): 16

Poll Average (16.5)

Rankings indicate a 5 seed on the verge of a 4 seed.  Rankings at the end of the day don't mean everything but need to be looked at due to the human aspect of seeding the field.

Computer Rankings (Sagarin, KenPom, Massey)

All ratings as of 12/15

KenPom: 22nd
Sagarin: 5th
Massey: 10th

Computer Average: 12.3

What is important to consider with the computer rankings is KenPom starts with a preseason ranking and the other two are solely based on what has happened this year.  Both have their advantages and both become fairly accurate as the year goes on.

Joe Lunardi S-Curve Ranking (12/14): 18

Lunardi has indicated he sees ISU as a 5 seed with this ranking and I guess we will find out tomorrow.

When we put these numbers into the formula here is what it spits out:

(16.5+12.3+18)/ 3= 15.6

These number would indicate a 4 seed in the NCAA tournament which I think is fairly accurate right now.

Another number to look at now is the LiveRPI.  I will use ESPN's insider RPI for this ranking.  As of 12/15 their RPI number is 11 with 2 top 25 wins.

Big Wins: Michigan, @BYU, Iowa, St.Mary's, Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State
Losses: @KU, @Baylor, @OSU, @OU, @Texas

My Prediction: Overall Regular Season Record (25-5, 13-5 in Big 12)

Tournament Prediction: #4 Seed vs #13 Seed Princeton in Milwaukee

In my opinion ISU has 7 more regular season chances at big wins.  I think they get four of them leaving them with 7 heading into the Big 12 tournament.  Keep in mind ISU had maybe 1 all of last year?  Things are looking good and getting an advantageous seed could be fun to watch with Hoiberg preparing the team.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Iowa vs Iowa State Preview: Part I

Iowa State Offense vs Iowa Defense

With the most anticipated Iowa-ISU matchup in a long time I thought I would take the time to do a lengthy preview of this upcoming game.  This part of the preview centers on the matchups when ISU has the basketball and Iowa is on defense.

Iowa State Offense vs Iowa Defense

A look at the numbers....

Iowa State Offensive eFG%:  57.3% (12th in nation)
Iowa Defensive eFG%: 41.5% (8th in nation)

A lot of novice basketball fans will look at field goal percentage.  While this is important its not nearly as important as effective field goal percentage.  Effective field goal percentage takes into account the value of a 3 point basket.  ISU's effective field goal percentage has always been high under Fred Hoiberg mainly due in part to their ability to consistently make three point baskets.  At home, ISU shoots even better.  One thing people have mentioned about this matchup is the high flying offenses.  Well, the defenses aren't far behind.  A HUGE factor in this game is how Iowa chooses to play defense against ISU.

Fred Hoiberg exploits mismatches better than any coach.  If the Hawks go with zone, most likely with Woodbury on the floor, ISU should have several open looks from deep.  If they are falling it could get ugly.  If they aren't, it could get ugly.  If they choose man to man you have to look at who guards Kane.  If for some reason its Gessell, or even Marble look for Kane to work his way to the paint and go to work.  ISU needs a three to fall early to get things rolling.

Advantage: ISU....I think ISU's number is more accurate here as Iowa has played some poor shooting teams and some teams that work the paint more which Iowa can defend fairly well.

Iowa State Offensive Turnover %: 14.5 (21st in nation)
Iowa Defensive Turnover %: 20.4 (65th in nation)

Iowa State has been pretty solid with the ball so far this season.  I am surprised to see Iowa's turnover percentage this low considering their three quarter court press they like to run.  If this game was at Carver I would worry a lot more about this stat, but its not....and I still worry.  We saw ISU struggle with the press at BYU late in the game without some of their starters.  If ISU can successfully break the Iowa press, they earn a big advantage in this game, but that is a big if.

**Also, look for what Iowa does after a made basket.  Since the Tom Davis days that have been extremely good at "finding" the official to pass the ball to while the rest of the team sets up the press.  Technically, this should be a warning and a technical foul but we will see if its treated as such.

Advantage: Iowa...because of the press

Iowa State Offensive Rebounding %: 27.5 (284th in nation)
Iowa Offensive Rebounding % Allowed: 30.8 (134th in nation)

This isn't as huge of a stat because ISU is a good shooting team.  Iowa State will have the rebounding advantage at three of the five spots on the floor when their starters are in there.  If Iowa plays a lot of zone, they may struggle rebounding the basketball.  If they play man, then Kane's rebounding ability will become a big, big factor.  Something to look out for is how many fouls accumulate on rebounds, especially on the ISU side.

Advantage: ISU....Having the defending Big XII rebounding champion and the current Big XII rebounding leader on the floor at the same time is a luxury.

Iowa State Free Throws Attempted/Field Goals Attempted %: 27.5 (284th in nation)
Iowa Defensive FT's Attempted/Field Goals Attempted %: 28.3 (13th in nation)

Iowa State does not get to the line very much outside of Kane.  Part of this is their high volume of three point shots and part of it is their lack of a true "banger" on the inside.  If Iowa goes zone there will be even less fouls.  The only thing going for ISU in this aspect is that the game is in Hilton.  Iowa won't get the benefit of the doubt.

Advantage: Push...Iowa has every advantage in this regard but the home court advantage will even this out in my opinion.

I'm really looking forward to the individual matchups that occur out there when ISU has the ball.  The only thing I'm sure Iowa will do is put Gessell on Thomas when he is out there. It just makes too much sense.  Also, when Woodbury is on the floor I just don't understand how Iowa can play man to man defense.  Think what happened against KU last year.  Now take into consideration what kind of a player Woodbury is compared to Whithey.  Whoever Woodbury would have to guard is going to have the ability to come out and shoot it.  Now, what happens when Oleseni is in?  That is a different story.

Finally, lets talk about foul trouble.  If ISU has to go 8 or 9 deep out of necessity this game could take a turn for the worse.  Look for Niang, Kane and Ejim picking up cheap fouls on the offensive side of the ball.  When they foul out they typically took their fair share of fouls on the offensive end.  Stay set on screens Georges and don't lower your shoulder Melvin.

Is Iowa's defense that good?  Is Iowa States offense that good?  We will find out.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

UNI Post Game Thoughts

For about 24 minutes of game action this one had the traditional feel of a UNI game.  With every passing minute, every missed shot and every increase in UNI's lead ISU fans everywhere were thinking where did this come from?  The truth is we should have all known it wouldn't be easy.  It never is when you play UNI.  Hoiberg had never beaten UNI coming into this game.  The only other school Hoiberg has coached against multiple times and not beaten is Missouri.  For a little over an hour of real time ISU fans most likely used every cuss word in the book and probably physically abused random pieces of furniture.  Then, the Cyclones game storming back, hitting shots and getting stops.  What seemed like an escape and a disheartening sign for the upcoming Iowa-Iowa State game shouldn't be the case at all.  This was a big win.

This win won't go down in March as a marquee win by any means, but we know for sure it won't go down as a bad loss because it wasn't a loss at all.  Keeping bad losses off the resume is almost as important as putting big wins on there.  Keeping bad losses off the resume is something Hoiberg teams haven't done in the last couple of NCAA tournament season.  There was Drake and UNI two years ago and Texas Tech just a year ago.  There are still potential bad losses out there but they are becoming fewer and fewer as games go on.  This was a big win.

This Friday will be one of the most hyped Iowa-ISU games in the history of the series.  Coming off a loss, ISU most likely would have fallen out of the rankings and taken some of the sizzle out of the matchup.  Standing at 7-0, ISU should be favored in the rest of their non-conference games.  This doesn't guarantee they will turn into wins but it makes an undefeated non-conference worthy of a conversation.  A perfect slate through the non-conference would set ISU up for a higher ranking, more hype and some serious momentum going into the conference season.  A loss might have made it hard for them to climb back into the ranking they currently hold.

The way in which ISU won this game has got to give them an incredible confidence boost.  Down 18 with under 16 minutes left isn't something they will want to get used to but it can only help ease their frustrations the next time they hit a cold spell shooting the basketball.  I think the team and Hoiberg learned a lot about this squad during the comeback.  They have multiple "closers" in Kane and Niang and a great ability to grab defensive rebounds late in the game with Hogue and Ejim out there.  There were a lot of encouraging signs throughout the last 16 minutes and overtime.

Going forward I can see why Iowa and ISU wanted to quit playing these games in Cedar Falls and Des Moines.  The Big 4 Classic doesn't really do it for me but I think it beats the alternative.  ISU is filling the arena no matter the opponent right now so its not like they need the in-state home games to get people in the gate.  Although its not far from Ames it is far from a home game in Des Moines.  There are a lot of Iowa fans living in the metro area and at many times 3/4 of the fans are cheering against ISU.  It does give them some prep for a conference tournament atmosphere, something they have struggled with under Hoiberg.  Going forward I don't mind the Big 4 continuing  as it sounds like they are looking for alternate TV coverage next year.  However I would prefer (although I don't think it will happen) Iowa and ISU each playing a bigger opponent in a doubleheader at Wells Fargo.

Next up is Iowa in Hilton on Friday.  I will have plenty more on that coming up this week.  It is a BIG, BIG game for both teams as it could set both teams up well seed line wise going into conference play.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bracketology 12/4

Just like that the month of November is over in college hoops and we have one more month until conference play.  To me, November is second to March in terms of entertainment value.  The matchups that you don't typically get to see are great and the neutral sites makes for some close games that might not be so close on college campuses.  Anyway, after a perfect November ISU's resume is squeaky clean with a great deal of optimism going forward.

Here is all of the geeky "stuff" that can be used to evaluate just where ISU stands compared to other schools right now.  First we can take a look at the human polls.  The human polls may not tell the most accurate picture, but they are a very real part of the process considering it is a human committee that picks the field.

AP Poll-Monday December 2nd-- #17
Coach's Poll- Monday December 2nd--#18

If rankings held true for the field, which the most certainly don't, this would predict a #5 seed.

Next, we should take a look at the computers and what they think of the performance from ISU thus far.  The three computer polls I'm going to use include the growing in popularity KenPom rankings, Massey ratings and the Sagarin ratings.

KenPom Rank--Wedenesday December 4th -- #20
Massey Ratings-- Wednesday December 4th-- #7
Sagarin Ratings--Tuesday December 3rd-- #4

Some ranking systems can be tremendously skewed early in the year.  If you look at the top teams in these rankings, it would seem everyone belongs.  In my formula I am going to count the computer average as 1/3 of my rank on the S-Curve.

Computer Average: 10.3

Finally, we have gotten to the third part of my formula, Mr. Bracketology himself Joe Lunardi.  As a Bracketology graduate I feel I should include his information in this particular formula mainly for the reason he actually does a pretty great job predicting the field.

Lunardi S-Curve Ranking--Wednesday December 4th--#19

My S-Curve formula is: Human Polls (1/3) + Computer Average (1/3) + Lunardi (1/3)

OurTwoSense 12/4 S-Curve Ranking: (17.5+10.3+19)/3= 15.6

This number would indicate or predict a 4 seed or a 5 seed depending on conference stipulations and such.  Getting into the #4 seed line is a big deal these days with the pod system.  Considering St. Louis is a second/third round site this could pay big dividends.

KenPom Prediction: 21-7 (w/Percentages), 25-3 (Straight-up)
Massey Ratings: 26-2 (Straight Up)

My Prediction (Including two additional games in Hawaii): 25-5 (13-5 Conf. Rec)

Big Wins: Michigan, @BYU, Iowa, Boise State, Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State

Losses: @KU, @Baylor, @OSU, @ OU, @ Texas

Tournament Prediction: #5 Iowa State vs #12 St. Mary's

That's all folks.  Until next time, Go State!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Auburn Post-Game Thoughts

With the early tip time, I have a few minutes before I call it a night.

This game might have been the most impressive for the Cyclones thus far for a multitude of reasons.  Now, I realize beating Auburn is not more impressive than a win against Michigan or BYU but there were some areas of strength that ISU hadn't shown so far this season.

Stat of the Game: ISU point guards had 16 assists and zero turnovers.  16-0.  That's pretty good.  Freshmen Monte Morris has a 16-0, assist to turnover rate in the last two games.

Stat of the Game #2: ISU had 28 assists on 33 field goals.  Sometimes people confuse an NBA, matchup-oriented offense with one on one moves.  Not so much.

Player of the Game: Dustin Hogue with 22 points and 16 rebounds.  He had a double-double at halftime....of the first half.  It seemed Kane and Ejim wanted to get in on the fun after that.

Quote of the Night: "I think I have to bring my intensity up to keep up with this kid"-Ejim on Dustin Hogue.  ISU could have three of the best rebounders in the Big 12.  That makes cold stretches from behind the arc easier to take.

The Good: 99 total points with two of your best players (Kane and Niang) having off nights.

The Bad: Niang having more fouls than points.  Never a good stat line.

The Ugly: One point short of 100 points, and more specifically no free food or anything from anywhere for ISU scoring 100 points.

Up Next: UNI @ Wells Fargo.  A game that might give ISU a harder time than it looks like on paper.  UNI can never be taken lightly (especially football).

How will the ratings respond?  I look for ISU to jump into the Top 20 tomorrow in KenPom and continue to stay in the Top 10 in Massey and Saragin ratings.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Day Hardwood Thoughts

Thanksgiving week is one of the best weeks of the year for college basketball outside of March.  With so many meaningful tournaments and made for TV matchups we get to learn quite a bit in a short amount of time.  Here are some things I pulled away from this week.

#1 Baylor is Baylor.  Its an old adage around Cyclone Fanatic but its the truth.  They have some of the best talent in the nation but can be beaten by anyone.  Granted they lost to a good Syracuse team but they are nowhere close to realizing their potential.  I see ISU being able to jump them for the #3 spot in the Big 12.

#2 Can we get ISU to the Maui in 2016?  If so, can I go?  This is the non-conference tournament to go to.  Kansas and Kansas State are slated to go the next few years but could ISU make their first ever appearance after that?  I think they would be a good choice.

#3 The Battle for Atlantis might be the most competitive tournament.  They had a great field this year and have an even better field coming up next year.  They have done great things like dimming the lights around the court to make it a more appealing atmosphere and getting NBCSports to cover the tournament.  They did a great job by the way.  The benefit this tournament has over Maui is that there is no Chaminade.  Chaminade is a great story but they typically make for three non-competitive games.  The Battle for Atlantis had that this year but the matchups were engaging.

#4 Kansas is vulnerable.  Now, I firmly believe this will not be a team you want to play in March but there are some glaring weaknesses right now.  First, they just can't shoot.  They have just a load of talent but its not materializing....yet.  I don't think the Villanova loss is going to be a bad one by any means but the fact they played close games with UTEP and Wake Forrest raises some eyebrows.

#5 If Kansas is vulnerable what is Duke?  Granted their two losses were to Top 10 teams (at the time anyway) but this might be the worst team Coach K has had in awhile.  KenPom has them all the way down in the mid 20's, not a typical spot for Duke.  Its looking like the ACC is Syracuse's for the taking in their first year.

#6 I'm seeing a trend.  Blue bloods of basketball struggling.  Add North Carolina to the list.  After today's loss to UAB they now have two questionable losses in the last three weeks along with some close calls.  The Louisville win has essentially been wiped out already.  Who is going to step up and give the Linn-Mar alum Paige some help?

#7 Iowa is a good basketball team.  Everyone knew they would be, but they aren't great like some might have thought.  A great team doesn't blow a big 2nd half lead to a Villanova team playing a five guard lineup.  Iowa will make the tournament but their rebounding struggles and inconsistent shooting will keep them from contending for a B1G title and a top 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.

#8 College basketball is going to reward teams that can shoot consistently even more now.  Teams are getting better looks as a result of the new rules but not all of the teams are making them.  After watching over 12 hours of basketball Friday, there are a lot of teams that just cannot shoot.  Those teams won't be able to get away with that any longer (see: Kansas State).

#9 I hope the people in charge of the Big 12/SEC challenge do a better job of scheduling next year.  I'll give them a pass this year because of existing schedules/tournaments, etc.  Also, what about using the Sprint Center in KC and Jerry World for a couple of doubleheaders?  Here is an example schedule for next year:

Kansas vs Kentucky @ Sprint
Iowa State vs Missouri @ Sprint
Baylor vs Florida @ Dallas
Texas A&M vs Oklahoma @ Dallas
Oklahoma State vs Tennessee
Kansas State vs Arkansas
Texas vs LSU
TCU vs Vanderbilt
Texas Tech vs South Carolina
West Virginia vs Ole Miss

#10 This could be a special year for ISU.  This is the earliest ISU has started a season ranked this high in awhile.  They have some favorable games coming up and a big opportunity to take an early lead in the Big 12 standings.  This group, in my opinion, would be scary to play when in the driver's seat of the conference.

Side Note: While watching OSU vs Memphis (for the 2nd time this season) I have noticed OSU sprints to help up teammates that have fallen on the ground.  I know its probably taught and enforced but for whatever reason it doesn't come off as phony and I kind of dig it.