Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

January 29, 2009

Teams Just Want to be Home

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 2:13 am

Unless of course they’re Tennessee or Florida State. From the top….

Wake Forest beat Duke in Winston-Salem, 68-66, on a last-second layup by James Johnson. The Deacons had this game in control with nine minutes to go, leading 61-48. Then they started looking as young as they are and they nearly allowed the Blue Devils to steal a win on a night when Mike Krzyzewski‘s group looked like anything but the number 1 team in the nation. At 76 possessions, this game was that strangest of creatures: the fast-paced defensive struggle. With both Duke and Wake playing outstanding D, ACC fans should get used to the spectacle.

Watching this game you may have had the impression that ordinarily Duke shoots a lot of threes. (You may have had that impression because the announcers pretty much said so.) Anyone would seem like they shoot a lot of threes compared to Wake, of course, but the truth is this year’s Blue Devils aren’t particularly perimeter-oriented. Still, the Deacon D shut down the perimeter entirely and Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson were forced to be the alpha and omega of their offense. Which actually isn’t that unusual.

BONUS James Johnson note! You simply can’t watch a Wake game without hearing that Johnson is from Cheyenne. It cannot be done. You can go a long way in life without learning that Jeff Teague is from Indianapolis or that Al-Farouq Aminu is from greater Atlanta. But by Godfrey it’s important for you to know that Wyoming can export someone (repeat: someone) who can hoop it up.

Providence beat Syracuse 100-94 in an 82-possession game in Providence. I’ll heap due praise upon Keno Davis and his Friars on a more suitable occasion, but for now note simply that the Orangemen are yet to show that they can defend a Big East team as good as they are.

Oh yeah, Providence is as good as they are. Up-to-the-minute:

Big East: Pace and Efficiency Rankings
Through games of January 28, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession     Opp. PPP: opponent points per possession
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

                   Pace    PPP    PPP      EM
1.  Marquette      68.8    1.16   0.97   +0.19
2.  Louisville     68.7    1.05   0.86   +0.19
3.  Connecticut    66.6    1.13   0.97   +0.16
4.  Pitt           66.0    1.12   0.99   +0.13
5.  Providence     72.3    1.11   1.04   +0.07
6.  West Virginia  65.3    1.05   0.98   +0.07
7.  Villanova      69.9    1.04   0.98   +0.06
8.  Syracuse       71.5    1.09   1.04   +0.05
9.  Georgetown     64.9    1.04   1.08   -0.04
10. Cincinnati     65.3    1.01   1.06   -0.05
11. Notre Dame     69.6    1.04   1.09   -0.05
12. S. Florida     63.4    0.98   1.06   -0.08
13. Seton Hall     69.6    1.04   1.19   -0.15
14. St. John’s     67.9    0.93   1.09   -0.16
15. DePaul         66.1    0.94   1.13   -0.19
16. Rutgers        66.8    0.94   1.15   -0.21

Cincinnati beat Georgetown 65-57 in Cincinnati. Since I fretted openly about the Hoyas’ defense, their offense has collapsed. Go figure.

Villanova beat Pitt 67-57 in Philly, as a foul-plagued DeJuan Blair logged just 23 minutes. What’s this? The Panthers are a different team without Blair on the floor? Who knew! Seriously, the Wildcats get too little love for their strangely exemplary defense. By strange I mean: just visually, they don’t look like Pitt or Louisville. But they do make the other team miss.

Kansas State beat Missouri 88-72 in Manhattan (Kansas). Wow. Keep in mind the Wildcats needed overtime to record their first conference win at Colorado on Saturday. And the previously under-hyped Tigers looked so good on paper. Alas.

BONUS KSU note! If you’re looking for some really serious sideline scowling, is there a better candidate to replace Gene Keady than Frank Martin? The dude looks like the villain in a silent movie. I keep expecting to see him wearing a cape and tying Mary Pickford to some railroad tracks.

Northwestern beat Indiana 77-75 in Evanston. The Hoosiers are still winless in the Big Ten. Oy. 

The home team domination stops here.

LSU beat Tennessee 79-73 in a 66-possession game in Knoxville. I had my say on the Tigers on Monday. As for the Volunteers, their offense is still good, they’re just not getting any stops this year. Marcus Thornton scored 29 points for the visitors on 9-of-16 shooting. Is there a better juco transfer in the country than Thornton? Just asking.

North Carolina beat Florida State 80-77 on a last-second three by Ty Lawson, off a floor-length drive that started with 3.2 seconds remaining in the game. Very Tyus Edney-esque in appearance, only a three.

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