Twelve non-conference games in the books. And twelve victories for Indiana.
With an assist from KenPom, here’s a look at where the Hoosiers’ strong start stacks up with their conference foes as the Big Ten season kicks off this evening:
No team in the conference boasts a more efficient offense than the Hoosiers heading into Big Ten play. KenPom currently ranks them as the No. 7 offensive in the nation in terms of adjusted offensive efficiency (115.8), though Ohio State (11th, 114.3) and Wisconsin’s slow-tempo-look-for-the-best-shot offense (12th, 114.0) aren’t far behind. (Adjusted offensive efficiency is the number of points a team scores per 100 possessions, which KenPom adjusts for level of competition.) From there, Northwestern (20th), Michigan (30th), Michigan State (33rd), Minnesota (38th) and Purdue (40th) round out the top 40. Though Illinois has played somewhat well and has spent time in the Top 25, the Illini’s offense (108th) has held them back.
Indiana sports the second-highest eFG% (57.7, 6th in the nation) in the conference behind Michigan (58.2, fourth in the nation) and its 3-point percentage (45.9 percent) is tops in the conference and good for second in the nation. The Hoosiers’ free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 50.5 also tops the conference.
As we’ve seen, the offense has been a multi-pronged attack: easy buckets in transition, efficient scoring from Cody Zeller down low, slashing and mid-range work from Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey, lots of free throws and deadly 3-point accuracy no matter what the situation. Add in an offensive rebounding percentage of 36.7 percent (57th in the nation) and Indiana is getting second-chance opportunities as well.
But conference play will test all this, as several Big Ten teams sport some of the best defenses in the country.
Indiana has cut down its fouling issues from last season. Zeller has provided a strong presence on the backline. The Hoosiers are playing a nice brand of team defense and are trusting each other. (For an excellent, detailed look at Indiana’s help defense, check out Sebastian Pruiti’s breakdown over at Grantland).
Add it all up, and the Hoosiers currently sport one of the better defenses in the country in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency (89.0, 18th in the country). (Adjusted defensive efficiency is the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions, which KenPom adjusts for level of competition.) Indiana is also holding opponents to an eFG% 42.9 percent (22nd in the country). Its steal percentage of 13.3 percent is 15th in the nation. This bodes well come Big Ten play, a conference traditionally known for grind-it-out defensive battles. But even still, Indiana finds itself behind three conference opponents in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency with others right around its mark.
KenPom currently has Wisconsin as the top team in the country in that department with Ohio State (2nd) and Michigan State (11th) also highly ranked — which also happen to be Indiana’s first two conference opponents. Purdue (19th) and Illinois (22nd) fall in right behind the Hoosiers.
As noted around these parts before, if there’s a weakness to pick out about this Indiana team, it’s the Hoosiers giving up a bit too much to opponents on their offensive glass. Through 12 games, opponents have sported an offensive rebounding percentage of 32.2 percent, which slots Indiana at 160th in the nation and 11th in the conference — with only Northwestern (191st, 33.1 percent) behind them.
Indiana is also surrendering a defensive free throw rate of 35.0, which ranks 143rd in the country and 9th in the Big Ten. But this is offset some by the Hoosiers getting to the line at a strong rate (free throw rate of 50.5) themselves.
Filed to: Statistics