First look: Chattanooga Mocs

  • 03/14/2016 10:28 am in

Indiana will face Chattanooga in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa at Wells Fargo Arena. We’ll have our in-depth What To Expect preview later in the week, but here’s a first look at the twelfth-seeded Mocs.

First year coach Matt McCall, a Florida graduate and a member of the Billy Donovan coaching tree, won both the Southern Conference regular season and tournament championships at just 34 years old. This is the 11th NCAA tournament appearance all-time for Chattanooga and the first for the program since 2009.

In terms of the rankings, Indiana drew the least formidable of the No. 12 seeds on paper. The Mocs are No. 109 in the Sagarin Ratings and No. 107 in the KenPom ratings. The other 12 seeds in the tournament: Yale (56 Sagarin, 38 KenPom), Arkansas Little Rock (71 Sagarin, 47 KenPom) and South Dakota State (86 Sagarin, 80 KenPom).

Chattanooga finished the season 29-5 with an impressive record in conference of 15-3. In non-conference play, the Mocs beat Georgia, Illinois and Dayton on the road, an impressive trio of wins for a mid-major program. They also played at Iowa State – a 20-point loss – and fell on the road to Louisiana Monroe. Both Indiana and Chattanooga played Kennesaw State at home with the Hoosiers beating the Owls by 27 and the Mocs prevailing by 12.

“They open up the season winning at Georgia. They’ve won at Illinois. They’ve won at Dayton,” Tom Crean said on Sunday evening. “We saw them on film early in the season when we played Kennesaw State. That was our common opponent outside of Illinois. You can’t help but follow a team throughout the year. I haven’t seen them play a lot during the year. I will tonight, but a team that wins 29 games and wins in the league the way they did, you have to have great respect for that and we do.”

So why was Chattanooga able to rip through its conference so easily? The Mocs were terrific at forcing turnovers and getting to the foul line.

Chattanooga forced the most turnovers of any SoCon team (20.7 turnover percentage). That was in addition to taking the care of the ball better than all but one of its conference foes. The Mocs are going to bring defensive pressure at Indiana early and often and as we’ve seen, if the Hoosiers are turning it over, it can be highly detrimental to their success.

“We’ve handled pressure all year. We practice it and we prepare for pressure,” Crean said. “We don’t play (against) it as much, but we prepare for it. We see it. I don’t think it’s going to be a lot different than seeing Iowa’s press and things like that. But they have the ability to do different things.”

In addition to the turnovers, Chattanooga posted a ridiculous in-conference free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 49 percent. And when the Mocs got to the line, they hit close to 75 percent of their attempts in league play.

Perhaps more impressive is Chattanooga really doesn’t foul much for a team that relies on pressure to force turnovers. Chattanooga ranked first in its league in opponent free throw rate at just 30.2 percent. In order to avoid the upset, Indiana can’t afford to let Chattanooga finish with a large advantage from the free throw line.

We’ll dig into the remainder of the roster later in the week in What To Expect, but two players stand out in our initial look at the Mocs. SoCon defensive player of the year Justin Tuoyo, a redshirt junior who played one season at VCU, was a monster in league play in terms of getting to the foul line. The 6-foot-10 post player took 141 free throws in 18 conference games. He was also the league’s second best shot blocker (9.9 block percentage) and was seventh in offensive rebounding percentage (10.7).

Junior forward Tre’ McLean is an efficient offensive player that can rebound it on both ends, hit free throws, finish relatively well and also step out and hit the 3. McLean was the 10th best defensive rebounder in the SoCon, made 53.3 percent of his 2s and 40.9 percent of his 3s.

Indiana’s draw will be a big topic of discussion this week as the Hoosiers, the outright regular season Big Ten champs, didn’t even receive a protected seed and drew the task of a likely matchup with Kentucky if they can get past Chattanooga.

The early lines expect to see that IU-UK matchup on Saturday as the Hoosiers opened as an 11-point favorite in Vegas and are now up to 12 in some books. KenPom also has IU as a solid favorite as his model predicts a 9-point win and an 82 percent chance of moving to the round of 32. FiveThirtyEight also likes IU to win a game as its odds currently give the Hoosiers an 88 percent chance of moving on past the Mocs.

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  • N71

    This is what we’ve been waiting for. We have a senior point guard who is one of the top 5 in the country at his position. We have a rim protector, defensive minded specialist in OG and Juwan, shooting, depth, rested, etc. I feel sorry for Chattanooga, they’re going to get rolled. UK will be a fun game but we have Yogi. Then UNC, that will be a great game but back to Yogi. I like what the basketball gods have laid out in front of us, Yogi will go out a legend if he gets through this great line up of teams.

  • Gregory J. Haggard

    Yeah, but they thought Ben Simmons and LSU should be in the dance as well…………………….Any organization who gives Jenner “woman” of the year doesn’t have much credibility with me!

  • inLinE6

    Looking at their numbers , thye’re either very good and being vastly underrated, or their conference is too weak. Whichever the case, this will be an interesting game. We definitely can’t afford any sloppiness.

  • BL

    Would be spectacular!

  • IUBizmark

    I agree that’s our primary strategy. The only problem is if we’re not hitting 3s at our usual clip. And this being in a larger venue causes me concern as no one shoots as good away from home as they do at home. Michigan employed a “make them shoot first, drive second” strategy and it worked. Barely, but it worked.

  • IUBizmark

    The calls would remind me of Wichita State last year. Death by a thousand razor cuts.

  • IULore

    Chattanooga is garbage and we will treat them as such, by taking them to the dumpster! GO HOOSIERS!

  • SCHoosier

    Once again, D is the key for IU. If we can get stops, defensive rebounds..and run the floor…their press should evaporate fairly quickly. (Three transition threes in a row) does wonders against a press. (He said bravely) Hell I consider anybody a threat …

  • CreamandCrimson

    I may be wrong but I believe this “pod” is being held at the Wells Fargo Arena. If that’s the case, the seating capacity is 16,980…that doesn’t strike me as “a larger venue” that should cause concern. It’s certainly won’t be as comfortable for us as Assembly Hall but why do you think it’s a venue that should be particularly concerning? I’m not criticizing or looking for an argument, just curious to know…thanks!

  • ForeverIU

    I think we are very capable with our full crew. But Juwan without a shoulder won’t be much of a defensive presence, nor will RJ or CH be a presence if they are not … present! LOL. Okay, I’m hopeful, and Thursday can’t come soon enough!

  • ForeverIU

    LOL! But I hope we don’t show up with (or on) broomsticks!

  • INUnivHoosier

    How about mops?

  • JohnIU

    Is Robert Johnson healthy to play? We need him. Also what about Hartman/Morgan

  • IUBizmark

    I actually didn’t know the capacity and after hearing it, I feel a bit better. Thank you.

    My primary concern is probably better expressed as depth of the venue. That gets talked about as throwing off shooters’ perception for whatever reason. I’m not going to pretend to know why it does or if it does. Maybe it’s the air circulation, maybe it’s the background colors, the lighting, the depth of field, etc. But I know a lot of coaches emphasize playing preseason games in “tournament venues” for this very reason.

  • Hoosier Brews62

    To add to that comment, NO 14 to’s like we did against Mich!

  • BL

    Yeah, I’ve been ringing the injury bell but we can dream.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Vic, Hello and are you able to go to the game?

  • marcusgresham

    I heard Don Fischer on the radio today and he said IU should be as healthy as they’ve been in a while. Johnson would have been ready to go had IU beaten Michigan.

  • marcusgresham

    Quit reading Doug(che) Gottlieb!

  • pbhuff

    I sort of see 1 of 2 things happening – blowout win or lose in a down to the wire game

    The most comparable games (Wake, UNLV, Creighton, IPFW, Ill, NW, OSU, Mich, PSU) seem to reflect this where IU has 7 blowout wins and 4 loses that came down to the final minute.

    To me it seems that if IU comes out with the energy that it needs, IU should cruise to an easy win, but if IU is flat, they’ll get tight an likely lose. On a positive note, in the game prior to 3 of those 4 losses, IU had a dominant performance against reasonably good teams (Creighton, Mich, Maryland), so overconfidence may have played a pretty big role, and should be mitigated just coming off the loss to Mich.

  • marcusgresham

    Don’t sleep on SFA.
    *My bad, they’re a 14, not a 12.

  • BL

    He say anything about CH?

  • Rick Pearson

    Hoosier’s please stay focused play hard play smart let’s go I U HOOSIER’S. !!!

  • ForeverIU

    Wow great news thanks Marcus.

  • INUnivHoosier

    Better advice I’ve never known.

  • Ole Man

    Didn’t you predict a blowout win over Mich?

  • HooshWin

    Even when we’ve been in turnover-happy mode at times this season, they’ve always felt like majority unforced errors. I’m not too worried about the Mocs jumping our passing lanes or picking our pockets. As always, find that happy harmony between pushing the pace but not playing too fast or too recklessly. Got a feeling TB is gonna flex his muscle on Thursday.

  • cbags05

    Let’s do this!!!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Calbert, Are you able to go to the game in Des Moines?

  • chris

    …but if you dig into the arena layout a little more closely…it is a hockey capable arena…which means looong-and a ton of space between the basket and the crowd…we need to pound it inside-BOTH nights…

  • chris

    is there a squid predicting winners? THAT i would believe

  • CreamandCrimson

    You’re welcome…I’m certainly no stadium expert but your comment prompted me to look up the arena size and I was pleased that we weren’t playing in a large dome or stadium (places notorious for hosting poorly played college basketball games because of how different they are to what the players typically see). I actually think the NCAA may have decided to hold off on using stadiums of that type until the Final Four because of poor atmosphere/low turnout but I could be mistaken about that.

    Your point about the depth is a very good one. I think the backdrop of the basket is probably the biggest concern for shooters and I certainly hope we don’t see an ice-cold shooting display like we did last Friday. Another 4-17 performance from 3 could see our season ending very prematurely.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Stephen F. Austin is a 14. I agree they are a very dangerous squad (although I really like this West Virginia team)…what do they have to do with the 12-5 games?

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    IU hasn’t suffered back-to-back losses this season.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    I have read that, but wins over georgia, Dayton and Illinois are pretty impressive. I would rather play south dakota state, yale, or Arkansas Little Rock. None of those teams had 3 wins over solid teams like Chattanooga..

  • Jack Handey

    illinois had a couple of solid wins, but in no way shape or form could they be called a solid team

  • calbert40

    I wish I could, but no.

  • calbert40

    They’re pretty solid. I was surprised they were seeded that low.