Friday, December 22, 2006

Ohio State vs. Florida (Basketball) Preview

The first big game against the Gators comes tomorrow for the Buckeyes. To break it down, I will dust off the ol' Hypothetical Interviewer 9000.

Florida. They won the national championship last year, and they brought everyone back. Statistically, where do we have an advantage against these guys?
Well, we score a few more points per game than they do, but the shootout against VMI skews that a bit. We also defend the three a bit better than they do.

That's it?
Pretty much.

Bummer.
Not necessarily. Team statistics go to Florida, but matchups and player statistics go to the Buckeyes.

Prove it. Mike Conley versus Taurean Green.
I give that one to Conley. More assists in fewer minutes than Green, and fewer turnovers. Green shoots better from outside than Conley, and scores more points per game (12.8 vs. 9.7), but in terms of points per shot (because I'm too lazy to calculate PPWS, I use ESPN.com's PPS), Green's advantage is smaller. Conley also creates more steals. Conley passes better, turns the ball over less, forces more turnovers, and scores almost as well as Green, so I give him the nod.

Next: Jamar Butler versus Lee Humphrey.
Push. Humphrey's a better scorer by just about every measurable statistic, but Butler's much better in assists and assists/turnover ratio. Butler also forces more turnovers. So it depends on whether you need a scorer or a passer. I'd say both players have worked out pretty well for their teams.

Alright, how does Ron Lewis stack up against Corey Brewer?
Size-wise, not very well. Brewer's 6'9", Lewis is 6'4". I compare them only because Brewer plays the 3, while Lewis is a third guard. But oddly enough, they both produce similarly. Oddly enough, Brewer averages more assists (3.6 to 1.4). Brewer averages 4.4 boards per game, Lewis averages 4.0. Lewis outscores Brewer, 15.3 points to 11.1. But then, Lewis plays about five more minutes per game than Brewer, so Brewer actually holds an even bigger advantage in assists and rebounds, and Lewis's advantage in points is smaller. Lewis is, however, a more efficient scorer (1.66 PPS) than Brewer (1.30). So, again, it depends on what the team needs. Lewis is more of a pure scorer, while Brewer can do a variety of things. He's like a Swiss Army knife with a jumpshot, minus the corkscrew and crappy tweezers.

Next up, Al Horford versus-
Get with the times, 9000! Horford is not expected to play (HT: Buckeye Commentary).

Okay, who's his replacement? And who do we compare him to? Another post player like Othello Hunter or Ivan Harris? Or Daequan Cook, who plays more minutes?
So many questions. Well, Chris Richard, a 6'9" senior averaging 5.5 and 2.9, is expected to replace him. So, I suppose we should compare him to Harris, since Harris started the last game and will probably start this one. I think this matchup goes to the Buckeyes. Harris plays just three more minutes per game, but averages 5.9 more points and 1.4 more rebounds. Richard might be a little better inside, but Harris is much better outside. My impression of Richard (having seen little of Florida) is that he's not unlike Matt Terwilliger, capable but not outstanding. When Harris is making shots, he's outstanding.

And the most anticipated matchup: Greg Oden versus Joakim Noah.
Wednesday night, I watched the Ohio State women's team take on Oklahoma.

Warning: You are getting off topic. I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Sean.
You're creeping me out, HI9000. And I'm going somewhere with this. The highlight of the OSU-OU game was our Jessica Davenport versus their Courtney Paris. Paris is the hotshot young center, perhaps the best in women's college basketball, while Davenport is close behind, but much more experienced. OSU won, and Davenport had a good game. So did Paris, but Davenport made her work for it. Paris finished with 22 and 13, but on 10 of 24 shooting. Davenport had a less impressive, but more efficient, 14 and 10. That's sort of what I expect to happen here, with Oden in the young gun role, and Noah playing the savvy vet. Oden has the size and talent to get the points, but Noah has the talent and experience to make it difficult for Oden. Meanwhile Noah, a better passer than Oden, will be keeping his offense flowing, even if he's not getting good looks. I call it a push, in part because Oden still isn't 100%. But it'll be great to watch.

What about the bench?
I think this is an advantage for the Buckeyes. The Gators are about as deep as Ohio State, but they don't have anyone like Daequan Cook on the bench. With Horford out, they lose depth among their big men, which is good news for Hunter and Twiggy. And I haven't even mentioned David Lighty.

What does this all mean?
I think Florida will try to avoid getting into a fast-paced game. The loss of Horford gives them one less player, and if both teams need a lot of minutes from their benches, the advantage goes to the Buckeyes. Ohio State might let them slow it down, because they've been playing slower while trying to get the ball to Oden. If the Buckeyes are willing to run and take advantage of their athletes, I think it'll be good for them. And if their threes are falling, I don't think it matters what Florida does, the Buckeyes win. But if it's a slow game with Ohio State wasting possessions by shooting bricks from outside, Florida could win comfortably.

Summarize, for the readers who are too lazy to read the whole thing.
Florida's experience makes them more than the sum of their parts, but Ohio State's parts are better. The Gators are seriously hurt by the loss of Horford, but they're at home and do everything well. If Oden's effective and the threes are falling, OSU wins comfortably. If the Buckeyes' shooting is off, Florida can collapse on Oden. If they do that and execute on the offensive end, the Gators win.

Any prediction?
The Buckeyes haven't been shooting well lately; this would be a good time to get the outside shot back on track. I say they do. I further say that Oden will have his worst game of the year, going for something around 16 points and nine rebounds on shooting a bit under 50%. However, the Buckeyes do enough to beat the Horford-less Gators, 72-68.

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