Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Best in the State?

As we enter the final week of the regular season, we have been debating on the show who the best team in Indiana is. Here's how they weigh-in:

Purdue (24-5, 13-3 Big Ten)
RPI says: 2-3 vs. Top 25, 5-3 vs. Top 50, 12-5 vs. Top 75
Good wins: Ohio State, Wisconsin, at Illinois
Bad losses: Richmond-N, at Minnesota
PROS: have two of the best players in the country, have a dominant big, are terrific defensively, good role players who know what their job is, have experience where they need it, don’t get shaken too much on the road,
CONS: did nothing against a mediocre non-league schedule, their road resume isn’t super-impressive, struggle when a third guy doesn’t step up, rely on streaky players like Smith, Byrd, and Barlow, had trouble closing out good opponents away from Mackey Arena

Notre Dame (24-5, 13-4 Big East)
RPI says: 6-4 vs. Top 25, 9-4 vs. Top 50, 12-5 vs. Top 75
Good wins: at Pitt, Wisconsin-N, Georgetown, St. John’s, UConn, Louisville, Villanova
Bad losses: at Marquette (by 22), at West Virginia (by 14), at St. John’s (by 18)
PROS: experienced, senior leadership, have a go-to guy (Ben Hansbrough), lethal from three-point range, can score with anybody
CONS: have not played consistently well away from home, struggle when they don’t hit shots, not terrific defensively, have issues against physical teams, don’t have a great Tournament history in recent seasons

Butler (21-9, 13-5 Horizon)
RPI says: 0-3 vs. Top 25, 3-3 vs. Top 50, 5-4 vs. Top 75
Good wins: swept Cleveland State, Florida State-N
Bad losses: at Youngstown State (RPI 290!), Evansville (136), at Wright State (129)
PROS: seem to have gotten things figured out since a three-game losing skid, one of the premiere teams in the Horizon defensively, found some consistency on offense, have veterans that have been there before, when they hit shots watch out, thrive in the underdog role
CONS: the only NCAA Tournament team they’ve beaten this year is FSU, did not play well on the road, the Horizon is still the Horizon, Shelvin Mack has been disappointing (FG% down from 45 to 40, 3-pt FG% down from 39 to 33), as has Zach Hahn

Butler isn't really a part of this conversation. They're not a Top 25-caliber team, much less a Final Four contender like Notre Dame and Purdue. This really comes down to the Irish and the Boilermakers. While Notre Dame has a much better overall resume, I feel that Purdue is the more dangerous team. They have two of the top ten players in the country in JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, and are more of a consistent lockdown defensive team than Notre Dame is. The verdict goes to Purdue, but it's close. Both teams have a chance to really be dangerous in a few weeks.

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