Indiana - North Carolina Preview

SUDDENLY THE BIG 10 CHAMPS ARE A CINDERELLA WHEN INDIANA TAKES ON NORTH CAROLINA

Among the many mysteries of the 2016 NCAA Tournament brackets is the question of how the Big 10 regular season champion Indiana Hoosiers were only given a #5 seed. They ended the campaign EARLY because they had established dominance in a high profile conference. Yet, they were seeded the same as Purdue (an early exit at the hands of Arkansas-Little Rock) and Maryland (into the Sweet 16 thanks partly to a soft schedule). Worse...Indiana was slotted to face hard-finishing Kentucky in the Round of 32...and national co-favorite North Carolina in the Sweet 16!

Some prize for a championship season! The committee should realize that a regular season title is more impressive than a tournament title...we hope.

Indiana certainly hit the floor with a chip on their shoulder. They crushed Tennessee-Chattanooga in their opener (something Michigan State, Purdue, Maryland, and Iowa all failed to do vs. similarly rated competition). Then, they knocked off Kentucky as a +3.5 point underdog. You probably watched the whole game. At no point did Indiana seem like the inferior team in that matchup with the Wildcats.

Friday night, the potential (and very strange) storyline for a Cinderella story from a major conference champion has a chance to continue when Indiana plays North Carolina in Philadelphia. Let's see how both teams thrived in the Round of 32...

North Carolina 88, Providence 66
Two-Point Shooting: Providence 50%, N. Carolina 60%
Three-Pointers: Providence 6/23, N. Carolina 4/14
Free Throws: Providence 14/23, N. Carolina 19/21
Rebounds Providence 24, N. Carolina 42
Turnovers: Providence 11, N. Carolina 15
Phantom Score: Providence 58, N. Carolina 96

Carolina pounded Providence...extending a storyline of mostly disappointments for the Big East. You can see that "Phantom Score" confirms the carnage (making it look even worse!). That's simply two-point scoring plus rebounding...a stat we began presenting to you many years ago that helps emphasize the most important factors in a game. Carolina owned the boards...owned the paint...and generally had their way with an outmatched opponent.

Indiana 73, Kentucky 67
Two-Point Shooting: Indiana 61%, Kentucky 49%
Three-Pointers: Indiana 6/21, Kentucky 4/16
Free Throws: Indiana 17/23, Kentucky 15/19
Rebounds Indiana 30, Kentucky 34
Turnovers: Indiana 13, Kentucky 16
Phantom Score: Indiana 68, Kentucky 74

Wow...how about those inside shooting numbers?! Indiana will certainly have a chance to spring the upset if they can continue to attack the basket successfully. Note that Providence shot 50% inside the arc...and Indiana's a lot better than Providence. The Hoosiers also did a good job of forcing turnovers from Kentucky. That can be a weakness for North Carolina too. On the downside, Indiana doesn't have much margin for error because of a projected loss in the rebounding category. Phantom Score went to Kentucky, who erased that edge with extra turnovers. Carolina is better than Kentucky. Indiana must shoot well to win...and must at least shoot pretty well to cover.

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
North Carolina: 120.1 per 100 possessions (#5 in the nation)
Indiana: 118.8 per 100 possessions (#8 in the nation)

As we move to JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats (as published publicly by Ken Pomeroy at his basketball website), we see that both of these offenses are truly elite after you account for pace and strength of schedule. They attack the basket. They dare you to stop them. Nobody's stopped them yet in this event. Carolina usually stops themselves when things go wrong.

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
North Carolina: 93.6 per 100 possessions (#11 in the nation)
Indiana: 98.0 per 100 possessions (#55 in the nation)

This is where Indiana can run into trouble. It's very hard to BEAT a team like North Carolina if you're #55 in the nation on defense when they're #5. Repeating...no margin for error! Indiana must shoot well and force some turnovers. They also have to hope Carolina plays down to the defensive weakness they showed vs. Duke which hasn't come up much vs. other teams. Duke would always attack the weakest Carolina defender on the floor. That worked for the Devils in a league upset and a nailbiter in the return engagement. Did Indiana make the most of their film study?

Pace Ranking
North Carolina: #48
Indiana: #152

We have a very fast team against an average-paced team. Indiana will have to avoid the temptation to get into a track meet with Carolina. Can Yogi Ferrell keep his wits about him? Playing even for 30 minutes at a fast pace against the Heels just means Indiana will run out of gas in the final minutes. Hoosiers must be smart and sharp.

Against the Spread
North Carolina: 17-18-1
Indiana: 19-15

Carolina is always priced like a superpower, which makes it tough for them to cover spreads consistently. Indiana was underrated by the betting markets (and the Selection Committee). And, they certainly were battle-tested by Big 10 challenges. The issue there is that the Big 10 as a whole may have been so overrated that Indiana is kind of a paper champion. Kentucky would beg to differ.

Friday's card is great...but this matchup is certainly front and center amongst potential NETWORK selections. JIM HURLEY'S tournament basketball is available daily right here at the website for credit card purchase. If you have any questions about extended service, please call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 to take care of business. You can call during normal office hours on Friday. Just don't let the day get away from you!

Big game previews continue through the weekend here in the NOTEBOOK...

Saturday: preview of BOTH games in the Elite 8
Sunday: preview of BOTH games in the Elite 8

Hopefully you enjoyed those few days off from the MADNESS. Time to get back on the attack...so you can GET ALL THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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