If you’re a fan of my statistical previews, I think you’ll be a fan of a contest that we’ve included in Branden MacKinnon’s latest Eye Test: The Drew-Tang Clan. Go check it out, then come back and read about the stats you need to know for the final regular season game!
The winner will receive a free shirt with this sweet album art.
Now on to your regularly scheduled statistical preview!
By the end of tonight, we’ll know if Baylor Men’s Basketball (#3, 25-5) can repeat as Big 12 Champions. Standing in their way is one final regular season game against the streaky Iowa State Cyclones (20-10).
Iowa State is an interesting team. They started the season 12-0, were ranked 8th in the country, and lost their first conference game to none other than Baylor. They are now 7-10 in conference games without anything to play for other than pride and better seeding in the tournament.
If there’s one stat to know about Iowa State, it’s that they have the second-biggest gap between their offensive and defensive efficiency ratings on Ken Pom in the conference. Here are three stats the delve into that a little further.
Two Point Offense
Iowa State has the 10th best defense in the country according to Ken Pom, and a big reason why is their three point defense. The Cyclones hold their opponents to a 5 percentage point lower three point percentage than their opponents average in other games (12th in the country).
Fortunately, Baylor doesn’t need to shoot well from deep to win this game. The Bears average a 53% two point shooting percentage (68th in the country), and the Cyclones only hold their opponents to a 1 percentage point lower two point shooting percentage (182nd in the country).
In their first meeting, Baylor shot 53% from two.
Two Point Defense
Iowa State ranks 274th in the country with only 67.3 points per game. They shoot the ball poorly from three (230th in the country), rarely get to the free throw line (215th in the country), don’t offensive rebound well (200th in the country), and turn the ball over a lot (289th in the country).
The best thing that Iowa State has going for them on offense is an average two point shooting percentage of 51% (148th in the country), but look out for a higher percentage tonight.
Like Iowa State, Baylor has a great defense, and they defend especially well from the perimeter (-4 percentage points, 22nd in the country). Also like Iowa State, Baylor only holds their opponents to a 1 percentage point lower two point shooting percentage (175th in the country).
When they last played, Iowa State shot an absurdly low 7% from three. Yes, 7%. They made 1 three point attempt out of 14. And they only lost by 5 points. How did they keep the game close? Free throws (27-14 free throw attempt disparity), and a 62% shooting percentage from two.
Based on the prior sentence, you might think that the free throw differential will be a key to this game. Statistically, that is unlikely to be the case. Both teams have a low free throw rate — Baylor is 240th in the country, and Iowa State is 215th in the country — so I’ll chalk up the last game to referees succumbing to the pressure of Hilton Coliseum.
Rebounding should be a much bigger factor in the outcome tonight.
Baylor is an elite offensive rebounding team (stop me if you’ve heard that before) with an offensive rebounding rate of 35% (7th in the country). Iowa State is a below average defensive rebounding team, holding their opponents to a 0.5 percentage point lower offensive rebounding rate (202nd in the country).
On the other side of the court, Iowa State is a below average offensive rebounding team, collecting 26% of their offensive rebound opportunities (200th in the country), and Baylor is a slightly better defensive rebounding team, holding their opponents to a 1 percentage point lower offensive rebounding rate (182nd in the country).
Baylor rebounded well against Iowa State previously, getting 38% of their misses on offense, but they also allowed Iowa State to rebound 33% of their own missed shots. I expect to see a bigger advantage for Baylor this time around.
Ken Pom Prediction: Baylor 72, Iowa State 60