While the staff at H&R do great previews for the games, I thought I'd write up a little something from the perspective of advanced statistics. I hope to make it stat-based without being too boring. I'm new to this, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to send them my way. If you're unfamiliar with any of these statistics, I recommend reading this.
Here's what jumps out at me about OSU:
1 They are good.
Based on offensive and defensive efficiency, Ohio State is ranked highly, 12th in the country. And like most of Thad Matta's teams, it is solid on both ends of the floor--19th best offense and 13th best defense.
2 They have not had success against good teams so far this year.
OSU has only played 3 teams ranked in KenPom's Top 100 and is 0-3 in those games. I should note that they did beat Washington (currently ranked #102) 77-66 on a neutral court. As bad as Purdue has been this year, we have played 6 games against KenPom's top 100, with a record of 2-4 (and that includes the Ballad of the Flagrant Tricep against Villanova).
3 They generally shoot well, but when they shoot poorly, they shoot REALLY poorly.
From a bird's eye view, OSU looks like a good shooting team. They have an EFG of 51.7% and are decent from both inside (50%) and outside (36.7%) the arc. Their performance in most of their games fits with these numbers. In 14 games this season, they have posted an EFG of over 50% in 9 of them.
However, in their 3 worst shooting performances of the year (which were their 3 losses), they were not just bad but absolutely putrid, posting EFGs of 38.2%, 36.9%, and 36.7%. By contrast, in the 3 previous seasons (about 100 games) they've shot under 40% only 5 times.
4 Their poor shooting nights have been against teams with defensive profiles similar to Purdue's.
Consider these numbers for Purdue's defense and the defenses of the three teams that beat OSU:
Block% Opp 2P% Effective height Kansas 22.6 36.6 +2.5" Duke 11.5 41.4 +3.1" Illinois 13.8 45.3 +2.4" Purdue 11.7 42.0 +2.9"
Like Kansas, Duke, and Illinois Purdue is tall, blocks a lot of shots and defends twos well. No other teams on Ohio State's schedule to this point have combined those three characteristics.
5 They are a balanced team.
By "balanced" I mean that they are above average in every aspect tracked by Four Factors statistics. This is pretty rare, and it suggests that if they come in focused (as they should be after getting hammered in Champaign), they can take care of business.
In our win against Illinois, there were clear weaknesses in the statistical profile that we were able to exploit--Illinois is bad on the defensive glass and bad at getting to the line. Sure enough, during the game, we pulled down 44% of our missed shots and held the Illini to 14 free throws. That, along with solid offense from DJ and TJ, was enough to propel us to victory. The Buckeyes don't appear to have that sort of obvious weakness to exploit.
I don't really like making predictions. I think these stats are best used as guides for what to look for during a game. That said, what's the fun of writing all this if I don't get to make a prediction?
Save the second half debacle at East Lansing, Purdue has played solid ball during the Big Ten season. And if anything, the collapse against Michigan State should give our young team the focus they need to pull off the upset. Based on how Ohio State has performed against Top 100 teams and Purdue-style defenses, I have to lean toward Purdue. At some point this year, Ohio State will win a road game and beat a team in the KenPom top 100, but not today.
Purdue 68, Ohio State 65