That was a really nice win. After a competitive first half, we managed to expand our lead in the second half. Gonzaga pulled to within 3, at 38-35 at the 17:37 mark. Rod Wilmont hit a three at the 17:00 mark, and the Bulldogs never were within a possession again. Neither team shot particularly well, although IU did manage 47 percent in the second half. In the first half, IU shot only 34 percent but managed 38 percent (7-18) from behind the arc, which accounted for the lead. My quick calculations indicate a 66 possession game--nothing out of the ordinary for Gonzaga, but run-and-gun by Big Ten standards. As the Wonk notes, this was an outstanding performance for the Hoosier defense, or at least a fairly deficient performance by Gonzaga's offense. The Wonk says 67 possessions, I say 66, but in any event, something in the neighborhood of .86 points per possession for the Zags, while IU was just south of 1.0. Again, this was a quicker game than most of the games IU played during the Big Ten season, so while the 13 turnovers may look a bit high, the 19.6 turnover percentage is just a tick higher than IU's 18.9 average in Big Ten play.
The Big Ten has taken quite a bit of grief for the style of play and the number of bids and quality of seeds that the tournament committee awarded to the Big Ten. I'm not really a "conference pride guy," meaning I don't feel any particular obligation to root for Purdue or Illinois or Wisconsin in the tournament because it's "good for the Big Ten." I vaguely hope that the Big Ten does well, but it doesn't mean I will sit down on the couch and root for Purdue in the tournament. Today might be an exception. The criticism of the Big Ten has been so harsh that I would love to see a 6-0 start, even if it means rooting for the loathesome Boilers and Illini. I love that MSU managed lull a quality Big East team that averages over 67 possessions per game into a snail's pace, 58 possession game, and won comfortably. IU played at a faster pace than normal, and won comfortably. I realize that ugly, slow basketball does not always indicate good defense, but at the same time, a 49-45 score does not always indicate a poorly played game, and I'm sick of the simpletons in the media who say so.