The Box Score: Inside Iowa men's basketball statistics

BY BEN ROSS | DECEMBER 19, 2013 5:00 AM

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It’s here. The time where Big Ten teams play schools with starting centers under 6-5 and laughable endowment sizes is over. Big Ten basketball slate is about to get underway, and many of the schools top the nation in key stats. Part of that has something to do with meager competition, but it also has something to do with the Big Ten’s utter dominance in the craft honed by Dr. James Naismith. Ready?

Assist/Turnover Ratio: Michigan State, No. 6 in NCAA, Iowa No. 7 in NCAA

Big Ten teams are pretty efficient with the rock, and they have a tendency to hold on to it when the ball’s in their court. Through nine games, No. 5 Michigan State has turned the ball over just 103 times, while recording 180 assists to hit a 1.75 mark. Iowa follows Sparty, netting 217 assists to 125 turnovers through 12 games to record just a tenth of a percentage point behind Michigan State.

Iowa’s assist/turnover ratio is helped greatly by the play of starting guard Mike Gesell, who leads the entire country in the statistic. The sophomore has posted 48 assists to just 8 turnovers. To put that in perspective, Gesell records about 5.5 assists, or accounts for 11 points, for every time he turns the ball over.

Personal Fouls Per Game: Wisconsin, No. 2 in NCAA, Michigan and Ohio State T-3 in NCAA

Big Ten teams don’t reach this kind of success without playing smart and disciplined, and that’s what the coaches for Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State — Bo Ryan, John Beilein, and Thad Matta —are all about.

Through 12 games, the Badgers have had the whistle blown on them just 179 times. That equates to just under 15 fouls a game, which means it’s especially tough for teams to score easy points on Bucky at the charity stripe. Michigan and Ohio State are pretty much in the same boat as Wisconsin; both schools have committed 151 fouls in 10 games for a little over 15 fouls each outing.

Iowa isn’t the best at keeping opponents from the free-throw line; the Hawkeyes commit around 18 fouls a game so far. But a 27-foul performance against Iowa State last week certainly doesn’t help its average, either.

Field-Goal Defense — Ohio State, Iowa, Indiana, Top-10 in NCAA

The Big Ten has always been known for stingy defense on the hardwood, and this year is no different. Ohio State, which possesses, like, the best defensive player of all time in Aaron Craft, is fifth in the nation in allowing just 200 of opponents’ 547 shots to make it in. Other teams are shooting just 36 percent against Ohio State, which could be a reason the Buckeyes are ranked third in the nation overall.

Iowa is sixth, while Indiana is ninth in the country in the statistic, with the teams allowing just around 36 and 37 percent of opponents shots to be baskets, respectively.

Assists Per Game — Michigan State No. 1 in NCAA, Iowa No. 8 in NCAA

Even though Michigan State has guys such as Gary Harris, the Spartans play largely like they’re a team that lacks superstars, recording 20 assists a game as a team. Iowa is averaging 2 fewer assists a game than its conference rivals, but the Black and Gold have also played four more games than Sparty, skewing averages slightly. Michigan State has four players averaging more than 10 points a game, just one more than Iowa. The Hawkeyes have a 10-man rotation in which everyone plays at least 15 minutes a game, so it’s harder to have a couple of players with eye-popping numbers like some of those on Michigan State.

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