Hoops and Scoops reviews all the scenarios to show that Ohio State has now locked up the #5 seed in the conference tournament regardless of the results of this weekends’ games. So MSU will definitely be playing the Buckeyes twice in a row–Sunday and then Friday.
TAFKATBTW has a piece up today on the topic of consistency, or the lack thereof. He finds that MSU has the second most inconsistent offense in the nation, as measured by the standard deviation of their offensive points per possession in conference games. He notes that part of what shows up as “inconsistency” is actually their improved offensive play over the last 5 games due in large part to the dramatically-reduced turnover numbers. (Note that there are now three Big Ten teams with higher turnover percentages in conference play than MSU’s.)
But the ex-Wonk also cautions:
The problem with the positive spin, however, is that turnovers don’t tell the whole story of the Michigan State offense. Note, for example, that in terms of shooting from the field, the Spartans are far and away the most inconsistent team in the Big Ten. Thus we find that, over the past couple weeks, MSU didn’t turn the ball over at home against Iowa or on the road against Wisconsin, but they didn’t make many shots, either. Until further notice, then, mark Michigan State as consistently inconsistent.
The graph in the PDF file linked below illustrates MSU’s offensive inconsistency relative to the other three Big Ten NCAA tournament locks. It shows the distribution of offensive efficiency numbers in conference games for each team ranked from highest to lowest.
MSU’s three best offensive performances (home games vs. Penn State, Indiana, Northwestern) are better than any of the other three teams’ comparable performances. And their six worst offensive performances are worse than any of the other three teams’ comparable performances. (Note: I just noticed I accidentally included an extra game for Wisconsin–probably the Texas game. Since it doesn’t make a significant difference–and it’s midnight on a Friday–I’m going to leave it be.)
We can say with certainty that offensive inconsistency has badly hurt MSU’s conference regular season fortunes. Mr. Gasaway also thinks inconsistency is a bad sign for a team’s postseason hopes–a pretty reasonable interpretation.
One could reach a bit and spin it the other way, though: An inconsistent team has shown the potential to play very well and may be more dangerous to put together a run in the NCAA Tournament playing above their average performance level for the season.
OK, here’s the Coffee Talk question of the week: The four Big Ten teams definitely headed to the Big Dance may all go into the tournament with seeds in the 3-5 range. Which team has the best chance of putting together a four game run to advance to the Final Four?
Wisconsin with their methodical consistency?
Indiana with their two big-time offensive stars?
Purdue with their quickness and balance?
Or MSU with their deeper and more talented, but less consistent, playing rotation?
Have at it.