INPIYL2I is the BHGP daily roundup of news, gossip, and good stuff from Blogfrica. Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A basketball-centric linkdump this afternoon:
But Archie! According to Lickliter, forward Aaron Fuller is practicing and will be available for tonight's game with Virginia Tech (Carver-Hawkeye Arena, ESPN2, 8:30) in the ACC-Big Ten Contrivance Challenge. Fuller has missed the vast majority of Iowa's last four games with an ankle sprain. Fuller's return should allow Lickliter to return to his preferred 9-man rotation, though the jury remains out on how much that will affect the actual performance of this squad; Fuller was averaging just 4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game during the first week of the season, numbers far surpassed by Cougill as of late.
The prognosis is not so good for Devon Archie, who injured his shoulder one week before the season tipped off and for whom Todd Lickliter is "strongly considering" a redshirt. Archie is a 6'9" forward/center who is technically a junior after transferring from junior college. Size has been a concern since he signed with the Hawks (he's listed at just 215 pounds); perhaps a year in the weight room would do everyone involved some good, especially if Cole and Cougill can muster some sort of interior offensive presence.
The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown Down. The ACC-Big Ten Challenge tipped last night, with Penn State pulling a mild upset over Virginia at Monticello or wherever they play basketball. Five more games are set to go tonight, including the much-anticipated MSU-UNC national title rematch and the far-less-anticipated Northwestern-NC State pillowfight. Our friends over at The Only Colors preview the Challenge. They like numbers way too much, using Sagarin ratings to calculate approximate odds and coming to the only possible conclusion: The schedule is once again tilted in the ACC's direction, the Big Ten (even this, the best Big Ten in a decade) is a decided underdog, and the ACC will likely win their 11th straight Challenge crown.
We're Gonna Slow Things Down. This One's For the Ladies. It's Called 'Get Back in the Car.' Current Basketball Prospectus egghead, Big Ten Wonk emeritus, and NEXT WEEK'S BHGPODCAST GUEST WHAT John Gasaway crunches the numbers and comes to a shocking conclusion: The Big Ten isn't so damn slow anymore, averaging a brisk 68.9 possessions per game. Gasaway uses this as the starting point for a completely legitimate critique of the relative sameness of Big Ten teams over the past handful of seasons:
If the Big Ten were at long last to join the community of major conferences where speed is concerned, it would mark a seminal moment not because fast is "good" and slow is "bad," but rather because in matters of pace diversity is good and homogeneity is bad. The problem with the Big Ten’s figure for "average" tempo in past years hasn’t been that the number is so low as much as that it’s been so magnetically popular within the conference.
By way of contrast consider the state of Washington, where the Washington Huskies have long raced along at a fast clip (last year their fast pace arguably obscured how good their defense really was) while Washington State has preferred a much more deliberate approach. The latter description may change now that Tony Bennett is no longer in residence, but in the recent past these two rivals have between them embodied far more temporal diversity than the 11 teams of the Big Ten have been able to muster.
As with everything Gasaway has written since he started kindergarten, it's full of numbers and prose and goodies goodies everywhere. Grab your graphing calculator and absorb the wonkiness.
Operation Give Us Your Money. From the Barn, which covers Minnesota basketball and should be Exhibit A whenever a Gopher fan accuses Iowans of being redneck farmers (as in, "Your team literally plays in a decrepit old barn. And so does your basketball program.") is attempting to organize a rodent infestation of Carver-Hawkeye Arena for Minny's game in Iowa City on January 2. I, for one, encourage it. Feel free to come to Iowa City on January 2, while we are still gearing up for our bowl game, and spend all the money you saved by not traveling to the Insight Bowl for the third time in four years. We'll promise to be really hospitable.
- Doc Saturday breaks down the Iowa-Penn State BCS selection fight.
- Remember the sombrero guys from the Minnesota game? Not only was Iowa blogger Josh Heyer one of the faux-mustachioed cactus-carrying Fiesta Bowl aficionados, but he chronicled his day-long search through Iowa City and Coralville for the sombreros.
- Improv Everywhere, who struck Yankee Stadium with the "Where's Rob?" game a couple of years ago, runs the same gambit at Madison Square Garden. I would say we should try this at CHA, but there aren't nearly enough people to make it work.