The top sportsbooks have released their betting odds for the upcoming NCAA Tournament games.
This game between Indiana and Wyoming isn’t exactly part of the big bracket, though. It is a play-in game. The winner of this meeting will play sixth-seeded Saint Mary’s in the East Region.
Indiana has snuck its way into this play-in game by beating Michigan and Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament before falling to Iowa.
Wyoming did not make it so far in its conference tournament. But a loss against Boise State did not suffice to keep them out of this battle with Indiana. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game.
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Wyoming Cowboys
Tuesday, March 15, 2022 – 09:10 PM EDT at University of Dayton Arena
Indiana’s Poor Perimeter Defense
You will hear praise lavished upon the Hoosier defense. To be fair, Indiana’s defense largely explains why it has made it this far. However, its defense repeatedly proves to be problematic with respect to its ability to guard the perimeter.
If the match-up is right, that is, if the Hoosiers face a team that is comfortable from behind the arc, then their defense will be poor because its weakness will be magnified.
Most recently, Indiana lost to Iowa while giving up 80 points. In that game which took place on Saturday, the Hawkeyes converted 14 of 32 three-point attempts.
However, the Hoosiers have had problems with their perimeter defense all season. It’s not just more efficient three-point shooting teams that are comfortable shooting from deep that are bothering the Hoosiers.
Michigan, for example, traveled to Indiana on January 23 and scored 80 points while making 11 of its 17 three-point attempts.
Shortly before the loss to Michigan, Indiana succumbed to Penn State largely by allowing the latter to convert 11 of its 22 three-point attempts.
Penn State and Michigan, though, rank towards the bottom of the Big Ten in three-point efficiency.
Video footage shows what is wrong with the Hoosier perimeter defense. Trayce Jackson-Davis is one reason. He is thought of highly because we live in a world that favors offense.
However, he is a poor perimeter defender. He is slow to move and slow to contest opposing three-point attempts. Like Jackson-Davis, Hoosier defenders in general struggle to fight through off-ball screens. They also tend to get glued too easily to the basket.
Given these occurrences, opposing shooters repeatedly, and with seeming ease, manage to attempt uncontested threes.
I like Wyoming because the Cowboys love to shoot threes. By the numbers, they easily attempt more threes than most teams. Nationally, they have the 88th-highest ratio of three-pointers attempted to field goals attempted.
Of course, it’s not simply the case that teams that shoot a lot of threes will beat Indiana. Maryland, for example, attempted a relatively high ratio of threes compared to other Big Ten teams but lost to Indiana.
The Terps relied on inconsistent and often poor personnel to make a lot of threes. In order to avoid Maryland’s fate, Wyoming will not only need to generate favorable three-point shooting opportunities. It will also need to have shooters it can rely on.
One way in which the Cowboys like to generate three-point attempts is their inside-out game. Hunter Maldonado is a unique specimen as a 6-7 point guard.
His teammates like to give him space to operate in isolation because his combination of size, skill, and handle makes him difficult to guard one v. one. He’ll easily back up smaller Hoosier guards inside and he’ll often shoot over his defender inside the arc.
Maldonado demands a lot of attention down low as does fellow high-volume shooter Graham Ike. Ike is very strong and powerful but also quick with the ball inside. Given this combination of size and skill, defenders end up fouling him more often when trying to stop him.
He draws the fourth-most fouls in the nation, ranking 23 spots ahead of Maldonado in the category.
These two guys will initiate a lot of in-and-out actions as defenders converge upon them inside at which point they can pass the ball behind the arc to an open shooter.
Like teams that have given the Hoosier perimeter defense significant trouble, Wyoming will employ many off-ball screens.
There are other efficient shooters, but the key figure here is Drake Jeffries. 92.3 percent of Jeffries’ threes are assisted. He is primarily a catch-and-shoot guy who utilizes off-ball screens.
This season, he’s converting 40.1 percent of his three-point attempts. He’ll knock down plenty of them tonight against this Hoosier defense.
I spent so much time discussing Indiana’s defense because it is really hard to like the Hoosiers when you don’t like their defense.
Their offense ranked 10th in the Big Ten in efficiency. Their three-point shooting is particularly terrible.
Even though they have Jackson-Davis inside, they were even one of the least efficient Big Ten teams inside the arc as well.
Their point guard often exercises poor judgment, which explains his high turnover rate. The shooters that they added in the offseason have not panned out.
There’s also not a lot of versatility. Guys they rely on extra to score, such as Race Thompson, produce very little behind the arc while the supposed shooters like Miller Kopp are extremely inefficient inside the arc.
They’ll need to score a lot of points to keep up with the Cowboys but they won’t make the necessary baskets. For the above reasons, invest in Wyoming for your NCAAB picks.
NCAAB Pick: Wyoming +4 (-110) at FanDuel