Monday, February 25, 2013
After weeks atop AP poll, Indiana finally jumps to No. 1 in UPS Team Performance Index
Retaining its top ranking in the AP poll, Indiana also finally climbed atop the UPS Team Performance Index.
While the Hoosiers' place at the head of the AP Top 25 has been a somewhat regular occurrence this season -- Monday's poll marked the 10th time in 17 weeks they've been No. 1 -- this week marks the first time they've also claimed top billing in the UPS index.
Another strong showing on the road to take control of the Big Ten helped them inch ahead of Gonzaga by a slim margin as Florida's four-week run in the top spot ended.
In conjunction with STATS LLC, UPS has created a proprietary algorithm that gauges six major statistics covering the spectrum of a team's on-court performance: effective field-goal percentage, effective field-goal percentage against, rebounding percentage, ball-handling efficiency, miscues and winning percentage.
From there, the data is normalized and an overall index is created for all 345 NCAA Division I teams. The scores are not meant to reflect a traditional power poll, per se, but measure a broad range of inside-the-lines excellence and overall balance.
While the Hoosiers (24-3) remain truly dominant in three UPS categories -- they're second in win percentage, fifth in effective field-goal percentage, and seventh in rebounding -- they still rank among the top 20 in the other three. And though Indiana's effective field-goal percentage against is its weakest area (43.5 percent), the Hoosiers are really starting to buckle down defensively.
Opponents are averaging 59.5 points on 39.9 percent shooting during the team's four-game winning streak.
Junior guard Victor Oladipo continues to help spark the Hoosiers on both sides of the court and he turned in a big performance Tuesday night despite not being 100 percent in Indiana's 72-68 win at then-No. 4 Michigan State. Oladipo suffered a sprained ankle three days earlier, but still finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, five steals and a block as the Hoosiers took sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
"He makes them better," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said of Oladipo, who also had the go-ahead basket, a dunk and made two free throws in the final 47 seconds.
"Oladipo is just a refuse-to-lose guy. Winning time, he made the plays."
Oladipo is just one of many weapons for opponents to worry about, though, as Indiana is averaging 80.3 points over its last seven games while shooting 49.9 percent from the field. He and teammate Cody Zeller surpassed the career 1,000-point plateau against Michigan State, joining Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford.
Never before in program history have the Hoosiers had four 1,000-point scorers on the same team.
"They've got a lot of weapons," Izzo said. "They've got a lot of experience."
After four straight weeks in UPS' top spot, a 63-60 loss at Missouri last Tuesday played a big role in Florida's fall to No. 3 in the index. Despite the defeat, the Gators -- who also dropped from No. 5 to No. 8 in the AP poll -- still remain one of the country's most balanced teams. Florida's 57.3 effective field-goal percentage ranks third, while its 42.4 percentage against is tied for fifth.
Gonzaga rose from fourth to No. 2, swapping places with Stephen F. Austin and disrupting what had been a regular triumvirate of Gators, Hoosiers, and Lumberjacks over the past five weeks.
The Bulldogs, who own the nation's best record at 27-2 and have received at least one first-place vote in the AP poll for three straight weeks, trail the Hoosiers by just 0.31 in the index. Gonzaga has reeled off 10 straight wins by an average of 22.7 points; the team's two victories last week were by a total of 74.
Like the Hoosiers, the Bulldogs have left little doubt all season about their offensive prowess. It's their defense that has recently guided them to the program's highest ranking ever, holding conference opponents to 57.7 points on 37.5 percent shooting.
Gonzaga limited San Diego to 35.7 percent shooting -- its sixth straight opponent to shoot less than 40 percent -- in an 81-50 win on Saturday, clinching at least a tie for the West Coast Conference regular-season title.
"Our defensive effort has been outstanding," coach Mark Few said. "It's as good a sustained defensive effort as I've seen here."
Without a loss since Dec. 12, Louisiana Tech (24-3) vaulted itself from 39th to 23rd in the index the same week they also broke into the AP poll at No. 25. It's the Bulldogs' first ranking since 1985 -- when Karl Malone was a member of the squad.
Grambling State -- the nation's only winless team at 0-24 -- brought up the back of the rankings for the sixth consecutive week.