Big Ten Bradley-Terry Projections

[Bumped.  With no clear #2 team in the Big Ten--based on non-conference results, at least--not playing OSU looking like an even bigger advantage for MSU.  -KJ]

Based on the current Bradley-Terry ratings, I thought it would be interesting to see what the system predicts for Big Ten season. A few caveats, obviously: Four games, mostly against mediocre competition, is not a huge sample size (and a couple teams haven't even played that many; future non-conference games by these teams are not included in the predictions), so ratings may be skewed. Also, home field is not factored into either the basic or the margin-aware system. I first calculated win probability for each game from the ratings, then added them up to get average number of wins and ran 1000 simulations of the season to check for outright and shared Big Ten titles (the program I used for this was not aware of tiebreakers, so I don't know who would go to the Rose Bowl in shared-title situations). Results below the jump.

Basic (W-L only) Method


Team BT WPct Average wins Unbeaten Winless Outright title Shared title
Northwestern 0.8575 5.98 8.32% 1 in 775,000 177 243
Ohio State 0.8339 5.72 5.54% 1 in 264,000 129 232
MSU 0.8312 5.40 3.23% 1 in 113,000 98 177
Michigan 0.8360 5.28 3.02% 1 in 15,600
83 143
Wisconsin 0.8145 5.07 1.77% 1 in 43,000 59 135
Penn State 0.7645 4.39 0.52% 0.03% 25 64
Iowa 0.7009 3.52 0.07% 0.21% 4 26
Illinois 0.6132 3.44 0.03% 0.21% 3 18
Indiana 0.6370 3.14 0.03% 1.04% 1 11
Purdue 0.2970 1.54 1 in 12,000,000 10.47% 0 0
Minnesota 0.1212 0.53 1 in 45,100,000,000 56.38% 0 0


The five teams that are 4-0 thus far have a pretty sizable gap on everyone else; they're between 13th and 21st nationally. Michigan's numbers are worse than ours despite having a better rating because they don't play Minnesota. Really, I'm not sure how useful it is at this point - four games is a pretty tiny sample size to make predictions on, especially when all you know is wins and losses.

Margin-Aware Method

I'm using parameters calculated based on last year's data for the win ratio exponent and the victory point scale. There isn't enough data this year to test if that's reasonable or not.

Team BT WPct Average wins Unbeaten Winless Outright title Shared title
Ohio State 0.9756 7.46 56.74% 1 in 302,000,000,000 707 202
MSU 0.8558 5.57 4.09% 1 in 554,000 24 97
Northwestern 0.8185 5.26 2.26% 1 in 159,000 14 63
Iowa 0.8913 5.19 1.51% 1 in 93,400 26 50
Michigan 0.8257 4.46 0.28% 0.02% 8 31
Wisconsin 0.7689 4.03 0.07% 0.01% 3 6
Penn State 0.7815 3.93 0.07% 0.04% 2 10
Indiana 0.7167 3.41 0.02% 0.26% 2 4
Illinois 0.5861 3.03 1 in 49,300 0.32% 0 3
Purdue 0.2068 1.22 1 in 1,560,000,000 15.97% 0 0
Minnesota 0.0867 0.44 1 in 8,820,000,000,000 61.56% 0 0


This looks a bit more realistic. Iowa isn't dinged as heavily for a close loss out in the desert, Wisconsin's win over Arizona State looks less impressive, Ohio State looks like a juggernaut thanks to a moderately comfortable win over a good team and three annihilations of MACrifices, and Minnesota looks even more hapless. Our not playing Ohio State, and Iowa and Michigan not getting the near auto-wins over Purdue and Minnesota, respectively, give us a very good shot at finishing up high in the Big Ten standings.

It will be interesting to see how accurate these turn out to be. I intend to revisit this at the halfway point of the Big Ten season with updated projections for the rest of the season.

This is a FanPost, written by a member of the TOC community. It does not represent the official positions of The Only Colors, Inc.--largely because we have no official positions.

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