Big Ten Basketball Bradley-Terry Projections: Down The Stretch We Come


When last we looked, the prediction was 10-11 wins and annoyance but no worries on Selection Sunday. Ah, for the good old days. Now: (data through Monday night)

  Pom Rank Pom WPct BT Rank BT WPct MABT Rank MABT WPct
Ohio St 1 0.9811 1 0.9947 1 0.9872
Purdue 9 0.9530 14 0.9332 12 0.9615
Wisconsin 6 0.9652 16 0.9293 8 0.9659
Minnesota 42 0.8603 28 0.8983 33 0.9070
Illinois 15 0.9327 37 0.8771 16 0.9468
Michigan St 50 0.8402 44 0.8512 50 0.8643
Michigan 55 0.8317 47 0.8446 47 0.8732
Northwestern 47 0.8476 54 0.8328 39 0.8949
Penn St 57 0.8293 67 0.8136 58 0.8554
Indiana 64 0.8064 104 0.6914 86 0.7796
Iowa 80 0.7632 121 0.6307 104 0.7037

Pomeroy's numbers now rank the Big Ten as four elite teams, six bubble-level teams (Indiana's record isn't going to get them anywhere near it but their tempo-free numbers suggest that may be more a matter of getting stuck in a loaded conference than anything else), and Iowa as possibly worthy of a secondary postseason tournament (if not for the same problem Indiana has with the record not matching up). No-margin Bradley-Terry is much less impressed with the "I" schools but moves Minnesota up; throw the margin back in and it's Northwestern that benefits the most.

For purposes of projections, Purdue's win over Indiana tonight is included in the current record, but the ratings themselves do not include it. Home court advantage is not considered; this is a modification I want to make over the offseason. I'm leaving off title chances at this point, because honestly, it's going to be Ohio State.

Basic Bradley-Terry (W-L Only)

Splitting this up into separate sections so we can do full projections of final record; a table that goes all the way from 18-0 to 3-15 would be too wide to be of use.

The Presumptive Champion
Team WPct Current Average wins 18-0 17-1 16-2 15-3 14-4 13-5 12-6 11-7
Ohio St 0.9947 11-0 17.70 73.39% 23.35% 3.04% 0.21% 1 in 12,400 1 in 570k 1 in 50.9M 1 in 11.6B

Given that the odds are nearly 1 in 500 that Ohio State loses enough games to even conceivably end up in a tie, I think it's mostly safe to say they're going to win the title outright. Mostly. Once they lose once, we can re-evaluate.

The Distant Challengers
Team WPct Current Average wins 15-3 14-4 13-5 12-6 11-7 10-8 9-9 8-10 7-11
Purdue 0.9332 8-3 12.37 0.85% 13.71% 32.70% 32.25% 15.92% 4.06% 0.49% 0.02% N/A
Wisconsin 0.9293 7-3 11.54 0.06% 1.88% 16.77% 34.70% 30.08% 13.14% 3.02% 0.34% 0.02%

Wisconsin's upcoming trip to Mackey may decide second place, but both teams have several tough games ahead.

The Bubble Hopefuls
Team WPct Current Average wins 13-5 12-6 11-7 10-8 9-9 8-10 7-11 6-12 5-13
Minnesota 0.8983 5-6 9.60 N/A 4.99% 19.04% 30.60% 26.80% 13.76% 4.12% 0.66% 0.04%
Illinois 0.8771 5-5 8.85 0.04% 1.22% 7.69% 21.27% 30.99% 25.07% 11.08% 2.44% 0.21%
Michigan St 0.8512 5-6 8.01 N/A 0.03% 1.35% 8.69% 23.63% 32.73% 23.90% 8.55% 1.12%

Well, that's ... depressing. If it's any comfort, the fact that we'll be home against Illinois, Purdue, and Penn State isn't factored in, so our chances may be a little better than this indicates, but a 1 in 3 shot at 9-9 or better and the tournament bid that would likely provide is not where any of us imagined we'd be three weeks ago.

The Long Shots
Team WPct Current Average wins 12-6 11-7 10-8 9-9 8-10 7-11 6-12 5-13 4-14
Northwestern 0.8328 4-7 7.61 N/A 0.69% 5.56% 17.85% 29.64% 27.58% 14.38% 3.88% 0.42%
Michigan 0.8446 4-7 7.58 N/A 0.66% 5.31% 17.29% 29.39% 28.03% 14.87% 4.02% 0.43%
Penn St 0.8136 5-6 7.30 1 in 17,100 0.31% 2.95% 12.16% 26.61% 32.24% 20.43% 5.29% N/A

All three of these teams have the potential to make a run. Northwestern probably needs the strongest finish, as they lack any semblance of a non-conference schedule. Penn State's isn't good either, but Michigan could sneak in if they get to 9-9.

The Bottom Tier (Which Isn't Even Really That Bad)
Team WPct Current Average wins 10-8 9-9 8-10 7-11 6-12 5-13 4-14 3-13
Iowa 0.6307 3-8 4.30 1 in 182k 0.02% 0.28% 2.15% 9.83% 26.28% 38.17% 23.27%
Indiana 0.6914 3-9 4.14 N/A 1 in 195k 0.05% 0.94% 6.81% 24.08% 41.08% 27.05%

Both teams look likely to scratch out one more win, but that's about it. And yet Pomeroy's ratings would put them in the middle of the pack in the ACC.

Margin-Aware Bradley-Terry

The Presumptive Champion
Team WPct Current Average wins 18-0 17-1 16-2 15-3 14-4 13-5 12-6 11-7
Ohio St 0.9872 11-0 16.84 26.93% 40.24% 24.11% 7.38% 1.22% 0.11% 1 in 21,200 1 in 1.27M

Not as prohibitive a favorite when considering margin, but there's still a better than 90% chance that they don't lose three games.

The Distant Challengers
Team WPct Current Average wins 15-3 14-4 13-5 12-6 11-7 10-8 9-9 8-10 7-9
Purdue 0.9615 8-3 12.47 2.49% 15.29% 32.08% 31.10% 15.06% 3.58% 0.39% 0.02% N/A
Wisconsin 0.9659 7-3 12.28 1.61% 11.73% 30.01% 33.12% 17.71% 5.00% 0.76% 0.06% 1 in 59,500

The race is a little tighter here but Purdue's still the favorite for second place.

The Bubble Hopefuls
Team WPct Current Average wins 13-5 12-6 11-7 10-8 9-9 8-10 7-11 6-12 5-13
Illinois 0.9468 5-5 9.84 0.82% 7.18% 21.91% 31.92% 24.72% 10.62% 2.51% 0.30% 0.01%
Minnesota 0.9070 5-6 9.13 N/A 2.09% 11.51% 25.67% 30.32% 20.59% 8.03% 1.66% 0.14%

Notice somebody missing?

The Long Shots
Team WPct Current Average wins 12-6 11-7 10-8 9-9 8-10 7-11 6-12 5-13 4-14
Northwestern 0.8949 4-7 7.92 N/A 1.15% 8.44% 22.91% 31.29% 23.72% 10.08% 2.23% 0.20%
Michigan St 0.8643 5-6 7.67 0.03% 0.67% 5.02% 17.53% 31.51% 29.58% 13.44% 2.23% N/A
Penn St 0.8554 5-6 7.30 0.01% 0.36% 3.02% 12.15% 26.46% 32.12% 20.51% 5.37% N/A
Michigan 0.8732 4-7 7.26 N/A 0.26% 2.87% 12.32% 26.52% 31.08% 19.82% 6.34% 0.79%

Given our non-conference schedule, I think our chances of getting into the tournament are much better than Northwestern's despite their better projected record (NW probably needs to go 10-8 in conference given their non-conference schedule, I'd feel fairly comfortable that MSU gets in at 9-9), but if I'm projecting the conference standings I can't in good conscience put us in a higher category than them.

The Worse-Than-Everybody-Else-But-Still-Not-Bad
Team WPct Current Average wins 10-8 9-9 8-10 7-11 6-12 5-13 4-14 3-15
Iowa 0.7037 3-8 4.22 1 in 425k 0.01% 0.18% 1.63% 8.48% 25.08% 39.30% 25.31%
Indiana 0.7796 3-9 4.08 N/A 1 in 100k 0.05% 0.76% 5.84% 22.62% 41.75% 28.99%

Not much different than the no-margin rankings.

MSU Game Projections

No-margin rankings:

vs. PSU: 56.7%
@ OSU: 3.0%
vs. Illinois: 44.5%
@ Minnesota: 39.3%
vs. Purdue: 29.0%
vs. Iowa: 77.0%
@ Michigan: 51.3%

Margin-aware rankings:

vs. PSU: 51.9% (-0.5)
@ OSU: 7.7% (+14)
vs. Illinois: 26.4% (+6)
@ Minnesota: 39.5% (+2.5)
vs. Purdue: 20.3% (+7.5)
vs. Iowa: 72.8% (-5.5)
@ Michigan: 48.1% (+0.5)

Those four games in which we're mild underdogs (counting at Michigan) will have to provide two wins (along with not blowing the two in which we're favored) if we're going to keep the tournament streak alive.

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