USA TODAY Sports
Who has the best chances to cut down the nets in Chicago?
The Big Ten regular season has ended, with just a hair's breadth proving the difference between Indiana as outright champions and a four-way tie. The tournament starts Thursday, and here is the bracket. Ken Pomeroy has been doing projections of odds for the various conference tournaments (that link is to the Big XII tournament; Big Ten isn't up yet but it should appear on his blog soon) with his rating system, and I will do the same (for the Big Ten) with mine.
Probabilities are listed first by the basic method, then by margin-aware. Northwestern is given credit for partial home-court advantage.
|#1 Indiana||100%||73.38% / 80.68%||45.61% / 53.53%||28.06% / 36.27%|
|#2 Ohio State||100%||82.89% / 88.48%||44.10% / 51.28%||20.68% / 22.06%|
|#3 Michigan State||100%||78.46% / 76.39%||45.72% / 39.84%||22.17% / 16.27%|
|#4 Wisconsin||100%||37.97% / 31.02%||13.34% / 8.28%||5.33% / 3.01%|
|#5 Michigan||92.04% / 95.96%||60.88% / 68.60%||30.80% / 31.55%||17.24% / 18.36%|
|#6 Iowa||65.68% / 74.24%||16.45% / 20.58%||5.53% / 6.41%||1.41% / 1.40%|
|#7 Purdue||51.95% / 64.68%||9.17% / 8.74%||1.95% / 1.68%||0.32% / 0.19%|
|#8 Illinois||47.86% / 37.26%||12.33% / 5.40%||4.57% / 1.43%||1.67% / 0.39%|
|#9 Minnesota||52.14% / 62.74%||14.30% / 13.92%||5.58% / 5.19%||2.14% / 1.98%|
|#10 Nebraska||48.05% / 35.32%||7.94% / 2.78%||1.59% / 0.33%||0.25% / 0.022%|
|#11 Northwestern||34.32% / 25.76%||5.10% / 3.03%||1.12% / 0.45%||0.17% / 0.042%|
|#12 Penn State||7.96% / 4.04%||1.15% / 0.39%||0.10% / 0.016%||0.011% / 1 in 102k|
Nothing real shocking there: Indiana's a favorite, but not overwhelmingly so, and OSU, MSU, and Michigan all have reasonable shots at the title as well. Indiana is a bit unlucky that Minnesota and Illinois fell to the 8 and 9, so they're guaranteed a mid-tier opponent in the quarterfinals.
A quick look at what's at stake for everyone:
- Indiana is in a fight with Louisville for the Midwest #1. Win the Big Ten Tournament and I think it's theirs regardless of what Louisville does.
- MSU, Michigan, and Ohio State are all jockeying for position on the 2 and 3 lines. Marquette is in the mix for Auburn Hills, though I think MSU and Michigan are both clearly ahead unless Marquette makes a huge run. Top team among this bunch, depending on how things shake out elsewhere, could even claim #2 in the Midwest if Louisville jumps Indiana for #1 there. Ohio State's position for preferred site depends on what the committee does with Miami and Florida, who have no sites particularly close to them. If they get shipped to Austin, which isn't much further than their closest sites (Lexington and Dayton), to keep the Midwest sites open, OSU looks like a decent bet for Dayton or at worst Lexington, as long as they can stay away from the last spots on the 4 line. If Miami and Florida would be sent north instead of west, OSU might have to move up a spot or two to stay in Dayton, with KC a possibility if they stay at the bottom of the 3 line and Austin if they wind up a high 4.
- Wisconsin could potentially play their way up to a top 4 seed, but they would almost certainly have to win the tournament to have any shot at a preferred site as a top-4. A procedural bump off the 6 or 7 line to a 5 or 8 isn't that unlikely given that the 2 and 3 lines are going to be clogged with Big Ten teams (and the committee will likely try to avoid a regular-season rematch with Marquette in the second round as well). Crashing the Dance currently has them as the top 7, which seems low; the Bracket Matrix has them as the bottom 5.
- Minnesota is in a nasty slump, though their computer numbers look bulletproof (two games outside the top 200, seven outside the top 120 will do that for you). Crashing the Dance has them as a 7; the Matrix puts them at the bottom 8 seed. A good run in the tournament to get them out of 8/9 purgatory would be useful, but procedural issues might push them right back there (again, with the 2 and 3 lines crowded with conference foes, it may be necessary to bump Minnesota to the top half of the region).
- Illinois's computer numbers aren't nearly so pretty, and it shows in Crashing the Dance's projection (11 seed); the Matrix has them just behind Minnesota as the top #9. Too many good wins to be at serious risk of missing the dance, but a bump down to the 12 line is possible if they lose to Minnesota. Win, and a bump up to the 8/9 region is more likely.
- Iowa is pulling a 2011 Colorado: reasonable quality team, decent wins, atrocious non-conference schedule. 9-9 in conference looks impressive until you realize that three of their single-plays are the protected-seed contenders. Need two wins to have any chance at all, and even that may not do it - NCSOS numbers in the 300 range don't get at-large bids unless the rest of the profile makes it obvious they belong, and Iowa's does not jump off the page at you.
- Purdue has been looking better of late. If they can make a run to the semifinals, they will be at .500 and eligible for the NIT.
- Nebraska, Northwestern, and Penn State: auto-bid or bust.