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Projecting the 2015 Big Ten Basketball Race: January 20

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There's a new leader in the chase for the title, and one team left for dead after non-conference play might be clawing their way back into the tournament discussion.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week's Games

Bold indicates an upset (based on last week's projections); italic indicates a road win.

January 13-15

Indiana 76, Penn State 73 (87%)
Ohio State 71, Michigan 52 (90.0%)
Iowa 77, Minnesota 75 (26%)
Maryland 73, Rutgers 65 (96.9%)
Illinois 72, Northwestern 67 (50.7%)
Wisconsin 70, Nebraska 55 (96.6%)

January 17-18

Minnesota 89, Rutgers 80 (90.7%)
Purdue 84, Penn State 77 (OT) (30%)
Iowa 76, Ohio State 67 (58%)
Maryland 75, Michigan State 59 (80%)
Michigan 56, Northwestern 54 (84%)
Indiana 80, Illinois 74 (33%)

No real shocks this week, as the seven most lopsided predictions all came to pass. I'm also quite happy to see that of the three games to go into the waning seconds with one team up three, the team that chose not to foul (Indiana, vs. Penn State) won and one of the teams that fouled (Penn State, vs. Purdue) paid the price by giving up an open three off the rebound of a missed free throw. (They weren't the only team to get taken to OT after fouling this weekend, either.) I've certainly made no secret of my opinion of fouling in that situation, and while one weekend proves nothing, the more frequently fouling fails, the better.

Conference Projections

Projections are based on ratings through Sunday's games. Margin-aware ratings are av, ailable here; no-margin ratings are here. I've taken out the preseason adjustment, as it is no longer relevant for any major or even mid-major teams; only the low-end teams that have played a large number of non-D1 teams are affected. Differences from last week's projections are included. Conference titles and tiered finishes are based on 100,000 simulations of the remainder of the season; records are based on individual game projections.

In addition, shamelessly stealing from Joe's Iowa recap, I've included a BUBBLECON level for each team, with categories adjusted slightly. The levels are:

BUBBLECON 5: It would take a nearly inconceivable collapse to fall out of the tournament.
BUBBLECON 4: On pace to make the tournament, but with considerably less room for error. An upset loss or two, or even just the failure to grab any of several opportunities at a decent quality win, could make things dicey, but if they can keep up with their projected record, Selection Sunday will be free of drama.
BUBBLECON 3: Projected record would put them very near the cut line. Need a run of decent wins or an upset win or two to feel safe, but they might get in without that as long as they avoid any disasters.
BUBBLECON 2: On pace to miss the tournament, but a hot streak could push them into the conversation.
BUBBLECON 1: Barring a shocking turnaround, it's auto-bid or bust.

Team Avg wins Outright Shared Top 4 Middle 6 Bottom 4 10+ Wins BUBBLECON
Maryland (+1) 14.31 (+0.44) 35.46% (+5.78%) 57.20% (+7.49%) 97.03% (+0.75%) 2.97% (-0.75%) <0.01% (=) 4650-to-1 fav 5
Wisconsin (-1) 14.30 (+0.16) 34.68% (-3.05%) 56.02% (-2.66%) 96.74% (-0.95%) 3.26% (+0.95%) <0.01% (=) 2300-to-1 fav 5
Michigan State 11.90 (-0.35) 1.47% (-3.27%) 5.89% (-6.79%) 62.33% (-16.92%) 37.58% (+16.88%) 0.09% (+0.03%) 94.66% (-1.82%) 4
Iowa (+2) 11.39 (+1.88) 1.47% (+1.26%) 5.08% (+4.21%) 47.85% (+30.57%) 51.93% (-24.88%) 0.22% (-5.69%) 88.78% (+38.68%) 4
Indiana 11.35 (+1.01) 1.01% (+0.56%) 3.84% (+2.04%) 46.67% (+14.51%) 53.17% (-12.93%) 0.16% (-1.59%) 89.22% (+18.79%) 4
Ohio State (-2) 11.10 (-0.31) 0.47% (-1.46%) 2.64% (-3.58%) 40.22% (-19.96%) 59.51% (+20.11%) 0.27% (-0.15%) 86.06% (-2.48%) 4
Purdue (+3) 8.62 (+1.17) <0.01% (=) 0.04% (+0.04%) 4.67% (+2.77%) 86.29% (+20.80%) 9.03% (-23.58%) 28.47% (+18.63%) 2
Illinois (-1) 8.32 (-0.35) <0.01% (=) <0.01% (-0.06%) 1.62% 88.85% 9.54% 18.75% (-10.35%) 2
Michigan (-1) 8.27 (-0.32) <0.01% (-0.02%) 0.03% (-0.07%) 2.48% (-4.07%) 86.51% (+4.61%) 11.01% (-0.54%) 19.52% (-7.61%) 2
Minnesota (-1) 7.25 (-0.66) <0.01% (=) <0.01% (-0.01%) 0.29% (-1.92%) 71.45% (-5.31%) 28.26% (+7.23%) 4.96% (-8.90%) 2
Nebraska 5.96 (-0.17) <0.01% (=) <0.01% (=) 0.07% (-0.14%) 33.59% (+0.06%) 66.34% (+0.08%) 1.11% (-0.40%) 1
Rutgers (+1) 4.94 (-0.34) <0.01% (=) <0.01% (=) 0.02% (-0.03%) 12.74% (-3.46%) 87.25% (+3.50%) 1 in 900 1
Northwestern (-1) 4.51 (-0.92) <0.01% (=) <0.01% (=) <0.01% (-0.09%) 8.36% (-11.84%) 91.64% (+11.93%) 1 in 3070 1
Penn State 3.77 (-1.25) <0.01% (=) <0.01% (=) <0.01% (-0.03%) 3.80% (-10.17%) 96.20% (+10.20%) 1 in 16,700 1

Wisconsin's bye week means Maryland, by virtue of having a little bit more opportunity to gain over their prior projection, moves into first by a nose. The big winner this week was Iowa, making the leap up to the top four and into the "just don't screw up too badly" region (they would have been at BUBBLECON 3 last week). Ohio State is in a little danger of getting into real bubble territory, though for now they're still clearly in. Upgrading Purdue to BUBBLECON 2 was probably generous, but they do have two solid non-conference wins in BYU and NC State (pay no attention to the Gardner-Webb and North Florida games behind the curtain); they'll have to beat their projection by a couple games to have a chance but it's not totally impossible.

Projections by record:

Team 0-18 1-17 2-16 3-15 4-14 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10
Maryland 1 in 12.4 B 1 in 98.5 M 1 in 1.90 M 1 in 67,900
Wisconsin 1 in 106 B 1 in 807 M 1 in 15.3 M 1 in 528,000 1 in 29,400
Michigan State 1 in 93.3 M 1 in 1.65 M 1 in 68,000 0.02% 0.18% 1.03%
Iowa 1 in 1.03 M 1 in 25,700 0.06% 0.52% 2.56%
Indiana 1 in 985,000 1 in 26,800 0.06% 0.47% 2.38%
Ohio State 1 in 8.80 M 1 in 187,000 0.01% 0.11% 0.76% 3.32%
Purdue 0.01% 0.24% 1.68% 6.46% 15.26% 23.52%
Illinois 1 in 197,000 0.02% 0.21% 1.56% 6.76% 17.87% 28.45%
Michigan 0.17% 1.93% 8.54% 19.65% 26.88%
Minnesota 1 in 163,000 0.02% 0.27% 1.92% 7.87% 19.21% 28.02% 24.64%
Nebraska 0.39% 3.59% 12.41% 22.93% 26.10% 19.65% 10.16%
Rutgers 2.50% 12.11% 24.62% 27.89% 19.77% 9.32% 3.01%
Northwestern 0.90% 6.11% 17.23% 26.71% 25.31% 15.47% 6.25% 1.69%
Penn State 0.46% 4.07% 13.97% 25.14% 26.90% 18.28% 8.17% 2.44% 0.49%

Team 9-9 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4 15-3 16-2 17-1
Maryland 0.02% 0.25% 1.60% 6.59% 17.29% 28.35% 27.81% 14.81% 3.27%
Wisconsin 0.04% 0.32% 1.79% 6.77% 17.13% 28.03% 27.84% 14.89% 3.19%
Michigan State 4.11% 11.27% 21.24% 26.88% 21.89% 10.59% 2.58% 0.21%
Iowa 8.08% 16.97% 24.20% 23.56% 15.47% 6.62% 1.72% 0.23% 0.01%
Indiana 7.87% 17.27% 25.33% 24.52% 15.16% 5.65% 1.16% 0.12% 1 in 23,500
Ohio State 9.74% 19.41% 26.13% 23.20% 12.85% 3.96% 0.51%
Purdue 24.36% 17.13% 8.15% 2.59% 0.53% 0.07% 1 in 21,200 1 in 718,000
Illinois 26.38% 13.92% 4.12% 0.66% 0.05% 1 in 74,300
Michigan 23.31% 13.21% 4.92% 1.19% 0.18% 0.02% 1 in 125,000 1 in 6.60 M
Minnesota 13.09% 4.14% 0.75% 0.07% 1 in 43,100
Nebraska 3.67% 0.93% 0.16% 0.02% 1 in 71,800 1 in 1.75 M 1 in 103 M
Rutgers 0.67% 0.10% 0.01% 1 in 138,000 1 in 3.59 M 1 in 214 M
Northwestern 0.30% 0.03% 1 in 40,400 1 in 984,000 1 in 48.0 M 1 in 6.18 B
Penn State 0.07% 1 in 17,600 1 in 329,000 1 in 11.2 M 1 in 926 M

This Week's Games

All times ET.

Tuesday, January 20

Michigan at Rutgers (6:30, BTN): Rutgers 58% (+1.5 projected margin)
Minnesota at Nebraska (8:30, BTN): Nebraska 53% (+0.5)
Iowa at Wisconsin (9:00, ESPN): Wisconsin 91.3% (+12.5)

Wednesday, January 21

Penn State at Michigan State (7:00, BTN): Michigan State 93.1% (+13.5)
Purdue at Illinois (9:00, BTN): Illinois 75% (+6)

Thursday, January 22

Ohio State at Northwestern (7:00, ESPN): Ohio State 73% (+5.5)
Maryland at Indiana (9:00, ESPNU): Maryland 55% (+1)

Saturday, January 24

Iowa at Purdue (Noon, BTN): Purdue 54% (+1)
Rutgers at Penn State (Noon, ESPNU): Penn State 77% (+6.5)
Illinois at Minnesota (2:15, BTN): Minnesota 77% (+6.5)
Michigan State at Nebraska (4:00, ESPN): Michigan State 62% (+3)
Wisconsin at Michigan (7:00, ESPN): Wisconsin 82% (+8)

Sunday, January 25

Indiana at Ohio State (1:30, CBS): Ohio State 79% (+7)
Northwestern at Maryland (7:30, BTN): Maryland 97.2% (+18.5)

Everyone's in action both in midweek and the weekend; next week, six teams have a half-bye to balance everything out at nine games at the halfway mark.