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Projecting the 2015 Big Ten Basketball Race: February 13

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With the final weeks approaching, a weekend update to the projections moves MSU up a spot.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

With the congestion at the top of the standings and crunch time rapidly approaching, I've decided to start doing updates twice a week.

Midweek Games

Bold indicates an upset (meaning less than 50% chance of winning based on ratings through the previous Sunday); italic indicates a road win.

Michigan State 68, Northwestern 44 (72%)
Wisconsin 65, Nebraska 55 (88%)
Ohio State 75, Penn State 55 (90.9%)
Maryland 68, Indiana 66 (77%)
Minnesota 64, Iowa 59 (25%)
Purdue 61, Rutgers 51 (66%)
Illinois 64, Michigan 52 (OT) (79%)

Only one upset, but it's a painful one for Iowa, who looked to be moving themselves pretty clearly toward the good side of the bubble. They're probably still on the good side, but it's looking considerably less certain.

Conference Projections

Projections are based on ratings through almost all of Thursday's games (three were still ongoing, two on the West Coast and one in Hawaii, at the time of the ratings update). Margin-aware ratings are available here; no-margin ratings are here. Differences from Tuesday's projections are included. Conference titles and tiered finishes are based on 100,000 simulations of the remainder of the season (ties for the various tiers are given split credit to each team rather than breaking the tie); records are based on individual game projections.

Team Current Avg wins Outright Shared Top 4 Middle 6 Bottom 4 10+ Wins BUBBLECON
Wisconsin 10-1 15.66 (+0.08) 95.44% (+0.87%) 99.24% (+0.24%) 99.97% (+0.03%) 0.03% (-0.03%) <0.01% Yes 5
Maryland 8-4 12.15 (+0.24) 0.39% (+0.04%) 2.77% (+0.18%) 79.57% (+9.14%) 20.43% (-9.13%) 0.01% (=) 170-to-1 fav 5
Ohio State 8-4 11.96 (+0.12) 0.21% (-0.06%) 2.02% (-0.14%) 72.27% (+4.66%) 27.72% (-4.67%) 0.01% (=) 105-to-1 fav 5
Indiana (+1) 7-5 11.15 (-0.21) 0.01% (-0.07%) 0.16% (-0.58%) 45.40% (-5.37%) 54.55% (+5.35%) 0.05% (+0.01%) 92.38% (-1.25%) 4
Purdue (+1) 8-4 10.97 (+0.38) 0.01% (=) 0.12% (+0.02%) 34.47% (+10.48%) 65.51% (-10.42%) 0.02% (-0.06%) 94.63% (+9.27%) 3
Michigan State (+1) 7-4 10.72 (+0.34) 0.03% (+0.01%) 0.31% (+0.09%) 30.76% (+7.77%) 69.09% (-7.57%) 0.15% (-0.20%) 85.24% (+8.83%) 3
Iowa (-3) 6-5 10.69 (-0.84) <0.01% 0.05% (-0.86%) 28.07% (-28.56%) 71.78% (+28.44%) 0.14% (+0.11%) 85.82% (-9.57%) 3 (-1)
Illinois 7-5 9.90 (+0.27) <0.01% 0.01% (=) 9.19% (+2.43%) 90.39% (-2.04%) 0.42% (-0.39%) 65.99% (+10.27%) 3
Michigan 6-7 8.19 (-0.26) <0.01% <0.01% 0.25% (-0.63%) 92.00% (-2.71%) 7.74% (+3.33%) 8.50% (-7.03%) 1 (-1)
Minnesota 5-7 7.62 (+0.84) <0.01% <0.01% 0.03% (+0.02%) 80.88% (+25.46%) 19.09% (-25.48%) 2.30% (+1.80%) 2 (+1)
Nebraska 5-7 6.37 (-0.14) <0.01% <0.01% 0.01% (=) 22.97% (-17.60%) 77.02% (+17.60%) 1 in 610 1
Penn State 3-9 4.97 (-0.11) <0.01% 4.53% (-4.46%) 95.47% (+4.46%) 1
Northwestern 1-10 2.94 (-0.34) <0.01% 0.13% (-0.50%)
99.87% (+0.50%)
1
Rutgers 2-11 2.72 (-0.36) 0.01% (-0.09%)
99.99% (+0.09%)
1

Of the four teams closest to the cut line, MSU and Iowa are in the best shape; both would be 3.5 if I did half-steps. Under the assumption that 10-8 and a conference tourney win, or 11-7 regardless, gets them into the tournament (in both cases likely a safe assumption), both are looking at about 75-80% chances of reaching the Big Dance, depending on tournament draw. There's a significant difference in opponent quality between finishing fifth (getting the 12-13 winner), sixth (most likely Nebraska), or 7th/8th (Minnesota or Michigan, plus if you're 8th you get Wisconsin in the quarters).

Purdue, thanks to their disastrous non-conference run, still needs to do plenty; even 11-7 might not be enough (RPIForecast.com suggests that would put their RPI rank in the low 70s), which is why they remain at BUBBLECON 3 despite a near 95% chance of 10 wins. Illinois doesn't have the same disastrous non-conference, but they have more work to do to get to 10 conference wins. Michigan drops out of consideration; at minimum, they have to run the table in conference and win a tournament game or two to have a chance at an at-large bid. Taking their place on the fringe is Minnesota, whose RPI-friendly non-conference schedule could have them in a decent position even at 9-9.

Projections by record:

Team 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4 15-3 16-2 17-1
Wisconsin 1 in 620,000 1 in 11,600 0.18% 1.84% 10.04% 28.46% 39.11% 20.37%

Team 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4
Maryland 0.02% 0.57% 4.92% 19.58% 36.65% 30.21% 8.05%
Ohio State 0.04% 0.92% 7.16% 23.85% 36.81% 25.08% 6.13%
Indiana 0.08% 1.12% 6.43% 19.50% 32.90% 29.26% 10.71%
Purdue 0.29% 5.07% 24.87% 41.95% 22.69% 4.78% 0.34%
Michigan State 0.22% 2.60% 11.95% 27.09% 32.39% 19.91% 5.45% 0.39%
Iowa 1 in 16,000 0.21% 2.37% 11.60% 27.87% 34.00% 19.77% 4.18%
Illinois 0.43% 6.29% 27.29% 39.60% 21.79% 4.41% 0.19%

Team 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8 11-7
Michigan 2.54% 21.57% 39.58% 27.82% 7.84% 0.66%
Minnesota 0.56% 9.00% 37.48% 36.60% 14.07% 2.20% 0.10%
Nebraska 19.09% 39.00% 29.45% 10.45% 1.86% 0.16% 1 in 19,700

Team 1-17 2-16 3-15 4-14 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9
Penn State 8.14% 26.89% 34.68% 22.01% 7.12% 1.09% 0.06%
Northwestern 8.34% 27.70% 34.98% 21.26% 6.61% 1.03% 0.08% 1 in 44,600
Rutgers 45.51% 39.61% 12.82% 1.92% 0.13% 1 in 29,500

This Weekend's Games

All times ET.

Saturday, February 14

Ohio State at Michigan State (Noon, ESPN): Michigan State 60% (+2)
Maryland at Penn State (8:30, BTN): Maryland 61% (+2.5)

Sunday, February 15

Illinois at Wisconsin (1:00, CBS): Wisconsin 94.5% (+15.5)
Iowa at Northwestern (3:00, BTN): Iowa 69% (+4.5)
Nebraska at Purdue (5:15, BTN): Purdue 81% (+8)
Minnesota at Indiana (7:30, BTN): Indiana 69% (+4)

Weekend byes: Michigan, Rutgers