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Projecting the 2015 Big Ten Basketball Race: February 24

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Wisconsin claims one of the double byes, and three teams have a clear lead for the rest.

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Weekend Results

Bold indicates an upset (based on ratings through Thursday night); road wins are in italic.

Wisconsin 63, Minnesota 53 (95.3%)
Northwestern 60, Penn State 39 (59%)
Michigan 64, Ohio State 57 (30%)
Iowa 74, Nebraska 46 (56%)
Indiana 84, Rutgers 54 (77%)
Michigan State 60, Illinois 53 (50.8%)

The close toss-ups all went the way of the favorite, with Michigan pulling the lone upset of the weekend. It would still require a series of miracles for Michigan to have any real chance at a tournament berth, but they got the first one they needed. The loss puts Ohio State in some danger (though, as things stand right now, they're still in good position to make the tournament) and gives the current top four a little extra breathing room.

Conference Projections

Before we get to the table, the tiebreakers are the same as last year:

1) Head-to-head winning percentage among all teams (even if they played an unequal number of games)
2) Starting with the conference champion and working your way down the standings, compare winning percentages against each team (or group of tied teams; do not break their ties for the purpose of this one).
3) Record of all D-1 opponents (given how poorly written the football tiebreakers are, it wouldn't surprise me if they actually mean record against all D-1 opponents, but to my knowledge, no tie has ever gotten this far anyway)

Unlike football, there is no "backtracking" in checking these - eliminating one team from a tie doesn't mean the rest go back to head-to-head without that team included, it just means that team is last among those tied.

Now, the table (based on ratings through Sunday's games; margin-aware ratings are available here; no-margin ratings are here). Titles and top/middle/bottom-tier finishes are still based on simulation and given split credit for ties. The scenario tables will begin next week; there are just too many games left to do it now or even prior to the weekend games (any reasonable-sized group of teams being compared would require several thousand permutations).

Team Current Avg wins Outright Shared Top 4 Middle 6 Bottom 4 10+ Wins BUBBLECON
Wisconsin 13-1 16.07 (+0.08) 97.91% (+0.35%) 99.85% (+0.06%) Yes Yes 5
Maryland 10-4 12.70 (+0.02) 0.08% (-0.07%) 1.62% (-0.49%) 92.23% (+1.15%) 7.77% (-1.15%) Yes 5
Michigan State (+1) 10-4 12.23 (+0.54) 0.04% (+0.01%) 0.71% (+0.29%) 79.87% (+22.70%) 20.13% (-22.70%) Yes 5 (+1)
Purdue (-1) 10-4 12.02 (+0.02) <0.01% 0.08% (-0.08%) 74.20% (+3.72%) 25.80% (-3.72%) Yes 4
Indiana (+1) 9-6 10.83 (+0.20) 22.37% (+3.62%) 77.63% (-3.62%) 94.24% (+5.78%) 4
Ohio State (-1) 8-6 10.77 (-0.74) 17.04% (-33.45%) 82.96% (+33.45%) <0.01% 94.02% (-4.16%) 4 (-1)
Iowa 8-6 10.59 (+0.55) 13.52% (+6.41%) 86.48% (-6.37%) <0.01% 90.13% (+19.06%) 4 (+1)
Illinois 7-7 9.16 (-0.56) 0.76% (-4.17%) 99.09% (+4.09%) 0.15% (+0.08%) 32.24% (-26.83%) 3
Michigan 7-8 8.42 (+0.74) <0.01% 99.88% (+3.80%) 0.12% (-3.80%) 4.57% (+3.37%) 1
Minnesota 5-10 6.14 (-0.05) 59.22% (+8.86%) 40.78% (-8.86%) 1
Nebraska 5-10 5.57 (-0.48) 22.72% (-18.03%) 77.28% (+18.03%) 1
Northwestern 4-10 5.26 (+0.44) 16.68% (+8.41%) 83.32% (-8.41%) 1
Penn State 3-12 3.90 (-0.50) 1.65% (-2.98%)
98.35% (+2.98%)
1
Rutgers 2-13 2.34 (-0.28) Yes 1

I think Rutgers has actually clinched a spot in the Wednesday games due to tiebreakers, but it is still possible for them to end in a tie for 10th. However, even with simulations giving them partial credit for ties, they had a less than 0.01% chance of reaching the middle tier. Minnesota and Nebraska are eliminated from potential top-4 finishes, Wisconsin clinches a double bye, and Indiana and Michigan State join Maryland and Purdue in guaranteeing that they cannot finish bottom four.

Bubble notes: MSU moves up to BUBBLECON 5 with the win, in that it would take losing out entirely for there to be a serious chance of MSU missing the tournament. Ohio State's upset loss to Michigan drops them down to a 4: still on pace to make it but it's no longer inconceivable for them to miss out. Moving Iowa up is slightly generous, but one reason they dropped before is that at Nebraska was viewed as no gimme, and Iowa took care of business there rather emphatically.

Projections by record:

Team 13-5 14-4 15-3 16-2 17-1
Wisconsin 0.20% 3.37% 19.19% 43.42% 33.83%

Team 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4
Maryland 0.43% 6.47% 30.56% 47.27% 15.27%
Michigan State 1.36% 14.91% 46.82% 33.46% 3.44%
Purdue 1.24% 21.21% 53.99% 21.28% 2.29%

Team 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8 11-7 12-6
Indiana 5.76% 27.81% 43.86% 22.57%
Ohio State 0.31% 5.68% 28.81% 47.60% 17.61%
Iowa 0.70% 9.17% 34.23% 42.19% 13.71%
Illinois 1.70% 17.16% 48.91% 27.84% 4.39%
Michigan 6.15% 50.67% 38.61% 4.57%

Team 4-14 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10
Minnesota 13.45% 61.57% 22.79% 2.19%
Nebraska 51.68% 39.61% 8.25% 0.45%
Northwestern 18.55% 44.52% 29.89% 6.60% 0.45%

Team 2-16 3-15 4-14 5-13 6-12
Penn State 33.64% 45.27% 18.74% 2.35%
Rutgers 69.53% 27.06% 3.29% 0.12%

Upcoming Midweek Games

All times ET.

Tuesday, February 24

Wisconsin at Maryland (7:00, ESPN): Wisconsin 70% (+4.5 projected margin)

Wisconsin can clinch at least a share of the title with one more win; Maryland would be eliminated with a loss here.  There aren't really any bubble implications, but Wisconsin is in a bit of a tight race for a #1 seed (and not having to share a region with Kentucky). Running the table from here should get them a 1 easily; if they lose one (even an understandable loss like this would be), the case is less clear.

Wednesday, February 25

Indiana at Northwestern (7:00, BTN): Indiana 62% (+2.5)
Illinois at Iowa (9:00, BTN): Iowa 77% (+6.5)

Northwestern, coming in on a three-game winning streak after losing ten in a row, gets another chance to play spoiler after damaging Iowa's chances and ending Minnesota's faint hopes. The later game is a huge bubble battle which neither team can particularly afford to lose.

Thursday, February 26

Minnesota at Michigan State (7:00, BTN): Michigan State 84% (+9)
Nebraska at Ohio State (7:00, ESPN): Ohio State 91.9% (+13)
Rutgers at Purdue (9:00, ESPNU): Purdue 93.4% (+14.5)

The three Thursday games all feature teams in the bottom five on the road against teams in the top six. Michigan State's recent run is enough to give them some breathing room, although a home loss to Minnesota would still be damaging. Ohio State and Purdue are in less forgiving positions and facing opponents to whom losing would be considerably more embarrassing.

Midweek Byes

Michigan and Penn State are out of action until the weekend.