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Projecting the 2015 Big Ten Basketball Race: February 27

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A painful collapse puts MSU back on the bubble (though still on the right side of it for now) and all but ends any faint title hopes.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Midweek Results

Bold is an upset (based on Sunday's ratings); italic is a road win.

Maryland 59, Wisconsin 53 (30%)
Northwestern 72, Indiana 65 (38%)
Iowa 68, Illinois 60 (77%)
Ohio State 81, Nebraska 57 (91.9%)
Minnesota 96, Michigan State 90 (OT) (16%)
Purdue 92, Rutgers 85 (93.4%)

This was a week for weird. Maryland kept themselves (and Purdue and MSU, at least temporarily) in the title hunt by beating a Wisconsin team that appears to be allergic to the East Coast. Northwestern continued their spoiler rampage by knocking off Indiana, and ... well, the less said about the last six minutes of our game, the better.

Conference Projections

Much as I'd like to go to the scenario tables, it's still just too early - covering the top four teams alone would be 1024 scenarios, and that doesn't include the possibility of anyone behind them catching up. So we're stuck with simulation, and I haven't written the season simulator to handle tiebreakers. I may try adapting that in the offseason so that it gives more accurate chances, but for now, it's still splitting up the results evenly in case of a tie; make adjustments accordingly. Margin-aware ratings are available here; no-margin ratings are here (updated through most of Thursday's games).

Some tiebreaker information:

  • Maryland wins pretty much any tie they're in - they swept MSU and won their only meetings with Purdue and Wisconsin. They do lose out to Ohio State and Iowa if nobody else is involved in the tie.
  • Wisconsin loses tiebreaker to Maryland and MSU (there can't be a tie to break if they win that game, so if there is a tie they must have lost), but wins against Purdue.
  • MSU wins the tiebreaker if they manage to catch Wisconsin; they lose to Maryland, but have the advantage against Ohio State and Iowa. Purdue is yet to be determined; if tied with Indiana it will be with a split in head-to-head record.
  • Purdue loses tiebreakers to Maryland and Wisconsin; MSU and OSU are to be determined (Purdue won the first game against Ohio State); they win against Iowa and Indiana.
  • Ohio State wins ties with Maryland but is otherwise in trouble on tiebreakers. A split with Purdue is the only way that can be tied; they lose outright to MSU and Iowa and split with Indiana. A win against Wisconsin would be a big help for tiebreakers since record against the top team is the first tiebreaker after head-to-head.
  • Iowa wins against Maryland, Purdue, Illinois, and Ohio State but loses to MSU. Indiana game is still pending.
  • Indiana loses to Purdue, split against Maryland, must split to end tied with MSU, split with OSU, still has the Iowa game to play. (Brutal schedule - four of their five double-plays are in the current top six.)
  • At the bottom end, Northwestern has the advantage against Minnesota and Penn State but loses to Nebraska. Minnesota and Nebraska split; Penn State has the advantage over both (can only catch Minnesota by getting the sweep).
Team Current Avg wins Outright Shared Top 4 Middle 6 Bottom 4 10+ Wins BUBBLECON
Wisconsin 13-2 15.26 (-0.81) 91.84% (-6.07%) 99.40% (-0.45%) Yes Yes 5
Maryland 11-4 13.43 (+0.73) 0.57% (+0.49%) 7.89% (+6.27%) 99.34% (+7.11%) 0.66% (-7.11%) Yes 5
Purdue (+1) 11-4 12.13 (+0.11) 0.02% (+0.02%) 0.58% (+0.50%) 84.25% (+10.05%) 15.75% (-10.05%) Yes 4
Michigan State (-1) 10-5 11.34 (-0.89) 0.18% (-0.53%) 50.29% (-29.58%) 49.71% (+29.58%) Yes 4 (-1)
Ohio State (+1) 9-6 10.90 (+0.13) 29.20% (+12.16%) 70.80% (-12.16%) 96.51% (+2.49%) 4
Iowa (+1) 9-6 10.84 (+0.25) 26.22% (+12.70%) 73.78% (-12.70%) 96.77% (+6.64%) 4
Indiana (-2) 9-7 10.19 (-0.64) 10.69% (-11.68%) 89.31% (+11.68%) 83.84% (-10.40%) 3 (-1)
Illinois 7-8 8.89 (-0.27) <0.01% 99.20% (+0.11%) 0.80% (+0.65%) 18.12% (-14.12%) 2 (-1)
Michigan 7-8 8.38 (-0.04) <0.01% 99.15% (-0.73%) 0.85% (+0.73%) 4.18% (-0.39%) 1
Minnesota 6-10 7.05 (+0.91) 83.37% (+24.15%) 16.63% (-24.15%) 1
Northwestern (+1) 5-10 5.95 (+0.69) 13.59% (-3.09%) 86.41% (+3.09%) 1
Nebraska (-1) 5-11 5.48 (-0.09) 4.24% (-18.48%) 95.76% (+18.48%) 1
Penn State 3-12 3.87 (-0.03) 0.44% (-1.21%) 99.56% (+1.21%) 1
Rutgers 2-14 2.28 (-0.06) Yes 1

Not a good week for the bubble, with losses at the hands of Minnesota and Northwestern prompting downgrades, and Illinois was on shaky enough ground that a road loss to Iowa is enough to drop them. Among the 4s, MSU is arguably the safest - expected RPI rank, from RPIForecast.com, is in the low 30s as long as we manage even one win prior to the conference tournament, and while RPI rank alone isn't a determining factor, it's unheard of for a major conference team to get left out that high. Despite Northwestern's upset of Indiana, Minnesota's even-more-unlikely win at MSU made it harder for the Wildcats to escape the bottom four.

Top half projections by record:

Team 9-9 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4 15-3 16-2
Wisconsin 1.04% 13.02% 44.43% 41.50%
Maryland 0.56% 8.44% 38.84% 52.15%
Purdue 17.64% 54.81% 24.57% 2.98%
Michigan State 10.69% 48.73% 36.58% 4.00%
Ohio State 3.49% 25.14% 49.19% 22.17%
Iowa 3.23% 28.54% 48.80% 19.44%
Indiana 16.16% 48.37% 35.48%

Bottom half:

Team 2-16 3-15 4-14 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8
Illinois 2.68% 23.52% 55.69% 18.12%
Michigan 6.87% 52.27% 36.68% 4.18%
Minnesota 13.93% 67.39% 18.68%
Northwestern 26.77% 53.51% 18.12% 1.60%
Nebraska 57.31% 37.20% 5.49%
Penn State 34.73% 45.18% 17.96% 2.13%
Rutgers 73.91% 24.14% 1.95%

This Weekend's Games

All times ET.

Saturday, February 28

Michigan at Maryland (Noon, ESPN): Maryland 88% (+11 projected margin)
Iowa at Penn State (6:00, ESPNU): Iowa 60% (+2.5)
Northwestern at Illinois (7:00, BTN): Illinois 80% (+7.5)

Maryland can all but wrap up a bye by beating Michigan (only if Iowa and/or Ohio State win out are they under any threat at that point, and even then they likely make it if MSU is also part of the tie). Iowa and Illinois have potential land mines to dodge for their bubble candidacy; Penn State needs this one to have any chance of escaping the bottom four, and Northwestern has a chance to wreck yet another bubble campaign after doing in Minnesota and seriously damaging Iowa and Indiana's chances.

Sunday, March 1

Michigan State at Wisconsin (4:00, CBS): Wisconsin 88% (+11.5)
Purdue at Ohio State (7:30, BTN): Ohio State 81% (+8)

A loss to Wisconsin would not be any cause for panic, but it would end MSU's faint hopes of sharing the title and Wisconsin would clinch a share with a win. If MSU wins, though, it puts an immediate end to any concerns about a tournament berth. The winner of Purdue-OSU can likely feel pretty safe about their tournament chances, but the loser is by no means eliminated. That said, despite the two-game lead in the conference standings, Purdue is in a far more tenuous situation; their non-conference season was such a disaster that they probably need 12 conference wins and might even need 13.

Weekend Byes

Minnesota, Penn State, Indiana, and Rutgers are off. After this weekend, all 14 teams will have played 16 games each; the final week sees everyone in action twice.