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Big Ten Basketball Projections 2016: Conference Week 8

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With three weeks to go, one Wednesday slot in the Big Ten tournament is already confirmed, but the race for the four double-byes is getting especially tight.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week's Results

Bold means an upset (based on last week's projections); italics indicate a road win.

Midweek Games

Maryland 93, Bowie State (non-D1) 62
Purdue 82, Michigan State 81 (OT)
Ohio State 71, Northwestern 63
Wisconsin 72, Nebraska 61
Michigan 82, Minnesota 74
Indiana 85, Iowa 78

Weekend Games

Michigan 61, Purdue 56
Ohio State 79, Rutgers 69
Nebraska 70, Penn State 54
Wisconsin 70, Maryland 57
Northwestern 58, Illinois 56
Michigan State 88, Indiana 69
Iowa 75, Minnesota 71

Wisconsin's win at Maryland is a huge feather in their cap for tournament purposes; in the Bracket Matrix, 39 of the 42 brackets updated Sunday or Monday have them in, compared to 18 of the 37 that have not updated since that game. Michigan beating Purdue means they're in pretty good shape now too; from a tiebreaker perspective, that also helps us a bit (Michigan being in a tie with us is much better than Purdue being there). Iowa's loss at Indiana keeps the title race from being a formality, and the close shave against Minnesota at home actually damaged their rating enough that MSU is now ahead in both Kenpom and my own rating (though not in the margin-ignoring version).

Conference Projections

All projections are based on my margin-aware ratings; the preseason adjustment has now been removed and all ratings are based solely on this season's results. Ratings based on wins and losses only are available here. Ratings are current through Sunday's games.

Summary Table

Average conference wins and 10+ win percentages are based on game-by-game projections. Championships (outright or shared) and top/middle/bottom tier finishes are based on 100,000 season simulations; ties are not broken accurately but credit is split evenly (two teams tied for fourth and fifth each get credit for half of a top 4 finish and half of a middle 6 finish). With 37 games left (27 of which include at least one of the current top eight), it's too early to be doing a full breakdown of scenarios. Movement in the rank order and in BUBBLECON is noted in the table.

Team Current Avg wins Outright Shared Top 4 Middle 6 Bottom 4 10+ Wins BUBBLECON
Iowa 11-2 14.99 72.04% 91.39% 99.55% 0.45% Yes 5
Maryland 10-3 13.52 4.08% 18.23% 93.24% 6.76% Yes 5
Indiana (+1)
10-3 13.06 3.74% 12.98% 83.75% 16.25% Yes 5
Michigan State (-1)
8-5 12.54 <0.01% 0.57% 77.71% 22.29% <0.01% 9500-to-1 fav 5
Purdue 8-5 11.44 <0.01% 0.30% 23.22% 76.78% <0.01% 97.82% 5
Michigan 9-4 11.05 0.02% 0.42% 12.72% 87.28% <0.01% 96.22% 4 (+1)
Wisconsin 8-4 10.83 0.01% 0.12% 8.53% 91.47% <0.01% 93.99% 4 (+1)
Ohio State 8-5 9.55 <0.01% <0.01% 1.27% 98.71% 0.02% 50.28% 2
Nebraska (+1)
6-7 7.60 <0.01% <0.01% 86.49% 13.51% 2.80% 1
Northwestern (-1)
5-8 7.40 <0.01% 84.85% 15.15% 1 in 215 1
Penn State 3-9 5.66 19.28% 80.72% 1
Illinois 3-9 5.50 9.40% 90.60% 1
Minnesota 0-13 1.76 Yes 1
Rutgers 0-12 1.10 <0.01% >99.99% 1

With Minnesota having been swept by Northwestern (and holding only one opportunity for a win against Penn State or Illinois to get into a multi-team tie), the Gophers are officially booked for a Wednesday game in the Big Ten tournament. Rutgers, by virtue of having six games left instead of five, is not quite mathematically certain, but if I were them I'd go ahead and look into hotels and travel arrangements for Tuesday night anyway.

Michigan and Wisconsin both move up to BUBBLECON 4 by virtue of their weekend upset wins. For both teams, I think 10 wins is the threshold, assuming no bad losses in the Big Ten tournament. More than that and they can feel pretty confident; at exactly 10 I think both would make it but it would be a close decision depending on the outcomes of other conference tournaments.

Take the top 4 percentages above with a grain of salt since they don't include tiebreaker considerations. The tiebreakers are unchanged from previous years:

  1. Head-to-head winning percentage (even if, in the case of a multi-team tie, the number of games played is unequal)
  2. Winning percentage against the top team (or tied group of teams), then the next team or group, all the way down the standings (note that, since it's percentage, 2-0 and 1-0 are equal unless they're being added to the record against another team)
  3. Overall D-1 record (The actual wording of this suggests that it's the record of D-1 opponents, not the record against them; however, the Big Ten's been notoriously sloppy in the writing of its tiebreaker procedures and it seems like record would make more sense than strength of schedule. Normally it's very difficult to get this far in the tiebreaker process - I've never seen it happen - but there's a realistic chance this year: Minnesota and Rutgers both finishing 1-17 with a head-to-head split. Fortunately, in that scenario, either option points to Minnesota.)

Unlike football's division tiebreakers, the tiebreakers do not "reset" if a tie is partially settled at one step; the remaining teams simply continue on to the next step. Here's a head-to-head matrix showing who's beaten who among the top eight and which games are yet to be played (results for team in the row, listed home/away, with a dash meaning no game scheduled and a ? meaning an upcoming game):

vs Iowa vs Mary vs Ind vs MSU vs Pur vs Mich vs Wisc vs OSU
Iowa
-/L ?/L W/W W/W W/? ?/- -/?
Maryland W/-
-/? -/L W/? ?/L L/W W/W
Indiana W/? ?/-
-/L ?/- -/W W/L W/-
Michigan State L/L W/- W/-
-/L -/W ?/L ?/?
Purdue L/L ?/L -/? W/-
W/L ?/W W/-
Michigan ?/L W/? L/- L/- W/L
-/? -/?
Wisconsin -/? L/W W/L W/? L/? ?/-
W/-
Ohio State ?/- L/L -/L ?/? -/L ?/- -/L

From the table, it's obvious why Ohio State's in so much worse shape for the tournament than anyone else; they haven't beaten anyone of note in conference (not even Nebraska, who they haven't played yet). For MSU, ties with Purdue are bad; ties with Wisconsin might also be (if Wisconsin wins against either MSU or Iowa). Ties with Iowa are bad for tiebreaker purposes but won't happen unless MSU does well down the stretch. Ties with Ohio State are also bad in that we have to do poorly down the stretch for that to happen.

Projections by Record

Top Eight
Team 8-10 9-9 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4 15-3 16-2
Iowa 0.02% 0.50% 4.72% 20.90% 42.45% 31.41%
Maryland 0.02% 0.74% 9.24% 39.02% 39.49% 11.49%
Indiana 0.27% 4.56% 21.72% 40.50% 28.68% 4.26%
Michigan State 1 in 995,000 0.01% 0.38% 5.62% 33.54% 60.45%
Purdue 0.10% 2.08% 13.24% 34.88% 37.56% 12.14%
Michigan 3.78% 25.65% 39.60% 24.23% 6.22% 0.53%
Wisconsin 0.35% 5.66% 27.83% 45.96% 17.65% 2.44% 0.11%
Ohio State 13.09% 36.63% 34.54% 13.52% 2.14% 0.09%

Fighting to Start Thursday
Team 3-15 4-14 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8 11-7
Nebraska 12.40% 35.38% 34.70% 14.72% 2.65% 0.15%
Northwestern 0.51% 12.55% 42.63% 35.91% 7.94% 0.47%
Penn State 1.56% 11.21% 30.09% 36.44% 18.39% 2.26% 0.05%
Illinois 0.49% 9.34% 42.55% 36.06% 10.49% 1.03% 0.03%

The Worst of the Worst
Team 0-18 1-17 2-16 3-15 4-14 5-13 6-12
Minnesota 5.16% 34.00% 42.85% 15.72% 2.17% 0.10%
Rutgers 25.50% 44.71% 24.20% 5.13% 0.45% 0.02% 1 in 485,000

This Week's Games

All times ET. Odds are based on the margin-aware ratings.

Midweek

Michigan at Ohio State - Tuesday, 7:00, ESPN (Ohio State 57%, projected margin +1.5)
Northwestern at Purdue - Tuesday, 7:00, BTN (Purdue 91.3%, +13)
Rutgers at Illinois - Tuesday, 9:00, BTN (Illinois 92.6%, +14)
Iowa at Penn State - Wednesday, 6:30, BTN (Iowa 88%, +11)
Nebraska at Indiana - Wednesday, 8:30, BTN (Indiana 91.4%, +13)
Maryland at Minnesota - Thursday, 8:00, BTN (Maryland 91.9%, +13.5)
Wisconsin at Michigan State - Thursday, 9:00, ESPN (Michigan State 89%, +12)

Weekend

Penn State at Rutgers - Saturday, 1:00, ESPNU (Penn State 70%, +5)
Ohio State at Nebraska - Saturday, 7:00, BTN (Nebraska 57%, +1.5)
Purdue at Indiana - Saturday, 8:30, ESPN (Indiana 64%, +3)
Michigan at Maryland - Sunday, 1:00, CBS (Maryland 86%, +10)
Illinois at Wisconsin - Sunday, 7:30, BTN (Wisconsin 90.0%, +12)

Bye: Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan State

Ohio State has a pair of toss-up games which both must be wins if they want any realistic shot at the tournament. The other big games for this week are Wisconsin-MSU, Purdue-Indiana, and Michigan-Maryland. MSU can't afford to fall two games back of Wisconsin and give up the head-to-head sweep if they want a top four spot. Indiana could push Purdue further away from the top 4 or find themselves uncomfortably close with a tough schedule still ahead. Michigan isn't at the point where they need a sweep of Maryland to get in, but it sure wouldn't hurt.