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Big Ten Basketball Projections 2016: Conference Mid-Week 9

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Entering the home stretch, it's an eight-way race for four double-byes.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Weekend Results

Bold means an upset based on projections going into the weekend; italics mean a road win.

Penn State 70, Rutgers 58
Ohio State 65, Nebraska 62 (OT)
Indiana 77, Purdue 73
Maryland 86, Michigan 82
Wisconsin 69, Illinois 60

Ohio State survived a potential land mine on the road; their tournament profile could not have survived a loss to Nebraska, not even on the road. Purdue and Michigan both mounted major comebacks that just fell short in the end; if you think the race is chaotic now, imagine if both had succeeded and we had Iowa with three losses, Indiana with four, and six teams with five.

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). There are a total of 25 games to be played, 17 involving a top-eight team; that leads to 131,072 combinations of outcomes (some of which can be combined - for instance, an OSU/MSU split has the same result whether the home teams win or road teams win), which is still too many for the big grids. 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 11-3 13.97 43.87% 74.56% 97.87% 2.13% Yes 5
Indiana 12-3 13.62 21.66% 49.00% 97.99% 2.01% Yes 5
Maryland (+1) 11-4 12.64 1.97% 12.83% 82.33% 17.67% Yes 5
Michigan State (-1) 9-5 12.63 <0.01% 4.10% 87.11% 12.89% 92k-to-1 fav 5
Purdue 9-6 11.22 <0.01% 17.83% 82.17% 98.37% 5
Wisconsin 9-5 10.83 <0.01% 0.26% 7.58% 92.42% 95.90% 4
Ohio State (+1) 10-5 10.63 <0.01% 0.07% 6.23% 93.77% Yes 2
Michigan (-1) 9-6 10.47 <0.01% 3.05% 96.95% 91.70% 4
Northwestern (+1) 5-9 7.30 76.72% 23.28% 1
Penn State (+1) 5-9 6.99 64.52% 35.48% 1
Nebraska (-2) 6-9 6.84 52.59% 47.41% 1
Illinois 4-10 5.41 6.16% 93.84% 1
Minnesota 1-13 2.85 Yes 1
Rutgers 0-14 0.60 Yes 1

The five-loss teams are still eligible for the outright championship assuming that Indiana loses out and Iowa and Maryland lose to everyone except Indiana. That's not at all likely, but it's possible.

One anomaly of interest: despite being a game and a half ahead in the real standings and (just barely) ahead on average projected wins, Maryland is more likely to miss the top 4 (or be involved in a tie for it) than Michigan State. As we'll see in the projections by record, Maryland's chances of finishing better than 1-2 in their remaining games are less than MSU's of finishing 4-0.

Losing at Maryland won't really hurt Michigan much, except in the sense that it's a missed opportunity. They're sitting around the BUBBLECON 4/3 border; two wins (one in the regular season and one on Thursday in the Big Ten tournament) will probably be enough, but just barely. Ohio State, on the other hand, still needs to do some work; neither team has a shiny RPI top 50 (or top 100) record, but Michigan at least has the excuse that most of theirs are top 25 (2-6 vs. top 25, 1-2 vs. 26-50, 2-1 vs. 51-100, counting a sweep of #100 Penn State; all data according to Crashing the Dance). Ohio State is 1-4 vs. top 25 and 0-3 vs. 26-50. They'll have a chance to fix that in the next two weeks, but they will have to outperform their rating down the stretch to make it.

Top Eight Head-to-Head

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/? W/L L/W W/W
Indiana W/? ?/-
-/L W/- -/W W/L W/-
Michigan State L/L W/- W/-
-/L -/W W/L ?/?
Purdue L/L ?/L -/L W/-
W/L ?/W W/-
Michigan ?/L W/L L/- L/- W/L
-/? -/L
Wisconsin -/? L/W W/L W/L L/? ?/-
W/-
Ohio State ?/- L/L -/L ?/? -/L W/- -/L

It's still too chaotic to get into detailed scenarios, but for Michigan State, if the Spartans win out they will be assured of a bye unless all of these happen:

  • Wisconsin also wins out (ending at 13-5)
  • Iowa loses exactly one other game besides the Wisconsin game (also ending at 13-5)
  • At least one of Maryland and Indiana finishes 14-4 or better and the other finishes no worse than 13-5

Projections by Record and Remaining Schedule

The Top Eight
Team Feb 23-25 Feb 27-28 Mar 1-3 Mar 5-6 9-9 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4 15-3
Iowa vs Wisc (87%) @ OSU (69%) vs Ind (79%) @ Mich (62%) 0.32% 4.62% 22.23% 43.39% 29.44%
Indiana @ Ill (76%) Bye @ Iowa (21%) vs Mary (64%) 6.69% 35.29% 47.63% 10.39%
Maryland Bye @ Pur (34%) vs Ill (94.6%) @ Ind (36%) 2.32% 42.84% 43.50% 11.34%
Michigan State @ OSU (75%) vs PSU (96.9%) @ Rut (98.0%) vs OSU (93.2%) 1 in 92,300 0.10% 3.11% 30.76% 66.02%
Purdue Bye vs Mary (66%) @ Neb (75%) vs Wisc (81%) 1.63% 14.92% 43.39% 40.06%
Wisconsin @ Iowa (13%) vs Mich (72%) @ Minn (79%) @ Pur (19%) 4.10% 27.74% 50.31% 16.43% 1.43%
Ohio State vs MSU (25%) vs Iowa (31%) Bye @ MSU (6.8%) 47.96% 41.41% 10.11% 0.53%
Michigan vs NW (81%) @ Wisc (28%) Bye vs Iowa (38%) 8.30% 44.75% 38.30% 8.64%

Matchups within the top eight are highlighted. There are a lot of them, as you can see; in fact, the final weekend has all of the top eight playing against another top-eight team.

The "At Least We Aren't Minnesota and Rutgers" Division
Team Feb 23-25 Feb 27-28 Mar 1-3 Mar 5-6 4-14 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9
Northwestern @ Mich (19%) vs Rut (95.9%) @ PSU (41%) vs Neb (75%) 0.49% 13.57% 46.71% 33.80% 5.43%
Penn State vs Neb (67%) @ MSU (3.1%) vs NW (59%) vs Ill (70%) 3.92% 22.93% 44.06% 28.23% 0.86%
Nebraska @ PSU (33%) Bye vs Pur (25%) @ NW (25%) 37.13% 43.82% 16.91% 2.14%
Illinois vs Ind (24%) vs Minn (82%) @ Mary (5.4%) @ PSU (30%) 9.01% 48.82% 34.55% 7.31% 0.32%

Games within this group of teams are highlighted; again, the final weekend features two matchups between teams in the same tier.

The Bottom of the Barrel
Team Feb 23-25 Feb 27-28 Mar 1-3 Mar 5-6 0-18 1-17 2-16 3-15 4-14 5-13
Minnesota vs Rut (87%) @ Ill (18%) vs Wisc (21%) @ Rut (59%) 3.44% 29.90% 47.19% 17.58% 1.89%
Rutgers @ Minn (13%) @ NW (4.1%) vs MSU (2.0%) vs Minn (41%) 48.30% 43.77% 7.57% 0.35% 1 in 23,000

Minnesota actually has a modest chance of picking up a win outside of the two Rutgers games. Rutgers's odds are considerably worse.

Midweek Schedule

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

Rutgers at Minnesota - Tuesday, 8:30, BTN (Minnesota 87%, projected margin +10.5)
Michigan State at Ohio State - Tuesday, 9:00, ESPN (Michigan State 75%, +6)
Northwestern at Michigan - Wednesday, 7:00, BTN (Michigan 81%, +8)
Wisconsin at Iowa - Wednesday, 9:00, BTN (Iowa 87%, +10.5)
Nebraska at Penn State - Thursday, 7:00, ESPNU (Penn State 67%, +4)
Indiana at Illinois - Thursday, 9:00, ESPN (Indiana 76%, +6.5)

Bye: Purdue, Maryland

Tuesday night marks the first of three opportunities for Ohio State to claim another marquee win; they'll need to cash in on at least one and possibly two to make the tournament. Wisconsin has a more difficult task, going to Iowa, but also has a lot more room for error; one more regular-season win might be enough. Michigan needs to dodge a potential bad loss for their tournament resume, although just avoiding a bad loss might be all they need. Indiana has a mildly tricky road trip to the other Assembly Hall (yes, I know they renamed it the State Farm Center; it's still Assembly Hall to me).