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Big Ten Basketball Projections 2016: Conference Week 7

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With a big week ahead for several of the contenders, who has the edge for the top four spots in the Big Ten?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week's Results

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

Midweek Games

Indiana 80, Michigan 67
Illinois 110, Rutgers 101 (3OT)
Iowa 73, Penn State 49
Maryland 70, Nebraska 65
Wisconsin 79, Ohio State 68
Northwestern 82, Minnesota 58

Weekend Games

Michigan State 89, Michigan 73
Nebraska 87, Rutgers 63
Maryland 72, Purdue 61
Penn State 68, Indiana 63
Iowa 77, Illinois 65

Only two upsets, and Indiana was involved in both, splitting their pair of games but winning at Michigan instead of at Penn State. Illinois deserves shame for going multiple OTs with the worst team in any major conference (a team who would be worst in a lot of the mid-majors, for that matter), but all that counts in the standings is the win. Nebraska pushed Maryland late but couldn't pull off the upset, Wisconsin held serve at home in a major bubble battle, and Michigan is hoping somebody got the license plate numbers of the two semis that ran them over.

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). It's a bit early for a detailed look at tiebreakers yet (especially with the back-loaded schedules of some of the contenders), but that will be coming in a few weeks. 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 10-1 15.87 72.31% 91.44% 99.92% 0.08% Yes 5
Maryland 10-2 14.62 7.49% 26.04% 99.33% 0.67% Yes 5
Michigan State (+1)
7-4 12.87 0.01% 0.69% 83.98% 16.02% <0.01% 3800-to-1 fav 5
Indiana (-1)
9-2 12.44 0.63% 3.03% 67.91% 32.09% 560-to-1 fav 5
Purdue 7-4 11.69 0.01% 0.22% 40.67% 59.32% <0.01% 97.06% 5
Michigan 7-4 10.19 <0.01% 0.01% 6.21% 93.71% 0.08% 72.74% 3 (-1)
Wisconsin (+1)
6-4 9.57 <0.01% <0.01% 1.27% 98.40% 0.34% 54.66% 3 (+1)
Ohio State (-1)
6-5 9.00 <0.01% <0.01% 0.67% 97.79% 1.54% 31.82% 2
Northwestern (+1)
4-7 7.55 <0.01% 0.01% 82.31% 17.68% 2.40% 1
Nebraska (-1)
5-6 7.38 <0.01% <0.01% 0.02% 76.08% 23.89% 2.84% 1
Penn State (+1)
3-8 6.00 <0.01% 29.33% 70.67% 1 in 8700 1
Illinois (-1)
3-8 5.65 <0.01% 14.21% 85.79% 1 in 30,100 1
Minnesota 0-11 1.91 <0.01% >99.99% 1
Rutgers 0-11 1.27 <0.01% >99.99% 1

Indiana's loss at Penn State drops them behind MSU; despite a two-game lead in the current standings, they 1) have a substantially lower rating (enough for MSU to be favored - barely - at Assembly Hall) and 2) have a much tougher run in than MSU does (Indiana has five games left against the top five, while MSU will be done playing the top five after this week). Their resume to date is rather uninspiring, but barring a total collapse in the final four weeks they'll be fine.

Last week, I said Michigan would move up to BUBBLECON 5 if they managed a split. They most emphatically did not, and the severity of the losses damaged their rating badly enough to push them back to BUBBLECON 3. At this point I think they're still more likely to make it than not; 10 conference wins would get them a reasonable right-side-of-the-bubble profile, at worst, and somebody has to fill the spots vacated by Louisville and SMU. Even 9-9 might do it, though I wouldn't be certain. But whatever comfortable margin for error they had in their projection is pretty much gone.

Wisconsin finds themselves also truly on the bubble at this point; the horrendous non-conference schedule took away a lot of their safety net as well, and I don't think they have much chance with anything less than 10 wins. However, given the two extra spots open, I think 10 wins and a not-awful showing in the Big Ten tournament is probably good enough, and for the first time this season they're a small favorite to make it there.

Ohio State, meanwhile, is in trouble. They have the same horrific non-conference record (five losses) without the quality of wins Wisconsin has. They might have to get to 11 wins just to get the RPI into marginal territory; they're not dead yet but they need to put together an impressive finish to have any chance.

Minnesota and Rutgers are just abysmal. The less said about either of them, the better; their maximum possible record at this point wouldn't be enough to beat Nebraska's average.

Projections by Record

Top Six
Team 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4 15-3 16-2 17-1
Iowa 1 in 10.8 M 1 in 60,100 0.06% 0.88% 6.45% 23.96% 41.96% 26.69%
Maryland 1 in 245,000 0.03% 0.75% 7.96% 34.76% 41.92% 14.57%
Michigan State 1 in 20.2 M 1 in 171,000 0.03% 0.52% 5.20% 24.35% 46.87% 23.03%
Indiana 0.18% 3.20% 15.91% 32.80% 31.49% 13.85% 2.42% 0.14%
Purdue 0.01% 0.28% 2.66% 11.86% 27.25% 33.13% 20.10% 4.73%
Michigan 0.50% 5.54% 21.21% 34.00% 26.48% 10.31% 1.84% 0.11%

Almost-Middle Four
Team 4-14 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8 11-7 12-6 13-5 14-4
Wisconsin 0.07% 1.50% 10.75% 33.02% 40.09% 12.77% 1.70% 0.10% 1 in 44,500
Ohio State 0.69% 7.12% 24.49% 35.89% 23.84% 7.09% 0.87% 0.03%
Northwestern 0.05% 1.64% 12.50% 34.47% 34.79% 14.17% 2.29% 0.11%
Nebraska 3.15% 18.11% 34.70% 29.10% 12.10% 2.57% 0.26% 1 in 10,300

Bottom Four
Team 0-18
1-17
2-16 3-15 4-14 5-13 6-12 7-11 8-10 9-9 10-8
Penn State 0.86% 7.32% 23.60% 35.68% 25.05% 6.89% 0.60% 0.01%
Illinois 0.39% 7.77% 38.14% 36.82% 14.23% 2.46% 0.18% 1 in 30,100
Minnesota 4.65% 30.03% 40.66% 19.89% 4.34% 0.42% 0.01% 1 in 1.16 M
Rutgers 20.68% 42.03% 27.81% 8.22% 1.19% 0.08% 1 in 39,100 1 in 3.58 M

This Week's Games

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

Midweek

Bowie State (non-D1) at Maryland - Tuesday, 6:00, BTN (no projection for non-D1 games)
Michigan State at Purdue - Tuesday, 7:00, ESPN (Purdue 58%, projected margin +2)
Northwestern at Ohio State - Tuesday, 8:00, BTN (Ohio State 72%, +5)
Nebraska at Wisconsin - Wednesday, 7:00, BTN (Wisconsin 85%, +9.5)
Michigan at Minnesota - Wednesday, 9:00, BTN (Michigan 81%, +8)
Iowa at Indiana - Thursday, 9:00, ESPN (Iowa 60%, +2)

Bye: Illinois, Penn State, Rutgers

Weekend

Purdue at Michigan - Saturday, 2:00, ESPN2 (Purdue 55%, +1)
Ohio State at Rutgers - Saturday, 4:00, BTN (Ohio State 84%, +9)
Penn State at Nebraska - Saturday, 6:00, ESPNU (Nebraska 75%, +6)
Wisconsin at Maryland - Saturday, 6:30, ESPN (Maryland 91.0%, +12.5)
Illinois at Northwestern - Saturday, 8:00, BTN (Norhtwestern 82%, +8)
Indiana at Michigan State - Sunday, 1:00, CBS (Michigan State 85%, +9.5)
Minnesota at Iowa - Sunday, 7:30, BTN (Iowa 99.3%, +26.5)

Several huge games this week - Michigan State, Indiana, and Purdue each play two against the top six. Wisconsin's resume won't be dinged too badly if they lose at Maryland, but hosting Nebraska is another matter.