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College basketball rankings: Wisconsin on top of Big Ten, but movement abounds

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The Badgers remain on top, but plenty of movement persists among the would-be challengers.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I've been mulling over a response to the People Who Hate College Basketball Yet Watch College Basketball All the Time crowd. But instead I'll just refer you to my Hot Takes (here and here) from the last time this crowd had a public meltdown, in 2013. In short:

1. If there's not enough scoring in college basketball for you, go watch arena football.

2. If you really want more scoring, you should be advocating for rules that we know will work: the NBA's rules (such as liberalized traveling, and continuation, going to half-court after timeouts, etc.). If your compliant is that offense is too hard, and yet you are advocating for a shorter shot clock -- you haven't thought this thing through.

By the way, my extensive research reveals that college basketball may not yet be in its death throes:

Now, without further ado:

The Friday Facts

T-Rank Team Name W-L RawEM AdjEM Adj OE Adj DE Barthag* SOS So far SOS Remain Proj. Rec
3 Wisconsin 6-1 0.23 34 136.5 100.6 0.9392 (nc) 0.7252 (14) 0.8243 (8) 15-3 (nc)
10 Ohio State 6-3 0.10 26 119.6 93.5 0.9014 (+3) 0.8028 (11) 0.8051 (10) 13-5 (nc)
20 Michigan State 5-3 0.09 22 114.5 92.2 0.8746 (-1) 0.7633 (13) 0.8379 (5) 11-7 (-1)
44 Purdue 5-3 0.04 21 112.1 91.4 0.8629 (+4) 0.8287 (4) 0.8098 (9) 10-8 (+1)
39 Iowa 4-3 -0.05 18 123.3 102.5 0.8407 (+1) 0.895 (1) 0.7793 (13) 11-7 (nc)
49 Indiana 5-3 -0.02 18 121.3 101.4 0.8328 (-2) 0.8618 (2) 0.7937 (12) 11-7 (nc)
74 Michigan 6-3 0.01 17 107.7 90.5 0.8269 (+2) 0.8091 (9) 0.8329 (6) 9-9 (+1)
34 Maryland 6-3 0.00 17 108.6 91.7 0.8204 (-5) 0.8273 (5) 0.7742 (14) 12-6 (nc)
88 Nebraska 4-4 -0.03 14 102.8 89.2 0.7819 (-2) 0.821 (7) 0.8557 (2) 7-11 (nc)
84 Penn State 2-6 -0.02 14 110.1 95.7 0.7788 (+4) 0.8043 (10) 0.8637 (1) 5-13 (+2)
97 Northwestern 1-6 -0.08 12 111.7 97.9 0.7662 (nc) 0.8605 (3) 0.829 (7) 5-13 (+1)
50 Minnesota 2-7 -0.03 13 110.9 98.1 0.7512 (nc) 0.7997 (12) 0.8517 (3) 6-12 (-1)
53 Illinois 3-5 -0.05 12 108.1 95.8 0.7474 (-3) 0.8226 (6) 0.8043 (11) 8-10 (-1)
151 Rutgers 2-7 -0.14 3 97.3 95.3 0.5465 (-1) 0.8099 (8) 0.8404 (4) 4-14 (nc)
Observations:
  • Wisconsin remains on top, emphatically so, despite a close OT victory to middling Michigan. T-Rank knows it is tough to win on the road in the Big Ten. The Badgers' amazing offense continued to propel it: they scored 1.18 points per possession against the surprisingly stout Michigan defense (which trails only Nebraska in adjusted defensive efficiency in conference play). And once again, they needed every point, as they gave up at least 1.1 ppp for the third time in seven games.
  • Maryland falls from 3rd to 8th in the conference-only adjusted efficiency after their blowout loss to Ohio State last night. Also, last week's big loss to Indiana is looking worse and worse. At this point, Maryland has actually given up more points (608) than it has scored (606) in conference play. Note, however, that their projected win total remains the same as last week: 12-6. This has something to do with the "SOS Remain" column -- Maryland has the easiest remaining schedule in the conference.
  • The non-conference version of Penn State finally showed up for the conference season. They whipped Rutgers at home, and handled Minnesota at home as well. They made the biggest move in overall T-Rank, jumping from 111 to 84.
  • Northwestern continued play well against good teams but lose. After starting the season with a series of close wins over terrible teams, they have moved into the T-Rank top 100 with a series of moral victories. But a clear improving trend is evident:


  • Ohio State moves up three spots into second (taking their turn as This Week's Sacrificial Second-Place Contender?) after crushing Maryland. Like Maryland, however, their projected record remains unchanged from last week: 13-5.
  • Predictably, Indiana has crashed back to earth. They again have a negative scoring margin in conference play. They also have the second-toughest remaining schedule, according to T-Rank. We'll be on the lookout for "Tom Crean, Coach of the Year" articles in the coming weeks.
  • For those curious why every team's Barthag is lower than last week, see this T-Rank Technical Note. Short answer: I lowered the exponent used to calculate it. This brings every team closer to .5000, but doesn't affect projected scores or rank order.
  • Another curiosity: both Indiana and Iowa are actually projected to win 10.5 games, and both round up to 11. This is why the conference as a whole is projected to finish 127-125 which is unpossible. In the choice between projected tenths of wins and suffering the wrath of rounding, I stand on the side of significant digits.

This Week's Big Ten Games

Matchup T-Rank Prediction TTQ
10 Ohio State @ 44 Purdue Ohio State, 72-67 (66%) 85
3 Wisconsin @ 39 Iowa Wisconsin, 69-62 (74%) 80
39 Iowa @ 74 Michigan Iowa, 62-61 (52%) 78
44 Purdue @ 97 Northwestern Purdue, 64-62 (57%) 72
49 Indiana @ 3 Wisconsin Wisconsin, 83-65 (89%) 70
84 Penn State @ 53 Illinois Illinois, 72-64 (73%) 65
88 Nebraska @ 50 Minnesota Minnesota, 68-61 (74%) 63
84 Penn State @ 34 Maryland Maryland, 71-62 (78%) 62
74 Michigan @ 20 Michigan State Michigan State, 66-56 (81%) 61
97 Northwestern @ 88 Nebraska Nebraska, 58-54 (64%) 60
151 Rutgers @ 49 Indiana Indiana, 79-64 (87%) 50
151 Rutgers @ 53 Illinois Illinois, 71-57 (87%) 48

Purdue gets a huge opportunity for a statement win against Ohio State. The Badgers get a chance to basically put the conference race to bed if they can go 2-0. Iowa has two tough games, and needs to win one. And more!