Tempo-free Big Ten

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Before tonight's Big Ten game between Northwestern and Michigan State, which is a huge game for the Wildcats, I wanted to show the efficiency margins (in-conference) for all of the Big Ten teams. This of course relies on just one or two games of data, but it's still fun to start looking at how things shake out. Let's just say that the Wildcats look to be in trouble here, but they've only played one game - at Purdue. The numbers are here, but there's more analysis after the break.

Note: Teams are listed with their efficiency margin and projected (using pythag) conference record. Team records might not add up to .500 in conference because of some rounding.
  1. Ohio State +0.28 (17-1)
  2. Purdue +0.28 (17-1)
  3. Michigan State +0.14 (15-3)
  4. Illinois +0.13 (14-4)
  5. Penn State +0.02 (10-8)
  6. Wisconsin +0.00 (9-9)
  7. Michigan -0.13 (4-14)
  8. Minnesota -0.14 (3-15)
  9. Iowa -0.15 (4-14)
  10. Northwestern -0.20 (2-16)
  11. Indiana -0.22 (2-16)

(Please pretend there are small sample size air quotes around almost every adjective I use.) 

First I'll address the funny number in the standings. You see, while Iowa's efficiency margin is worse than Minnesota, its pythagorean record is actually better thanks to the fact that it's offense is significantly better. Rounding then takes the minuscule difference and turns it into a whole win and loss in the standings. Crazy, huh?
No, I don't think that Penn State has any chance of staying at fifth in the conference, but thus far they've won by two points more total than they've lost in conference. Thus the Nittany Lions hold some high esteem in these rankings.
The other thing I don't expect to continue is Northwestern's position at tenth in the conference. Starting at Purdue was rough. The one-game sample is really hurting the Wildcats here. A one-game sample is helping Ohio State and Michigan State at the moment. It's always good to be undefeated and it keeps the possessions down.
And some superlatives through the first few conference games:
  • Best Offense: Ohio State - 1.308 points per possession
  • Best Defense: Michigan State and Purdue - 0.969 points per possession
  • Luckiest: Michigan - 0.57 games ahead of expected
  • Unluckiest: Minnesota - 0.36 games behind expected
Big Ten games this week:
  • Monday: Michigan State at Northwestern
  • Tuesday: Ohio State at Iowa, Indiana at Minnesota
  • Wednesday: Purdue at Penn State, Michigan at Wisconsin
  • Thursday: Northwestern at Illinois
  • Saturday: Michigan State at Penn State
  • Sunday: Minnesota at Ohio State, Iowa at Purdue, Indiana at Northwestern

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