Big Ten Resume Review: Part I

Posted by Brendan Brody on December 9th, 2013

After everything has calmed down in the aftermath of the B1G/ACC challenge, it’s time to take a first look at the resumes that each team in the league has put together. Granted, this is going to be a fluid situation all season, but right now this is how it shakes out. I won’t reveal my exact methodology, but suffice it to say that I used a combination of KenPom efficiency ratings and the RPI to assign a specific value to each team’s wins and losses. Starting from the bottom and working up, this is how B1G teams stand right now as we head into the exams period. I’ve listed teams #12-#7 here, with teams #6-#1 to come tomorrow.

12. Northwestern (5-5)

Chris Collins' First Season in Evanston Has Been Challenging So Far

Chris Collins’ First Season in Evanston Has Been Challenging So Far

  • Best Win: Western Michigan  (51-35)
  • Worst Loss: Illinois State (68-64)
  • Breakdown: Northwestern has played four power conference teams but did not win any of those games. The Wildcats played Missouri reasonably close, but they lost by 21 to an NC State team that is predicted to finish in the middle to the bottom of the ACC. They have a chance to finish the season with more than 20 losses given the formidable conference slate Chris Collins’ team has ahead of it. They got back on track slightly with a win against a top-150 Western Michigan team on Saturday, but don’t expect the wins to pile up here.
  • Status Right Now: No postseason.
  • Projected Status: No postseason. Not trying to pick on the Wildcats, but they’ve done nothing to show that they are better than all the other bottom-level teams in the conference right now, and might only win three or four games in league play.

11. Nebraska (6-3)

  • Best Win: Miami (60-49)
  • Worst Loss: @ Creighton (82-67)
  • Breakdown: When listing Creighton as their worst loss here, this is more because of the fact that the Cornhuskers blew a golden opportunity to get a signature win, and because they looked so bad in doing it. That said,  Tim Miles’ squad has probably slightly exceeded expectations. They’ve started 6-3, but have no wins versus anyone that would be in the field of 68. Their first two losses to UMass and UAB weren’t horrible ones, and neither is the Creighton loss, but the Huskers need a win at Cincinnati on December 28 or they would need to do some significant conference damage.
  • Status Right Now: No postseason.
  • Projected Status: No postseason. This team could pull off some upsets and get to five or six B1G wins, and if so, they could find themselves headed to the NIT.

10. Penn State (7-3)

  • Best Win: St. John’s (89-82)
  • Worst Loss: Bucknell (90-80)
  • Breakdown: Losses to Ole Miss and at Pittsburgh aren’t anything to get too depressed about, but losing to Bucknell by 10 at home could come back to haunt Penn State on the bubble. St. John’s is not yet living up to expectations, but this win could look better as time passes. Another win over La Salle can be placed in the same category. Penn State will have chances to win against some marquee foes in conference play, but it hasn’t notched a truly quality win yet this season.
  • Status Right Now: CBI or CIT.
  • Preojected Status: NIT. This team will get better when they get Pitt transfer John Johnson eligible at mid-season. They’ll win enough games down the stretch to make the NIT.

9. Purdue (8-2)

Matt Painter Needs to Solve Some Issues Before Purdue is an NCAA Team

Matt Painter Needs to Solve Some Issues Before Purdue is an NCAA Team

  • Best Win: Boston College (88-67)
  • Worst Loss: Washington State (69-54)
  • Breakdown: If the only problem was close home wins against the likes Northern Kentucky and Rider, Purdue fans would probably feel a little better. But the Boilers really hurt themselves in losing to Washington State. Not only did they drop a game by 15 to a bad Pac-12 team, but they missed an opportunity to get the next win against St. Joseph’s, which would have looked considerably better than the second of two victories over Siena. Purdue has to hope Boston College shakes off its early season struggles so that win looks better over time, and then try to get wins over Butler and West Virginia in coming weeks to salvage an up-and-down non-conference season.
  • Status Right Now: NIT.
  • Projected Status: Their ceiling is to become an NCAA team, but the NIT looks like a safer bet until they settle on a lineup and fix their rotation issues. The talent is there to win against the big boys and they still have a couple chances for quality wins in non-conference play.

8. Michigan (6-3)

  • Best Win: Florida State (82-80)
  • Worst Loss: Charlotte (63-61)
  • Breakdown: Michigan is a surprise here, but the Wolverines have been the most disappointing team in the league and maybe the country so far. Losing to Duke in Cameron is not a shocker, but a team that started the season in the top 10 shouldn’t lose to Charlotte under any circumstances. The Florida State win is Michigan’s only victory against a team in the top 200 of KenPom’s rankings. That said, the Wolverines looked much better against an overwhelmed Houston Baptist unit on Saturday, and wins in coming weeks against Stanford on a neutral floor and especially at home against Arizona will help get things back on track.
  • Status Right Now: NCAA #8 to #11 Seed
  • Projected Status: NCAA #4 Seed. Despite these early struggles, there’s too much talent here for the Wolverines to to fall flat, especially as freshman Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin get more comfortable in John Beilein’s system.

7. Illinois (8-1)

  • Best Win: Auburn (81-62)
  • Worst Loss: @ Georgia Tech (67-64)
  • Breakdown: One of our writers detailed the team’s struggles in Atlanta Tuesday night, as Illinois failed to close out the game after having a double-figure lead in the second half. Oregon and Missouri will provide solid opportunities for John Groce’s team to move up in the pecking order in the next couple of weeks, and it will determine whether it is a legitimate NCAA team or one that is still a year away from contending.
  • Status Right Now: NCAA #8 to #11 Seed.
  • Projected Status: NCAA. First Four. This will be a bubble team all year long, as the Illini don’t seem to have the necessary consistency to plant themselves firmly on the right side of the bubble.

Check back on Tuesday to see how the top six teams stand going into exams.

Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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