Analyzing the Remaining Big Ten Schedule

Posted by Alex Moscoso on February 3rd, 2015

Now that this Big Ten season is at its midpoint, it gives us a chance to gauge teams’ performances to date and analyze what’s to come. Besides a surprising second half hiccup in New Jersey, Wisconsin has been the dominant team in the league everyone expected. Ohio State, Indiana, and (surprisingly) Maryland are the consensus contenders for second place, and each could make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament if conditions are right. Nebraska, Penn State and Northwestern have had disappointing seasons. The rest of the league is in a slog to find an address on the right side of the bubble. But given uneven schedules, comparing teams by their record in conference play alone may hide the actual favorability of their schedules. Because of this — and the overall relative parity throughout the league — a good number of people in the media have been using “true” standings. This approach ranks teams by penalizing them for a home loss and rewarding them for a road win. Below, I’ve illustrated the true Big Ten standings and attached each team’s upcoming schedule and their predicted finish according to KenPom. By looking at the table, we can make some assumptions about what the second half of the Big Ten season has in store for us.

midseason big ten standings

Here are my three main takeaways from the table above:

  • Wisconsin should cruise to an outright regular season title. While I’ve previously commented on the overall parity of the league, I’m really talking about every team except for the Badgers. Wisconsin has been dominant — both nationally and within the Big Ten. Its sole loss to Rutgers was flukish given that it came while Frank Kaminsky and Traevon Jackson were sidelined (Jackson for the second half). Looking forward, it’s unlikely that another team will enter the Kohl Center this season and leave with a win, and three of their five remaining road games come against struggling teams like Nebraska, Penn State and Minnesota. With a two-game lead already in hand, the Badgers are headed to a regular season title and a possible #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

  • Maryland is primed for a second place finish. Of the few teams with any hope to challenge the Badgers, the Terrapins seem to be in the best position to separate themselves from Indiana and Ohio State and secure a minimum of second place. Unlike the Hoosiers, Maryland gets to play Wisconsin in College Park and avoids a trip to Madison. And while Ohio State owns the tiebreaker over the Terrapins, Maryland only has four road games left — one fewer than the Buckeyes — with two of them against conference bottom-dwellers Penn State and Rutgers. One fewer road game is huge in this league and it gives the Terps one less likely game to trip up.
  • Iowa’s luck should change in February. Iowa fans are starting to get that awful feeling again as the Hawkeyes have lost their last three games following a 4-1 league start — an eerily familiar pattern to last season’s February collapse. Some relief is on the way, though, as Iowa’s remaining schedule is much easier in the second half of the season. For starters, Iowa gets to play Northwestern twice and has road games against Penn State and Nebraska — all winnable games. Even their home games are favorable as they only face one team with a conference record above .500 (Maryland). This schedule makes a late-season collapse like last season unlikely and should have the Hawkeyes back on the right track by March.
Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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