Big Ten Resume Ranker: Mid-December Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on December 12th, 2015

Now that we’re almost a month into the season, it’s time to start taking a looking at Big Ten teams in terms of their early resumes. The conference appears to have three potentially elite teams, with four or five more capable of getting things on track and making run. It’s worth noting that Purdue went 8-5 in non-conference play with home losses to two bad teams a year ago, and let’s also not forget how Nebraska was 8-8 two seasons ago before winning 11 of their last 14 contests. So if your favorite team didn’t make the cut for this exercise, don’t fret. Sometimes teams take a while to come together and turn things around after the New Year. Teams below have been placed into their tiers based upon their resumes to date and using KenPom’s efficiency ratings as a reference point.

Bo Ryan and Wisconsin has two harmful home losses on their resume thus far. (Getty)

Bo Ryan and Wisconsin has two harmful home losses on their resume thus far. (Getty)

Outside Looking in: (Wisconsin, Nebraska, Penn State) — Wisconsin can look to a neutral court win over VCU and a road win over Syracuse in the positive column, but those home losses to Western Illinois and Milwaukee are problematic. Nebraska had an opportunity to beat Miami (FL) at home and played Cincinnati well, but both games still resulted in a loss. The Cornhuskers really don’t have any bad losses but didn’t look great in losing to a Creighton team that Indiana blew out earlier in the season. Penn State is barely hanging on, but the Nittany Lions looked decent in losing to George Washington on the road this week. Beating Colorado in Las Vegas could be crucial, as they would get a bump from the Pac-12’s likely status as a solid and deep league.

Bubble to Somewhat Safely in: (Northwestern, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa) — In the metrics view, Northwestern is simply getting credit for not losing, as its best credential is an overtime victory at Virginia Tech. In the Wildcats’ defense, however, their only loss is to one of the best teams in the country (North Carolina) on a neutral floor. With nothing noteworthy remaining on their non-conference schedule, the Wildcats have some work to do once conference play rolls around. Michigan‘s three losses came against good teams, but it didn’t look great in losing by double-figures each time. Wins over Texas and at NC State could age well over time. Indiana has looked unstoppable at home, and its 21-point win over Creighton is improving. Iowa lost a chance for a signature win at Iowa State, but three top-1o0 wins over Marquette, Wichita State, and Florida State coupled with no bad losses, gives the Hawkeyes the fourth-best Big Ten resume as of right now.

Caleb Swanigan and Purdue have been one of the bigger surprises this season. (

Caleb Swanigan and Purdue have been one of the bigger surprises this season. (

The Cream of the Crop: (Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue) — Maryland has three top-100 wins and its loss to North Carolina on the road shouldn’t knock the Terrapins down too much. Road games at Purdue and Michigan State in league play could very well determine how high of a seed they get in the NCAA Tournament. Purdue and Michigan State have very similar-looking resumes right now, depending on how their respective victories are weighed. Purdue’s opponents have an average KenPom rating of #161, while Michigan State’s opponents check in at an average of #173. The Spartans have wins over Kansas and Louisville, but the Boilermakers have beaten four top 100 teams by an average margin of 15.5 points per game. Purdue also has a road win while Michigan State hasn’t played a true road game yet. Whichever way you slice it, both teams have the best resumes in the Big Ten and two of the best in all of college basketball.

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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