28 December 2014

2015 B1G Projections: End of Non-Conference Play Edition

Over the past six weeks B1G teams have worked through their ways through 12 or 13 non-conference games. These non-conference slates were designed by coaches to be of varying strengths with the intent of preparing B1G teams for what is now to come.  There are no more Mississippi Valley States left for young teams like Northwestern to steady themselves nor are there any more North Carolinas lurking for teams to bolster their strength of schedules and earn the fancy of the NCAA selection committee.  It is time for the annual slug fest otherwise known as the B1G conference schedule.

This year B1G teams have at least put on boxing gloves to give hope to even the least ballyhooed of B1G squads.  For this year will mark the end to impressive 4-year run atop the kenpom conference standings.  Enough B1G blood has been drawn by non-conference foes that the B1G now stands fourth in the conference standing -- behind not only a very impressive B12 conference and the expected ACC powerhouse but also the decimated Big East.  If only NU could've eked out a win over Butler...

Before the B1G mayhem begins we thought this to be a good time to take stock of where the B1G teams stand.  Behold our updated 2015 B1G Projections:

These projections are presented in largely the same format as our prior two editions but with some additional information added at the bottom to add some color.  The top section of the chart shows the probabilities of where a B1G team will finish within the 2015 B1G standings.  In case all those probabilities are information overload we've added a last row to this top section with the weighted average expected finishes.

We've also had some requests for projections of teams expected records.  While we won't go so far as to indulge our B1G friends with bar charts like the ones we produce for NU we have tossed them a bone with some key summary statistics at the bottom of this table.  First is the expected conference W-L record.  This is the weighted average win-loss record based on a 500,000 trial Monte Carlo simulation using the individual game win probabilities per kenpom as of the end of the non-conference slate.  Wisconsin is expected to win somewhere between 15 and 16 games on the year while Iowa is expected to be 9-9 and Rutgers is expected to win between 4 and 5 games.  

The next line ranks these expected win-loss records which might be one way to do a power ranking if one wanted to do something more fancy like taking into account the imbalanced B1G schedules than simply going with the kenpom rankings themselves.  

Next we've added a few common statistics on the Monte Carlo distribution including the minimum** wins recorded under a 500,000 trial simulation -- probably of most interest to Badger fans who sadly can expect a minimum number of wins (7) which is greater than the expected win totals for four B1G teams.  We've also shown the mode which is the most likely outcome for the season based on how the teams have played to date.  For the self-loathing types we've also shown the maximum** wins -- NU and Rutgers fans we are sorry to report that neither team did not win 14 or more B1G games even once in 500,000 simulations.  

Lastly because it is a Monte Carlo simulation we wanted to show the probabilities of (1) a team's most likely outcome (roughly about the same but for the least variable teams at the ends of the spectrum -- Wisconsin and Rutgers), (2) a team's chances of going winless (pretty slim for all teams), and (3) a team's chances of running the table (really only relevant for Wisconsin which has about a  1/20 chance of it; while Wisconsin is expected to dominate the B1G this year, they are nothing like Kentucky which has about a 1/4 chance of going undefeated in the SEC).

If all goes as expected -- which it won't -- here's what the betting man says will happen.

1.    Wisconsin
2.    Ohio State
T3.  Michigan State and Maryland
5.    Minnesota
6.    Illinois
T7.  Indiana and Iowa
T9.  Michigan and Purdue
T11. Penn State and Nebraska
T13. Northwestern and Rutgers

The top 6 teams have greater than a 3 in 4 chance of finishing in the top 7 which in our mind is where the bubble will form for this year's 14 team B1G that is ranked fourth in the country.   That means Indiana and Iowa fans could have a roller coaster of a ride this year at least in respect to whether they will make the NCAAs.  

** Of course 0 and 18 wins are the minimum and maximum possibilities for ALL B1G teams, but we think it's more interesting to see what comes out of a 500,000 trial simulation than state that Wisconsin has a 1 in 108 quadrillion chance of going winless in the B1G while Rutgers has a 1 in 3.2 trillion chance of going 18-0 in the B1G.