14 December 2014

Forecasting the 2015 B1G Race (as of Dec 14 2014)

Yesterday we looked at NU's overall and B1G prospects for the 2015 season.  Today we've taken it to the next level by forecasting the 2015 B1G race.  Why?  Well for one thing this type of analysis might be of interest beyond our little purple patch of people following NU basketball.  If we are successful in drawing in a wider audience of basketball nerds across the conference then maybe with a boost in advertising revenue we can afford to buy our mamas some new shoes for Christmas!  Hahaha.  We sleigh ourselves.  Rim shot.

More realistically this provides self-loathing NU fans with some objective insight into that burning question: "Will NU make history and be the first 14th place B1G team?"

To focus on more positive things Wisconsin has a 84% chance of either winning or having a share of the B1G crown.  They are the clear favorite in the B1G race which makes their loss to Duke at home all the more unfortunate because it gives the ESPN talking heads fodder for why the ACC is a better conference.  Sparty and Buckeye fans have good reason for hoping their teams will at least be in the thick of the B1G title race.  Newcomer Maryland and Minny have a punchers chance at.  Of those two we found it interesting that Maryland has a slightly higher chance of getting a B1G title than Minnesota even though Minnesota has a higher kenpom ranking; must be a function of the imbalanced B1G conference schedules.  

It should come as no surprise to NU fans, but it is still a slap in the face to see that NOT EVEN ONCE OUT OF 100,000 SIMULATIONS is NU forecasted to have at least a share of the B1G crown.  Same goes for you Rutgers.  Oh where would NU fans be without the Scarlet Knights?  Misery loves company ya know. 

If you set your eyes to the last row then you can see which teams are at the greatest risk of becoming the first 14th team in B1G history.  NU has roughly a 25% chance of that happening which is second only to the 43% chance that our good friends from Piscataway have of earning that dubious distinction.  Welcome to the B1G friends.  Fellow traditional basketball weaklings -- Penn State and Nebraska -- also have some basis for fearing the dreaded 14th place but only with much lower 4.4% and 3.0% probabilities, respectively.

Note that 25% is NOT the estimated probability that NU will finish in the conference basement.  The probability is higher and perhaps significantly so.  That is because embedded in the 13th place probabilities are likely a significant number of outcomes in which two teams tie for the basement.  Similarly the 12th place probabilities have some three-way ties for the basement and so forth.  

Of course NU can add to its list of futility statistics by becoming either the first 13th place team or one of two teams that finished 13th in B1G history.  The chances of that happening are in the second to last row.  NU has a 34% chance of that happening while Rutgers has a 31% chance.  Nebraska and Penn State also have reason to fear that outcome at a 12.5% and 8.5% probabilities, respectively.

If you sum up the last two row then NU has a 6 in 10 chance of breaking new ground in B1G history while Rutgers has a 3 in 4 chance.  NU kicks off its B1G campaign in Piscataway on Tues Dec 30.  That epic battle may go a long way in determining which team sets a new benchmark in B1G futility.