29 December 2014

NU's 2015 B1G Projections: Post Non-Conference Edition

NU is now on the eve of beginning its 2015 B1G campaign.  What do the kenpom data have to say about how things will play out?

The events of the past 10 days -- which includes not only a 20 rung improvement in NU's kenpom rankings thanks to three decent wins but also the further degradation of the B1G's overall strength -- have marginally improved NU's outlook for B1G play.  The bad news is that the mode of the Monte Carlo simulation still has NU winning four games.  But the good news is that on a weighted average basis NU is expected to win 4.7 games which rounds up to five B1G wins.  Beggars can't be choosers.  In the spirit of the glass half full take on things here are three takeaways from the above bar chart:

Good: NU's prospects of a winless B1G season are now only 0.31%.

Better:  NU has a 30% chance of matching or besting its 6 B1G mark from last season.

Best: The prospects of a winning overall season have improved from a depressing 3.1% when we last looked into the kenpom crystal ball to a downright plausible 14.5%!

In terms of the B1G race yesterday we posted the big picture (resubmitted above).  The news is also marginally better here.  In short Rutgers has nosed out NU as the favorite for B1G basement.  However ground yourselves in the fact that there is a greater than a 50/50 chance that NU will finish in a tie for 13th or worse.  New NU futility records loom ominously on the horizon.

Lastly we have come to respect CCC's forthright and at times insightful comments to the media.  On the other hand there is this quote according to an insideNU article posted earlier today "[NU has] by far the most difficult [conference] schedule in the league.  It's like double the second toughest."


No.  No it doesn't.  Nebraska does.**  For an explanation of how this chart is derived see our recent blog post.

** Note: this analysis does not attempt to account for the Home/Away effects of the B1G imbalanced schedule.  This impact is not significant enough to justify tracking down the necessary data and quantifying the effects.  However qualitatively speaking the kenpom win probabilities are constructed in such a manner that is most beneficial for teams to play their single games at home against similarly ranked opponent (i.e., NU would be better off playing its one game against similarly ranked Rutgers at The Welsh rather than at the RAC).  This effect is amplified somewhat as the the quality of the team diminishes (i.e., it is a more important issue to Northwestern than to Wisconsin).