18 November 2015

Pre-Season Forecast for 2015-16 B1G Regular Season

This post is part of a series that looks at pre-season expectations using data from kenpom.com.  This post uses pre-season kenpom data to analyze expectations for the 2015-16 B1G regular season.

The first chart summarizes the probabilities of where teams are expected to finish in the B1G race.  The chart does not distinguish ties (other than 14th because there is no such thing as a tie for 14th), and for this reason the probability for the standings do not sum to 100% across all teams.
There are four teams that are most likely to finish either first or in a tie first.  In descending order of likelihood these teams are: Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan State, and Michigan.  Purdue also has a good chance at finishing at the top but is more likely to finish just below the winner's circle.

Maryland which has a 9.1% chance of winning or sharing the B1G crown but is most likely to finish in fourth place (12.0%).  This is at odds with the media expectations for the Terps who are considered a final four contender.  Time will tell whether the kenpom data or the media group-think is more on target with UMD expectations.

Other notables include darkhorses Ohio State and Iowa which have about a 1 in 20 shot at finishing atop the standings.  More realistically these teams are expected to finish in the middle of the pack and likely good enough to fall on the right side of the NCAAs bubble.

The next tier of B1G teams is expected to belong to Minnesota, Illinois, and Northwestern.  Each of these could play their way into the NCAAs but an expected finish of 10th will likely find each of these squads bound for the NIT.

Nebraska and Penn State are expected to struggle again this year.  Fortunately for them there is Rutgers which once again is projected to be woeful and the odds-on favorite for finishing alone in the B1G basement.  Rutgers also has the dubious distinction of being the only team to finish no higher than third in any of the 100,000 simulations that we ran.

As the next chart illustrates when it comes to wins and losses the B1G race is expected to be a slug fest.  The four preseason favorites are expected to finish 12-6.  Purdue is expected to finish 11-7, and Maryland, Iowa, and Ohio State are expected to finish 10-8.  At the top of the bottom half of the conference are Minnesota, Illinois and Northwestern at 8-10.  Penn State and Nebraska are both expected to finish at 5-13, and Rutgers brings up the rear at 3-15.
The distribution of win probabilities varies across the teams.  These distributions provide a useful means for splitting hairs among the teams who share the same most likely B1G records.  At the bottom of the chart we create a weighted average expected record based on the distributions and rank these weighted average records.

Northwestern fans should circle Sat Jan 9, Thu Feb 4 and Sat Feb 13 on their calendars.  Those are the dates when NU plays its peers (at Minnesota, against Minnesota and against Illinois, respectively) and may go a long way in determining NU's postseason prospects.