23 January 2017

2016-17 B1G Power Rankings as of Jan 23 2017

It's been a couple of seasons since we've thrown our hat into the power rankings ring.  Since that time we've refined our methodology.  We still believe that the Carmody Court Ratio, aka CCR, is a valid statistical measure for assessing a team's strength.  As a reminder, the CCR measures a team's performance on a PPP basis against each of its B1G opponents relative to those opponents adjusted efficiency within B1G play (as calculated per kenpom.com) .

As a refresher for the CCR calculations, a simplified example is helpful for ease of disposition.  Let's assume that 1) NU plays a game on a neutral court against iLOLinois, 2) that after the game results are incorporated that kenpom reports the iLOLini have an adjusted offensive efficiency and an adjusted defensive efficiency that are both equal to 1.0 within B1G play, and 3) NU wins 110-105 in a 100 possession 3OT thriller.

NU would have a CCR-O equal to 1.1 (NU's PPP) less 1.0 (iLOLini AdjD) or 0.1
NU would have a CCR-D equal to 1.0 (iLOLini AdjO)  less 1.05 (iLOLini PPP) or -0.05
NU would have a CCR equal to the sum of 0.1 CCR-O and -0.05 CCR-D or 0.05

In effect the CCR takes into consideration not only how a team has performed on an efficiency basis but also the strength of the competition.  Note that the CCR calculations also take into consideration home court advantage but we've left that part of the calculation out of the above hypothetical for simplicity.

Before we used a trend line analysis for each team's CCR as the basis for power ranking.  Upon further reflection we feel that the use of a trend line analysis -- while informative and provides useful insight to how teams are improving or regressing as the B1G season progresses -- is inferior to the use of an averaging approach that is less susceptible to statistical significance concerns not to mention a greater stability in the rankings and less dependence on early B1G conference games results.  Our thinking on the averaging approach is still evolving.  Right now we are using a simple average but are also considering an approach that places more weight on recent games.

Below is a chart that shows the current B1G power rankings based on average CCR.  We also show in the chart the old trend line analysis as well as the best and worst CCR performances by each team.  We've recently tweeted about some of the outlier games, but see notes for the most up-to-date information.

Updated 2016-17 Expectations: B1G Conference

Back on November 2 we looked at the preseason expectations for the B1G conference.  At that time Wisconsin, OSU, and MSU were expected to battle for the B1G crown with Purdue and Indiana a notch below.   And at the bottom was Rutgers with Nebraska, PSU, and Minnesota jockeying for position just above the Scarlet Knights.

Well we are about 40% of the way into the B1G season, and a lot has changed both at the top and the bottom.  The next chart shows the current expected finishes in the B1G standings.  Note that the white boxes show the preseason most likely finishes while the current most likely finishes are bolded and underlined.
At the top Wisconsin has emerged as the clear front runner for the crown, but Purdue also has made a small jump up and has a little better than a 1 in 4 shot at earning at least a share of the crown.  Although some in Minneapolis and College Park may suggest we are wearing purple shades when we say this -- arguably the biggest story brewing in the B1G is that NU has played its way from an expected 9th place finish (including ties) up to a most likely third place finish and a nearly 10% shot of at least sharing the B1G crown.  Maryland was expected to take a couple of steps back this year to sixth place, but they are also a dark horse for the B1G crown with about a 1 in 12 shot.

At the bottom Rutgers is still the odds on favorite for the basement.  Despite its surprising 3-0 start out of the gates Nebrasketball is currently the likely runner-up to the basement -- an expectation that may not be too far from the current sentiment as the Huskers are riding a 4 game losing streak including its most recent loss in Piscataway that gave the Scarlet Knights their first B1G win.   Penn State has taken some positive steps so far in the season yet they are currently on par with an iLOLinois squad that may be searching for another head coach after the season concludes, and Iowa which has been the second most disappointing B1G team -- no need to remind bombastic Coach Fran of that as he has had frequent public meltdowns already.

Easily the most disappointing B1G team to date has been Ohio State.  They were expected to vie for the B1G crown yet they have fallen all the way down to 9th in the B1G pecking order currently and are in danger of not even making the NIT.  Right above the Buckeyes is Michigan which has also has had a pretty disappointing season due in no small part to some serious defensive issues -- however one reason for Wolverine optimism are appearances that the defense has turned a corner after playing pretty well over its past two games (at Wisconsin and against ILOLinois).

Sparty and Indiana were also near the top of the B1G heap in preseason expectations and have been disappointments. FWIW Indiana has been trending up of late while MSU has been trending down after a hot 3-0 B1G start.  Indiana has some serious defensive flaws and injury concerns which raise questions about just how much higher they can go in the B1G peckin order.  MSU arguably has the 4th best B1G resume to date despite losing 3 of its last 4 games.

Last but not least there is Minnesota which until recently had easily been the most pleasant surprise in the B1G but gave back some ground over its past three games which have all been losses -- the worst of which was a 65-47 beat down in E Lansing that could've been a tour de force for Goldy had they won the game.  Still Minnesota is hot on NU's heels for biggest jump in the projected B1G standings with the Gophers moving up from a battle for runner-up to B1G basement status all the way up to a most likely 5th place finish.  Both CRP and CCC are in their fourth years, and with their similar tenures and hiring situations this may be just the beginning of the comparisons and contrasts of the track records for these two young head coaches.

The next chart shows the expected B1G win totals.  Some may care more about this chart than the standings.  That's all well and good as much of the above narrative applies directly to this chart as well.

Northwestern Basketball: Updated 2016-2017 Expectations

The last we wrote on this blog about NU's 2016-17 prospects was in the preseason.  We are now 20 games into the season with just 11 more games to go in the B1G regular season.  Of course a lot can happen over a 20 game span of time.  For example, there is just this trivial matter of a reality TV show host becoming the 45th President of the United States. But we digress.  Onto more important matters, and on topico numero uno for this blog: how have NU's prospects evolved since the preseason?  Let's dig into that a bit.

The first chart below shows NU's preseason expectations for B1G play.  The most likely outcome was an (8-10) record and on a weighted average basis NU was expected to go (8.3-9.7).  As we wrote at that time, we translated those expectations into a likely NIT bid for the 2016-17 season.

This next chart shows NU's current expectations for B1G play.  The most likely outcome has substantially improved to a (12-6) record and on a weighted average basis NU is expected to go (11.51-6.49).  On both accounts is reasonable to say that -- so long as NU performs as expected** from here on out -- NU HAS A DANCE DATE COME MARCH 16 OR MARCH 17 IN ONE OF THE FOLLOWING LOCALES:


If NU were to just squeak into the NCAAs and play in the First Four, then Dayton OH would be the scene of history making on MARCH 14 or MARCH 15.  

*** Of course things won't go exactly as expected.  Still let's assume that there is a 100% shot of NU dancing at 11-7 or better, a 40% shot at 10-8, and a 10% shot at 9-9.  Then according to kenpom's data NU stands a 83% chance of making the NCAAs.

Suffice it to say that this has been a very pleasant season to date for NU fans.  In fact relative to preseason expectations there isn't a happier B1G fan base at the moment.  NU's 3.2 increase in B1G win totals leads all B1G teams with just Minnesota (a 2.9 win increase) within the same ballpark of outperforming preseason expectations.   

If NU can continue to stay on this pace and make the NCAAs then CCC is the odds on favorite for B1G COTY.   The kenpom data also indicate there is nearly a 10% chance that NU will get at least a share of the B1G regular season crown.  If that were to happen then CCC may be in line for national COTY honors.  

In the immortal words of Harry Caray, HOLY COW!!!!!!!!