23 January 2017

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.