Friday Facts: The plot thickens

The big result this week was Ohio State winning at Purdue. As I mentioned last week, this was the upset that needed to happen to make the Big Ten a race again:

Purdue is still favored to get at least a share of the title, but Ohio State and Michigan State are both right there. If MSU beats Purdue at home the weekend, this will likely come down to the final weekend. Here are the standings sorted by adjusted efficiency in conference play, a.k.a the Friday Facts:

For the first time, Ohio State moves ahead of Purdue, although its lead is very small. A big road win will do that for you. Michigan State, which has struggled a bit against lesser teams, is a step back. But that could change after their huge game against Purdue in East Lansing this weekend, which is by far the game of the week:

Other than that game, there are a few interesting games with bubble implications. Penn State, coming off a huge win over Maryland, will start the week with a tricky road test at Illinois, which has generally been scrappy, and if they win that they'll have a must-win Quadrant 1 game against Ohio State. Win both of those, and Teamcast says they'll move up to the 4th team out, with a 32% chance of making the tourney. Their closing stretch of Ohio State, at Purdue, Michigan, at Nebraska gives them at least three, maybe four, shots at Quadrant 1 wins.

But Maryland is still the Big Ten's top chance for a fifth bid at the moment, and the Terps get Northwestern and at Nebraska this week. Both of those games are very close to elimination games for everyone involved.

Nebraska continued plugging away last week, with a nice win at Minnesota. In addition to the Maryland game, they host Rutgers this weekend. As I mentioned last week, they are much more deserving of a bid than typical committee decisionmaking reflects. If they get through this week unscathed, I'll do some lobbying for them next Friday.


Speaking of selection stuff, this is the weekend the NCAA will do its mock selection exercise and announce the top 16 seeds as of this Sunday. Last year, the Big Ten got shut out even though Wisconsin was 21-3 and 10-1 in the Big Ten at the time. Wisconsin was cursed with few "quality wins" and a mediocre RPI. This eventually led to the ridiculousness of them getting an 8-seed opposite the number one overall seed. But that turned out okay.

The Big Ten won't get shut out this year, but it probably won't do as well as you might think. This year, the conference as a whole is cursed with a terrible RPI profile thanks to a slew of losses in the non-con. Because of this, Big Ten teams have picked up just seven Quadrant 1 wins during conference play. By contrast, teams in the Big East, Big 12, ACC and SEC are averaging nearly 30 Q1 wins in conference play. Add it all up and you get this:

That "Quad1" column is a problem, with only one team (Purdue) having more than two wins. By contrast, in the Big 12 every team except Baylor has at least three! Overall, Purdue is looking okay—though I don't think they'll be on the one line if they lose to Michigan State—but OSU and MSU have profiles that typically lead to underseeding. This is why my algorithm would currenly peg MSU as a 4-seed and OSU to top 5-seed. Of course, that's just an algorithm—but where MSU is seeded, and whether OSU makes the top 16, will be interesting to see.


Excitement continued to brew last week about the race for tenth, and the corresponding honor of not playing on Wednesday of the Big Ten tourney. The coming week should be no different. Wisconsin's road win over Illinois put it as a slight favorite, but as you can see their most likely result is still 5 wins, which will probably put them in some kind of tie for the Big Tenth:

The race at the top could be interesting, also.