Thursday, January 26, 2006

Where things stand …

Okay, we’re six (seven for some) games into the Big Ten race and it is tighter than I imagined back when I did my preseason predictions in early November. Winning on the road is as tough as ever, with home teams standing at 25-10 in conference play. With that said, here is a reminder of what I predicted, and an adjusted look as we near the halfway point of Big Ten play, followed by how I think it will play out the rest of the season.

What I predicted (in order of finish, with OOC record, B10 record, total record and postseason action:

Michigan State – 12-2 / 13-3 (T-1st) / 25-5 / NCAA Berth
Illinois – 12-2 / 13-3 (T-1st) / 25-5 / NCAA Berth
Wisconsin – 11-2 / 12-4 (3rd) / 23-6 / NCAA Berth
Iowa – 12-2 / 10-6 (4th) / 22-8 / NCAA Berth
Ohio State – 9-2 / 9-7 (T-5th) / 18-9 / NCAA Berth
Indiana – 8-3 / 9-7 (T-5th) / 17-10 / NCAA Berth
Minnesota – 9-2 / 8-8 (7th) / 17-10 / NIT Berth
Michigan – 9-2 / 7-9 (8th) / 16-11 / NIT Berth
Purdue – 8-3 / 3-13 (T-9th) / 11-16
Northwestern – 7-5 / 3-13 (T-9th) / 10-18
Penn State – 7-4 / 1-15 (11th) / 8-19

Obviously, some teams are better, some worse as we near the mid-point. Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan are definitely on pace to a better season than I expected, Wisconsin, Illinois, MSU and Iowa are more or less on schedule, while Minnesota is far worse than I predicted. Michigan State already has the three league losses that I predicted for them, but I did have State losing to Illinois and Wisconsin to start the season so they are not far off pace. Penn State and Northwestern could play the spoiler somewhere along the road as well so keep an eye on them. Don't count on the same for hard luck Purdue though.

Here is how the teams stand today (in order, with actual OOC record, current B10 record – including home & away, and total record):

Wisconsin – 10-3 / 5-1 (1st) / 4-0 at home, 1-1 away / 15-4 overall
Indiana – 8-2 / 4-2 (T-2nd) / 4-0 at home, 0-2 away / 12-4 overall
Illinois – 14-0 / 4-2 (T-2nd) / 3-0 at home, 1-2 away / 18-2 overall
Ohio State – 10-0 / 4-2 (T-2nd) / 2-1 at home, 2-1 away / 14-2 overall
Michigan – 10-1 / 4-2 (T-2nd) / 3-0 at home, 1-2 away / 14-3 overall
Iowa – 11-3 / 4-2 (T-2nd) / 3-0 at home, 1-2 away / 15-5 overall
Michigan State – 12-2 / 3-3 (7th) / 2-0 at home, 1-3 away / 15-5 overall
Northwestern – 7-4 / 3-4 (8th) / 1-2 at home, 2-2 away / 10-8 overall
Penn State – 8-3 / 2-4 (9th) / 1-2 at home, 1-2 away / 10-7 overall
Purdue – 6-5 / 1-6 (10th) / 1-2 at home, 0-4 away / 7-11 overall
Minnesota – 9-2 / 0-6 (11th) / 0-3 at home, 0-3 away / 9-8 overall

So, knowing what I know now, seeing what I have seen, with a better feel for the haves and have nots, and given who plays who where, here is what I expect the rest of the way (in order of finish, predicted B10 record - including losses (wins for the bottom teams), total record and postseason action):

Wisconsin – 12-4 (T-1st) / 22-7 / NCAA berth – 4 seed / Losses at Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa. Note, with the recent loss of two players, Wisconsin could slide the most, but they are so well-coached, I just don't expect it.

Michigan State – 12-4 (T-1st) / 24-6 / NCAA berth – 3 seed / Loss at Indiana. I know, you're thinking "they're 3-3 in conference right now, no way they go 9-1 to end the regular season" but to that I say, look at recent history. State plays its best ball in February and March.

Indiana – 11-5 (T-3rd) / 19-8 / NCAA berth – 5 seed / Losses at Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan and an OOC loss to UConn. IU could win this thing, but will need better road play and with six of ten away from Bloomington, look out.

Illinois – 11-5 (T-3rd) / 25-5 / NCAA berth – 3 seed / Losses at Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State. Illinois just quietly trudges along. The Illini still have several tough road games left and may be too reliant on Brown and Augustine to win it this year.

Iowa – 11-5 (T-3rd) / 22-8 / NCAA berth – 7 seed / Losses at Indiana, to Michigan State and at Illinois. It all depends on whether or not Iowa does its usual late season collapse.

Michigan – 10-6 (T-6th) / 20-7 / NCAA berth – 8 seed / Losses at Iowa, at Michigan State, to Illinois and at Ohio State. Michigan is a team that could do better but won't do much worse than this. There are still several tough road games and it will be hard to get up for games like they did for MSU.

Ohio State – 10-6 (T-6th) / 21-6 / NCAA berth – 6 seed / Losses at Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State. Another that falls in the won't do worse but could do better category. Already has had some road success albeit against the lower tier teams in the league.

Northwestern – 5-11 (8th) / 13-15 / No Postseason / Wins over Minnesota and at Purdue. A team fully capable of being a spolier.

Penn State – 4-12 (9th) / 12-15 / No Postseason / Wins over Minnesota and at Purdue. See Northwestern.

Minnesota – 1-15 (T-10th) / 10-17 / No Postseason / Win over Purdue – Coach Monson gets fired. Minnesota might spring a home upset, but so far they are 0-3 at The Barn with more tough foes coming to town.

Purdue – 1-15 (T-10th) / 7-20 / No Postseason. Tough first year for Coach Painter, but he will have this program back on track in a few years.

Thoughts? Insights? Agree or disagree?

1 comment:

felix said...

As I said at the beginning of this season it's winning on the road that seperates a contender from a pretender. When is said and done it will be road records which determine the B10 winner. That will highlight the unbalance in the scheduling. You want to play the fewest of the top 7 teams on the road as possible.

My Illini have to play all the other contenders on the road as does MSU. On the other end of the difficutness scale are Iowa nad UW which only play at 4 of the other contenders.

Interesting facts:

The only victories by any of the bottom 4 B10 teams are against each other. The only team to win on the road at a top 7 B10 team is MSU (at OSU).

By the way the Illini are 3-0 at home in the B10 and 1-2 on the road.