A weekly review of where things stand …
Okay, we’re 7-8 games into the Big Ten race and things are starting to pan out a little. I.E. the contenders are separating from the pretenders, the early surprises are hanging on or have fizzled. There is certainly a lot of basketball left to play and things change by the week, but I think we're even clearer on who is in the race and who isn't after one more week of play (remember I first did this re-analysis last week). Winning on the road is still tough, although three of four teams have done so this week. Home teams stand at 31-14 in conference play, the top seven are a combined 26-2.
Here again is a reminder of what I predicted, and an adjusted look as enter the second half 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
Here is how the teams stand today (in order, with actual OOC record, current B10 record – including home & away, and total record):
Illinois – 14-0 / 6-2 (T-1st) / 4-0 at home, 2-2 away / 20-2 overall
Michigan – 10-1 / 6-2 (T-1st) / 4-0 at home, 2-2 away / 16-3 overall
Iowa – 11-3 / 6-2 (T-1st) / 4-0 at home, 2-2 away / 17-5 overall
Wisconsin – 10-3 / 5-3 (T-4th) / 4-1 at home, 1-2 away / 15-6 overall
Indiana – 8-2 / 5-3 (T-4th) / 5-0 at home, 0-3 away / 13-5 overall
Michigan State – 12-2 / 4-3 (T-6th) / 3-0 at home, 1-3 away / 16-5 overall
Ohio State – 11-0 / 4-3 (T-6th) / 2-1 at home, 2-2 away / 15-3 overall
Northwestern – 7-4 / 3-5 (8th) / 1-2 at home, 2-3 away / 10-9 overall
Penn State – 8-3 / 2-6 (9th) / 1-3 at home, 1-3 away / 10-9 overall
Minnesota – 9-2 / 1-6 (10th) / 1-3 at home, 0-3 away / 10-8 overall
Purdue – 6-5 / 1-8 (11th) / 1-3 at home, 0-5 away / 7-13 overall
Of course I know more with every game that goes by, but the past week has really told me something about a few teams in particular, so, 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):
Illinois – 12-4 (T-1st) / 26-4 / NCAA berth – 2 seed / Losses at 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.
Michigan State – 12-4 (T-1st) / 24-6 / NCAA berth – 3 seed / Loss at Indiana. I know, you're thinking "they're 4-3 in conference right now, no way they go 8-1 to end the regular season" but to that I say, look at recent history. State plays its best ball in February and March and still has five games against top contenders - at the Breslin Center.
Wisconsin – 11-5 (T-3rd) / 21-8 / NCAA berth – 5 seed / Losses at Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa. The recent loss of two bench players has hurt more than I thought. Still, never count out a Bo Ryan team because when you do, they'll beat you.
Iowa – 11-5 (T-3rd) / 22-8 / NCAA berth – 5 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-5th) / 20-7 / NCAA berth – 6 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-5th) / 21-6 / NCAA berth – 6 seed / Losses at 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.
Indiana – 10-6 (T-5th) / 18-9 / NCAA berth – 7 seed / Losses at Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan and an OOC loss to UConn. IU could win this thing, but will need better road play - especially after the debacle in Minneapolis - and with five of nine away from Bloomington, look out.
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 also Northwestern.
Minnesota – 2-14 (10th) / 11-16 / No Postseason / Win over Purdue – Coach Monson may get fired. Minnesota has already sprung a home upset, and might bite again.
Purdue – 1-15 (11th) / 7-20 / No Postseason. Tough first year for Coach Painter, but he will have this program back on track in a few years and this team is playing tough even though they are way out-manned.