Friday, December 26, 2014

State of the Big 10

This is part of a series of posts going up on December 26.  Let's look back at everyone's performance in the non-conference schedule and take inventory on where everyone is at.

So we may only actually have one title contender in this conference.  Everyone else is funneling towards the middle of the pack.  The bubble impact is this:  it's going to be tough to find signature wins in this conference.  This means you need to clearly differentiate yourself in conference play, or you risk being in a bad position on the bubble.  It's a weird dynamic.

Wisconsin (11-1) is the one team clear of this mess.  Winning at Atlantis (G'town and Oklahoma) and @Cal, losing to Duke, top 25 non-con SoS.  They'll be fine, although I do wish they had a big high-end win to help in the battle for a 1 seed.

It might be easier to deal with who isn't real in this conference first.  Penn St (12-1) has the record but has a shoddy SoS to go with it.  GWU is a good win, so we'll stick a pin in them and come back if necessary.  Purdue (8-5) is around 200 non-con SoS, and offset a pair of good wins (N-BYU and NC State) with marginal losses (North Florida and Gardner Webb, oof).  Again, stick a pin in them and revisit if they get more good wins.  Rutgers (7-5) actually has good SoS numbers, but @Clemson is the signature win.  Nah.  Northwestern (8-4) has around a 200 non-con SoS, and no good wins at all.  At least all their losses (CMU is the worst) are reasonable.

Two teams I didn't expect to find in the rear are Michigan (6-5) and Nebraska (7-4).  Michigan had a catastrophic loss to NJIT (the loss to EMU isn't good either but it's not as bad as first seemed).  The other losses are actually expected (all to good teams), so there's room to rally and build on their Syracuse win.  Nebraska might be beyond reproach, though.  Marginal SoS numbers, marginal losses (@Hawaii, Incarnate Word), and just a win over Cincy bolstering the resume.

I see 7 teams in the middle, in kind of a bubble mush.  Maryland (11-1) has a non-con SoS around 150 which might ding it, but just one fine loss to Virginia and a win over N-Iowa St helps.  Their resume does need depth though, but that's something that can be accessed in conference play.

Ohio St (10-2) is the other team that should be fine.  Marginal SoS and two completely reasonable losses (N-UNC and @Louisville) are on that resume, but Marquette at home might be the best win so far.  Again, get some depth in the resume, and you'll be fine.

We need to deal with the other 5 teams in bullet point form.

Michigan St (9-4) has a SoS around 100, much lower than usual, and that hideous loss to Texas Southern, and a marginal one @Notre Dame.  The signature win is...Loyola?

Minnesota (9-2), below average SoS, no bad losses, but the signature win is...N-Georgia?

Indiana (10-2), okay SoS, no road games played.  Seriously?  That loss to Eastern Washington, did beat N-Butler and SMU, so there's some resume fodder that can be used here.

Illinois (9-3), below average SoS, mostly reasonable losses (N-Oregon might be dicey), and a good signature win N-Baylor to help.

Iowa (9-4), good SoS, reasonable losses (seriously, N-Syracuse is by far the worst), and that win at North Carolina will help.

Illinois and Iowa might stay ahead of the pack with the best wins of that group so far.  But for the most part, I see marginal SoS numbers and a lack of wins of real value.  Some empty calories in all these resumes.  It's going to be tough for them to all get in, so the conference may be limited to 5 or 6 teams total.

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