B1G Expectations: 2017 Week 6 Total Conference Wins Update

B1G Expectations: 2017 Week 6 Total Conference Wins Update

Submitted by Ecky Pting on October 13th, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Big_Ten_Conference_logo.png Expectations

“Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”

- Pip     
  (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens)

Spin Up

At six weeks into the season now, the midpoint is upon us. The time for the true nature of the combatants to emerge is nigh. The quality of competition continues to ratchet up, and the schedule grants no quarter to those who may seek pause to collect themselves, to make … improvements. Such opportunities have come to pass, ignominiously. Suddenly, this Team 138 finds itself at a crossroads. All of its goals still remain ahead, yet the prospects for achieving them have taken an alarming hit, with the margin for error now approaching zero, with a new dependence on the the failure of the one who shall not be named. Now is the time when this Team 138 finds its character … and goddamit, it’d better be one with some serious Steel in the Spine!

Schedules, Spreads & Win Probabilities

So, with that, it’s on to the analysis here, which now focusses on the all-important in-conference slate, so as to make a closer examination of the prospects for the teams to make it to the B1GCG in Indy the first Saturday of December.

B1G East Schedule Rundown

The tables of schedules below shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G East based on the ratings following week 6. The last table in each set simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GE teams based on their  expected in-conference win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional standings based on projected wins, losses, and tie-breakers.

S&P+ Results

The confidence with which the Buckeyes expect to reclaim the B1GE title continues to grow week-by-week. For the first in over a month, its expected conference win total exceeds 8 wins. Although, the Buckeyes’ lead over the Nits has narrowed to 0.8 wins. Such are the spoils of the Wolverines’ loss to MSU, who have relinquished its 3rd placed position to Sparty. Sparty now stands at close to 6.0 B1G wins (up from 4.7 last week), while the Wolverines have dropped to 5.2 B1G wins. In the aggregate, OSU remains favored in all of its remaining games, the smallest margin being 9.3 points when they visit Ann Arbor. The other contenders (and the definition of the term is being stretched here) – PSU, MSU and UM – remain underdogs, respectively, in one, two and three games apiece. PSU is a double-digit dog to OSU, whereas all of M’s deficit margins are by less than double-digits score, so there’s that.

Looking ahead, S&P+ shows Michigan favored by just over 6.5 points in its next game vs. the Hoosiers, for a win likelihood of 67%, or about 1:2 odds.

Two others – Indiana and Maryland – are maintaining the bubble of bowl eligibility and claim the middle ground of the B1GE. The Hoosiers, who added a late season OOC game to make up for the one that got cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, vanquished Charleston Southern and raised its expectations 3.6 B1G wins.The Terps lag Sparty by another 2.0 B1G wins, and are on the outside trying to get back in after being pummeled by the Buckeyes.   It could not be much worse for LOLRutgerz, who are underdogs in all of its remaining games.

 

FPI Results

The disparity between the S&P+ and FPI results appears to have narrowed this time around. FPI also has Ohio State favored by more than one score in all its remaining games, and leads the B1GE with 8.3 expected conference wins, and a similar margin of 0.8 expected wins over next-best PSU. The FPI results still show Michigan hanging in there at third-best, but lagging PSU by a whopping 2.8 margin at 4.8 expected wins. Penn State has only one game with deficit margin: at OSU by just over 9 points. The Wolverines, meanwhile, have a deficit margin in 3 games (PSU, Wisconsin & OSU), all in 10 to 12 point range.

Looking ahead, FP has Michigan favored by 6.5 points (nearly identical to the S&P+ margin) in its next game vs. the Hoosiers, for a win likelihood of 67%, or about 1:2 odds.

Suffice it to say at this point, UM is firmly ensconced among the other teams in the middle tier, many of whom are on the verge of bowl-eligibility. MSU, Maryland and Indiana are all within a margin 1.2 expected wins. FPI concurs that LOLRutgerz can be left for dead.

 

Power Rank Results

The Power Rank has taken a tack that mixes things up a good bit, coming out with Penn State on top of the B1G East at 7.6 expected conference wins, yet PSU remains an underdog in one game, at OSU, by about 1 point. The Buckeyes still trail the Nits by about 0.4 expected wins, but OSU is still favored to win out, albeit by the thinnest of margins (including by only 1.4 points at Kinnick Stadium, and 3 points at the Big House). Things could get interesting. PR puts the Buckeyes at only 7.2 expected B1G wins, with Sparty lagging another 1.4 expected wins behind. UM, now in the four-spot, is riding bitch in the B1GE at about 5.0 expected conference wins. So, the three-maybe-four contenders are within 2.6 expected wins of each other, with half the season remaining, more or less.

Looking ahead, Michigan is favored by just under 5 points in its next game vs. the Hoosiers, for a win likelihood of 63%, or about 3:5 odds.

A narrower range of 2.3 wins extends from UM to next-to-last place Indiana. The Hoosiers, at 3.5 expected B1G wins, are sitting on the bubble boundary for bowl eligibility. If it can manage to steal one of its next four games in which its less than a double-digit dog and close with a win over the Boilers, the Hoosiers will likely be bowl-bound.

B1G East Expected Conference Wins Distributions

The bar plots below show the expected total conference wins distributions for teams in the B1G East, in alphabetical order. Noted above each bar is the probability for that number of wins (you may need to click & embiggen to read it). The bar with the highest value is the most likely outcome (the mode). Also flagged on each plot is the expected overall win total (the mean). The last multiline plot (bottom right) is just an overlay of the same data from the other seven bar plots.

S&P+ Results

The S&P+ distributions for conference wins now shows a growing separation not only among the three or four contenders at the top, but for the entire division all the way down to lowly LOLRutgerz. OSU maintains its position 8-win mode, however, PSU has also popped up for a share of it. The difference is that OSU leans strongly toward winning out, while PSU still has a significant lean toward a 7-win mode. Now third-best, MSU has grabbed sole possession of the 6-win mode, leaving Michigan behind in a balanced, 5-win mode. As of now, the likelihood of the Buckeyes going undefeated in the B1G has increased to over 40.0%. The likelihood of PSU running the table stands at just of 9%.

As for the others, the Hoosiers have also popped up to grab the 4-win mode, separating themselves from the Terps who still occupy the 3-win mode. Meanwhile, S&P+ woe begotten LOLRutgerz is peaking at the 2-win mode leaning toward the worse.

FPI Results

As expected, the FPI results show a broader separation at the top. OSU, the #2 team in all the land, has pressed its lead to the limit, and its distribution now exhibits an 9-win mode, but still with a lean toward 8 wins. Right behind OSU is PSU occupying the 8-win mode. From that point, a 3-game separation follows before picking up Michigan and Sparty, who both exhibit 5-win modes. OSU registers a better than 44% chance of winning out. PSU’s chance of going undefeated ticked up slightly to nearly 14%. From there, the next closest teams (Indiana and Maryland) have nearly identical distributions with 4-win modes with strong leans toward 3 wins.

Power Rank Results

As noted above, the Power Rank continues to predict the tightest race of the three ratings in the B1GE. The difference is that here PSU claims the highest mode of 8 expected B1G wins. Close on the Nits’ heels are the Buckeyes with a 7-win mode leaning strongly toward 8 wins. Back one notch from there is Sparty, balanced on a 6-win mode, and likewise Michigan is balanced on a 5-win mode. PR show PSU with a slightly better than 17% chance of winning out, followed by OSU at just over 10%. Maryland has sole occupancy of the 4-win mode, followed closely by the Hoosiers nearly split between the 3-win and 4-win modes.

B1G West Schedule Rundown

The next two tables of schedules shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G West based on S&P+ and FPI week 1 results. Again, the last table in each figure simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GW teams based on their  expected win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional conference standings per se.

S&P+ Results

No big news in the B1G West. The S&P+ results still show the Badgers’ more than 3 expected wins ahead of next-best … Purdue? That’s what passes for excitement in the B1GW these days. The Badgers are in a sense in contention with only themselves for the B1GW title. The Badgers are the only team in the West – in the entire Big Ten, even - expected to win all of its games, with its toughest matchup still expected to be when Michigan comes to Camp Randall. Michigan remains the only Wisconsin opponent that is less than a one-score underdog. At that point, of course, the Badgers should have already locked up its bid to Indy. Anyway, the only notable change is an expansion of the Badgers margin by a half win to 3.3 expected wins over the Boilers. An invitation to the B1GCG in Indy seems nearly a foregone conclusion for Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Purdue, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern and Minnesota are all within 1.6 expected B1G wins of each other. Purdue as mentioned has percolated to the top of the bubble after Nebraska getting pummeled by the Badgers. Further coalescence in the middle of the B1GW can be anticipated.

To summarize, here are the final B1G standings as projected by S&P+:

2017w06_SP_Expected_Standings

FPI Results

The FPI results for the B1G West show the Badgers with and even wider lead than does S&P+, now at cool 8.0 expected B1G wins. With a margin now in excess of 3.6 wins over next-best Northwestern (who it has already beaten) at 4.4 expected wins, the Badgers only risk may be stooping getting down on its hands-and-knees prostrating itself to the level of its competition. As with S&P+, FPI expects the Badgers toughest match will be when it hosts Michigan, yet even then the Badgers are favored by nearly 10 points. As for the second tier, less than 1.2 expected wins separate the middle five teams in the B1GW.

To summarize, here are the final B1G standings as projected by FPI:

2017w06_FPI_Expected_Standings

Power Rank Results

Like in the B1G East, the Power Rank results for the B1G West show a much tighter and more competitive race to Indy. PR shows the Badgers at the top, with 7.2 expected B1G wins. Wisconsin’s lead over next-best Iowa has expanded to a margin of 2.2 expected wins. Contrary to the other ratings, PR expects the Badgers toughest match will be when it hosts division rival Iowa, with a margin of just over a field goal. The Boilers and Huskers both lag the Hawkeyes by about 1.1 wins at 3.8 expected B1G wins, with the ‘Cats just another 0.2 further back. PR’s love for the Boilers continues to grow.

To summarize, here are the final B1G standings as projected by the Power Rank:

2017w06_PR_Expected_Standings

B1G West Expected Conference Wins Distributions

S&P+ Results

The S&P+ chart shows the expanding void between the Badgers and the morass that is the remainder of the B1G West. The Badgers are firmly ensconced in a balanced 8-win mode. As such, Wisconsin is the only team in the B1GW with any prospect for going undefeated, which now stands at just over 28%.

Purdue is now next-best, and claims sole possession of the 5-win mode, but leaning heavily back toward 4 wins. The next four teams are clustered between the 4-win and 3-win modes, not the least of whom is Nebraska – but that may change this week after OSU hangs another half-a-hundred on the Huskers. Dropping out of the bottom is of course, Illinois, standing alone the 1-win mode.

FPI Results

FPI tells a similar story as S&P+ as to the Badgers’ separation from the rest of the B1GW. The Badgers are holding steady in an 8-win mode, with a strong lean toward going undefeated. It has the best and only prospect for going undefeated in the B1GW, at just over 33% (about 11 points less than OSU). The next-best is Northwestern, who shares a 4-win mode with Purdue, Nebraska and Iowa, but leans strongly toward 5 wins. On the lower side of that jumble in the middle is Minnesota, popping out in a 3-win mode. FPI shows the Illini sinking toward rock bottom with a 1-win mode, worse than even LOLRutgerz.

Power Rank Results

Trying to make things at least a little interesting as noted earlier, the Power Rank predicts a slightly more competitive B1GW race. PR has the Badgers in a 7-win mode, but now leaning strongly toward 8 wins. The door is beginning to close for next-best Iowa, who stands alone as the closest competitor with a balanced 5-win mode. The next three – Purdue, Nebraska and Northwestern – all share the 4-win mode trying to at least keep pace and hoping for some calamity. Meanwhile, the Gophers had dropped down into a balanced at a 3-win mode, but managing to stay ahead of the Illini, who have regressed into the 1-win mode. Wisconsin still has the best and only prospect in the B1GW for going undefeated at about 11%, about equal to OSU’s chances, and 6 points less than PSU’s chances.

Overlay Redux

Just to wrap things up with a quick visual summary, here are the combined overlays of the total wins probabilities broken out by division, sized for download and quick-reference on your smarty-pants phone.

S&P+ Results

FPI Results

Power Rank Results

Yours in football, and Go Blue!

P.S. As a bonus for scrolling this far, here’s a link to the complete volume of 2017 week 6 charts, which includes a few bonus nuggets not presented in the diary.

B1G Expectations: 2017 Week 4 Total Conference Wins Update

B1G Expectations: 2017 Week 4 Total Conference Wins Update

Submitted by Ecky Pting on September 29th, 2017 at 9:30 PM

Big_Ten_Conference_logo.png Expectations

“I must be taken as I have been made. The success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but the two together make me.”

- Estella Havisham (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens)

Spin Up

Another week’s worth of sample size growth, and with a smattering of in-conference matchups included, the linkages among teams become meshed to higher degrees. The influence of the preseason conjectures continues to wane, although somewhat prolonged due to acts of God such as hurricanes. Still, what remains consists of the best of all possible stats. These are the stats that reveal the true nature of teams and their comparative prospects for success. These are the stats that offer a glimmer of hope and a rumble of impending doom. These are the stats that are suitable for use in flying off a handle, jumping to a conclusion, or even goading a rival.


Schedules, Spreads & Win Probabilities

With the non-conference portion of the schedule behind us, the analysis here can turn its focus upon the all-important in-conference slate and make a closer examination of the prospects for the teams to make it to the B1GCG in Indy the first Saturday of December.


B1G East Schedule Rundown

The tables of schedules below shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G East based on the ratings following week 4. The last table in each set simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GE teams based on their  expected in-conference win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional standings based on projected wins, losses, and tie-breakers.


S&P+ Results

So with the obfuscation of the non-conference segment removed, the true balance of power in the B1GE is revealed. For the S&P+, that balance tilts toward the Buckeyes, who lead the B1GE with 7.6 expected conference wins. The Nits trail by 0.7 wins, and the Wolverines another 0.7 wins behind the Nits at 6.2 expected wins. Also carrying over from last week is the the fact that OSU remains favored in all of its remaining games, including by almost a field goal when they visit Ann Arbor. The other two contenders - Penn State and Michigan – remain underdogs, respectively, in one and three games apiece.

Two others - Michigan State and Indiana - persist in the bubble of bowl eligibility and claim the middle ground of the B1GE. At not quite 4 expected conference wins, Sparty may have a losing record in conference, but could make it to an early-December, cold-weather, empty-stadium toilet bowl. The Hoosiers lag Sparty by another 0.3 B1G wins, but could get screwed bowl-wise since their game at FIU was cancelled and could only get to 2-0 OOC. Meanwhile, the Terps are in world of hurt, being reduced to playing their 4th string QB after such a bright beginning. It could not be much worse, but worse it is for LOLRutgerz, who like the Terps are underdogs in all but one of its remaining games.

Looking ahead, S&P+ shows Michigan favored by just over 15 points in its next game vs. Sparty, for a win likelihood of about 84%, or about 1:5 odds.


FPI Results

The FPI results still differ considerably from those of S&P+, the most notable difference being that Ohio State is favored by more than one score - and nearly double-digits - in all its remaining games. OSU leads the B1GE with just over 8 expected conference wins, nearly a full win better than next-best PSU. The FPI results show U-M lagging by another 1.8 wins behind PSU at 5.3 expected B1G wins. Penn State has a single deficit margin, to OSU, by greater than one-score to OSU. The Wolverines, meanwhile, has a deficit margin in 3 games (PSU, Wisconsin & OSU), all by double-digits. What’s more, FPI also shows U-M favored over the Terps by just over 4 points, and over the Hoosier by just over a single score.

FPI has the same teams on the verge of bowl-eligibility, just in a different order: Maryland, Indiana and Michigan State. FPI concurs that LOLRutgerz can be left for dead.

Looking ahead, Michigan is favored by just over two touchdowns in its next game vs. Purdue, for a win likelihood of 83%, or about 1:5 odds.


Power Rank Results

Now here is where the fancy stats get a little interesting. The Power Rank concurs with S&P+ & FPI in putting OSU at the top, but only with about 6.6 expected B1G wins. U-M is next best with about 6 expected wins, putting Penn State in the three-spot with about 5.8 expected B1G wins. PR projects a much tighter race, with a good number more losses in the mix. Those potential losses would be to … the Terps? PR appears to like the Terps a lot, to the extent that they’re underdogs by only a PAT to PSU and UM when each visits College Park. Moreover, PR has no team favored in all of its remaining games. Indeed, PR has OSU as an underdog to your ever-lovin’ Maize’n’Blue. PSU is an underdog to OSU, and UM is an underdog to PSU, (and Wisconsin).

Looking ahead, Michigan is favored by just under 15 points in its next game vs. Sparty, for a win likelihood of 83%, or about 1:5 odds.


B1G East Expected Conference Wins Distributions

The bar plots below show the expected total conference wins distributions for teams in the B1G East, in alphabetical order. Noted above each bar is the probability for that number of wins (you may need to click & embiggen to read it). The bar with the highest value is the most likely outcome (the mode). Also flagged on each plot is the expected overall win total (the mean). The last multiline plot (bottom right) is just an overlay of the same data from the other seven bar plots.


S&P+ Results

Contrary to the logjam that the S&P+ distributions looked like for overall wins last week, the distributions for conference wins show a clear separation among the three contenders at the top. The Buckeyes’ loss to the Sooners is of course irrelevant for this analysis. OSU, PSU and Michigan each have sole possession of the 8-win, 7-win and 6-win modes, respectively. OSU shows a slight lean toward 7 wins, and Michigan shows a strong lean up toward 7 wins. Both have about the same likelihood of 7 wins. As of now, the likelihood of the Buckeyes winning out in the B1G is 19.0%. The likelihoods of Michigan and PSU winning out stands at at about 2.0% and 6.5%, respectively.

As for the others, Sparty and the Hoosiers share the 4-win mode, with the Hoosiers leaning slightly toward 3 wins. Meanwhile, S&P+ woebegotten Maryland now has a distribution that is nearly indistinguishable from LOLRutgers, peaking at the 2-win mode.


FPI Results

The FPI results show a broader separation at the top. OSU still leads at the 8-win mode, with a strong lean toward winning out. PSU is at the 7-win mode with a strong lean toward 8 wins. Meanwhile, Michigan down at the 5-win mode, but nearly even with the 6-win mode. The OSU distribution shows a very tight variance, which means its loss components are smaller and concentrated in fewer games than most other teams. The result is OSU having a 35% chance of winning out. Yet, PSU’s chance of winning out holds at about 8%, but Michigan’s chances of doing the same are negligibly small.

From there, the next closest team, Maryland, has sole possession of the 4-win mode, followed by the Hoosiers and Sparty sharing the 3-win mode.


Power Rank Results

Meanwhile, the Power Rank continues to predict the tightest race of the three ratings in the B1GE. OSU shows an edge occupying the 7-win mode with a 5% chance of winning out. UM and PSU share the 6-win mode with nearly indistinguishable, balanced distributions. Both have just under a 2% chance of winning out, while OSU’s likelihood of winning out is just over 5%. Maryland has sole occupancy of the 5-win mode, the best look of the ratings for the Terps. Sparty and Indiana lag behind at the 3-win mode, both nearly even with the 4-win mode.


B1G West Schedule Rundown

The next two tables of schedules shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G West based on S&P+ and FPI week 1 results. Again, the last table in each figure simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GW teams based on their  expected win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional conference standings per se.


S&P+ Results

Watching the B1GW feels like watching paint dry grass grow. Next rotation, same groove (BTW, has anyone reading this ever actually heard a broken record?). In the B1G West, the S&P+ results show the Badgers’ death grip on the top position. The Badgers are in a sense in contention with only themselves for the B1GW title. The Badgers are the only team in the West expected to win all of its games, with its toughest matchup expected when Michigan comes to Camp Randall. Someday M fans will feel confident in going on the road and winning a big game. Maybe after the satisfyingly salty win at Ross-Ade Stadium, that will be someday soon-ish? Michigan remains the only Wisconsin opponent that is less than a one-score underdog, so there’s that. At that point, of course, the Badgers may well have already locked up its bid to Indy, so maybe UM sneak out with a win over the Badgers’ 2nd string? Anyway, with a margin in excess of 3 expected wins over the next closest competitors, now Northwestern and Minnesota, an invitation to the B1GCG in Indy seems nearly a foregone conclusion. And so it goes, the Wisconsin cake walk shimmies on:


cake·walk
ˈkākˌwôk/
noun

informal. An absurdly or surprisingly easy task, such as the Wisconsin Badgers 2017 NCAA football schedule. "winning the B1GW title should be a cakewalk"

Meanwhile, Northwestern, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa within one expected B1G win of each other. Purdue continues to bubble up from the bottom despite dropping a game to Michigan. Purdue is now a full expected win ahead of the Illini and is less than a game back of Iowa, who also has one conference loss thus far.


FPI Results

The FPI results for the B1G West show the Badgers with and even wider lead than does S&P+, with better than 7.7 expected B1G wins. With a margin excess of 3.1 wins over next-best Minnesota, the Badgers only risk may be stooping to the level of its competition. As with S&P+, FPI expects the Badgers toughest match will be when it hosts Michigan, yet even then the Badgers are favored by double-digits.

As for second tier, less than a tenth of an expected win separate the ‘Cats from the Gophers. Another 0.3 wins back are the Hawkeyes, and FPI has puts the Boilermakers next with 3.8 expected B1G wins, putting them close to bowl-eligibility. Poor-damn-Huskers continue their decline, but still hold a 1.2 expected win edge over bottom feeding Illinois.

Power Rank Results

The Power Rank results for the B1G West also show the Badgers at the top, but with only about 6.7 expected B1G wins. Wisconsin’s lead over next-best Iowa is by a much more competitive margin of 1.6 expected wins. Like the other ratings, PR expects the Badgers toughest match will be when it hosts Michigan favored by just under 4 points. The Gophers lag the Hawkeyes by just 0.4 at 4.7 expected B1G wins, with Northwestern just another 0.3 behind Iowa. PR doesn’t have the same love for Purdue as the the other ratings, placing the Boilers only 0.5 wins better than the Illini.


B1G West Expected Conference Wins Distributions


S&P+ Results

The S&P+ chart graphically illustrates the enormous separation between the Badgers and the B1GW peleton, apparently drafting behind one another waiting for one of the other teams break away. The Badgers are firmly in the 8-win mode, with a slight lean back toward the 7-win mode. As such, Wisconsin has the best prospects for winning out and having an undefeated season in the entire B1G at a cool 20%. No other team in the B1GW has anything close to a chance.

Northwestern and Minnesota come in at technically the 5-win mode, but both are nearly evenly split onto the 4-win mode. Nebraska edges Iowa with a slight lean toward the 5-win mode from the 4-win mode they both occupy. A game back from there is Purdue at the 3-win mode, while Illinois stands alone at the bottom in the 2-win mode.


FPI Results

FPI concurs with S&P+ regarding the Badgers’ separation from the rest of the B1GW competition, placing them in the 8-win mode with the best prospect for an undefeated season in the entire B1G at greater than 25%. No other team in the B1GW has a chance. The next-bests are Northwestern and Minnesota with 5-win modes that are nearly even splits with the 4-win mode. From there, the Hawkeyes and Boilers share the 4-win mode, with the former leaning toward 5 wins, and the latter toward 3 wins. The Huskers are clinging to their “it could be worse” mentality in the 3-win mode, as it looks over its shoulder at the Illini in their 2-win mode.


Power Rank Results

Trying to make things at least a little interesting, the Power Rank predicts a slightly more competitive B1GW race. PR has the Badgers balanced in the 7-win mode, leaving the door open for next-best Iowa and Minnesota. The Hawkeyes and Gophers have nearly identical distributions with balanced 5-win modes. From there, the Wildcats are at a 4-win mode, but pushing hard toward 5 wins. Also in the 4-win mode are the Huskers, but with a slight lean toward 3 wins. Meanwhile, the Boilers are firmly balanced at a 3-win mode, managing to stay ahead of the Illini in the 2-win mode. Wisconsin still has the best prospect for an undefeated season in the entire B1G at about 7%, just edging out OSU’s chances. No other team in the B1GW has a chance.

Overlay Redux

Just to wrap things up with a quick visual summary, here are the combined overlays of the total wins probabilities broken out by division, sized for download and quick-reference on your smarty-pants phone.

S&P+ Results

FPI Results

Power Rank Results

Yours in football, and Go Blue!

P.S. As a bonus for scrolling this far, here’s a link to the complete volume of 2017 week 4 charts, which includes a few bonus nuggets not presented in the diary.

No B1G Teams in Power Rank Top Ten

No B1G Teams in Power Rank Top Ten

Submitted by Ecky Pting on September 26th, 2017 at 5:07 PM

Check this out: the Power Rank has no B1G teams in the top ten. Yet, five teams from the state of Florida are in the top 25, including a very curious one at the top spot! It seems the disparity in games played between the FL teams and everyone else is wreaking some havoc with the fancy stats algorithms...

Rk Team Rating
1 UCF 20.67
2 Clemson 19.93
3 Oklahoma 19.52
4 Alabama 18.84
5 Georgia 17.02
6 Washington 16.03
7 TCU 15.70
8 Notre Dame 15.24
9 Virginia Tech 14.92
10 Auburn 14.75
11 Ohio State 14.30
12 Wisconsin 13.26
13 USC 12.96
14 Michigan 12.55
15 Stanford 12.39
16 Miami (FL) 11.91
17 Penn State 11.54
18 Oklahoma State 10.58
19 Texas 9.84
20 Florida State 9.62
21 Georgia Tech 8.96
22 Louisville 8.68
23 Florida 8.60
24 Duke 8.59
25 South Florida 8.54

 

B1G Expectations: 2017 Week 3 Total Overall Win Probabilities

B1G Expectations: 2017 Week 3 Total Overall Win Probabilities

Submitted by Ecky Pting on September 22nd, 2017 at 11:00 PM

   Big_Ten_Conference_logo.png Expectations

“To my thinking, there was something in him that made it hopeless to attempt to disguise him.”

- Abel Magwitch (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens)

Spin Up

Another week’s worth of data has gone into the hopper from which the algorithms draw upon to churn out the metrics known in these parts as fancy stats – and as stats go, fancy stats are all above average! As the sample size continues to grow, and as the linkages among teams becomes completely meshed, the influence of the preseason conjectures continues its inexorable decline into nothingness. The essence that remains consists of the best of all possible stats. These are the stats that reveal the true nature of teams and their comparative prospects for success. These are the stats that offer a glimmer of hope and a rumble of impending doom. These are the stats that are suitable for use in flying off a handle, jumping to a conclusion, or even goading a rival.

Schedules, Spreads & Win Probabilities

Since for the most part we’ve just wrapped up the glorious non-conference segment of the season, the analysis here will take one last look at the overall schedules including OOC games - the breakdowns for in-conference schedules will kick in next week after most OOC games have been played.

Also note that in the following table of schedules, the applied Red-Green color-map accentuates the forecast point spreads and win probability of each game. A color-shift toward the red corresponds to a more likely loss, and a green shift indicates a more likely win. Also, the colors for both columns are mapped to the win probability number. The sequence of individual win probabilities over the course of a team’s schedule are then used to compute the distribution of total expected wins for the entire season.

B1G East Schedule Rundown

The table of schedules below shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G East based on the Bill Connelly’s S&P+ week 2 ratings. The last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GE teams based on their  expected in-conference win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional standings based on projected wins, losses, and tie-breakers.

S&P+ Results

Our fickle fancy stats friend, the S&P+, continues to be torn between two suitors: the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes. The Nits lead the B1GE with 10.1 expected wins overall, expanding its margin ahead of the Nutjobs to a solid half win. Yet,carrying over from last week is the the fact that OSU remains favored in all of its remaining games, albeit by a razor thin margin when they visit Ann Arbor. The other two contenders - Penn State and Michigan - are underdogs, respectively, in one and three games apiece.

Three others - Michigan State, Maryland and Indiana - persist on the bubble of bowl eligibility. At 6.4 expected wins, Sparty meets the threshold, yet is still a underdog in 6 more games. The Terps, at 5.3 expected wins, are now underdogs in 7 of their remaining games. The Hoosiers are underdogs in only 5 more games, but with a loss already, their down to 5.3 expected wins. Last and least, of course, is LOLRutgerz – underdogs in all of its remaining games - maintains its rigor mortis-like grip on the bottom slot, yet the loss likelihood lumpiness principle has the Knights mustering 3.2 wins, including the win over FCS Morgan State.

Looking ahead, S&P+ shows Michigan favored by just over 17 points in its next game vs. Purdue, for a win likelihood of about 87%, or about 3:20 odds.

FPI Results

The FPI results still differ considerably from those of S&P+, the most notable difference being that Ohio State is favored by more than one score - and nearly double-digits - in all its remaining games. Yet, OSU drops into a virtual tie with PSU for the B1GE lead with 10 expected wins. FPI results still show U-M pulling up a bit short of 8.6 expected wins. Penn State and Michigan are underdogs in one and three games, respectively, and all by greater than one-score margins. FPI has the same teams on the bowl-eligibility bubble as S&P+, just in a different order: Maryland, Michigan State and Indiana. FPI concurs that LOLRutgerz can be left for dead.

Looking ahead, Michigan is favored by just over two touchdowns in its next game vs. Purdue, for a win likelihood of 82%, or about 2:9 odds.

Power Rank Results

The Power Rank concurs with S&P+, putting Penn State in the lead with 9.6 expected wins. OSU lags about 0.5 wins behind, with Michigan lagging about 0.9 expected wins behind the Nits. PR has gone back to favoring OSU in all of its remaining games, with its toughest matchup being The Game, in which its favored by less than a PAT. Unfortunately, UM remains an underdog to PSU and Wisconsin, as well as OSU. PSU is an underdog only to OSU in Columbus by about a field goal.

Looking ahead, Michigan is favored by just over 11 points in its next game vs. Purdue, for a win likelihood of 76%, or about 1:3 odds.

B1G East Expected Conference Wins Distributions

The bar plots below show the expected total overall wins distributions for teams in the B1G East, in alphabetical order. Noted above each bar is the probability for that number of wins (you may need to click & embiggen to read it). The bar with the highest value is the most likely outcome (the mode). Also flagged on each plot is the expected overall win total (the mean). The last multiline plot (bottom right) is just an overlay of the same data from the other seven bar plots.


S&P+ Results

Here S&P+ shows a veritable logjam at the top among the three contenders. Two of them, OSU and PSU, occupy the 10-win mode, with OUS leaning slightly toward 9 wins while PSU leans slightly toward 11 wins. Michigan has slid back to the 9-win mode, but with a strong lean toward 10 wins. The key caveat is that one of OSU’s losses is already known to be OOC, which works to their advantage for now. The next opportunity for Michigan to effect any significant shift in its mode will be in its matchup with Indiana, the week before it goes head-to-head with Penn State in Happy Valley. As of now, the likelihoods of Michigan and PSU winning out stands at at about 2.5% and 9.3%, respectively. Of course, the likelihood of OSU having an undefeated season is still 0%.

Sparty manages to hold onto the lead among the bubble teams at the 6-win mode with a strong lead toward 7 wins. Meanwhile, Indiana and Maryland have very similar S&P+ distributions occupying the 5-win mode leaning toward 6 wins.


FPI Results

The FPI results the leaders OSU and PSU sharing the 10-win mode, both leaning toward 11 wins. Michigan lags behind at the 9-win mode, with a strong leand toward 8 wins. The OSU distribution also shows a very tight variance, which means its loss components are smaller and concentrated in fewer games than most other teams. Yet, PSU’s chance of winning out holds at about 7%, whereas Michigan’s chances of doing the same are negligibly small.

From there, a 2 win gap separates the next closest team, Maryland, at the 7-win mode. Sparty lags one behind at the 6-win mode, and the Hoosiers are in the 5-win mode. Despite the variations three have nearly the same 3:1 odds of 6 wins on the season, for what that’s worth.


Power Rank Results

Meanwhile, the Power Rank continues to predict the tightest race of the three ratings in the B1GE. PSU shows a slight edge occupying the 10-win mode with a 5% chance of winning out. UM and OSU share the 9-win mode, with OSU leaning toward 10 wins, UM toward 8 wins. The Wolverines have about a 1% chance of winning out. Meanwhile, Maryland and Indiana share the 6-win mode while Sparty slides back to 5 wins. Yet, all three bubble teams are crowded into the 6-win mode at about 3:1 odds.


B1G West Schedule Rundown

The next two tables of schedules shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G West based on S&P+ and FPI week 1 results. Again, the last table in each figure simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GW teams based on their  expected win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional conference standings per se.


S&P+ Results

Watching the B1GW is beginning to feel like watching paint dry. So, sorry if this is getting to sound like a broken record (BTW, has anyone reading this ever actually heard a broken record?). In the B1G West, the S&P+ results show the Badgers’ continued strangle-hold on the top position and in sense are in contention with only themselves for the B1GW title. The Badgers are the only team in the West expected to win all of its games, with its toughest matchup being when Michigan comes to Camp Randall. Someday M fans will feel confident in going on the road and winning a big game. Someday soon-ish? Michigan is the only Wisconsin opponent that is less than a one-score underdog, so there’s that. At that point, of course, the Badgers may well have already locked up its bid to Indy, so maybe UM could mop up against the Badgers 2nd string? Anyway, with a margin in excess of 3 expected wins over the next closest competitors, now Minnesota and Iowa, an invitation to the B1GCG in Indy seems nearly a foregone conclusion. When considering the Badger’s schedule, term “cake walk” comes to mind. In fact, if one looks up the term “cake walk” in the dictionary:


cake·walk
ˈkākˌwôk/
noun

informal. An absurdly or surprisingly easy task, such as the Wisconsin Badgers 2017 NCAA football schedule. "winning the B1GW title should be a cakewalk"

Meanwhile, Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern remain within one expected win of each other. What was once a very full bubble of teams vying for bowl eligibility has been deflated by one with Nebraska screwing the NIU pooch. Worth noting are a couple of teams that appear to be percolating up from the bottom - Illinois and of course, Purdue - suggesting that recent coaching changes may precipitate a change in the status quo. Just not too much change. Until next week, at least. Please.


FPI Results

The FPI results for the B1G West show the Badgers maintaining an even tighter strangle-hold on the top position than does S&P+, with better than 10.4 expected wins. With a margin excess of 3.0 wins over next-best Iowa, the Badgers only risk may be stooping to the level of its competition. As with S&P+, FPI expects the Badgers toughest match will be when it hosts Michigan, yet even then the Badgers are favored by a margin of more than a touchdown.

As for bubble teams, the Hawkeyes look like a solid bowl-bid team, it’s just a question of how late in the season their slot might be. Hot on the Hawks’ heels, however are the Gophers, only 0.2 expected wins behind. Northwestern and Nebraska Purdue(!) lag another win and 2 wins behind, respectively. Nebraska, meanwhile, is settling toward the bottom. Holding down sole possession of the bottom is Illinois.

Looking up the standings, as many expected wins separate Illinois from the Hawkeyes as separate the Hawkeyes from the Badgers.

Power Rank Results

The Power Rank results for the B1G West also show the Badgers at the top with an expanding 9.8 expected wins, but their lead is by a much more competitive margin of 1.5 expected wins over next-best Iowa Minnesota. Unlike the other ratings, PR expects the Badgers toughest match will not be when it hosts Michigan, but when it closes the season at Minnesota! Nonetheless, it both games the Badgers are favored by less than one score. The Hawkeyes lag the Gophers by just 0.1 at 8.2 expected wins, with Northwestern and Nebraska Purdue closing out the bubble teams.


B1G West Expected Conference Wins Distributions


S&P+ Results

The S&P+ chart graphically illustrates the ever expanding separation between the Badgers and the next tier of teams, who would appear to be contending more for a quality bowl invitation than for the B1GW title. The Badgers have pushed up to the 11-win mode, with a lean back toward the 10-win mode. Wisconsin has the best prospects for an undefeated season in the entire B1G at nearly 16%. No other team in the B1GW has anything close to a chance.

Iowa and Minnesota come in at the 7-win mode, with the Gophers leaning slight toward 8 wins. A game back from there is Northwestern at the 6-win mode pressing strongly toward 7 wins.

What is remarkable at this point is that Purdue and Nebraska now have nearly indistinguishable distributions that are balanced at the 5-win mode. Illinois stands alone at the bottom in the 4-win mode.


FPI Results

FPI concurs with S&P+ regarding the Badgers’ separation from the rest of the B1GW competition. FPI once again has the Badgers in an 11-win mode.  Wisconsin has the best prospect for an undefeated season in the entire B1G at 15%. No other team in the B1GW has a chance. The next-bests are Iowa and Minnesota with 7-win modes, both leaning strongly toward 8 wins. From there, the Wildcats have sole occupancy of the 6-win mode. Purdue has managed to creep up and assume a distribution that is nearly indistinguishable from Nebraska that occupies the 5-win mode. Illinois brings up the rear at the 4-win mode.


Power Rank Results

Trying to make things at least a little interesting, the Power Rank predicts a slightly more competitive B1GW race. PR has the Badgers balanced in the 10-win mode, leaving the door open for next-best being Iowa and Minnesota. The Hawkeyes and Gophers have nearly identical distributions with 8-win modes leaning strongly toward 9 wins. From there, the Wildcats managed to creep up to the 7-win mode now, leaning back toward 6 wins. PR seems to be equally bullish on the Boilers, placing them in the 5-win mode with the Huskers. However, the Boilers show a strong lean toward 6 wins and bowl-eligibility, while the Huskers lean back toward 4 wins. Wisconsin still has the best prospect for an undefeated season in the entire B1G at about 7%, just edging out PSU’s chances. No other team in the B1GW has a chance.

Overlay Redux

Just to wrap things up with a quick visual summary, here are the combined overlays of the total wins probabilities broken out by division, sized for download and quick-reference on your smarty-pants phone.

S&P+ Results

FPI Results

Power Rank Results

Yours in football, and Go Blue!

P.S. As a bonus for scrolling this far, here’s a link to the complete volume of 2017 week 3 charts, which includes a few bonus nuggets not presented in the diary.

B1G Expectations: 2017 Week 1 Total Overall Win Probabilities

B1G Expectations: 2017 Week 1 Total Overall Win Probabilities

Submitted by Ecky Pting on September 10th, 2017 at 12:28 PM

Big_Ten_Conference_logo.png Expectations

"I am ashamed to say it ... and yet it's no worse to say it than to think it. You call me a lucky fellow. Of course, I am. I was a blacksmith's boy but yesterday; I am - what shall I say I am - today?"

- Pip, (Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations)

Preamble

The foreshortened interval between weeks (due to the Labor Day holiday) conspired with the so-called work-life see-saw to see to it that this posting is at least a day later than hoped, and also includes only FPI and S&P+ results (i.e. no Power Rank data). So, keep that in mind should you care to read on, particularly in regard to Ohio State numbers. Otherwise, I’m just posting this for the record and to provide a point of reference for the week 2 update.

Overall Wins Spin Up

With one week now concluded (and week two updates pending), the fancy-stats algorithms can now spit out slightly more meaningful analyses based on the objective (if not deterministic) statistics generated from actual game play. The rub at this juncture of course is that the statistics are not of the greatest quality for the purposes of predicting future performance for various reasons, not the least of which is the small sample size. The exercise of coming up with more reasons for ignoring these early season statistics are left as an exercise for the reader in the comments below. That said, it doesn’t stop the publication of the statistics such as they are. Nor does it preclude the further rumination on said statistics into still more statistics as a means to enable further discussion, jumping to conclusions, flying off of the handle or goading your rival.

Schedules, Spreads & Win Probabilities

Since we’re still in the midst of the glorious non-conference segment of the season, it’s a good time to jump back and review the overall schedules, but now with the updated albeit arguably flawed statistics applied.

Note that in the following table of schedules, the applied Red-Green color-map accentuates the forecast point spreads and win probability of each game. A color-shift toward the red corresponds to a more likely loss, and a green shift indicates a more likely win. Also, the colors for both columns are mapped to the win probability number.  The sequence of individual win probabilities over the course of a team’s schedule are then used to compute the distribution of total expected wins for the entire season.

B1G East Schedule Rundown

The following two tables of schedules shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G East based on S&P+ and FPI week 1 results. The last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GE teams based on their  expected in-conference win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional standings based on projected wins, losses, and tie-breakers.

S&P+ Results

Oh, what a fickle friend is fancy stats. It appears with this new season is that the love affair that had previously existed between S&P+ and our beloved Wolverines appears to have shifted to the Buckeyes. OSU is the only team that is favored in all of its games. The other two contenders - Penn State and Michigan - are underdogs, respectively, in one and three games apiece. Three others - Indiana, Michigan State and Maryland - are on the bubble of bowl eligibility. Last and least, LOLRutgerz resumes its position as the eternal bottom-feeder.

In the aggregate, Ohio State leads the B1GE with about 10.4 expected wins, about 0.8 better than Michigan and Penn State, who show in near identical expected win totals. The Buckeyes are the only team with a double-digit expected win total. PSU maintains a better position in terms of the lumpiness of its distribution, in that most of its loss likelihood is lumped into a single game: at Ohio State. edging Ohio State for the top spot by just over 1.4 wins. Nearly 2 full games separate Ohio State from the next 2 teams, PSU and MSU.

FPI Results

The FPI results differs considerable from those of S&P+, the most notable difference that Penn State has a solitary hold on the #2 spot. OSU still tops all teams in the B1GE with just over 11 expected wins, now ahead of PSU by a cool 1.1 expected wins. FPI results show U-M pulling up a bit short of 9 expected wins. Similar to S&P+, OSU is the only team that is favored in all of its games. The other two contenders - Penn State and Michigan - are underdogs, respectively, in one and three games apiece. FPI has the same teams on the bowl-eligibility bubble, just in a different order: Maryland, Indiana and Michigan State. FPI concurs that LOLRutgerz belongs at the bottom.

B1G East Expected Conference Wins Distributions

The bar plots below show the expected total overall wins distributions for teams in the B1G East, in alphabetical order. Noted above each bar is the probability for that number of wins (you may need to click & embiggen to read it). The bar with the highest value is the most likely outcome (the mode). Also flagged on each plot is the expected overall win total (the mean). The last line plot is just an overlay of the same data from the other seven bar plots.

S&P+ Results

This opening round of S&P+ distributions show a bit of logjam among the three teams at the top. In fact, the Michigan and PSU distributions are nearly indistinguishable, which is of course a shift from the pre-season chart before Michigan dismantled Florida and erased a good chunk of its expected loss component. Likewise, Indiana and Michigan have very similar S&P+ distributions, with modes of 6 wins, compared to a 5-win mode for Maryland. The next opportunity for Michigan to effect a significant shift in its mode will be in its matchup with Indiana, the week before it goes head-to-head with Penn State in Happy Valley. Should OSU drop its upcoming matchup with Oklahoma (which it has done as of this posting), then OSU would drop in to a similar mode as Michigan and PSU heading into conference play. As of now, the likelihood of OSU having an undefeated season stands at 15% 0%, followed by Michigan and PSU at about 4%.

FPI Results

The FPI results show a more clear separation among the contenders, with OSU have a solitary hold on the 11-win mode with a strong lean toward an undefeated season. The OSU distribution also shows a very tight variance, which means its loss components are concentrated in fewer games than most other teams. As for PSU, it has a strong 10 win likelihood, with a slight lean toward 11 wins. Meanwhile, Michigan is holding onto the 9-win mode, but still with a strong lean toward 8 wins.

From there, a 3 win gap separates the next closest teams, Maryland and Indiana, both with modes of 6 wins, and Sparty lagging one behind at 5 wins. Remarkably, MSU is only one win ahead of LOLRutgerz. MSU at LOLRutgerz to close the the season - the Slobber-Knocker of Self-Loathing - is shaping up to be another instant BTN Classic.

B1G West Schedule Rundown

The next two tables of schedules shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G West based on S&P+ and FPI week 1 results. Again, the last table in each figure simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GW teams based on their  expected win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional conference standings per se.

S&P+ Results

In the B1G West, the S&P+ results show the Badgers maintaining a strangle-hold on the top position and in sense are in contention with only themselves for the B1GW title. Indeed, the Badgers are the only team in the West expected to win all of its games, with its toughest matchup being when Michigan comes to Camp Randall. At that point, the Badgers may well have already locked up its bid to Indy. With a margin in excess of 3 expected wins over the next closest competitors, Nebraska and Northwestern, an invitation to the B1GCG in Indy seems nearly a foregone conclusion. Meanwhile, Iowa and Minnesota are both within a game of Nebraska and Northwestern, which makes for a very full bubble of teams vying for bowl eligibility. Sunk on the bottom are the dregs of the West, Illinois and Purdue, who can only hope that recent coaching changes may precipitate a change in the status quo.

FPI Results

The FPI results for the B1G West show the Badgers maintaining an even tighter strangle-hold on the top position than does S&P+, at nearly 10.8 expected wins. With an expanded margin excess of 3.2 wins over next-best Northwestern, the Badgers only risk may be stooping to the level of its competition. As with S&P+, FPI expects the Badgers toughest match will be when it hosts Michigan, yet even then the Badgers are favored by a margin of 9 points. Iowa lags the ‘Cats by another 1.2 at 6.7 expected wins, with Nebraska and Minny closing out the bubble teams. Remaining anchored on the bottom are Purdue and Illinois.

B1G West Expected Conference Wins Distributions

S&P+ Results

This opening round of S&P+ distributions graphically illustrates the separation between the Badgers and the next tier of teams, who would appear to be contending more for a quality bowl invitation than for the B1GW title. The Badgers come in at the 10-win mode, but that is practically even with the 11-win mode. Nebraska and Northwestern have nearly indistinguishable distributions with with a 7-win modes that lean toward 8 wins. A game back from there are Iowa and Minnesota.

Wisconsin has one of the best prospects for an undefeated season in the entire B1G at nearly 13%. No other team in the B1GW has a chance.

FPI Results

The story from FPI is much the same as that from S&P+, particularly in regard to the Badgers, just with a bit more emphasis. FPI has a similar separation between the Badgers 11-win mode and the next-best ‘Cats’ 8-win mode. FPI does distinguish between the ‘Cats and the third best Hawkeyes at the 7-win mode. From there, the Huskers and Gophers each occupy the next lower modes (6 wins and 5 wins, respectively).

Likewise per FPI, Wisconsin has one of the best prospects for an undefeated season in the entire B1G at more than 26%. No other team in the B1GW has a chance.

Overlay Redux

Just to wrap things up with a quick visual summary, here are the combined overlays of the total wins probabilities broken out by division, sized for download and quick-reference on your smarty-pants phone.

S&P+ Results

FPI Results

Yours in football, and Go Blue!

B1G Expectations: 2017 Preseason Redux – The Power Rank Analysis

B1G Expectations: 2017 Preseason Redux – The Power Rank Analysis

Submitted by Ecky Pting on August 13th, 2017 at 1:17 PM

Big_Ten_Conference_logo.png Expectations

"He says, no varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself."

- Herbert Pocket (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens)

The 2017 Pre-season Ratings

With the 2017 season bearing down upon us, it seems a good time to have another quick pass at the pre-season ratings from the fancy stats perspective. To that end, this diary analyzes the preseason Advanced Stats-based ratings for Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten. The difference is this time around the diary features a look at results inferred from Ed Feng’s The Power Rank, which came out on July 5. Most readers are already familiar with the two principal resources that fed the first edition of this diary which was posted in February: Bill Connelly's S&P+ Ratings (of FB Outsiders and SBNation FB Study Hall fame) and ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) Ratings.

The rub with these initial, preseason ratings is that they apply a completely different set of metrics than do the in-season ratings, which are based on play-by-play or possession-by-possession datasets. A discussion of the formulation of the S&P+ and FPI pre-season metrics can be found in the first edition. The Power Rank pre-season metrics consist of two factors that are also included in FPI and S&P+ (team performance over the past 4 years, and returning starters) along with a third factor that is unique (turnovers). PR does not include factors related to recruiting or coaching talent, which FPI and S&P+ use.

In the end, ratings are established for all 130 FBS division teams, where the final rating is scaled to expected points better (or worse) than the average FBS division team at a neutral site. Simple enough. So without further ado, following  is quick rundown of the ratings for your 2017 Big Ten football teams.

B1G Ratings, from The Power Rank

Rank
Team
Rating
4
Ohio State
16.9
8
Wisconsin
13.6
11
Penn State
12.0
28
Iowa
7.2
30
Michigan
7.1
32
Northwestern
6.9
40
Minnesota
5.2
52
Nebraska
2.4
53
Indiana
2.4
72
Michigan State
-0.6
77
Maryland
-2.0
104
Purdue
-8.1
105
Rutgers
-8.1
114
Illinois
-9.3

At this point it’s worth noting some remarks offered by Dr. Feng in his original post:

    “Ohio State seems a bit low at #4, although QB J.T. Barrett and the offensive line struggled last season.”

    “Penn State had a spectacular season in 2016. However, my model doesn’t like them since they haven’t been elite over the 4 year window the model considers.”

    “Michigan. Can we talk about them later? Let’s just say their preseason rank seems low, way low. They will require an adjustment before I release their win total.”

      So, Dr. Feng’s take would appear to be that all three should be slotted higher than they are (to varying degrees, one would hope). But, since the Power Rank has not offered a win total as yet for Michigan, this diary will move ahead and infer one from his published ratings. In the meantime, you can read a detailed explanation from Dr. Feng as to just why his model might not be entirely applicable to Michigan in 2017.

      Schedules Matter … Big Time

      At this point, a basic approach might be to just pull out the Big Ten teams and look at their respective ratings, as in table 1. Those more foolish than you might jump to the conclusion that the team with the highest rating would be expected to win its division and the conference. However, as Lee Corso might say, “Not so fast, my friend.” We all know by now, in the aftermath of the B1G moving to 9 conference games, that not all schedules are created equal, and that some provide more advantageous paths of glory than others. This is not just because of inter-divisional opponents drawn, but also because half the teams play 5 home conference games while the other half play only 4. That’s a 6-point year-to-year swing based on the scheduling constraint alone. Thus, the next step is to evaluate each team's schedule and respective matchups, and determine the point spreads therein using the various ratings, adjusting for whether games are played at home or on the road. Simple enough. So then, let’s just sum up the wins and losses and have look at the final standings. After working out tie-breakers, determining which teams should be meeting in the Big Ten Championship Game straight-forward. As a bonus, since the ratings of each team have already been scraped up, let’s just calculate the average rating of each team’s opponents, and call it something like the Quick-and-Dirty Strength of Schedule (SoS), and rank order them while we’re at it. Hmmm. The tables below don’t paint the prettiest of pictures, at least not compared to last season, but there you have it.

      Projected Standings, from The Power Rank

      B1G East
      B1G
      Overall
      W
      L
      SoS
      Rk
      W
      L
      SoS
      Rk
      Ohio State
      9
      0
      1.6
      13
      12
      0
      0.7
      9
      Penn State
      8
      1
      3.9
      5
      11
      1
      1.6
      7
      Michigan
      6
      3
      3.8
      6
      8
      4
      2.0
      6
      Indiana
      5
      4
      2.7
      9
      8
      4
      0.0
      10
      Michigan State
      2
      7
      5.6
      2
      3
      9
      3.9
      1
      Maryland*
      1
      8
      6.5
      1
      3
      9
      3.0
      2
      Rutgers
      1
      8
      2.7
      10
      3
      9
      -0.4
      12
      * winner of tie breaker
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       B1G West
      B1G
       Overall 
       W
      L
       SoS 
      Rk
       W 
       L 
       SoS 
      Rk
      Wisconsin
      9
      0
      1.0
      14
      12
      0
      -0.7
      13
      Northwestern
      7
      2
      1.9
      12
      10
      2
      0.0
      11
      Minnesota
      6
      3
      4.0
      3
      9
      3
      1.2
      8
      Iowa
      5
      4
      2.0
      11
      8
      4
      -1.1
      14
      Nebraska
      3
      6
      3.7
      7
      5
      7
      2.2
      5
      Illinois
      1
      8
      4.0
      4
      2
      10
      2.4
      4
      Purdue
      0
      9
      3.4
      8
      0
      12
      2.7
      3

      Just to digest this a little, what is clear is that not only is OSU one of the highest rated teams in all the land, it also has one of the easiest conference schedules in the B1G. What many may have imagined what would be the alternate “easier” year for UM - with OSU and MSU at home - is not the boon it once was since now UM goes on the road to PSU and Wisconsin. That said, UM’s schedule challenges are still about average both in-conference and overall. Alas, poor Maryland and Sparty. They alternately have the most difficult conference and overall schedules. As for the B1GW, Wisconsin’s schedule could not be much easier, which is a far cry from the midseason gauntlet it faced last season. At this point you’ve got to like the Badgers chances of blowing through the season unscathed and returning to Indy for the B1GCG. That assumes Wisconsin can get past those sneaky Wildcats, who have also drawn one of the less challenging schedules both in the B1G and overall. More on that later.

      Obviously, the win-or-lose nature of divisional standings does not discriminate between contests of evenly-matched opponents and ruthless clubbings of baby seals. A win’s a win. However, just consider for a moment that the top two teams in the B1GW have 2 of the 3 easiest overall schedules in the entire conference. Good for them, but it’s the level of competition between opponents - in the form of a point spread - that brings color, subtlety and nuance to the fore, particularly when the College Football Playoff comes into play. A point spread, of course, is just a reflection of the odds, or likely outcome, of a game. So, this is where the rubber really meets the road when digesting equivalent points-based ratings such as the Power Rank, S&P+ or ESPN’s FPI. Is Michigan really just an 8 or 9-win team in 2017? That’s a lot of losses, but after dropping 3 games by a combined 5 points as we all witnessed in 2016, it doesn’t take much.

      Turning Spreads Into Likelihoods

      The following two tables of tables show the schedule details for each team in the B1G East & West divisions that inform the predicted standings in the previous section. The tables include the Power Rank ratings-based point spreads and attendant win probability (links to the FPI and S&P+ results are also provided below). A green-yellow-red pseudo-colormap is also applied to quickly give a qualitative indication of where each team faces its greatest challenges, how those challenges stack up, and by comparison, which teams have a more or less difficult row to hoe. Green indicates a favorable point spread; yellow, a competitive matchup; and red, an unfavorable margin. The last table in the group simply shows a rank-ordering of the divisional teams based on their  expected in-conference win totals - it’s not a projection of conference standings based on projected wins, losses and tie-breakers.

      B1GE Schedule Likelihoods

      2017w00_PR_B1_GE_overall_pwins.png

      Here are links to the same tabulations based on FPI results and S&P+ results for the B1GE.

      B1GW Schedule Likelihoods

      2017w00_PR_B1_GW_overall_pwins.png

      Here are links to the same tabulations based on FPI results and S&P+ results for the B1GW.

      Total Win Probabilities

      After computing projected win probabilities for all the games in each team's schedule based on the ratings-based point spreads (including a +3 point rating adjustment for the home team), it's possible to compute the distribution of total expected wins at the end of the season. The one vagary in this analysis is in regard to FCS opponents. Since neither S&P+ nor FPI provide ratings for FCS teams, I've taken the liberty of assigning the lowest available rating of -30 and -24 to FCS teams, respectively. I can already imagine the comments on this nugget in light of NDSU’s upset of Iowa last season.

      There are only three B1G vs. FCS games this season. They are as follows:

      • Maryland vs. Towson
      • Rutgers vs. Morgan State
      • Minnesota vs. Indiana State

      The B1G East Distributions

      Based on the Power Rank ratings for the B1G East, the teams can be grouped into three classes: the Contenders (Ohio State and Penn State), the Bubble (Michigan and Indiana) and the Bottom Feeders (Michigan State, Rutgers and Maryland). The Contenders are those teams that by one rating or the other, are shown to have peak-win modes within 2 total expected wins of the top rated team. The Bubble consists of those teams within 1 total expected wins of being bowl-eligible. The Bottom Feeders are the teams with few prospects of gridiron glory or post-season hijinks.

      Below are the charts of the overall and in-conference total win distributions for the B1GE based on the S&P+ ratings (with links to the FPI charts), followed by a brief digest of each team’s results.

      Overall2017w00_PR_B1_GE_overall_wins_pdfs.png

      Here are links to the same charts based on FPI results and S&P+ results for the B1GE overall.

      In-Conference

      2017w00_PR_B1_GE_conf_wins_pdfs.png

      Here are links to the same charts based on FPI results and S&P+ results for the B1GE overall.

      Rutgers

      What can be said about Rutgers? OK, how about this: they have newish coach with some OSU heritage who may be able to attract a few recruits with the prospect of early playing time. Otherwise, it's not a pretty picture for the Scarlet Knights. Basically, they're staring at a 7% (S&P+) to 15% (PR) chance of not having a losing season, including a near freebie from Morgan State. These are worse prospect than last season. Their most likely record per PR is about 4-8, or a shade above 4 wins, and are double-digit dogs in six of their games. It still doesn't look like there's any chance that the '14 win over Michigan is going to be dislodged from the Pantheon of Rutgers Classics anytime soon.

      Maryland

      Despite D.J. Durkin’s auspicious beginning by qualifying for a bowl game, it appears the Terpds will be backsliding in 2017. The Terpds’ chances of not having a losing season ranges between 10% (S&P+) and 25% (PR), including an FCS freebie from Towson. Like Rutgers, Maryland’s most-likely record is 4-8, but on the high side of 4 wins, and are double-digit dogs in five of their games.  Still, here’s where D.J. Durkin’s motivational skills may effectively put a shine on the Terpds and continue to make progress on the recruiting trail.

      Michigan State

      Rounding out the B1GE Bottom Feeders as per the Power Rank is Sparty. Alas, things might otherwise be looking up in East Lansing if it weren’t sinking into a quagmire of player misconduct. Yeesh. On the bright side, the chance of Sparty  improving its regular season win total of 3 from last year ranges from 79% (PR) to  94% (S&P+). Sparty’s most likely record takes a relative jump up to 5-7. Yet, PR says volatility will continue to be the hallmark of this season for Sparty, with 5 spreads  of less than one score. Sparty is also a double-digit dog in 3 games. In the end, this probabilistic “lumpiness” of its schedule works against Sparty in a big way, such that its final record works out to ... 3-9 (2-7). Can I get a “Sparty Nooo!”?

      Indiana

      The data says Indiana is still looking like the perennial Bubble team, but may have some surprising company thereabouts this season. That said, i remains to be seen whether the wholesale elimination of its coaching staff sends this team from precipice of chaos into the abyss. Still, the Hoosiers preseason numbers have improved over 2016, with most likely records of 6-6 per the Power Rank and FPI, and 7-5 per S&P+, and with no FCS cupcakes on its schedule. Yet, the probabilistic “lumpiness” of its schedule has the Hoosiers finishing 8-4 (5-4). In that sense, with a solid shot at post-season glory, the fire in the belly of the Hoosiers may well remain stoked. The threat of chaos may have made its exit with Kevin Wilson, but it would still be prudent to not take Indiana lightly.

      Michigan

      With the exodus of so much talent and experience from Team 137, it appears that the fancy-stats love affair with Michigan under Harbaugh has come to an end. The most likely records range from 9-3 (S&P+) to 7-5 (the Power Rank), but with a strong lean in the PR distribution toward 8 wins. Michigan gets just a modest beneficial effect from its schedule, as the games break to an 8-4 (5-4) record. Michigan is favored by double-digits in 8 games by both S&P+ and FPI, but in only 5 games by PR. PR also shows M with margins of less than one score in 5 games, which means volatility. Florida, Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State at this point are favored by PR with UM being more than a one-score dog to PSU and Wisconsin. The opener against Florida looks like one of the closest matchups on the season, and so will be critical from the standpoint of getting UM off the schneid and setting the tone for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, the tussle with fellow bubble team Indiana is M’s tightest match of the year, with a margin of only 1.6 points.

      Here are some sobering statistical observations:

      • Chances of Michigan improving on last season (i.e. winning 11 or more): 1-12%.
      • Chances of a Michigan losing season: less than 2% to about 11%.
      • Chances of Michigan going undefeated: less than 2%.

        Penn State

        Stemming largely from its late season push to the B1G Championship and a Rose Bowl berth, Penn State appears to have finagled its way into second banana status in at least the B1GE, if not the entire conference. The most likely record for PSU is 9-3 as per PR, or 10-2 by both S&P+ and FPI. This is founded largely on the strength of its returning production in the form of 2nd-team All B1G QB Trace McSorley and B1G Offensive POTY RB Saquon Barkley. Yet, the probabilistic “lumpiness” of its actual schedule pushes PSU to a remarkable 11-1 (8-1) finish. The Power Rank says the Nits are favored by double-digits in half of its games, plus they’re favored over UM at home by more than one score. PSU is an underdog in only one game, at OSU, by a margin of a TD and a 2-point conversion. That said, the Nits will have a couple of closely contested match-ups in Iowa and Northwestern before UM shows up in Happy Valley. If the Nits can get past those and then down the Wolverines, they will be flying high into Columbus with the B1GCG and a CFP invitation on the table.

        Some incredible statistical observations:

        • Chances of PSU improving on last season (i.e. winning 11 or more): 10-29%.
        • Chances of PSU having a losing season: 5% to vanishingly small.
        • Chances of PSU going undefeated: 1-6%.

        Ohio State

        Not many teams rate ahead of PSU in returning production, but one of them happens to be Ohio State. Indeed, this is no surprise since OSU was one of the youngest teams in the country in 2016 - the surprise was their coming off of 2015’s loss of talent to make the CFP. Like the other ratings, the Power Rank has OSU poised to separate itself from PSU and UM, with a most likely record of 10-2 overall. Still, the probabilistic “lumpiness” principal also works largely to the Buckeyes’ benefit, having them finishing undefeated overall. OSU is not only favored in all of its games by all three ratings, but by double-digits in no less than 8 games (PR). OSU’s toughest opponent per PR is Oklahoma in week 2, who is less than a one-score underdog. Even so, an early loss to the Sooners would do little to hurt the Buckeyes’ CFP prospects. In conference, OSU shows a mode of 8 wins (with a strong lean toward 7), which is incrementally greater than the 6-win modes of PSU and the 5 for UM, making OSU the team to beat. There’s not a great deal of solace in the fact that the Buckeyes come to Ann Arbor in 2017. They’re still favored by nearly a touchdown.

        Other sobering statistical observations:

        • Chances of tOSU improving on last season (i.e. going undefeated): 7-32%.
        • Chances of tOSU losing 3 or more games: 6-38%.
        • Chances of tOSU having a losing season: vanishingly small.

        The B1G West Distributions

        In the B1G West, four teams might be classified as a Contender: Wisconsin, Northwestern, Minnesota and Iowa. Yet clearly, the Badgers have a pronounced separation from the other three. Holding down the B1GW Bubble is Nebraska, with a peak-wins mode that is 4 wins back. Meanwhile, the Bottom Feeders (Illinois and Purdue) pick up from where they were left for dead last season, promising to carry on like zombies looking for something to bite, but more often than not getting the goo smashed out of their skulls.

        Following are the charts of the overall and in-conference total win distributions for the B1GW based on the S&P+ ratings (with links to the FPI charts), followed by a brief digest of each team’s results.

        Overall

        2017w00_PR_B1_GW_overall_wins_pdfs.png

        Here are links to the same charts based on FPI results and S&P+ results for the B1GW overall.

        In-Conference

        2017w00_PR_B1_GW_conf_wins_pdfs.png

        Here are links to the same charts based on FPI results and S&P+ results for the B1GW in conference.

        Purdue

        It's just about the same story for Purdue as with Rutgers, except maybe even more godforsaken. PR shows a most likely record of 3-8, the same as S&P+ and FPI. That’s what not having an FCS team on the schedule does for you if you’re a bottom feeder. The Boilers are double-digit dogs in 7 games, and at a deficit larger than one score in another two! They’re chances of a losing season overall range from 94% to 97%, with the chances of going completely winless registering in the 1%-3% range. Suffice it to say, the Boilermakers’ prospects for 2017 cover the entire gamut of losing. Somewhat ironically, Purdue is favored in only one game, which brings us to...

        Illinois

        To its credit, the Illini have no FCS creampuff this season, is favored in two games, and are double-digit dogs in only half of its games. Beyond that, in three more games the Illini are at greater than one-score deficits. The chances for Illinois to go bowl-ing range from 4% to 12%. In the aggregate, Illinois’ distributions are almost indistinguishable from Purdue’s. Together, they define the bottom of the B1G West, which is about one win less overall than the B1G East.

        Nebraska

        Holding down the B1GW Bubble are the Cornhuskers, whose best chance to break back into the B1GCG again may have been last season. Like both S&P+ and FPI, PR places them at a perfectly mediocre 6-6 record, with about equal chances of doing better or worse. As such, PR gives the Huskers a 65% chance of reaching bowl eligibility.

        Iowa

        It would appear that the Power Rank is rather smitten with the Hawkeyes. In lieu of predicting its continued regression from the millennial celestial alignment that took place in 2015, PR estimates that Iowa is most likely to maintain an 8-4 record, with a strong lean toward 7-5. The scheduling breakdown reinforces the 8-4 record, and so the road rises up to meet the Hawkeyes, taking them into the pool of contenders for the B1GW Title. PR also likes Iowa to hold onto Floyd of Rosedale in its trophy matchup with Minnesota. Iowa is an underdog in 4 games, but in none by double-digits.

        Minnesota

        New Head Coach P.J. Fleck may be just the sort of high-character persona who can assuage the tumult that swept through Minny at the end of last season. Regardless, Fleck steps into a situation that is otherwise not nearly as dire as most of the others B1G teams that have changed coaches in the last year. Like the Hawkeyes, the Power Rank is smitten with the Gophers as well. PR results show a most likely record of 8-4, with a strong lean toward 7-5. In fact, the Gophers’ distribution is nearly indistinguishable from the Hawkeyes’. The probabilistic “lumpiness”  breaks like a wind that’s always at the Gophers’ backs, to the tune of a 9-3 (6-3) finish. Fleck just needs to get the team to focus on its oarsmanship.

        Northwestern

        Fitz is dutifully rebuilding this squad, and coupled with the return of 3rd-year starting Jr. QB Clayton Thorson and B1G R-OTY Austin Carr a cadre of experienced receivers that combined for 120+ catches, the Cats are due to get their share of highlights. The Power Rank essentially splits the middle in its assessment of the Wildcats 2017 prospects, predicting a most likely record of 8-4. The probabilistic “lumpiness” of its schedule, however, shines warmly upon the Wildcats’ faces, working out to a 10-2 (7-2) final record. The Cats are underdogs in only 2 conference games, whereas the Gophers and Hawks are underdogs in four apiece. In the end, this puts Northwestern in slightly closer contention with Wisconsin than either Minnesota or Iowa.

        Wisconsin

        What a difference a year makes! Of all the teams in the B1G, it would appear that Wisconsin will see the greatest benefit of the swing in both scheduling constraints and interdivisional draws. Not only do the Badgers have five B1G home games, but three of them are Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan - its strongest intra- and inter-divisional opponents. Add to that Maryland and Indiana, plus OOC’s Utah State, FAU and BYU, and it’s no wonder the Power Rank predicts the Badgers’ most likely record is 10-2 (with a slight lean toward 9-3). Yet, Wisconsin is the only team other than Ohio State (who is not on the Badgers’ schedule this year) that is favored in all of its games. And so it goes that the probabilistic “lumpiness” of its schedule falls gently upon the Badgers’ fields, and little W’s pop up like peonies in every possible place. PR has the Badgers as double-digit favorites in 5 games, and one-score favorites in 6 more. The only opponent within one score of them? Your ever-lovin’ Maize’n’Blue. The Gophers, against whom the Badgers close the season. By all accounts, Wisconsin looks to run away with the B1G West and may well have punched its ticket to Indy by the time the Wolverines shows up in Madison on November 18.

        Some enviable statistical observations:

        • Chances of Bucky going undefeated: 6%-13%.
        • Chances of Bucky improving on last season (win 11 or more): 24%-43%.
        • Chances of Bucky losing 3 or more games: 26%-47%.
        • Chances of Bucky having a losing season: vanishingly small.

        Overlay Redux

        Just to wrap things up with a quick visual summary, here are the combined overlays of the total wins probabilities broken out by division, based on the ratings provided by the Power Rank, sized for download and quick-reference on your smarty-pants phone.

        2017w00_PR_B1_GE_B1_GW_overall_pdf_overlays.pngHere are links to the same charts based on FPI results and S&P+ results for the B1G East and West.

        Yours in football, and Go Blue!

        B1G Expectations: 2016 Week 11 Total Conference Wins Update

        B1G Expectations: 2016 Week 11 Total Conference Wins Update

        Submitted by Ecky Pting on November 18th, 2016 at 11:47 PM

        Big_Ten_Conference_logo.png Expectations

        Week 11 Conference Wins Update

        Preamble

        “Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy.”
            - Miss Havisham (Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations)

        Week 11 means there are two games remaining, and the computations are now in the realm of solution using your favorite handheld device. The resulting charts will either be single or dual-moded in nature, with not much beyond. I’d previously considered making last week’s post the last installment of this diary, but then M fell victim to the trap game of all trap games, and failed to exorcise its demons in Kinnick Stadium. As a result, the charts have become moderately interesting. That said, this diary will be brief in that it skips over the B1GW results and the Win Differential Distributions from past diaries. However, in light of re-energized three-way race for the B1GE title, a new section has been added to analyze the probabilities and scenarios by which each of the three contenders can punch their tickets to the B1GCG.

        Nonetheless, with all of its goals yet ahead, Team 137 continues its ascent toward the pinnacle of college football, the Rose Bowl College Football Playoff. As part of Harbaugh’s diabolical master plan, he has played the ultimate troll upon rival OSU by dropping the Iowa game, which has all but blocked the Buckeyes from getting to the B1GCG even if they win out. Speight being knocked out of the last two games also plays into that plan by incorporating a shift in the offensive threat matrix known as Harbaughffense just two weeks before the biggest collision to be seen since Football Armageddon. The threat posed by John O’Korn of running the ball - combined with the relative dearth of film-based documentation of JOK doing just that - adds yet another element to the ruthlessly efficient schemes that Harbaugh will have at the ready. Between now and Columbus, the challenge is that the Wolverines must avoid an untimely demise in yet another impending trap game with ChaosTeam 2.0.

        Schedules, Margins, Probabilities & Distributions

        B1G East Schedules & Margins Rundown

        The table of schedules below shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G East based on the Bill Connelly’s S&P+ weekly ratings. The last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GE teams based on their  expected in-conference win totals, it’s not a projection of divisional standings based on projected wins, losses, and tie-breakers.

        S&P+

        Michigan, by virtue of its loss to Iowa, slips from #1 to the #2 ranked team in all the land as per S&P+, with OSU right behind at #3. Penn State also slips in the the S&P+ ranks and now stands at #12 - two behind #10 Wisconsin.

        Looking at the S&P+ probabilities, the Nittany Lions now lead the B1GE with nearly 7.9 expected B1G wins, ahead of the 2nd place Wolverines at 7.5 wins, with the Buckeyes less than 0.1 wins behind. This is all by virtue of PSU being strongly favored in its remaining games, and The Game looking to be a toss-up, with OSU only a ½-point underdog.

        Indiana, despite losing to PSU, remains in the fourth spot. The Hoosiers, now with just under 4.0 expected wins and being favored in the last of their remaining games against Purdue, are marginally on track for bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, Maryland is also on the bowl-eligibility bubble looking for its sixth win. With LOLRutgerz still on the schedule, the Terps have an ace in the hole.

        FPI

        The FPI results differ ever so slightly. Here as well, Michigan comes in with the #2 ranking with OSU in the #3 spot. PSU tops all teams in the B1GE with just over 7.7 expected wins and is on track for a 10-2 season and have a fairly good chance of making it to Indy. The Nits lead second place OSU, who is a shade under 7.5 expected wins. U-M slips to #3 and is no longer favored in The Game. The margin now has the Buckeyes favored by 2.8 points. Indiana holds the #4 B1GE spot firmly at about 3.8 expected wins, and remains in the edge of bowl-eligibility. Likewise, Maryland is on the bowl-eligibility bubble, now at 3.0 expected wins and being a favorite in only one more game. Sparty closed on the last remaining game in which is was favored, capturing the Situation Trophy from arch-nemesis LOLRutgerz.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings. The numbers here look similarly pessimistic.

        B1G East Expected Conference Wins Distributions

        The bar plots below show the expected total overall wins distributions for teams in the B1G East, in alphabetical order. Noted above each bar is the probability for that number of wins (you may need to click & embiggen to read it). The bar with the highest value is the most likely outcome (the mode). Also flagged on each plot is the expected overall win total (the mean). The last line plot is just an overlay of the same data from the other seven bar plots.

        S&P+

        So here in final week probability distributions, a sea change has taken place. The once proud Michigan spike at the top end of the overlay has been supplanted by … Penn State? Yes indeed, it is the Nittany Lions who have the greatest likelihood to win out at 87.4%, and a mode of 8 wins. Yet, Michigan also has a mode of 8 wins, but with only a 50.1% likelihood, it’s nearly perfectly balanced against 7 wins. This is of course primarily because of The Game, which is a near toss-up as, noted above. Thus, OSU has a mode of 7 wins, with a strong lean toward 8 wins.

        Still, the cluster at the 8-win mode has grown larger by virtue of M’s loss to Iowa, however, the only way a 3-way tie can occur now is if all 3 teams lose one and only one more game - the likelihood of which is vanishingly small due to the covariance between M & OSU. That said, PSU can now easily advance if M drops one more game than PSU from here on out. Yet at this point, it still remains that the B1GE title is Michigan’s to lose. It’s just that the likelihood of not winning out has registered a significant uptick this past week, which as noted above is about 50/50. Meanwhile, the only way that OSU can claim the B1GE title is to beat Michigan and have PSU drop one more game than OSU from here on out.
        Indiana and Maryland now sit firmly at 4 wins and 3 wins, respectively. MSU and LOLRutgerz are looking like locks for single-win and winless B1G seasons, respectively.

        FPI

        The FPI results show a similar profile, but with a slightly different clustering at the top. Here PSU and OSU show 8-win modes, with PSU’s mode being the strongest, while OSU shows a bias toward the 7-win mode. Conversely, M registers a 7-win mode with a bias toward 8 wins. As such, PSU has the highest probability to win out at 74.8%. OSU has a 52.2% chance, and  UM stands at a 42.0% chance to win out.  As in the S&P+ results, the remaining four teams occupy distinct modes with weak probabilities to break out of them.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        B1GE FTW

        With the various point spreads and win probabilities in mind, and with only two games remaining in the season, it becomes straightforward to run through the various scenarios by which the remaining contenders - Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State - can become the B1GE divisional champ. What is evident is that all three teams have paths to Indianapolis not only by winning out along with a little help, but that all three teams have paths to Indianapolis even if they should lose one game. That said, the only team that has the freedom to lose either of its last two games is Penn State. However, it’s not necessarily true that PSU is the most likely B1GE champ. So without further ado, here are the possible scenarios:

        B1GE champ
        Description
        Michigan M wins out
        Michigan [M loses to IU] &
        [M beats OSU] &
        [PSU loses 1 or more]
        PSU [PSU wins out] &
        [M loses 1 or more]
        PSU [PSU loses 1] &
        [M loses 2] &
        [OSU loses to MSU]
        OSU [OSU wins out] &
        [PSU loses 1 or more]
        OSU [OSU loses to MSU] &
        [OSU beats M] &
        [PSU loses 1 or more]

         

        Following are pie charts depicting the likelihoods of each of the three teams based on the individual win probabilities derived from S&P+, FPI and the Power Rank.

        So as you can see, Ohio State is not nearly out of it, however, the Buckeyes do have the lowest probability of advancing in all three ratings. Michigan has the greatest probabilities in S&P+ and the Power Rank, while Penn State has the best probability based on FPI. Michigan receives the only probability greater than 50% in the S&P+ breakdown. PSU’s probabilities have the tightest spread of only 8.6 points with an average of 40.7%. Michigan has the highest average of 44.7%, with a spread of 8.8 points. Ohio State has a spread of 17.4 points with an average of 14.7%.

        Wrap-up

        So there you have it. As you can see, the distributions are looking much more deterministic than earlier in the season. That said, Michigan remains in the catbird seat looking ahead to Columbus the last Saturday of the month. Regardless of what happens this week, both teams will still have a chance to advance by winning The Game. In the meantime nonetheless, Michigan will need to remain focused on the intervening game while breaking in a new Quarterback.

        It’s undeniable that the prospects for Michigan football to play in the Big Ten Championship Game have definitely taken a hit with the loss to Iowa. Most if not all great teams have lapses over the course attaining a championship. Most if not all great teams have the benefit of luck on their side as well. To that end, Team 137 is fortunate to still be in mix after the gaffe that occurred last week, and if it has the character and leadership of a championship team, it will come together and set things right again. OSU is always a tough out when facing Michigan, and that’s why so many look forward to The Game with such great anticipation each year regardless of the stakes. In all, Team 137 has exhibited all the qualities one expects to see in a team that has both great expectations as well as a great capacity to realize those expectations.

        Yours in football, and Go Blue!
         

        B1G Expectations: 2016 Week 10 Total Conference Wins Update

        B1G Expectations: 2016 Week 10 Total Conference Wins Update

        Submitted by Ecky Pting on November 12th, 2016 at 11:14 AM

        Big_Ten_Conference_logo.png Expectations

        Week 10 Conference Wins Update

        Preamble

        “Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy.”
            - Miss Havisham (Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations)

        With only three games remaining at the ten week mark, the distributions are look much less … distributed. By next week, the computations will be in the realm of solution using your favorite handheld device, and the resulting charts will begin to look monolithic. That said, I’m thinking this may be the last installment of this diary.

        Now at ten weeks into the season, Michigan continues its ascent toward the pinnacle of college football, the Rose Bowl College Football Playoff. The air at these heights - heights this team has not seen since the Lloyd Carr era - becomes rarified, and each swing of the pick axe demands even more focus and concentration. At the same time, the Buckeyes have regained their footing in vanquishing the Huskers, and appear to be on track for a collision not seen since Football Armageddon.

        So, the challenge now is that the Wolverines must avoid an untimely demise in what might be the true trap game of this season. But with a renewed commitment evidenced in its ruthless disposal of the Terrapins, Team 137 can turn toward the exorcism of another albeit lesser of its demons, Kinnick Stadium. M has not won there since Carr’s 2005 team escaped with a win in overtime. Yea verily, the Hawkeyes are pulling out all the stops to make it a contest. The locker room has received a fresh coat of pink paint. In addition to the game being scheduled at night, it will be a blackout. What’s more, having had all day to become appropriately lubricated, the crowd promises be a particularly unsavory corn-fed lot.

        Background

        The impetus of this diary is the desire to characterize the competitive landscape of the Big Ten Conference through the synthesis of total win probability distributions for each of the teams. The distributions are derived from the relative expected points ratings from Bill Connelly (S&P+), ESPN (FPI), and occasionally Ed Feng (The Power Rank). The key is that the ratings are based on expected points, which are in turn translated into win probabilities. Each of these three ratings are generated from their respective advanced statistical analyses and metrics. In doing so, they achieve varied results ... some more pleasing than others depending on your point-of-view.

        Anyway, here you will find further ruminations on said statistics into still more statistics as a means for enabling further discussion, jumping to conclusions, flying off of the handle or goading your rival. Also included is a fresh look at the all-important head-to-head win-differential probability distribution for the matchup between a select pair of contenders in the B1G East.

        Schedules, Margins, Probabilities & Distributions

        B1G East Schedules & Margins Rundown

        The table of schedules below shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G East based on the Bill Connelly’s S&P+ weekly ratings. The last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GE teams based on their  expected in-conference win totals, it’s not a projection of divisional standings based on projected wins, losses, and tie-breakers.

        S&P+

        Michigan, by virtue of a complete dismantling of Maryland, continues as the #1 ranked team in all the land as per S&P+. However, the lead enjoyed by U-M has contracted to three spots over of OSU. Penn State, meanwhile, continues its climb up the S&P+ ranks now stands at #9 - one ahead of Wisconsin - to grab the 3rd highest rank in the B1G.
        Looking at the S&P+ probabilities, the Wolverines lead the B1GE with about 8.6 expected B1G wins, ahead of the 2nd place Nittany Lions by just under 1 expected win. The Buckeyes now trail the Nits by about 0.4 wins. Michigan is the only team in the B1G at this point expected to exceed 8 wins; OSU and PSU the only teams expected to exceed 7 conference wins. U-M and PSU are both still favored in all of their remaining games. As such, OSU remains a 5½ point underdog in The Game.

        Indiana, after dispatching Rutgers, remains in the fourth spot. The Hoosiers, with nearly 4.2 expected wins and being favored in the last of their remaining games against Purdue, are on track for bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, Maryland is also on the bowl-eligibility bubble looking for its sixth win, but with slightly more than 3 expected wins and LOLRutgerz still on the schedule, the Terps have an ace in the hole.

        FPI

        As is typical, the FPI results differ slightly. Here Michigan retains the #2 ranking, while OSU moved back up one spot to #4. In turn, M tops all teams in the B1GE with nearly 8.4 expected wins, expanding it lead over OSU slightly to 1.4 wins. As was the case last week, FPI results show U-M to be favored in all of its remaining games; the only game in which OSU is not favored is The Game. The margin, however, now stands at a razor-thin 0.6 points. Meanwhile Penn State continues to roll, and stands about 0.2 wins ahead of OSU to claim the #2 spot at just over 7.5 wins. The bowl-eligible Nits are favored in all of their remaining games, and is on track for a 10-2 season.

        After squeaking by Rutgers, Indiana holds the #4 B1GE spot firmly at 4 wins, and remains in the edge of bowl-eligibility. Likewise, Maryland is on the bowl-eligibility bubble, now at 3.1 expected wins and being a favorite in only one more game. MSU, after dropping another game in which they were favored to Illinois, is now favored in only one more game this season: LOLRutgerz. Sparty will take on the Scarlet Knights in what should be a tremendous battle for the Situation Trophy.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings. The numbers here look slightly less optimistic.

        B1G East Expected Conference Wins Distributions

        The bar plots below show the expected total overall wins distributions for teams in the B1G East, in alphabetical order. Noted above each bar is the probability for that number of wins (you may need to click & embiggen to read it). The bar with the highest value is the most likely outcome (the mode). Also flagged on each plot is the expected overall win total (the mean). The last line plot is just an overlay of the same data from the other seven bar plots.

        S&P+

        Once again Michigan stands apart from all other with the highest mode of all possible modes - an undefeated 9 wins! PSU remains in sole occupation of next highest mode at 8 wins. Following the Nits are the Buckeyes with a mode of 7 wins, with a tilt toward 8 wins. Of course this suggests that the most likely outcome is that OSU will lose one more game. The complementary nature of OSU losing one more and Michigan winning out still holds, which gives statistically-minded folks a warm-fuzzy when pondering the covariance of the M and OSU distributions.

        Still, a bit of a cluster remains at the 8-win mode. A quick computation shows that the much ballyhooed three-way tie among Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State now has a probability of about 29%, largely because it’s almost twice as likely that OSU or PSU lose at least more game. That said, PSU could only advance if M drops two more games than PSU from here on out, whereas the B1GE divisional championship at this point is Michigan’s to lose. The likelihood of UM having an undefeated season at stands at 60.5% or about 3:2 odds in favor.
        Indiana still sits at 4 wins, leaning toward 5 wins, while Maryland is balanced at 3 wins. MSU is still looking like a lock for a 1-win B1G season, but still has a strong lean toward winless-ness. LOLRutgerz is still looking like a solid winless record in the B1G.

        FPI

        With only three games remaining in the season, some distributions begin to indicate more strongly what the final win totals will be. Those that do not are the teams that have competitive games left on the slate. In the B1GE, those teams are M and OSU. These FPI results show an even tighter cluster at the top than S&P+, so the likelihood of the pseudo-threeway tie is a bit greater. Nonetheless each team occupies a unique mode, except M and PSU. Both show the same 8-win mode, but M leans strongly toward the undefeated mode with PSU leaning toward 7 wins. UM registers a 45.2% chance to win out.

        From the 3 contenders at the high end, a 3 win gap separates the remaining teams in the B1GE. In order, they are Indiana, Maryland, MSU and LOLRutgerz at 4, 3, 1 and 0-win modes, respectively.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        B1G West Schedules & Margins Rundown

        The next table of schedules shows the overall schedules for the B1G West based on the Bill Connelly’s S&P+ weekly ratings. Again, the last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GW teams based on their  expected win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional conference standings per se.

        S&P+

        The B1GW S&P+ results have the principal contenders, Wisconsin and Nebraska, at 6.7 and 6.0 expected wins. For Wisconsin, the defeat of Nebraska has put them in control of their destiny by virtue of the tie-breaker rule. Wisconsin’s path to Indy is relatively assured as the Badgers are favored by no less than 14 points from here on out. Nebraska, meanwhile, have still to face Iowa at Kinnick, a game in which the Huskers are favored by less than half a point.
        Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa remain congealed in the second tier of bowl-eligibles and likelies. At 7-2, Minnesota is already bowl-eligible with two of its toughest games remaining. The Gophers are favored in only one remaining game. Northwestern, now expecting nearly 5.2 B1G wins, is favored in 2 more games which it needs to close on in order to become bowl eligible. Poor-damn-Iowa lags at 4.2 expected wins and is favored in only the Illinois game, and has the toss-up with the Huskers.

        FPI

        FPI results now have Wisconsin leading the B1GW now with over 6.6 expected wins, while Nebraska trails at just under 5.9 wins. Like S&P+, FPI has the Badgers favored in all its remaining games by two-score margins, and the Huskers an underdog in the season-ender in Iowa City. Minnesota and Northwestern follow in the 5.0-5.1 win range. FPI has Northwestern favored in two more games, which it needs to capture to become bowl eligible. Wrapping up the likely bowl invitees is Iowa at about 4.7 expected wins, who FPI has favored to win its last two to close out 7-5 and make a bowl game.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        B1G West Expected Conference Wins Distributions

        The bar plots below show the expected overall win distributions for the B1G West teams, in alphabetical order.

        S&P+

        With 3 games remaining, the story in the B1GW has pretty well shaken out. Five teams still have modes in the 4 to 7 win range, but Wisconsin is the only team with a mode of 7 wins, and it’s a very strong mode indeed. Nebraska now sits at the 6 win mode, leaning toward 7 wins, but would need to win out and have the Badgers lose again to advance. The likelihood of that combination is less than 7%. Northwestern and Minnesota remain balanced and nearly indistinguishable at the 5 win mode, while Iowa remains at the 4 win mode, skewed toward 5 wins.

        FPI

        The FPI now tells a similar story as S&P+, showing 5 teams in the 4 to 7 win range, with very similar distribution shapes and order.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        Michigan vs. Ohio State Big Ten Wins Differential

        Background

        The win-differential distribution simply shows the likelihood of one team (say, Michigan) finishing with a conference record that is some number of games better or worse than another team (say, Ohio State). Keeping in mind that in the event of a tie, the winner of the head-to-head match up determines the tiebreaker … the probability of the teams having identical conference records (i.e. a win differential of zero) heading into the final head-to-head meeting is then pro-rated in proportion to the win probability of the head-to-head game. The same principle also applies to the probabilities of either team having a one-game lead going into (our outside of) the head-to-head (i.e. win differentials of +1 and -1). This is because a team trailing by one game would still clinch the tie-breaker by winning the final head-to-head game. Thus, the total likelihood of Michigan finishing ahead of Ohio State is the sum of all the maize-and-blue shaded bars (i.e. U-M wins two or more games than OSU), plus a proportional split of the -1, 0 and +1-differential bars. It’s worth noting that this total likelihood does not indicate the likelihood of making it to the B1G Championship, as it says nothing about how other teams in the B1G East do, or even how Michigan or Ohio State do in the absolute sense. For example, if both teams were to finish tied in the B1G at 7-2, which means that UM and OSU would be losing 2 games each, at that point another team (Penn State) may have the lead.

        S&P+ Results

        Beginning as usual with the results of the S&P+ analysis, this week’s chart still shows that the most likely outcome (now at 87.1% likelihood) is that U-M is one game up heading into Columbus. No news here really - The Game will in all likelihood decide who will play for the B1G Championship. Looking at the head-to-head matchup, the win probability for Michigan has contracted to 63.9% after OSU’s obliteration of Nebraska, with the margin shrinking from 7.7 to 5.5 points. So UM collects a 55.7 point share of the 87.1 points for the likelihood of winning when coming in up one (and finishing ahead two games). OSU collects the remaining 31.5 points.

        The second most likely scenario, now with only a 7.9% likelihood, is that UM comes into Columbus two games ahead of OSU. Of this possible outcome, UM collects the entire 7.9 points, of course, because UM would still be assured of finishing one game ahead of OSU regardless of the outcome.

        The third most likely scenarios that UM comes with the same record as OSU. This scenario has a 4.8% likelihood, of which UM collects a 3.0 point share for its likelihood of winning and finishing one game ahead. OSU collects the remaining 1.7 points.

        In total according to the S&P+ ratings, Michigan now has a 66.8% likelihood (down slightly from 76.4%) of finishing the season ahead of OSU, or 2:1 in favor.

        FPI Results

        Painting a slightly more rosy picture, here is the same chart based on the FPI ratings following the week 10 results. As with S&P+, the most likely outcome is that UM heads into Columbus up one game on the Buckeyes. In the head-to-head matchup, UM is rated high enough to overcome OSU’s home-field advantage, giving Michigan a 51.6% likelihood (only a 0.6 point margin) to win the game. However, because the FPI margins in OSU’s intervening games are a good bit less than those of S&P+, the likelihood of OSU dropping one is greater, as is the likelihood of M coming into Columbus up two games. That stands at a 25.5% chance. To sum it all up, UM has a 67.6% likelihood of beating out OSU at season’s end, or a shade better than 2:1 chance. Very much the same as S&P+, but with a slightly different distribution of outcomes.

        Here’s a link to the chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        Wrap-up

        So there you have it. As you can see, the distributions are looking much more deterministic than earlier in the season. That said, Michigan remains in a favorable position rolling into Columbus the last Saturday of the month, but will still need to play and win the game to advance, as is the case with the Buckeyes. In the meantime, Michigan will need to remain focused on the intervening games, the next of which is tomorrow night’s game at Kinnick Stadium. This game still looms large as the most significant risk between now and Columbus.

        The prospects for Michigan football to play in the Big Ten Championship Game may have receded slightly from the plateau reached last week. This is largely due to the Buckeyes regaining their composure and competitive edge after exhibiting various foibles in the preceding weeks. No surprises there, to be honest. OSU will always be tough out when facing Michigan, and that’s why so many look forward to The Game with such great anticipation each year. In all, Team 137 has exhibited all the qualities one expects to see in a team that has both great expectations as well as a great capacity to realize those expectations.

        Yours in football, and Go Blue!

        B1G Expectations: 2016 Week 9 Total Conference Wins Update

        B1G Expectations: 2016 Week 9 Total Conference Wins Update

        Submitted by Ecky Pting on November 2nd, 2016 at 10:37 PM

        Big_Ten_Conference_logo.png Expectations

        Week 9 Conference Wins Update

        Preamble

        “Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy.”
        - Miss Havisham (Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations)

        Nine weeks into the season and Michigan has passed a major milestone. A Big Ten record of 5-0 marks the best start to a Big Ten season since the Lloyd Carr era, and provides further validation of Michigan’s deliverance from the clutches of incompetence. In so doing, the Wolverines at long last methodically exorcised another demon that had been causing a degree of agitation for some years now and had grown particularly acute over the preceding 378 days. That exorcism included a small token of atonement in the form of Jabrill Peppers’ 85+ yard defensive 2-point conversion return of a botched option pitch to close out the scoring and the game. Not quite a reciprocally calamitous outcome as last year, but it does make a nice bookend. This is not to say that anything in the fourth quarter really mattered much at all, except in the chronically delusional consciousness that is Sparty in the collective sense. Just to illustrate in the form of probabilities and fancy stats that are the basis of this diary, a couple of points are worth noting that one should consider in putting this game into some sort of perspective. They are as follows:

        • The lowest in-game win probability for Michigan was 88.4%, based on an initial win probability of 96%. Regardless of the starting value, however, the minimum win probability occurred with 7:46 remaining in the first quarter. This was immediately after Wilton Speight threw the long incompletion to Drake Harris on M’s first offensive play.
           
        • The game entered the fancy-stats definition of garbage time at beginning of the fourth quarter with Michigan up 17 points. Shortly thereafter Kenny Allen converted his third field goal of the game with 14:42 remaining to put M ahead by 20. All subsequent scores or yardage accumulations are inconsequential when viewed through the virtual reality goggles of fancy-stats.
           
        • It remains that the only team that has taken Michigan to the no-garbage-time wire this season is Wisconsin. With any luck, they might be the only team.

        Nonetheless, with a renewed commitment the focus for Team 137 turns now toward the work that remains to be done to achieve the lofty goals that are coming within reach, and to mitigating the few risks that threaten those objectives. The same might be said in regard to its perennial nemesis the Buckeyes, who after being taken to the wire for the third straight game by Northwestern in Columbus (with Indiana 3:51 from being a fourth), continued to exhibit weaknesses on both sides of the line, manifest in an inability to sustain drives or get its defense off the field.

        Background

        The impetus of this diary is the desire to characterize the competitive landscape of the Big Ten Conference through the synthesis of total win probability distributions for each of the teams. The distributions are derived from the relative expected points ratings from Bill Connelly (S&P+), ESPN (FPI), and occasionally Ed Feng (The Power Rank). The key is that the ratings are based on expected points, which are in turn translated into win probabilities. Each of these three ratings are generated from their respective advanced statistical analyses and metrics. In doing so, they achieve varied results ... some more pleasing than others depending on your point-of-view.

        Anyway, here you will find further ruminations on said statistics into still more statistics as a means for enabling further discussion, jumping to conclusions, flying off of the handle or goading your rival. Also included is a fresh look at the all-important head-to-head win-differential probability distribution for the matchup between a select pair of contenders in the B1G East.

        Schedules, Margins, Probabilities & Distributions

        B1G East Schedules & Margins Rundown

        The table of schedules below shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G East based on the Bill Connelly’s S&P+ weekly ratings. The last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GE teams based on their  expected in-conference win totals, it’s not a projection of divisional standings based on projected wins, losses, and tie-breakers.

        Michigan, by virtue of a first-half throttling of Sparty, continues as the #1 ranked team in all the land as per S&P+. U-M has expanded its lead now to five spots over of OSU. Penn State, meanwhile, moves up the S&P+ ranks another spot and now stands at #15, holding at  4th best in the B1G, and 3rd in the East.

        S&P+

        Looking at the S&P+ probabilities, the Wolverines lead the B1GE with about 8.6 expected B1G wins, ahead of the now 2nd place Nittany Lions by 1.3 expected wins. The Buckeyes now trail the Nits by 0.3 wins. Michigan is the only team in the B1G at this point expected to exceed 8 wins; OSU and PSU the only teams expected to exceed 7 conference wins. U-M and PSU are both still favored in all of their remaining games. As such, OSU is an underdog in The Game, but even before that, the OSU matchup versus the once-beaten Huskers in Columbus on Saturday may make or break the Buckeyes’ prospects for a B1GE title.

        Indiana, after dispatching Maryland, remains in the fourth spot. The Hoosiers, with nearly 4.2 expected wins and being favored in 2 of their remaining games, are on track for bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, Maryland is still on the bowl-eligibility bubble looking for its sixth win, but with slightly more than 3 expected wins and LOLRutgerz still on the schedule, the Terps have an ace in the hole.

        FPI

        As expected, the FPI results differ slightly. Here Michigan retains the #2 spot, while OSU slipped one spot to #5. In turn, M tops all teams in the B1GE with just over 8.3 expected wins, maintain its 1.3 win lead over OSU. As was the case last week, FPI results show U-M to be favored in all of its remaining games; the only game in which OSU is not favored is The Game. The margin, however, has narrowed to only 1.6 points. Penn State followed up its stunning upset of OSU with a demolition of Purdue, and has actually creeped ahead of OSU by 0.3 wins to claim the #2 spot in the B1GE at nearly 7.1 expected wins. PSU has now become bowl-eligible, is favored in all of its remaining games, and is on track for a 10-2 season. After beating Maryland, Indiana hold the #4 spot firmly at about 3.8 wins and remain in the edge of bowl-eligibility. Likewise, Maryland, now with only 3.2 expected wins and as a favorite in only one more game is on the bowl-eligibility bubble. MSU, meanwhile, is now favored in 2 more game this season: Illinois and LOLRutgerz in what should be a tremendous battle for The Participation Trophy.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        B1G East Expected Conference Wins Distributions

        The bar plots below show the expected total overall wins distributions for teams in the B1G East, in alphabetical order. Noted above each bar is the probability for that number of wins (you may need to click & embiggen to read it). The bar with the highest value is the most likely outcome (the mode). Also flagged on each plot is the expected overall win total (the mean). The last line plot is just an overlay of the same data from the other seven bar plots.

        S&P+

        Once again Michigan stands apart from all other with the highest mode, and that mode, dear reader, is that of an undefeated 9 wins! What’s more, PSU now shows the next highest mode at 8 wins, with a skew toward 7 wins. Following the Nits are the Buckeyes with a strong and balanced mode … of ... 7 wins, which suggests that the most likely outcome is that OSU will lose one more game. The complementary nature of OSU losing one more and Michigan winning out gives statistically-minded folks a warm-fuzzy when pondering the covariance of the M and OSU distributions.

        Still, a bit of a pile-up remains at the 8-win mode. A quick computation shows that the much ballyhooed three-way tie among Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State now has a probability of about 11%, largely because as the overlay shows, it’s almost 5 times as likely that OSU or PSU at least more game. Nonetheless, it’s worth repeating that in the new B1G tie-breaker rules, overall winning percentage eliminates PSU first from the three-way tie since they lost an OOC game to Pitt. OSU can only advance by winning out, including The Game. PSU could only advance if M drops two more games than PSU from here on out. Clearly, with the Buckeyes’ backs to the wall, the B1GE divisional championship at this point is Michigan’s to lose. The likelihood of UM having an undefeated season at stands at 64.1% (up from the 18.8% before obliterating Rutgers) or nearly 2:1 odds in favor.

        Indiana still sits at 4 wins, but now leaning toward 5 wins, whereas Maryland is balanced 3 wins. MSU has improved to a mode of 2-wins, but with a strong lean toward a single win, while Rutgers is still looking to go winless in the B1G.

        FPI

        What’s remarkable about these FPI results are the nearly indistinguishable distributions of OSU and PSU. Both show the same 7-win mode leaning slightly toward 8 wins. Michigan leads the division and the conference with its 8-win mode, leaning strongly toward an undefeated 9 wins. Also, UM registers a 43.7% chance to win out.  Once again, a bit of a logjam appears at the 8-win mode. FPI works out to a similar likelihood of the three-way tie as S&P+: 10%, largely because as the overlay suggests, it’s almost 5 times as likely that PSU and OSU lose at least one more game.

        From the 3 contenders at the high end, a 3 win gap separates the remaining teams in the B1GE. In order, they are Indiana, Maryland, MSU and LOLRutgerz at 4, 3, 2, 0.5, respectively. at the 4-win mode. Maryland and Indiana, with modes of 4 wins and 3 wins, respectively. LOLRutgerz at MSU - the Slobber-Knocker of Self-Loathing - is shaping up to be an instant BTN Classic.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        B1G West Schedules & Margins Rundown

        The next table of schedules shows the overall schedules for the B1G West based on the Bill Connelly’s S&P+ weekly ratings. Again, the last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GW teams based on their  expected win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional conference standings per se.

        S&P+

        The B1GW S&P+ results have the principal contenders, Wisconsin and Nebraska, at 6.6 and 6.2 expected wins, an almost exact reversal from last week. For Wisconsin, the defeat of Nebraska has put them in control of their destiny. Having traversed most of the gauntlet that was their early season schedule and being favored in all their remaining games, the Badgers are on the inside track to the B1GCG. Unless the Huskers can knock off the Buckeyes in Columbus on Saturday, they will at best finish in a tie with the Badgers, but will of course lose the tie-breaker.

        Northwestern, Minnesota and Iowa remain congealed in the second tier of likely bowl-eligibles. Northwestern, now expecting nearly 5.3 B1G wins, has an edge of about 0.2 wins over Minnesota. From there, Iowa lags another 0.6 wins. The resurgent Wildcats, after a gritty loss to the Buckeyes in Columbus, now face the Badgers. Still, the Cats are favored in 2 of their remaining games. Iowa still appears to have reached its high-water mark, being a favorite in only 1 of its 4 remaining games (at Illinois). That one win however, may suffice to make the Hawkeyes bowl-eligible. Alas, Illinois is no longer favored in any of its remaining games, as is the case for Purdue as well.

        FPI

        FPI results now have Wisconsin leading the B1GW with nearly 6.3 expected wins, with Nebraska trailing close behind at just under 6.2 wins. Like S&P+, FPI has the Badgers favored in all its remaining games, with the Huskers underdogs in only its next game against OSU. Northwestern follows at just under 5.5 wins (up from 5.3 last week despite losing to OSU), with Minnesota in the 4-spot another 0.6 wins back. Wrapping up the likely bowl invitees is Iowa at about 4.7 expected wins. Northwestern and Minnesota are both favored in 2 of their remaining games, but Iowa is favored in only one of its four remaining.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        B1G West Expected Conference Wins Distributions

        The bar plots below show the expected overall win distributions for the B1G West teams, in alphabetical order.

        S&P+

        The story in the B1GW continues to be how close the race to Indy remains, although with only 4 games left the opportunities to move ahead are fading. Five teams still have modes in the 4 to 7 win range. Wisconsin is currently the only team with a mode of 7 wins, and it’s a very strong mode indeed. Nebraska now sits at the 6 win mode, leaning toward 7 wins, but would need the Badgers to lose again to advance. Northwestern and Minnesota are balanced and nearly indistinguishable at the 5 win mode. Iowa remains at the 4 win mode, skewed toward 5 wins.

        FPI

        The FPI results tell a slightly different story. The race here is even tighter than the one predicted by S&P+, showing 5 teams in either the 5 or 6 win modes. Both Wisconsin and Nebraska register 6 win modes; both Iowa and Minnesota register with 5 win modes; and Northwestern is evenly balanced between the 5 and 6 win modes. Wisconsin has a stronger lean toward the 7 win mode and also has the advantage of having beaten Nebraska and Iowa already, but has yet to face Northwestern or Minnesota. Altogether, those five teams should attain bowl-eligibility (Northwestern and Iowa have yet to clinch it). Meanwhile Purdue and Illinois both look a game better than LOLRutgerz and Sparty at this point.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        Michigan vs. Ohio State Big Ten Wins Differential

        Background

        The win-differential distribution simply shows the likelihood of one team (say, Michigan) finishing with a conference record that is some number of games better or worse than another team (say, Ohio State). Keeping in mind that in the event of a tie, the winner of the head-to-head match up determines the tiebreaker … the probability of the teams having identical conference records (i.e. a win differential of zero) heading into the final head-to-head meeting is then pro-rated in proportion to the win probability of the head-to-head game. The same principle also applies to the probabilities of either team having a one-game lead going into (our outside of) the head-to-head (i.e. win differentials of +1 and -1). This is because a team trailing by one game would still clinch the tie-breaker by winning the final head-to-head game. Thus, the total likelihood of Michigan finishing ahead of Ohio State is the sum of all the maize-and-blue shaded bars (i.e. U-M wins two or more games than OSU), plus a proportional split of the -1, 0 and +1-differential bars. It’s worth noting that this total likelihood does not indicate the likelihood of making it to the B1G Championship, as it says nothing about how other teams in the B1G East do, or even how Michigan or Ohio State do in the absolute sense. For example, if both teams were to finish tied in the B1G at 7-2, which means that UM and OSU would be losing 2 games each, at that point another team (Penn State) may have the lead.

        S&P+ Results

        Beginning as usual with the results of the S&P+ analysis, this week’s chart still shows that the most likely outcome (70.9% likelihood) is that U-M is one game up heading into Columbus. So, it stand that The Game will likely decide who will play for the B1G Championship. What’s more, looking at the head-to-head matchup, the win probability for Michigan has expanded again to 69.0% (that’s a cool 7.7 point margin!), so UM collects a 48.9 point share of the 70.9 points for the likelihood of winning when coming in up one (and finishing ahead two games). OSU collects the remaining 22.0 points.

        The second most likely scenario, now with a 21.8% likelihood, is that UM comes into Columbus two games ahead of OSU. Of this possible outcome, UM collects the entire 21.8 points, of course, because UM would still be assured of finishing one game ahead of OSU regardless of the outcome.

        The third most likely scenarios that UM comes with the same record as OSU. This scenario has a 5.2% likelihood, of which UM collects a 3.6 point share for its likelihood of winning and finishing in one game ahead. OSU collects the remaining 1.6 points.

        The fourth most likely scenario, with a likelihood of 2.0%, is that UM comes into Columbus three games ahead of OSU. All 2.0 points for UM in this case.
        One other vanishingly small scenario registers on the chart. Noodling through it is left as an exercise for the reader.

        In total according to the S&P+ ratings, Michigan now has a 76.4% likelihood (down slightly from 76.8%) of finishing the season ahead of OSU - better than 3:1 in favor!

        FPI Results

        Painting a slightly less rosy picture, here is the same chart based on the FPI ratings following the week 9 results. This shows a slightly narrower margin for UM in the race against OSU to the B1GCG. However, as with S&P+, the most likely outcome is that UM heads into Columbus up one game on the Buckeyes. In the head-to-head matchup, UM is rated high enough to overcome OSU’s home-field advantage, giving Michigan a 54.1% likelihood (a 1.6 point margin) to win the game. To sum it all up, UM has a 67.6% likelihood of beating out OSU at season’s end, or a shade better than 2:1 chance.

        Here’s a link to the chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        Bonus Section: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin Big Ten Wins Differential

        It seems like a good time to take a closer look at the primary contenders in the B1GW since they just met on the field this past weekend, those contenders being Wisconsin and Nebraska.

        S&P+ Results

        So here are the S&P+ results after running the differential analysis rubbing the Nebraska distribution against Wisconsin. The results are different from the UM-OSU rub. In this case, the most likely outcome (with a 36.0% likelihood) is that Nebraska is ahead of Wisconsin for all games outside their head-to-head matchup. However, since Wisconsin already won the head-to-head game, it’s Wisconsin that collects the entire 36.0 point share of that outcome. In all, Wisconsin now has a 79.3% likelihood of finishing ahead of Nebraska at the end of the regular season.

        FPI Results

        And here are the FPI results for the Nebraska-Wisconsin differential distribution. Same story as with the S&P+ results, just not so significantly in Wisconsin’s favor.

        Here’s a link to the chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        Wrap-up

        So there you have it. Evidence continues to mount that Michigan will actually be in a favorable position rolling into Columbus the last Saturday of the month. In the meantime, Michigan will need to remain focused on the intervening games, the first of which is against the Terps. Beyond that, the night game at Kinnick Stadium looms large as the most significant risk between now and Columbus. Kinnick will be an inhospitably dark, cold and hostile environment that promises to be a more challenging test than what the Wolverines encountered this past weekend in East Lansing.

        The prospects for Michigan football to play in the Big Ten Championship Game may have reached a plateau this week. Nonetheless, a very competitive game awaits OSU (vs Nebraska) that will be a barometer by which to gauge the true threat posed by the Buckeyes. In all, it bodes well for Team 137 as it continues to work toward its goals to compete for the Big Ten Championship, and beyond.

        Yours in football, and Go Blue!

        B1G Expectations: 2016 Week 8 Total Conference Wins Update

        B1G Expectations: 2016 Week 8 Total Conference Wins Update

        Submitted by Ecky Pting on October 26th, 2016 at 5:39 PM

         Expectations

        Week 8 Conference Wins Update

        Preamble

        “Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy.”
            - Miss Havisham (Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations)

        At eight weeks and seven games in, the season has reached a point where most teams have had the benefit of a Bye (except LOLRutgerz & Iowa). It’s also a point where teams have had sufficient opportunity to meld new players and emerging talent into their systems, and take stock of who will be the key contributors from here on out. Teams who will contend in the end are those that have shown steady improvement and a competitive drive despite adverse circumstances. For Michigan, this week amounted to the second of two scrimmages sandwiched around its Bye week, ostensibly concluding a mid-season training camp of sorts. The focus turns now toward preparation for the visit to East Lansing coming up. For Michigan’s rivals, this week could not have gone much better from Michigan’s point of view. The Buckeyes, in its loss to Penn State, continued to exhibit weaknesses in its schemes, play calling, offensive and defensive lines, and then coupled all that with abject failures to execute in the clutch. Sparty, meanwhile, appears to be in the throes of a deathly downward tailspin that should auger in neatly come mid-afternoon on Saturday. If Sparty is merely performing some death-defying tricks to lull the Wolverines into a false sense of security, it’s an Emmy Award-worthy performance.

        Background

        The impetus of this diary is the desire to characterize the competitive landscape of the Big Ten Conference through the synthesis of total win probability distributions for each of the teams. The distributions are derived from the relative expected points ratings from Bill Connelly (S&P+), ESPN (FPI), and occasionally Ed Feng (The Power Rank). The key is that the ratings are based on expected points, which are in turn translated into win probabilities. Each of these three ratings are generated from their respective advanced statistical analyses and metrics. In doing so, they achieve varied results ... some more pleasing than others depending on your point-of-view.

        Anyway, here you will find further ruminations on said statistics into still more statistics as a means for enabling further discussion, jumping to conclusions, flying off of the handle or goading your rival. Also included is a fresh look at the all-important head-to-head win-differential probability distribution for the matchup between a select pair of contenders in the B1G East.

        Schedules, Margins, Probabilities & Distributions

        B1G East Schedules & Margins Rundown

        The table of schedules below shows the overall schedules for all seven teams in the B1G East based on the Bill Connelly’s S&P+ weekly ratings. The last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GE teams based on their  expected in-conference win totals, it’s not a projection of divisional standings based on projected wins, losses, and tie-breakers.

        S&P+ Results

        First off, let’s be clear. Ohio State remains as competitive an opponent as they come, and it is well-known and documented that one loss does not break a season in the context of the B1G or National Championship picture, as these very same Buckeyes demonstrated in 2014. Unless of course, things end up tied with a winning opponent, which the Buckeyes also demonstrated in 2015. So all of a sudden the B1G East is set up nicely for a potential three-way tie scenario among Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State! More on that later.

        Michigan, by virtue of a half-throttling of Illinois, continues as the #1 ranked team in all the land as per S&P+. U-M has doubled its lead now to four spots over OSU. Penn State, to its credit, managed to hang around with OSU into the fourth quarter, and found the proverbial “way to win” by cashing in on a single play that had an effective 10 point swing. The Nits thereby continue to move up the S&P+ ranks and now stand at #16 - good enough for 4th best in the B1G, and 3rd in the East.

        Looking at the S&P+ probabilities, the Wolverines lead the B1GE with about 8.6 expected B1G wins, ahead of the now 2nd place Nittany Lions by a cool 1.4 expected wins. The Buckeyes trail the Nits by a narrow 0.2 wins. Michigan is the only team in the B1G at this point expected to exceed 8 wins. U-M and PSU are both favored in all of their remaining games. As such, OSU is no longer the favorite in The Game. Woe upon Northwestern who faces OSU next week, but beyond that, the OSU matchup versus the still-unbeaten Huskers may make or break the Buckeyes’ prospects heading into The Game.

        Indiana, despite dropping its game with Northwestern, remains in the fourth spot, but at about 3.8 expected wins is now 3.2 wins behind PSU. However, the Hoosiers are underdogs in only two of its remaining games, which should make them bowl eligible. Meanwhile, Maryland reclaimed its place on the bowl-eligibility bubble by getting a critical win in knocking off Sparty in College Park. Only 0.3 expected wins behind Indiana, the matchup between the Terps and the Hoosiers next week - which stands at a 51/49 split - will be the key in determining which team will likely secure a bowl bid.

        FPI Results

        The FPI results differ slightly, the most notable difference that Michigan holds the #2 spot, followed by OSU still holding on at #4. In turn, M tops all teams in the B1GE with just over 8.3 expected wins, now ahead of OSU by a cool 1.3 expected wins. For the first time this season, FPI results now show U-M to be favored in all of its remaining games; the only game in which OSU is not favored is The Game. The margin, however, is only 1.8 points. Penn State, after its stunning upset of OSU, has separated from all others as the clear #3 in the B1GE at nearly 6.8 expected wins - less than 0.3 wins behind OSU - and is also favored in all of its remaining games. Maryland, with about 3.7 expected wins is an underdog in 4 more games; and Indiana, expecting about 3.2 wins is an underdog in 2 games. The Maryland-Indiana matchup may well reverse that balance, as FPI also sees this game as a 51/49 split. MSU, meanwhile, is favored in only one more game this season: LOLRutgerz. MSU is not favored on the road in Champaign. What would Sparty do without LOLRutgerz?

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings. The numbers here look...pretty good!

        B1G East Expected Conference Wins Distributions

        The bar plots below show the expected total overall wins distributions for teams in the B1G East, in alphabetical order. Noted above each bar is the probability for that number of wins (you may need to click & embiggen to read it). The bar with the highest value is the most likely outcome (the mode). Also flagged on each plot is the expected overall win total (the mean). The last line plot is just an overlay of the same data from the other seven bar plots.

        S&P+ Results

        The “big take-away” from this round of distributions is that Michigan stands apart from all other with the highest mode, and that mode, dear reader, is the mode of an undefeated 9 wins! Whats more, OSU and PSU both show modes of 7 wins - that’s right, a 2 win separation. Now granted, PSU’s distribution is skewed strongly toward 8 wins. OSU is more balanced around 7 wins, but still with a considerable likelihood of 8 wins (which can be interpreted in more than one way), but the point is this: a bit of a log jam has emerged at the 8-win mode. That is the aforementioned three-way tie atop the B1GE over which many of the pundits are getting their panties in bunch. A quick computation shows that the much ballyhooed three-way tie among Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State has a probability of about 8%, largely because as the overlay shows, it’s almost 5 times as likely that OSU and PSU will lose at least one more game and Michigan will win out. Nonetheless, by virtue of the new B1G tie-breaker rules, overall winning percentage eliminates PSU first from the three-way tie since they lost an OOC game to Pitt, and OSU can only move ahead by winning The Game.

        Indiana now sits at 4 wins leaning a bit toward 3 wins, whereas Maryland sits at 3 wins leaning toward four. Their upcoming game will be a battle for potential bowl-eligibility. MSU has settled into the single win mode, but with a strong, hopeful lean toward 2 wins, while Rutgers will most likely go winless in the B1G. Clearly, with the Buckeyes’ backs to the wall, the B1GE divisional championship at this point is Michigan’s to lose. The likelihood of UM having an undefeated season at stands at 61.8% (up from the 18.8% before obliterating Rutgers) or about 3:2 odds in favor.

        FPI Results

        Once again, a similar looking logjam in the B1GE at the 8-win mode. FPI works out to a similar likelihood of the three-way tie as S&P+: 9%, largely because as the overlay suggests, it’s almost 4 times more likely that PSU and OSU lose at least one more game and UM wins out.

        The FPI results differ somewhat from the S&P+ results above. UM registers a mode of 8 wins (and one loss), but skewed strongly toward an undefeated 9 wins. UM registers a 43.4% chance to win out. From there, a smaller separation of 1 win exists to the 7 win mode occupied by Ohio State and Penn State. OSU shows a slight lean toward 8 wins; PSU slightly toward 6 wins. From there, a 3 win gap separates the next closest teams, Maryland and Indiana, with modes of 4 wins and 3 wins, respectively. Sparty lags further behind, clinging desparately to a mode shaded slightly toward 2 wins, only one win ahead of LOLRutgerz. LOLRutgerz at MSU - the Slobber-Knocker of Self-Loathing - is shaping up to be an instant BTN Classic.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        B1G West Schedules & Margins Rundown

        The next table of schedules shows the overall schedules for the B1G West based on the Bill Connelly’s S&P+ weekly ratings. Again, the last table simply shows a rank-ordering of the B1GW teams based on their  expected win totals - it’s not a projection of divisional conference standings per se.

        S&P+ Results

        The  S&P+ results for the B1GW have coalesced around Nebraska and Wisconsin as the principal contenders, with about 6.6 and 6.2 expected wins, respectively. For Wisconsin, this weekend’s matchup with the Huskers will be critical in its bid to advance to the B1GCG. If the Badgers lose, they’re likely out of contention. Having traversed most of the gauntlet that was their early season schedule, however, the Badgers now sit in the catbird seat as the only team in the B1GW favored in all of its remaining games. If the Badgers secure the win coming in as an 8.5 point favorite, and provided they win out as they are favored to do, they will be a virtual lock for the B1GCG ... unless the Huskers can knock off the Buckeyes in Columbus on November 5 and finish with only one B1G loss.

        Northwestern, Minnesota and Iowa have congealed into a second tier of likely bowl-eligibles. Northwestern, now expecting nearly 5.1 wins, has an edge of nearly 0.3 wins over Minnesota. From there, Iowa lags another 0.4 wins. The resurgent Wildcats are headed toward the buzzsaw of Buckeye team coming off a loss, so the Cats’ resurgence may take a hiatus this weekend, but still, the Cats can expect to be bowl-eligible. The Cats are still favored in 2 of their remaining games. Iowa appears to have reached its high-water mark, being a favorite in only 1 of its 4 remaining games (at Illinois). That one win however, may suffice to make the Hawkeyes bowl-eligible. Similarly, Illinois is favored in only one remaining game (Sparty). Lastly Purdue, after letting Darrell Hazell go, will be mailing in the rest of the season.

        FPI Results

        FPI results have Nebraska leading the B1GW with the same 6.55 expected wins as S&P+, with Wisconsin trailing by a slightly wider 0.6 win margin. Like S&P+, FPI has the Badgers favored in all its remaining games, with the Huskers underdogs in its next two games. Northwestern follows more closely in the FPI results at 5.3 wins, with Iowa in the 4-spot another 0.6 wins back. Wrapping up the likely bowl invitees is Minnesota at about 4.3 expected wins. who is as the teams in contention and expecting to have winning B1G records. As with S&P+, Nebraska and Minnesota are both underdogs in two of their remaining games. Northwestern is a 3-game dog, and Iowa is favored in only one of its five remaining games.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        B1G West Expected Conference Wins Distributions

        The bar plots below show the expected overall win distributions for the B1G West teams, in alphabetical order.

        S&P+ Results

        The story in the B1GW continues to be how close the race to Indy remains. Five teams have modes in the 4 to7 win range. Nebraska is currently the only team with a mode of 7 wins, while Wisconsin is at 6 wins, with both teams leaning toward the mode of the other team. Northwestern and Minnesota are both balanced on the 5 win mode. Iowa is now at the 4 win mode after its loss to Wisconsin, but is skewed toward 5 wins. The only team remaining without a loss of course is Nebraska, but has only a 1.5% likelihood of staying that way. The Huskers also have the best - and only - chance of a one-loss season in the B1GW at 14.1%.

        FPI Results

        The FPI results tell a similar story. Nebraska shows a 7 win mode, leaning toward 6 wins; Wisconsin is at the 6 win mode, leaning now toward 7 wins. Meanwhile, Northwestern is showing some separation from Iowa and Minnesota at the 5 win mode and leaning strongly toward 6 wins. Behind the Cats are the Hawkeyes, also at the 5 win mode but leaning toward 4 wins. Minnesota continues to lurk at the 4 win mode, with a skew toward 5 wins. As such, those five teams are at least hopeful bowl-game qualifiers. To the credit of Purdue and Illinois, they both look a game better than LOLRutgerz and Sparty at this point.

        Here’s a link to a chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        Michigan vs. Ohio State Big Ten Wins Differential

        Background

        The win-differential distribution simply shows the likelihood of one team (say, Michigan) finishing with a conference record that is some number of games better or worse than another team (say, Ohio State). Keeping in mind that in the event of a tie, the winner of the head-to-head match up determines the tiebreaker … the probability of the teams having identical conference records (i.e. a win differential of zero) heading into the final head-to-head meeting is then pro-rated in proportion to the win probability of the head-to-head game. The same principle also applies to the probabilities of either team having a one-game lead going into the head-to-head (i.e. win differentials of +1 and -1). This is because a team trailing by one game would still clinch the tie-breaker by winning the final head-to-head game. Thus, the total likelihood of Michigan finishing ahead of Ohio State is the sum of all the maize-and-blue shaded bars (i.e. U-M wins two or more games than OSU), plus a proportional split of the -1, 0 and +1-differential bars. It’s worth noting that this total likelihood does not indicate the likelihood of making it to the B1G Championship, as it says nothing about how other teams in the B1G East do, or even how Michigan or Ohio State do in the absolute sense. For example, if both teams were to finish tied in the B1G at 7-2, which means that UM and OSU would be losing 2 games each, at which point another team (Penn State) may have a snowball’s chance.

        S&P+ Results

        Beginning as usual with the results of the S&P+ analysis, the chart below now shows that following the Buckeyes loss to Penn State, the most likely outcome (65.5% likelihood) is that U-M is one game up heading into Columbus. Nonetheless, The Game will still likely decide who will play for the B1G Championship. What’s more, looking at the head-to-head matchup, the win probability for Michigan has expanded to 67.4% (that’s a cool 7 point margin!), so UM collects a 44.1 point share of the 65.5 points for the likelihood of winning when coming in up one (and finishing ahead two games). OSU collects the remaining 21.3 points.

        The second most likely scenario, now with a 25.2% likelihood, is that UM comes into Columbus two games ahead of OSU. Of this possible outcome, UM collects the entire 25.2 points, of course, because UM would still be assured of finishing one game ahead of OSU.

        The third most likely scenarios that UM comes with the same record as OSU. This scenario has a 5.7% likelihood, of which UM collects a 3.8 point share for its likelihood of winning and finishing in one game ahead. OSU collects the remaining 1.9 points.

        The fourth most likely scenario, with a likelihood of 3.3%, is that UM comes into Columbus three games ahead of OSU. All 3.3 points for UM in this case.

        Two other vanishingly small scenarios register on the chart. Noodling through those is left as an exercise for the reader.

        In total according to the S&P+ ratings, Michigan now has a 76.8% likelihood of finishing the season ahead of OSU - better than 3:1 in favor!

        FPI Results

        Painting a slightly less rosy picture, here is the same chart based on the FPI ratings following the week 8 results. This shows a slightly narrower margin for UM in the race against OSU to the B1GCG. However, as with S&P+, the most likely outcome is that UM heads into Columbus up one game on the Buckeyes. In the head-to-head matchup, UM is rated high enough to overcome OSU’s home-field advantage, giving Michigan a 54.6% likelihood (a 1.8 point margin) to win The Game. To sum it all up - according to FPI, UM now has a 68.3% likelihood of beating out OSU at season’s end, or a little better than 2:1 chance.

        Here’s a link to the chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        Bonus Section: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin Big Ten Wins Differential

        It seems like a good time to take a closer look at the primary contenders in the B1GW since they will meet on the field this weekend, those contenders being Wisconsin and Nebraska.

        S&P+ Results

        So here are the S&P+ results after running the differential analysis rubbing the Nebraska distribution against Wisconsin. Very interesting indeed, and quite different from the UM-OSU rub. In this case, the most likely outcome is that Nebraska is ahead of Wisconsin for all games outside their head-to-head matchup. However, Wisconsin is favored by such a significant margin (8.5 points or 70.8% likelihood) in the head-to-head matchup that the balance of all probable outcomes tilt in Wisconsin’s favor.

        FPI Results

        And here are the FPI results for the Nebraska-Wisconsin differential distribution. The plot thickens as it were. In this case, the most likely outcome, similar to the S&P+ results, is that Nebraska is ahead of Wisconsin for all games outside their head-to-head matchup. Also, Wisconsin is favored in the head-to-head matchup, but by a slightly less significant margin (6.8 points or 66.9% likelihood) in the head-to-head matchup. The end result is that the balance of all probable outcomes tilts in favor of Nebraska, not Wisconsin. This is yet another illustration of how close this B1GW race is.

        Here’s a link to the chart showing the results from the Power Rank-ings.

        Wrap-up

        So there you have it. Evidence continues to mount that Ohio State is eminently beatable, particularly in consideration of the anticipated matchups in the trenches - a place where inexperience and a lack of bulk can have deleterious effects that cannot be overcome. Among the three opponents shared in common with OSU (Rutgers, Wisconsin and Penn State), Michigan is arguably more advanced schematically and more consistent in its ability to execute. Michigan obliterated Rutgers on the road even more thoroughly than OSU did at home. OSU’s OT win at Wisconsin yielded 23 points to the Badgers compared to UM’s 7 points allowed, and OSU’s 23 points in regulation matches UM’s touchdowns and field goals attempted. And then there’s Penn State, the same team that Michigan had pummeled into garbage time by the end of first quarter, OSU allows to hang around into the fourth quarter. Tsk, tsk.

        The prospects for Michigan football to play in the Big Ten Championship Game continue to trend in a positive direction, while a still competitive game awaits for OSU (vs Nebraska) which may expose further weaknesses and vulnerabilities, or at provide a barometer to gauge the Buckeyes’ progress. In all, it bodes well for this Michigan team as it continues to work toward its goals to compete for the Big Ten Championship, and beyond.

        Yours in football, and Go Blue!