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)


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!