B1G Expectations: 2017 Week 2 Total Overall Win Probabilities

Submitted by Ecky Pting on September 16th, 2017 at 11:00 AM

   Big_Ten_Conference_logo.png Expectations

“There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one.”

- Pip (Great Expectations by Charles Dickens)   

Overall Wins Spin Up

What a difference a week makes! The fancy-stats algorithms spit out slightly more meaningful analyses based on the objective (if not deterministic) statistics generated from actual game play. With each passing week the ratings volatility lessens - and like football teams, the biggest difference is between week one and week two. Well, I admit I just pulled that out of my butt, but it  has a certain truthiness quality, so I’m going with it. Coming up with reasons for ignoring these early season statistics is left as an exercise for the reader in the comments below. But first, it’s necessary to publicize the statistics such as they are.

Schedules, Spreads & Win Probabilities

Since we’re still in the midst of the glorious non-conference segment of the season, the analysis here examines the overall schedules including OOC games - the breakdowns for in-conference schedules will kick in after Week 3 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

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.

It appears that the love affair between S&P+ and the Buckeyes continues, although not as hot and heavy as it was just one short week ago. S&P+ still seems somewhat smitten with our beloved Wolverines, such that this dalliance with the Buckeyes may not go beyond a weekend fling after the Bucks screwed the Boomer Sooner pooch. What a fickle friend is fancy stats! Carrying over from last week however is the the fact that OSU remains favored in all of its remaining games, albeit by a razor thin margin when it visits Ann Arbor. Such are the makings of a very exciting and competitive regular season race.

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, each underdogs in five of their remaining games. Last and least, of course, is LOLRutgerz – underdogs in all of its remaining FBS games - maintains its rigor mortis-like grip on the bottom slot.

In the aggregate, however, Penn State leads the B1GE at about 9.9 expected wins, a mere 0.35 wins ahead of OSU and 0.4 ahead of Michigan. 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 – but a loss in that game may doom PSU’s B1GCG chances. Meanwhile, Michigan’s loss likelihood is spread nearly evenly over its 3 toughest games: at Penn State, at Wisconsin and Ohio State.

FPI Results

The FPI results differs considerably from those of S&P+, the most notable difference that Ohio State is favored by more than one score in all its remaining games. Yet, OSU drops into a virtual tie with PSU for the B1GE lead with 10 expected wins. FPI results now show U-M pulling up a bit short of 8.5 expected wins. The other two contenders - Penn State and Michigan - are underdogs, respectively, in one and three games apiece and all by greater than one-score margins. FPI has the same teams on the bowl-eligibility bubble, just in a different order: Maryland, Indiana and Michigan State. FPI concurs that LOLRutgerz can be left for dead.

Power Rank Results

The Power Rank shows yet another scenario in which Penn State leads in total expected wins, with OSU and Michigan deadlocked at 8.88 expected wins. What’s even more exciting is that no team is favored in all of its remaining games, and Michigan is favored over OSU by a whopping margin of 0.4 points. Unfortunately, UM remains an underdog to PSU and Wisconsin, and PSU is an underdog to OSU, which would put the Buckeyes into the B1GCG.

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

This round of S&P+ distributions show a veritable logjam at the top among the three contenders. All three occupy the same 10-win mode. Both OSU and UM lean strongly toward 9 wins, while PSU leans slightly toward 11 wins. The key exception is that one of OSU’s losses is already known to be OOC, which works to their advantage. 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 3.5% and 7%, respectively. Of course, the likelihood of OSU having an undefeated season is 0%.

Likewise, Indiana and Sparty have very similar S&P+ distributions, excpet Indiana has a mode of 6 wins, while Sparty pops up to the 7-win mode. The Terps pull up to the 5-win mode.

FPI Results

The FPI results show graphically how Michigan drops about 1.5 expected wins behind the leaders OSU and PSU, who both share the 10-win mode. Michigan just tilts upward to the 9-win mode. 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 holds 7% chance of winning out, 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. Indiana and Sparty lag one behind at the 6-win mode, with the Hoosiers leaning toward 7 wins, and Sparty leaning toward 5 wins.

Power Rank Results

Meanwhile, in the B1GE, the Power Rank predicts the tightest race of the three ratings. PSU shows a slight edge in leaning up to the 10-win mode with a 4% chance of winning out. UM and OSU are both balanced at the 9-win mode, with the Wolverines having less than 2% chance of winning out. Meanwhile, all three bubble teams are crowded into the 6-win mode, with Indiana the only team leaning toward 7 wins.

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. Indeed, Michigan is the only Wisconsin opponent that is less than a one-score underdog. At that point, however, 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, 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 and Minnesota are both within one expected win of Nebraska and Northwestern, which makes for a very full bubble of teams vying for bowl eligibility. Worth noting are a couple of teams that appear to be percolating up from the bottom - Illinois and Purdue - suggesting 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+, with 10.3 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 one score margin. The Gophers lag the Hawkeyes by another 0.3 at 7.0 expected wins, with Northwestern and Nebraska closing out the bubble teams. Holding down the bottom are Purdue and Illinois.

Power Rank Results

The Power Rank results for the B1G West also show the Badgers at the top with 9.4 expected wins, but their lead is by a much more competitive margin of 1.3 expected wins over next-best Iowa. As with the other ratings, PR expects the Badgers toughest match will be when it hosts Michigan, where it is favored by less than one score. The Badgers next toughest game will be the season-ender at Minnesota. The Gophers lag the Hawkeyes by another 0.2 at 8.0 expected wins, with Northwestern and Nebraska closing out the bubble teams.

B1G West Expected Conference Wins Distributions

S&P+ Results

This chart 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, with a strong lean towad the 11-win mode. Iowa and Minnesota have nearly indistinguishable distributions with 7-win modes leaning slightly toward 6 wins. A game back from there are Nebraska and Northwestern.

Wisconsin has the best prospects for an undefeated season in the entire B1G at nearly 11%. No other team in the B1GW has a chance.

FPI Results

FPI is another example of the Badgers’ separation from the B1GW competition, just with a bit more emphasis. FPI has the Badgers in an 11-win mode, the next-best being Iowa and Minnesota with 7-win modes, with Iowa leaning slightly toward 8 wins. From there, the Huskers and Wildcats both occupy the 6-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.

Power Rank Results

Meanwhile, the Power Rank predicts a much more competitive B1GW race. PR has the Badgers in a 10-win mode, leaning strongly toward 9-wins. This leaves the door open for next-best being Iowa and Minnesota who both have balanced 8-win modes. From there, the Huskers and Wildcats both occupy the 6-win mode, but the Cats have a strong lean toward 7 wins, while the Huskers lean more toward 5 wins. Wisconsin still has the best prospect for an undefeated season in the entire B1G at 4.5%, just edging out PSU 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!

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