I know I just wrote a diary yesterday.... I hope this one is appreciated!
Below is the remaining schedules for the top-6 BigTen teams:
|INDIANA||MICHIGAN||MICH ST||OHIO ST||WISCONSIN||MINNESOTA|
|Game 10||AT ILL 2-7||OSU 7-2||MINN 5-4||AT UM 7-2||IOWA 3-6||AT MSU 7-2|
|Game 11||AT OSU 7-2||AT WISC 6-3||AT PURD 4-5||IND 8-1||UM 7-2||ILL 2-7|
|Game 12||NEB 2-8||AT MSU 7-2||UM 7-2||NW 4-6||AT MINN 5-4||WISC 6-3|
|Game 13||PUR 4-5||PSU 0-9||AT NEB 2-8||AT WISC 6-3||OSU 7-2||AT IOWA 3-6|
|Game 14||AT MSU 7-2||ILL 2-7||IND 8-1||MINN 5-4||AT NW 4-6||AT OSU 7-2|
|Game 15||AT MINN 4-5||AT PSU 0-9||AT OSU 7-2||MSU 7-2||NEB 2-8||IND 8-1|
|Game 16||IOWA 3-6||MSU 7-2||AT UM 7-2||AT NW 4-6||PUR 4-5||PSU 0-9|
|Game 17||OSU 7-2||AT PUR 4-5||WISC 6-3||AT IND 8-1||AT MSU 7-2||AT NEB 2-8|
|Game 18||AT UM 7-2||IND 8-1||NW 4-6||ILL 2-7||AT PSU 0-9||AT PURD 4-5|
|v. 8-1 IND||N/A||HOME||HOME||ROAD + HOME||N/A||HOME|
|v. 7-2 UM||ROAD||N/A||ROAD + HOME||ROAD||HOME||N/A|
|v. 7-2 MSU||ROAD||ROAD + HOME||N/A||HOME||ROAD||ROAD|
|v. 7-2 OSU||ROAD + HOME||HOME||ROAD||N/A||HOME||ROAD|
|v. 6-3 WISC||N/A||ROAD||HOME||ROAD||N/A||HOME|
|v. 5-4 MINN||ROAD||N/A||HOME||HOME||ROAD||N/A|
|v. 4-5 PUR, 4-6 NW, 3-6 IOWA, 2-7 ILL||HOME- PUR DNP NW HOME IOWA ROAD ILL||AT PURD DNP NW DNP IOWA HOME ILL||AT PURD HOME NW DNP IOWA DNP ILL||DNP PURD ROAD + HOME NW DNP IOWA HOME ILL||HOME PURD AT NW HOME IOWA DNP ILL||AT PURD DNP NW AT IOWA HOME ILL|
|v. 2-8 NEB, 0-9 PSU||HOME NEB||DNP NEB ROAD + HOME PSU||AT NEB DNP PSU||DNP NEB DNP PSU||HOME NEB ROAD PSU||AT NEB HOME PSU|
The top six teams all have 9 games left in conference- I showed all of those games. Then I separated the BigTen into the top 6, the sub-500 teams who can surprise teams, and Nebraska and Penn State who should not surprise anyone no matter where the game is being played. Now I will analyze the home-away breakdown for each sub-group of teams before analyzing each team separately.
One game advantage will be critical since they have the hardest schedule left in my opinion. While MSU and OSU both play one more game against a top-6 team, Indiana plays 4 on the road, including closing out against Michigan. They do have 3 home games against the bottom half, but the game at Illinois could be a trap after a tough fought Michigan game. If they win the conference they will have really earned it, since almost half the remaining games are playing on the road at OSU, MSU, MINN, and UM.
Average schedule amongst the top six. Easier than Ohio State’s or Michigan State’s and Indiana’s most likely- which is very good for our chances of winning the conference. Only Minnesota and Wisconsin play less amongst the top-six, but they are two games and one game behind us respectively. Fortunately we have one more home game against the top-six than roadgames- a nice combo with also having less games against top teams. Plus we play PSU twice and Illinois at home. At Purdue is our sleeper game in my opinion.
At least 4 of the 6 games against the top-six are at home, other than that there is little to be too pleased about for the Spartans. Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin at home are all tough and Ohio State and Michigan on the road will be tough to get. Plus they play Purdue on the road also. They do not play Penn State in the last 9 games, and even the “easy game” of Nebraska is away… poor Sparty. A game behind Indiana and tied with Michigan and Ohio State it will be very hard for them to win the regular season conference crown.
Like Michigan State they have more than half their games (six) against the top-six teams. They play the top two teams (Michigan and Indiana) on the road as well as Wisconsin. Their home top-six are another against Indiana, and then Minnesota and Michigan State. They do not play either Nebraska or Penn State either for easy wins. As is the case with Michigan State there is a lot working against Ohio State. That could all change however if they beat Michigan next game. If they lose to Michigan they will be two back of Indiana (assuming Indiana wins at Illinois) and one game behind us and Michigan State (if they beat Minnesota at home). If they get the upset they can claw their way to a regular season championship, if not the odds get pretty long.
2 back of Indiana they have little hopes to start with. Jumping 4 teams will be a monumental task. Their style of play creates matchup issues but they lack the elite level of play of the teams above them in my opinion. In their favor are only 4 games against the top-six. Home against Michigan and Ohio State and away against Michigan State and Minnesota. No more against Indiana, home against two 7-2 teams, and road against a 7-2 and 5-4 team. They have the easiest schedule of the top-six teams- but not easy enough to be a serious threat to win the regular season in all likelihood.
Should they even be in the top group? Are they going to start off great every year and collapse in conference? They have a lot of work to do if they want to win- and as was the case with Wisconsin they have an easier schedule remaining than the top-four teams. At Michigan State and Ohio State and home against Wisconsin and Indiana. If they don’t win all four their hopes fade away… but at least they exist… for now.
Minnesota is too far gone to be a serious threat. Wisconsin, despite an easier path, needs to much to fall in place in order to win it. Michigan has an easier path than Michigan State or Ohio State, our fellow 7-2 conference mates, and Indiana plays 4 top teams on the road. Too be honest all four have pretty similar odds looking at the schedule- so it will come down to who wins the bigger games- particularly on the road. If Michigan takes care of business against Ohio State our chances rise. If Michigan State loses to Minnesota at home as well after the next conference game it may be Michigan and Indiana fighting for the title with MSU and OSU dropping to long shots. It also seems like there is a very good chance of a split again this year.
My current odds:
I think there is a 1/3 chance there is an outright champ and a 2/3 chance its split. It could be split with two, three, or four teams, so my odds for a split are funky- and maybe mathematically impossible but they are rough estimates anyway.
Michigan and Indiana are so close- the fact Indiana closes at Michigan (that will be such a classic game if things shape up as they seem to be) and that they play more road games against top opponents leaves me thinking Michigan has a slightly better chance of a title in any capacity- and equally as likely to win outright. MSU and OSU are half as likely given tougher schedules than Michigan and a game behind Indiana. They are also less likely to get a split in my opinion, but both have good odds. Wisconsin has almost no chance to win outright, only an easy schedule in comparison keeps some hope alive. They seem possibly in the hunt for a split title- kind of like ours last year with everything needing to fall in place. Minnesota is too far back now and can only hope the top teams beat up on each other enough so everyone gets dinged and they take care of a schedule that’s easier than the top 4 teams.