Football Outsiders projects Michigan to finish 7-5 in 2013

Submitted by Leaders And Best on May 3rd, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Football Outsiders did a preliminary projection and simulation of the 2013 Big Ten Standings today. They projected Michigan to most likely finish 7-5 and 4th in the Legends Division with a potential win range between 5-7 and 9-3. I was pretty surprised by this as usually Football Outsiders models are some of the better ones in football. Article is ESPN Insider ($):

4. Michigan Wolverines

Projected finish: 7-5
Win total range: 5-7 to 9-3
Chance to win Big Ten: 1 percent

This projection model isn't too kind to the Wolverines, a program with an elite historical tradition but one that is still seeking its identity in the Brady Hoke era. The offense was prolific in spots under quarterback Devin Gardner after he took the reins midseason, but there is youth along the offensive line that will probably keep Michigan from being a contender. If the Wolverines can help themselves on defense and special teams, it can ease the burden. But Michigan started twice as many drives from inside its own 20-yard line (24 percent) as its opponents (12 percent) and lost the field position battle eight times, including in four of its five losses.



May 3rd, 2013 at 4:20 PM ^

The results of a single-elimination tourney should be neither an indignation or commendation of the system.

Kenpom had Florida ranked 1st heading into the tourney and Georgetown around 12th or so.  The system ranks FLA as being better, and thus less susceptible to an upset.  Guess what, they werent upset and GTown was.

You can argue that the system works because it predicted a 3seed to out-achieve a 2seed or you can argue it failed because its 2nd best team in the final rankings lost to its 5th best team.  Neither argument should hold much water. 

Florida did struggle with quality competition all year and beat up on bad teams.  Not every team has an identical statistical profile and team profile.  I mean this year, at times, pretty much anybody could score on Michigan's defense.  Penn State shredded them.  You could argue their defense was opponent-neutral (as in anybody could score on it).  Thats an individual team quirk.  So is Florida's struggle with good teams.  That doesn't mean a guy with a cbb rating system should change his formula to account for every outlier.

Kenpom struggling to predict Florida shows the system isn't perfect, but no system is.  What it gives is a good baseline projection, which fans/gamblers/prognosticators can then use that baseline and adjust based on matchups/team statistical quirks etc.



May 3rd, 2013 at 2:52 PM ^

KenPom isn't really a "power ranking" so much as a predictive algorithm. It's designed to give an idea of the outcome of a given game between two teams on a neutral court. So, it did kinda predict that Florida would win it all.


May 4th, 2013 at 2:18 AM ^

KenYou have no clue how probabilities work, as has been evident by every time you rag on KenPom. There is no "right" or "wrong" probability based on one single event, just seeing if a multitude of outcomes eventually approach the expected percentage. For example, if I say the probability of rolling a 1-5 on a 6-sided die is 83.3%, I'm not "wrong" if the result of the next roll is a 6. However, if I roll the die 100 times, I would expect the result to be 1-5 close to 83 times, and even larger sample sizes getting closer to 83.3% as variance lowers. As this applies to KenPom, when he says Florida is 21% likely to win the tournament, it doesn't mean he was wrong if they don't win, it just means this roll came up with less probable result. Unfortunately, we can't run the tournament 100 times to see if Florida wins approximately 21 times, but KenPom does check his season game results to make sure predictions at each percentage are right the appropriate amount of the time (I can't find the blog post where he said that, but it's on his site somewhere).

KenPom did not predict anything. He just gave the win probabilities of every team,  with Florida having the highest probability but being much less probable than all the other teams combined. If you were dumb enough to assume highest win probability is the same as a prediction, that's a problem with you, not KenPom. 


May 4th, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

Then it's the worst form of mental masturbation, telling us nothing. Telling me that rolling a die will come up a certain way is just math, not any stupendous insight you like to give him credit for. But at least dice are a simple quantifiable thing. Unlike a basketball team that actually has variables nearly impossible to quantify. (In the elite 8 Florida has a...wait for it....12.5% chance to win it all, no variables. Wow, what insight).

People act like he's "predicting" because people like you always give him credit for being "right" when shear happenstance happens to go his way. And if he's not predicting winners and losers, why do we always get a "line" from him? It's amazing that I can get just as accurate information from a Vegas betting line as I can from Kenpom.

But if he's not actually predicting anything but just claiming the probability of something happening without being able to test and verify (something that only happens once) then it's a pointless venture. Saying Florida would win 20% of the time has no basis in anything, because it's all on numbers he chooses to highlight, and serves no purpose because it can't actually tell you anything. Just because there are people dumb enough to believe because he crunched some numbers it has any more validity than someone just doing an eye test poll doesn't mean it really tells us anything more than that. Because, as you said, it has no predictive value, and is worthless to assisting of enhancing viewing college basketball.


May 4th, 2013 at 5:53 PM ^

I never said it has no predictive value, I said it wasn't a prediction. There is a difference which you keep ignoring. Saying a team is 60% likely to win *does* has predictive value and can be useful stat to use while making predictions. Especially useful for situations like determining which tourney upsets picks are more or less likely than their seeding would indicate, or seeing if Vegas has odds on a game particularly out of line with a team's likelihood of winning. But while going to Vegas and only betting in situations where the book is giving even odds but KenPom gives 60% win probability would be a winning strategy in the long run, you're going to lose a few bets along the way.


May 3rd, 2013 at 12:59 PM ^

nothing like considering the Strength of Schedule last year to really determine our likelihood of winning games this year...let alone the fact that most teams don't start with the ball inside their opponents side of the field! i wonder what the median % is on teams starting with the ball in their opponents territory? i bet it is pretty low


May 3rd, 2013 at 12:59 PM ^

Seems fair. The interior o-line was a total mess and there's no reason they shouldn't take a wait and see approach. The defense is good but lacks playmakers now that there's no Ryan. I think Michigan will be better than this, but I can see the reason for skepticism.


May 3rd, 2013 at 1:40 PM ^

The algorithm doesn't account for things like "but we think Kalis is really good",  "Borges gets to run his scheme", and "our WRs are gonna be taller".  Rightfully so - 3 fresh newbs along the OL is a big thing to overcome. 

Our hope is that there will be run game improvement enough to offset pass pro issues (Vincent Smith will be missed there too), but every team has similar hopes of tough-to-quantify effects offsetting the obvious issues.

One area I'd hypothesize the model underrates us is TE.  I expect Funchess and Williams to be much better at both blocking and catching as sophs. Given how (unusually) important TEs are in Borges scheme, I think that will benefit our team more than the model would consider.

Losing Jake Ryan's production, along with the other seniors, it makes sense to doubt defensive improvement - but this is one area where we probably have a right to be more optimistic.  I'd be willing to bet our D has outperformed FEI projections every year under Hoke.


May 3rd, 2013 at 1:00 PM ^

the games I see as competitive, based on the relatively recent past are probably MSU away, Ohio, Notre Dame, maybe Nebraska, maybe Penn State, maybe Northwestern, and maybe Iowa. Of those, I think we improve enough/get the home benefit enough to beat Notre Dame, Nebraska, Penn State, Northwestern, and Iowa (Penn State will be starting to get hit by sanctions, Iowa has fallen off, Nebraska is winnable if we actually have a QB, etc.) We obviously have the history of beating Notre Dame at home, and last year we were plagued by QB problems there as well. Ohio is Ohio, MSU is MSU. I just don't see that low of a win-total, especially based on incoming talent.

Seattle Maize

May 3rd, 2013 at 1:02 PM ^

I definitely do not agree with this. I think we are deeper and more talented at every position this year and will be much, much better than a year ago. Consider that last year we lost to 4 top 10 teams and were close in all but one of those games. We will also face a much easier schedule this year. I'm predicting 10+ wins and a high chance of a B1G championship.


May 3rd, 2013 at 1:04 PM ^

The interior line has a lot of questions, but they weren't the greatest last year either.

Devin was inconsistent last year, but Devin was a wide reciever last year.

Losing Ryan is no doubt painful, but there is a laundry list of talented guys who can be effective replacements.

To me, 7-5 is the worst case scenario. The analysis I've seen just doesn't explain this as likely with the drop in schedule difficulty.

Leaders And Best

May 3rd, 2013 at 1:10 PM ^

This prediction is based off of past performance and no statistical model can really account for freshmen. I think most of our expectations for next year are based off what we expect Michigan will get from the last 2 recruiting classes, most of whom have not played significantly yet.

This model predicts 9-3 for PSU next year, and I think that is awfully optimistic considering they have little to replace what they are losing.


May 3rd, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

19-7 with a whopping five drafted players sounds better than "seeking an identity" to me, especially considering three of those losses combined for a 37-2 record last year.


May 3rd, 2013 at 1:43 PM ^

I don't think any sane Michigan fan is going to argue with "seeking identity" on offense.  Even the coaches would admit they trying to get to a place where they want to be and haven't been there so far.

Even next year, you have a Rodriguez-recruit at QB whose legs are one of his greatest (if not THE greatest) attribute he brings to the position.


May 3rd, 2013 at 2:01 PM ^

But haven't all the reports about Gardner this offseason been about him doing exactly what Borges wants (throwing it all over the place)? On the other side of the field, the defense had an identity by the second half of WMU 2011, and off the field it seems like Hoke has established as much of an identity as possible.

It just seems like "seeking an identity" is usually code for wandering in the wilderness or some other negative phrase. I think Hoke is pretty well established going into his third season.


May 3rd, 2013 at 3:11 PM ^

I think Gardner's going to be great, but that's really beside the point. The offense strategy the last 2 season and the players they're recruiting don't fit each other.  I don't know why anyone would dispute that the offense is still in transition.  A transition that won't be complete probably until Gardner (and the rest of the Rodriguez guys) graduate.

I don't read it as "wandering in the wilderness".  The coaches have a very clear vision of what they want but they have yet to translate it onto the field - hence the "seeking an identity" comment.  Maybe it would have been better to say "seeking to establish an identity" since they do not what they want, but that seems nit-picky.  The point is, they're not a well-oiled machine where young guys are replacing veterans seemlessly the way that Wisconsin, Oregon, and USC have mostly been the last 5-10 years.

The defense - yeah, the changes were pretty immediate, but they're still trying to get bigger.  The identity is already there.  There wasn't much to build off of on D (incoherent system/scheme), unlike the O (Denard, faster/lighter linemen, 'space' players at skill positions)


May 3rd, 2013 at 5:27 PM ^

Is not very clear.  He's had diverse and varying performance and production from his QBs, even before Denard Robinson.

With Robinson and Gardner transitioning to Bellomy, Morris, and Speight that variance is likely to continue. 

That's why the identity is in question.  Until Michigan has the same offense year in and year out their identity won't be established relative to programs that have been stable over the last 5-10 years.


May 3rd, 2013 at 1:17 PM ^

That said, if we are 5-2 or worse going into the second bye week we're probably in trouble.

It does look like Nebraska and Michigan State have the easiest paths to the CCG though.


May 3rd, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

If Devin and Taylor go down with season-ending injuries in fall camp. If they stay healthy, 7-5 is the worst case scenario. And I'm the pessimist around here.

Section 1

May 3rd, 2013 at 2:16 PM ^

Predicting 7-5 for Michigan and basing it on how good the defense might be,  or strength of schedule, or some other hypertechnical metric, seems silly.

Michigan will be highly successful if Devin Gardner is healthy.  And Michigan will be a mess if Gardner is hurt.  We have just one serviceable quarterback for a season of Big Ten football.

I don't know what else there is to say.

Ron Utah

May 3rd, 2013 at 3:14 PM ^

I think Shane Morris will be a serviceable option at QB.  With DG hurt, we're still a 6-6 or 7-5 team.  With DG healthy, I don't see how we could do any worse than 8-4.

It's a new era in Michigan football, and it's time to raise expectations.  The kids that are starting for us (on both sides of the ball) are pretty darn good at football.

Ty Butterfield

May 3rd, 2013 at 1:18 PM ^

I was thinking 8-4. Although looking at what the offense did last year to help predict this season is basically useless. The offense will look very different without Denard and Devin did not play QB for most of the season. A full offseason with Devin working at QB will help him be more consistent. If the O-line is better and some of the other wide receivers step up this offense could be amazing. But 8-4 or 7-5 would not totally surprise me.


May 3rd, 2013 at 1:30 PM ^

I mean, none right now.  Even if a true freshman surfaces, he'll be a significant, significant downgrade from Bell.  And no Sims.  And the D will still be very good, but they lose Adams and Gholston (and probably won't replace those with better or equivalent players).

That's a very suspect prediction.