MICH-again #1 in B1G (acc to sagarin poll predictions)

Submitted by michelin on November 4th, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Michigan again is the top team in the B1G according to the Sagarin poll PREDICTOR ratings--which are the best in actually predicting game outcomes.  Here are the ratings and overall national rank:


1. Michigan  (#23 overall, rating 82.42)

2. Ohio (#24 overall, rating 82.40) INELIGIBLE for postseason

3. Neb (#25, rating 82.01)

4. PSU (#28, 79.44) INELIGIBLE for postseason

5. Wisconsin (#32, rating 78.73)

6. NU (#39. 77.2)


So, what are the chances UM will get to the championship game in INDY?  Based on the Sagarin ratings (and a few heroic assumptions given below), NEB has a better than 50-50 chance of losing at least one more game.  The chances of UM actually getting to INDY are about one in five.

UM’s chances are not higher than this largely because we play at Ohio.  But, if  Ohio were not ineligible and Michigan played them in INDY, UM would be a narrow favorite.   Likewise, on a neutral field, UM would be favored over NEB (-0.5 points). 

In any case, if we get a bit lucky and do get to INDY, we would be nearly a 2-1 favorite over WISC (or -3.5 points which translates into a greater than 60% chance of winning).




One predicts the outcome of future games by subtracting the two Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings (with +3 for home field advantage)  That gives us the estimated point spread for each matchup.  We can convert the point spreads into odds based on a conversion chart (see bovada).  Then, we can convert the odds (O) into win probabilities (p) as p=O/(1+O).   For example,

PtSprdOdds   win prob

-2         1.2       0.54

-3         1.45     0.59

-4         1.85     0.65

5          2.15     0.68

-6         2.4       0.71

-7         2.9       0.74

-8         3.2       0.76

-9         3.35     0.77

-10       3.875   0.79




NEB would be a

-5.5 favorite vs PSU (win probability of .68)

- 14.5 vs MIN which has a 67.75 rating (win probability of .9)

-8.5 at IA which has a 70.71 rating (win probability of .76).

Assuming independence of game outcomes (discussed below), the chances of NEB winning out would be

= .68*.9*.76 = .46.  The chance of not winning out would be 1-.46 =.54.


In Ann Arbor, UM would be

-8 pts vs NU (5+3 for home field, equivalent to a win probability of .76),

-15 Pts vs IA (or win probability of about .90)

In Columbus, UM would be not quite +3 underdogs (equivalent to a win probability of .4). 

So, the chances of UM winning out would be = .76*.9*.4 = .27.



Thus, the chances of UM winning out and NEB not would be = .54*.27 = .15.  I would guess that the chances might be as high as 0.20, since other outcomes could also lead to UM winning one more game than NEB (eg one loss by UM and two by NEB or two losses by UM and three for NEB),  

One factor that might increase UM’s chances a bit further is that game outcomes are not likely to be independent but positively correlated (due to injuries and other factors that would make runs of wins or losses more likely).   Since UM’s chances of winning all games will depend more heavily on Denard’s injury situation, the chances of a run of wins (with a healthy Denard) would seem to increase the chances of UM winning out over NEB’s chances (for which game outcomes would be more nearly independent). 

On the other hand, if Denard is not healthy the chances of UM winning out would be lower than the Sagarin ratings predict. But given the usual course of recovery from his condition and the encouraging performance of DG, I think that 20% is still a reasonable estimate for UM’s chances of getting to INDY.






November 4th, 2012 at 12:32 PM ^

My gut tells me that Nebraska will choke on the road against Iowa...Ferentz will have his team ready after we shred them in a2.

But regardless of what happens to Nebraska I want to see us take care of business. A big ten championship game appearance would be awesome but I'd be ecstatic if we can drive a stake through the hearts of those zombie buckeyes and start a streak of our own.


November 4th, 2012 at 12:56 PM ^

I think this week vs Penn State may be dangerous for them. Penn State has been very up and down but they're still a solid football team that has played pretty well on the road so far. Nebraska may be a little sluggish after the squeaker yesterday and have a game like they did vs Northwestern last year.


November 4th, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

 is the average of two Sagarin rating methods: PREDICTOR and ELO-CHESS.  

I use only Sagarin's PREDICTOR ratings, since his ELO-CHESS ratings do not consider point margins and are not as good in predicting actual game outcomes.  Regrettably, the overall BCS computer rankings use  the ELO-CHESS Sagarin ratings--as well as other computer polls that often overweigh WL records and underweigh SOS.  So, we will not do as well when the BCS computer rankings come out.  Probably NEB will be ahead of us.

However, I do not believe that any of these alternative ranks has been shown to do as well as the Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings in forecasting actual game outcomes.  And that's what's important in predicting the rest of the UM season.

big john lives on 67

November 4th, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

But I still believe that we are the best team in the Big Ten.

However, our chances are slim and none at this point, with PSU probably the last team that has a realistic shot at dealing the Huskers a loss.


November 4th, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

The mean PREDICTOR rating for the Big Ten would be 74.69, which would be good for 51st on the list between greats like Tennessee and Louisiana Tech if it were an actual team. That being said, it still puts the divisions into perspective a little, with four of the six teams in the Legends being above the mean rating, and only one eligible team in the Leaders. 



November 4th, 2012 at 12:51 PM ^

Slightly OT but are we not the best 3 loss team in the country? How does USC and Texas tech get ranked above us in the AP when 2 of our 3 losses were to top 4 teams.

I guess we haven't beat anybody - maybe this is why.


November 4th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

is that there are multiple biases in the human polls.  They overweigh the beginning of the season.*   Also, they overweigh the more visible games and insufficiently consider strength of schedule (SOS).   So, the ALA and ND losses early in the season really hurt our position in the human polls.  On the other hand, the fact that we played two of the top 3 teams really helped our SOS and our position in the Sagarin poll.


*For instance, we fell out of the human polls early on because we had played really tough teams.   The pollsters anchor their ratings from there and it is a lot harder to move up---even though early season outcomes are far less reliable and based on a very small sample.  (note that there also may be a bias toward overweighing the most recent games as well as the initial schedule, but the games in between are much less salient).


November 4th, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

USC's only victory against a team with a winning record was against 5-4 Washington, which had its ass handed to it by Arizona. Texas's record is a bit better, but not by much.

This is not to say that our own record is all that impressive, either. So far, it's not. We have three opportunities to burnish things—NW, OSU, and a bowl game.


November 4th, 2012 at 8:25 PM ^

this probably isn't just a question of bias in the human polls. Sagarin predictor has TTU #15 and SC #16 (and also OK State at #18 and AZ State #13 and BYU #19).

M's overall SOS isn't as good and a couple of the losses were decisive, especially the first one. The narrow win against Air Force isn't helping at all.

Massey hasn't updated yet--I'll probably post something when it does. He gives heavier weights to more recent games so M may look a little better there.