First Quarter Big Ten Conference Review

Big Ten Conference Basketball Predictions (adjusted for results)

A quarter of the way through the Big Ten season, the standings are starting to take shape. Here we will update the conference standings and compare the expected results against what really happened.  The state of Michigan is off to a combined 9-0 start while the rest of the Big Ten is 19-28.

But the schedule will toughen up for the Michigan Wolverines starting today as they have an away date with a Wisconsin club fresh off a bitter loss at Indiana.  How Wisconsin will react to their first loss of the season is unclear.  And while Michigan had defensive issues of their own exposed in closer than expected wins over Nebraska and Penn State, they have to be feeling good about how they are playing because of their undefeated record.

After playing Wisconsin in Madison tonight, the Iowa Hawkeyes come to Ann Arbor to challenge Michigan’s competency at home.  Finishing the brutal three game stretch is an away game in East Lansing against the Michigan State Spartans.

For those of you keeping track at home, those three teams currently combine for a remarkable 46-5 record.  It will be a tough stretch to say the least.

Luckily, the Michigan Wolverines can outperform anyone at home – illustrated by their 16-2 record at home in Big Ten play the last two seasons.  And if they can hold home-court and only beat Iowa during this hellish stretch, most people will consider it a victory.  However, challenges breed opportunity – and stealing a win from MSU or Wisconsin would make Michigan a favorite for the rest of the Big Ten season, firmly entrenched in the contender category.

While winning two of the next three is still an unlikely proposition, the 4-0 record Michigan currently sports has to give them the confidence to make it possible.

After that, a home date with Purdue closes out the January portion of the schedule.

Standings as of January 18th:

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Without further ado, here are my adjusted expected final Big Ten standings:

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The rationale behind adjusting the standings was not based on performance or style, just the game results versus my initial outcomes.

Here are my thoughts about the results organized by team:

Penn St: Indiana and Minnesota both won in State College, PA. Then lost to Michigan on the road. Both validate their place in the lowest tier, probably at the bottom.

Nebraska: They lost to Michigan on their own home court and then at Purdue, validating their place in the lowest tier.

Northwestern: Lost to Michigan and Iowa on the road. Unsurprisingly, lost to MSU at home. However, came out of their home court with a win against Illinois. Upgrading expectations slightly – but more likely just a result of playing against in-state rivals.

Purdue: Beat Nebraska at home – validating spot in bottom-mid tier.  Split on the road with a loss at Minnesota, but surprisingly won at Illinois, slightly upgrading expectations.

Indiana: Expectedly lost to MSU at home in Bloomington, validating their place in the middle tier.  Held home-court by beating Wisconsin for the first time in thirteen attempts. Won on the road against Penn State, as they should.

Minnesota: Won at home vs Purdue and OSU, Won on the road against Penn State, but lost on the road vs MSU.

Illinois: Expectedly won at home vs PSU and lost on the road at Wisconsin.  Major downgrade after a loss at home to Purdue and but lost also lost at NW, downgrading expectations. Lost at home vs Wisconsin.

Iowa: Holds home-court vs NW, loses on the road to Wisconsin.  Surprisingly wins on the road at OSU.

Wisconsin: Holds home vs Iowa, Illinois.  Loses on the road at Indiana.

OSU: Holds home vs Nebraska, but fails at home against Iowa.  Loses on the road at MSU and Minnesota.

Michigan: Wins on the road at Nebraska and at home against cupcakes NW and PSU don’t go very far to validate this team’s place near the top of the standings yet, but that early season win at Minnesota is looking better after Minnesota’s upset of OSU.

MSU: Winning everywhere, even if it gets close (OT games at home vs OSU and Minnesota). But also winning on the road at Indiana (who just beat Wisconsin in Bloomington) and cupcake Northwestern.

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