Handicapping the Big Ten race

  • 02/06/2008 9:00 am in

handicap2.jpgWe’re essentially at the halfway point of the Big Ten season and that means it’s time to handicap the conference race and try to figure out how it’s all going to shake out.

I like to think of this as an opportunity for me to be called a genius at the end of the season (unlikely) or an opportunity for all of you to call me an idiot at that time (almost certain based on my track record).

Despite that last revelation, I’ve taken a look at the five teams with a real chance to win the league and provided their current league record, my prediction for their final record and Ken Pomeroy’s prediction for each team. If you’re not familiar with Pomeroy, I would suggest checking out his site at www.kenpom.com. It’s in the discussion for the best college hoops site anywhere if you like numbers.

Without further ado, my fearless Big Ten predictions:

Wisconsin: 8-1
Predicted finish: 16-2 (loss: at Indiana)
Pomeroy predicts: 17-1

Analysis: I flirted with picking a 15-3 finish, but ultimately I couldn’t pull the trigger on the Badgers losing at home to Michigan State or in Columbus to the Buckeyes. Even if Bo Ryan and company slip in one of the aforementioned contests (or perhaps at Illinois), a 15-3 record would likely assure at least a share of the conference title.

Indiana: 7-1
Predicted finish: 14-4 (losses: at Illinois, at Ohio State, at Michigan State)
Pomeroy predicts: 14-4 (losses: at Ohio State, vs. Wisconsin, at Michigan State)

Analysis: Ah, our Hoosiers. Their recent play has been less than impressive and it only gets tougher the next four games. Most of us would be thrilled with a 14-4 finish, but my scenario assumes home wins over both Michigan State and Wisconsin, which will be no easy task. Probably a bit on the optimistic side, but I’m willing to roll the dice with Eric Gordon in my corner.

Michigan State: 7-2
Predicted finish: 13-5 (losses: at Indiana, at Wisconsin, at Ohio State)
Pomeroy predicts: 12-6 (losses: at Purdue, at Indiana, at Wisconsin, at Ohio State)

Analysis: I’m still trying to figure out how this team lost to Iowa and Penn State and well, I’m not getting anywhere. Pomeroy puts basically no stock in this team’s ability to win on the road and I echo that sentiment (until proven otherwise) with the exception of a win at Purdue. A 13-5 finish in one of the worst Big Ten’s I can remember is a disappointment for this talented squad that was once a trendy Final Four pick.

Purdue: 9-1
Predicted finish: 13-5 (losses: at Wisconsin, vs. Michigan State, at Indiana, at Ohio State)
Pomeroy predicts: 14-4 (losses: at Wisconsin, at Indiana, at Ohio State)

Analysis: As much as I respect Matt Painter’s young squad and believe they’ll be a contender for the Big Ten title a season from now, it’s not next season yet. Sure, they’ve played well so far, but five of their last eight conference games are on the road and losses are imminent. Luckily, they don’t have to play Wofford again.

Ohio State: 7-3
Predicted finish: 12-6 (losses: vs. Wisconsin, at Indiana, at Minnesota)
Pomeroy predicts: 12-6 (losses: vs. Wisconsin, at Indiana, at Minnesota)

Analysis: Not really a contender because they’re already two full games out of the race, but the Buckeyes will have a say in the crowning of a champion because five of their last eight games are against teams that do have a chance to win it (vs. Indiana, vs. Wisconsin, at Indiana, vs. Purdue and vs. Michigan State).

Now comes the fun part. You know, the part where you either say you agree with most of what I had to say or you can pull a Timmy and disagree with everything I say. Either choice is fine, but at least back it up with some substance. If you want to bust out your predictions, that would be fantastic. Hit up the comments and have fun kids.

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  • T

    It's not that I disagree with this…I just can't believe Wisconsin is going to emerge Big Ten regular season champions AGAIN. It's insane how their boring, sloppy, disciplined basketball always works. Especially because I don't think they'd have a shot at winning the Big Ten tourney, or making ot past the sweet sixteen in March Madness

    This has nothing to do with anything, but any Hoosier fans who are going to be in Champaign Illinois in Thursday night and don't have tickets to the game, go to 'Brothers'

  • T

    It's not that I disagree with this…I just can't believe Wisconsin is going to emerge Big Ten regular season champions AGAIN. It's insane how their boring, sloppy, disciplined basketball always works. Especially because I don't think they'd have a shot at winning the Big Ten tourney, or making ot past the sweet sixteen in March Madness

    This has nothing to do with anything, but any Hoosier fans who are going to be in Champaign Illinois in Thursday night and don't have tickets to the game, go to 'Brothers'

  • T

    It's not that I disagree with this…I just can't believe Wisconsin is going to emerge Big Ten regular season champions AGAIN. It's insane how their boring, sloppy, disciplined basketball always works. Especially because I don't think they'd have a shot at winning the Big Ten tourney, or making ot past the sweet sixteen in March Madness

    This has nothing to do with anything, but any Hoosier fans who are going to be in Champaign Illinois in Thursday night and don't have tickets to the game, go to 'Brothers'

  • myrddin

    Is Pomeroy saying Wisconsin is going to win out the rest of their B10 schedule? Down B10 or not, a 1-loss B10 season would be pretty damn impressive.

    I also believe that Indiana can beat both Illinois and OSU on the road. We haven't looked great lately, but did anyone see OSU at home against Michigan last night? They are beatable at home. Besides the fact that they are going to be pretty pumped up for the game, I can't see any other reason we shouldn't win @ Ill. They do not have the height that gave us such problems against Wisc. and UConn, which is essentially the blueprint for beating Indiana–bring your bigs, and I would take UConn's and Wisc's interior game over Illinois. What are people seeing in this Illinois team? Win those two, and I won't gripe too much about a loss @ MSU.

    I guess we'll know soon enough.

  • myrddin

    Is Pomeroy saying Wisconsin is going to win out the rest of their B10 schedule? Down B10 or not, a 1-loss B10 season would be pretty damn impressive.

    I also believe that Indiana can beat both Illinois and OSU on the road. We haven't looked great lately, but did anyone see OSU at home against Michigan last night? They are beatable at home. Besides the fact that they are going to be pretty pumped up for the game, I can't see any other reason we shouldn't win @ Ill. They do not have the height that gave us such problems against Wisc. and UConn, which is essentially the blueprint for beating Indiana–bring your bigs, and I would take UConn's and Wisc's interior game over Illinois. What are people seeing in this Illinois team? Win those two, and I won't gripe too much about a loss @ MSU.

    I guess we'll know soon enough.

  • myrddin

    Is Pomeroy saying Wisconsin is going to win out the rest of their B10 schedule? Down B10 or not, a 1-loss B10 season would be pretty damn impressive.

    I also believe that Indiana can beat both Illinois and OSU on the road. We haven't looked great lately, but did anyone see OSU at home against Michigan last night? They are beatable at home. Besides the fact that they are going to be pretty pumped up for the game, I can't see any other reason we shouldn't win @ Ill. They do not have the height that gave us such problems against Wisc. and UConn, which is essentially the blueprint for beating Indiana–bring your bigs, and I would take UConn's and Wisc's interior game over Illinois. What are people seeing in this Illinois team? Win those two, and I won't gripe too much about a loss @ MSU.

    I guess we'll know soon enough.

  • ChicagoHoosier

    Just wanted to get the engine warm for tomorrow. I am sure EJ and KS are quakin in their boots:

    http://media.www.dailyillini.com/media/storage/

  • TomCoverdale's Eyebrows

    Just wanted to get the engine warm for tomorrow. I am sure EJ and KS are quakin in their boots:

    http://media.www.dailyillini.com/media/storage/

  • TomCoverdale's Eyebrows

    Just wanted to get the engine warm for tomorrow. I am sure EJ and KS are quakin in their boots:

    http://media.www.dailyillini.com/media/storage/

  • Snipper

    Even 13-5 for IU is pretty optimistic, considering the truly mediocre play of this Hoosier team. The Hoosiers may not win another road game (maybe Northwestern — better use a zone all the way), and I expect them to struggle in all of their road games (at least a couple of losses). Without a doubt, the newcomers to this squad, except for Eric Gordon, were highly overrated. And Gordon, despite his high scoring average, hasn't been as good an all-round player as I expected. The latter can be blamed to lack of coaching.

  • Snipper

    Even 13-5 for IU is pretty optimistic, considering the truly mediocre play of this Hoosier team. The Hoosiers may not win another road game (maybe Northwestern — better use a zone all the way), and I expect them to struggle in all of their road games (at least a couple of losses). Without a doubt, the newcomers to this squad, except for Eric Gordon, were highly overrated. And Gordon, despite his high scoring average, hasn't been as good an all-round player as I expected. The latter can be blamed to lack of coaching.

  • Snipper

    Even 13-5 for IU is pretty optimistic, considering the truly mediocre play of this Hoosier team. The Hoosiers may not win another road game (maybe Northwestern — better use a zone all the way), and I expect them to struggle in all of their road games (at least a couple of losses). Without a doubt, the newcomers to this squad, except for Eric Gordon, were highly overrated. And Gordon, despite his high scoring average, hasn't been as good an all-round player as I expected. The latter can be blamed to lack of coaching.

  • TS

    I think those outcomes are likely, although I would be amazed if Wisky can win by 2 full games.

    Overall, that's a lot of losing for the top teams to be doing over the last half of the season – well, everyone except Wisky I guess.

  • TS

    I think those outcomes are likely, although I would be amazed if Wisky can win by 2 full games.

    Overall, that's a lot of losing for the top teams to be doing over the last half of the season – well, everyone except Wisky I guess.

  • TS

    I think those outcomes are likely, although I would be amazed if Wisky can win by 2 full games.

    Overall, that's a lot of losing for the top teams to be doing over the last half of the season – well, everyone except Wisky I guess.

  • Ryan_Btown

    I'm just going to take a leap of faith and say that our play will turn around beginning tomorrow. I think we can all agree a win tomorrow would be pretty impressive (if not shocking) with the way we've been playing lately and in that kind of environment. I'm even going to say that we win on the road at OSU and finish with two losses. Even if we don't, I really think Wisconsin will finish with three losses and we'll tie. At least, I hope. That's probably pretty optimistic thinking on my part, huh?

  • Ryan_Btown

    I'm just going to take a leap of faith and say that our play will turn around beginning tomorrow. I think we can all agree a win tomorrow would be pretty impressive (if not shocking) with the way we've been playing lately and in that kind of environment. I'm even going to say that we win on the road at OSU and finish with two losses. Even if we don't, I really think Wisconsin will finish with three losses and we'll tie. At least, I hope. That's probably pretty optimistic thinking on my part, huh?

  • Ryan_Btown

    I'm just going to take a leap of faith and say that our play will turn around beginning tomorrow. I think we can all agree a win tomorrow would be pretty impressive (if not shocking) with the way we've been playing lately and in that kind of environment. I'm even going to say that we win on the road at OSU and finish with two losses. Even if we don't, I really think Wisconsin will finish with three losses and we'll tie. At least, I hope. That's probably pretty optimistic thinking on my part, huh?

  • Is it just me, or would having the title “President of the Orange Krush”:
    1. Look really weird on a resume.
    2. Prevent you from enjoying many of the coeds on the U of I campus.

  • Is it just me, or would having the title “President of the Orange Krush”:
    1. Look really weird on a resume.
    2. Prevent you from enjoying many of the coeds on the U of I campus.

  • Is it just me, or would having the title “President of the Orange Krush”:
    1. Look really weird on a resume.
    2. Prevent you from enjoying many of the coeds on the U of I campus.

  • Timmy

    Are you guys going to post a detailed recap of the recruiting of IDKWTI as a primer for tomorrow's game? Please include all of the players illinois says they passed on because they thought he was coming to the U.

  • Timmy

    Are you guys going to post a detailed recap of the recruiting of IDKWTI as a primer for tomorrow's game? Please include all of the players illinois says they passed on because they thought he was coming to the U.

  • Timmy

    Are you guys going to post a detailed recap of the recruiting of IDKWTI as a primer for tomorrow's game? Please include all of the players illinois says they passed on because they thought he was coming to the U.

  • Dale

    Its ok though snipper, cus i heard bobby is coming back to coach us

  • Dale

    Its ok though snipper, cus i heard bobby is coming back to coach us

  • Dale

    Its ok though snipper, cus i heard bobby is coming back to coach us

  • “maybe” northwestern?

    please. that place is like Assembly Hall Northwest.

  • “maybe” northwestern?

    please. that place is like Assembly Hall Northwest.

  • “maybe” northwestern?

    please. that place is like Assembly Hall Northwest.

  • we can also post a list of all the illinois in-state talent that weber couldn't land in the past couple seasons:

    derrick rose
    jon scheyer (as a hilarious side note, scheyer was coached by Weber's brother)
    sherron collins
    julian wright
    jerel mcneal
    beas hamga
    jeremy pargo

  • we can also post a list of all the illinois in-state talent that weber couldn't land in the past couple seasons:

    derrick rose
    jon scheyer (as a hilarious side note, scheyer was coached by Weber's brother)
    sherron collins
    julian wright
    jerel mcneal
    beas hamga
    jeremy pargo

  • we can also post a list of all the illinois in-state talent that weber couldn't land in the past couple seasons:

    derrick rose
    jon scheyer (as a hilarious side note, scheyer was coached by Weber's brother)
    sherron collins
    julian wright
    jerel mcneal
    beas hamga
    jeremy pargo

  • “maybe” northwestern?

    please. that place is like Assembly Hall Northwest.

  • we can also post a list of all the illinois in-state talent that weber couldn't land in the past couple seasons:

    derrick rose
    jon scheyer (as a hilarious side note, scheyer was coached by Weber's brother)
    sherron collins
    julian wright
    jerel mcneal
    beas hamga
    jeremy pargo