Measuring success of a program over a set period of time is a difficult exercise because there are plenty of factors that belong in the equation.
Some would argue that NCAA tournament success is the most important ingredient. Others might argue for Big Ten wins. One particular program in the SEC might argue it’s NBA draft picks or recruiting that are most important. And someone who studies the numbers might look at something like a KenPom ranking as a way to measure the performance of a program.
Over the last few days, we put together an exercise to measure success of each Big Ten program over the last five years using all of the factors mentioned above. There were, of course, some challenges and a few things we had to work around with Rutgers and Maryland joining the league in that span of time.
But as you’ll see below, here is what we looked at as a part of the exercise:
· Regular season Big Ten wins over the past five seasons
· NCAA tournament wins over the past five seasons
· Recruiting class rankings over the past five signing classes (using the 247Composite rankings and including 2016, which is still ongoing)
· Players drafted by the NBA over the last five NBA drafts (2011-2015)
· Final KenPom ranking over the last five seasons
Why did we chose these factors?
· Big Ten wins are more relevant than total wins in a season because not all schedules are created equally.
· NCAA tournament wins are pretty self explanatory as they measure success in the season’s most important time.
· Recruiting rankings obviously are far from a perfect science, but they do at least provide a guide or a measurement of a program’s ability to identify and sign talent. Using a composite view of the rankings brings together all of the services to remove any potential biases.
· Players drafted to the NBA provides a snapshot of a program’s ability to develop players and get them to the next level. It obviously doesn’t look at NBA success, but once a player becomes a professional, his development is out of the hands of the program from which he came.
· KenPom’s rankings, in our opinion, are the best computer model to measure the complete performance of a team over a season and are far more valuable than any human poll.
Now, the caveats.
For Maryland and Rutgers, we had to use their conference wins in other leagues. For Rutgers, it didn’t matter too much. For Maryland, using ACC wins may have actually given a slight boost given that the Big Ten ranked ahead of the ACC in KenPom for each season affected (2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14).
For the NBA draft aspect, we only looked at players drafted, not players who have played in the NBA. For Ohio State, that means Deshaun Thomas and Jon Diebler, two guys who have never played in the league, are included. And for Iowa, it includes Aaron White, who also has yet to play in the league.
We also assigned more importance to some of the five categories. Here is how we weighted each category into the final equation:
· Regular season Big Ten wins over the past five seasons (30 percent)
· NCAA tournament wins over the past five seasons (30 percent)
· Final KenPom ranking over the last five seasons (25 percent)
· Players drafted by the NBA over the last five NBA drafts (7.5 percent)
· Recruiting class rankings over the past five signing classes (7.5 percent)
Why did we weight each category as such?
We wanted to assign the most value to winning conference games and NCAA tournament games. The KenPom ranking was also important because of the way it tracks the performance of a team over a complete season, but not as important as winning in the Big Ten or in March, so we assigned a little less value there. The NBA and recruiting factors definitely deserved a seat at the table, but you don’t hang banners for either one, so we assigned them just 1/4 of the value of winning in the Big Ten or the NCAA tournament.