Thursday, February 6, 2020

Big 14: Great, good or something in-between

America’s favorite punching bag, the Big Ten is in the midst of a potentially historic year. Up to 12 teams have legitimate chances to make the tournament. That seems unlikely but ten teams seems likely. Question is, just how good is the league?

Using KenPom, it’s clearly the best league in the nation. Nebraska and Northwestern are doormats. Both are over 100 in KenPom. That’s the bad. The good is they have 6 top-20 teams. Michigan State leads the pack, 9th in KenPom but coming off a loss at an undermanned Wisconsin team and then at home to Penn State. They’re top-20 in offense and defense but wildly inconsistent. Maryland is 11th and won 5 straight but have a tough road ahead of them over the next month. They have a lot of talent. Can they find the consistency to be a threat. 

Ohio State is still 12th in KenPom and have wins at home against Indiana and at Michigan in their last two games, though not sure what that means. The offense has been far worse in league play than non-league play and they are without DJ Carton now. Like the previously mentioned teams, questions abound.

Penn State checks in at 14 and just won at East Lansing. The schedule gives them a legit shot to win the league. Purdue is 16th. Purdue is a nightmare to understand. They dropped 104 against a weak-defensive team in Iowa last night and also scored 37 at Illinois last month. They are the team that epitomizes this season as much as any. 52nd in KenPom offensively, they are closer to the team that scored 37 against Illinois.

Iowa is 19th in KenPom based on a fantastic offense. They’re 3rd in AdjustedO but 113th in AdjustedD. Woof. Rutgers is 28th and they are happy as clams. 

The next four are Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Indiana. Flip a coin and that’s as good a guess as any as to which team will show up. Michigan won a “home” game at MSG over Rutgers and then lost a rock fight at real home to Ohio State. The offense is 4th best in league play which is a reason to question how far this league will go in March. If you’ve watched them play offense the last few weeks, woof 2.0.

Minnesota routed Wisconsin last night to get back to .500 in league play. KenPom projects them to finish 10-10 in league and 16-14 overall. Woof 3.0. Wisconsin has a fairly comfortable schedule the rest of the way but they sure like playing the game without scoring for large stretches of games. Wisconsin is averaging less than a point per possession in league play. But so is Rutgers and Indiana. Woof 4.0. Ah, yes, Indiana. 41st in KenPom, 12th in league adjustedO and 10th in league adjustedD. Indiana isn’t good.

It’s the best league in the nation based on KenPom. I don’t know what that means this year. Michigan State was a consensus Final 4 by most to start the year but haven’t shown that at all. 10 teams could dance and all be dumped before the second weekend. That’s unlikely but I don’t see a national champion here and I don’t see a Final 4 team as of now. It’s fascinating to me.

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