So now that we've looked every which way at the Hawkeyes, how's it all going to go down? Thanks to the preseason work done by Ken Pomeroy, we have a bit of an idea.
Pomeroy assigns winning percentages to every game ($$$), and with enough simulations the favorites will win more than the underdogs, and you can assign Ws and Ls to each game without having to worry about upsets.
Well, that's no fun.
College basketball does have upsets, and lots of them, and if we treat the 55-45 games as the same automatic W as the 95-5 games, we don't get a good sense of how competitive these games can really be. So with the help of a random number generator and Pomeroy's win percentages, we simulated every regular season game for every Big Ten team, and here's our projection for the season.
1. MICHIGAN (15-3) (26-5)
Best win: vs. Gonzaga (N). Worst loss: at Illinois
2. WISCONSIN (15-3) (26-5)
Best win: at Michigan State. Worst loss: at Maryland
3. INDIANA (14-4) (24-7)
Best win: vs. Wisconsin. Worst loss: at Illinois
4. MICHIGAN STATE (11-7) (21-10)
Best win: vs. Indiana. Worst loss: at Rutgers
5. MARYLAND (11-7) (20-10)
Best win: vs. Wisconsin. Worst loss: at Nebraska
6. OHIO STATE (10-8) (20-11)
Best win: vs. Michigan. Worst loss: at Northwestern
7. IOWA (10-8) (20-10)
Best win: at Iowa State. Worst loss: at Rutgers
8. NORTHWESTERN (8-10) (18-13)
Best win: vs. North Carolina (N). Worst loss: vs. UMass Lowell
9. ILLINOIS (8-10) (17-13)
Best win: vs. Michigan. Worst loss: vs. Chattanooga
10. MINNESOTA (8-10) (16-14)
Best win: vs. Michigan. Worst loss: vs. Nebraska-Omaha
11. PURDUE (6-12) (14-17)
Best win: vs. Iowa. Worst loss: vs. Howard
12. RUTGERS (5-13) (12-19)
Best win: vs. Michigan State. Worst loss: vs. Fairleigh Dickinson
13. NEBRASKA (4-14) (13-18)
Best win: vs. Maryland. Worst loss: vs. Rutgers
14. PENN STATE (3-15) (10-21)
Best win: vs. Iowa. Worst loss: vs. VMI
Teams tied in the Big Ten standings are arranged by win-loss records amongst themselves. (N) = Neutral court.
The clear surprise here is Purdue, who took some brutal upsets in and out of the conference. Don't get angry with us, Boiler fans; it is the random numbers who hate you. Trust us, if we had any control over the simulation, we wouldn't have had Iowa taking Ls at Rutgers and Penn State. Do these results make sense? No, of course not. That's what an actual basketball season is like.
Michigan is a pleasant surprise, and apparently Caris LeVert returns to form in a big way for John Beilein and the Wolverines. It includes Michigan winning the Battle 4 Atlantis by running through UConn, Syracuse and Gonzaga, which should vault UM into the Top 10, and in this simulation there's not much that would knock the Wolverines back out over the course of the regular season.
In this simulation, only the top seven teams should have any claim to an NCAA bid, although somehow Northwestern upends North Carolina so we'd never hear the end of it, even after losses to lowly Nebraska bookending the Wildcats' Big Ten schedule and the most mystifying of the non-con headscratchers in this scenario.
So let's say the season shakes out like this. How are you feeling about it?