Tuesday, February 25, 2014

B1G Race

After tonight's results:

Congrats to Nebraska for making it onto the summary.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Big Ten title race

Here's an up-to-the-second chart on the state of the Big Ten race, with each team's chance of getting to various win-totals and chance of getting a title:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Backdoor Badgers?

With their 4-game winning streak, the Badger's have put themselves in position to make a miracle run for the Big Ten title.

More here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I'm not always wrong

After the horrible prediction I made about the bottom of the Big Ten, I had to pump myself up by finding something I was right about. Then today came Bill Simmons list of the 30 worst NBA contracts which included 3 Bucks deals.
The first post ever on this blog was my prediction that the Bucks had signed Ilyasova to a contract that was to long and for too much money.
Bill had the Ersan deal ranked as the 18th worst contract in the entire NBA.
Good job Adam. Now back to making mostly wrong predictions.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

All Big Ten

All Big Ten team is interesting this season with the depth of talent and lack of clear cut stars at the top. The best players on the best teams usually dominate this list, but even that is tricky this year. It doesn't matter whether you break it down by position or team, there are a lot of good players.
By the top teams:

MSU has 3 contenders in Appling, Harris and Payne, but all 3 have missed time due to injury. Even Valentine is a contender for 3rd team or honorable mention.

MU has Stauskus. Lavert and Robinson are contenders, but don't make 1st team.

Iowa has Marble and White and if Iowa wins a share of the title it's hard to see a Hawkeye not making 1st team, but no Iowa player gets more than 29 minutes per game.

UW-I will do a post about this later, but UW is so balanced no one may even make 2nd team, but UW may have six 3rd-teamers.

OSU is similar, although maybe not quite as deep.

By position

Center- Payne has to be the favorite, despite the missed time. McGary was the rival at the season's start, but injury derailed his year. Hammonds was the dark horse to win this, but he is a head case. Kaminsky and Vonleh have a claim here, but Payne is probably the winner. Amir Williams is probably honorable mention, but largely because there just aren't that many centers anymore.

Forward- Center and forward merge together on a lot of teams, and so do 2 guard and 3, so this is just my grouping for a forward that could be 1st team. I think White gets the first team nod, but there will likely be a split between coaches and media. Really 4 forwards have a claim on 1st team-Dekker, White, Ross and Robinson. They all score well and rebound but none differentiate from the others by a large margin. I think White will make 1st team on one poll, but the other's probably get skunked too, as I think Petteway gets the nod on one as a G-F. Nebraska has had a remarkable season, and Petteway's numbers are very good-2nd in Big Ten at 17.4 PPG, 37% from 3, 45% from the floor taking 1/3 of his shots from 3, gets to the line 5.4 times per game and shoots 82.4%. If he ends up on 3rd team it will be because Nebraska is a 2nd division team, and he turns the ball over 3.0 times per game.

Wings/Guards- There will be 2 or 3 first teamers in this category if Petteway finds his way to first team. Gary Harris seems like the Big Ten player of the year, and Nick Stauskus is right behind him, but there are a ton of great players right behind them with a claim as well. In addition to Petteway there is Marble, Newbill, Rice, Crawford and Dre Hollins all in the top 10 in scoring. Brust and Lavert are probably only in the conversation for 3rd team despite being very good.

Point Guard- With Appling's injury this probably goes to Yogi. Aaron Craft has not had a good year scoring the ball, but it's hard to quantify all the other things he does. Tim Frazier is also on the list somewhere and with PSU playing well he could get a nod, but he more likely ends up 3rd team.

Here is Adam's late-season All-B1G favorites. We'll see how the last few weeks play out and if anyone makes a move up.

1st team: Payne, White, Stauskus, Harris, Yogi

2nd team: Dekker, Ross, Petteway, Marble, Appling

3rd team: Vonleh, Robinson, Crawford, Dre Hollins, Frazier

Honorable Mention: Lavert, Rice, Newbill, and every other significant Badger and Buckeye.

Wow was I wrong

I was planning to go into my failure more in depth in a season ending wrap up, but this just couldn't wait. Northwestern is leading Minn at home currently and I am pulling for a NU win. If Northwestern wins they will improve their record to 13-13.

I said at the beginning of the season that I did not believe the bottom of the big ten (Nebraska, Northwestern, PSU) was as good as some other's seemed to think. I may be an arrogant dick, but when it comes to basketball I am willing and sometimes able to admit when I was wrong (as long as I am not too drunk). The numbers don't lie, I was horribly wrong.

If Northwestern wins today every team in the Big Ten will be at .500 or better at least 24 games into the season. I haven't done the research on this, but I would guess that this might be the first time in the modern era (since early 1980s) that any conference has had every team over .500 this late into the season.

quick stats update

Time to update a few stats we were watching.

Nigel Hayes FT rate- Since I last checked when Nigel was at 91-FGA, and 85-FTA, he has gotten better FGA-117  FTA-121. My guess is he will finish the season #1 in the country for players with similar minutes/attempts.

Brust 3s- He has 63 3s made this season. Brust is chasing his single season UW record of 79, and needs 228 to beat Locum's career record. Brust has 199 and needs another 29 in what will be at least 8 more games and hopefully 12 or more. This will be close.

Dekker leading in points and rebounds- close. Dekker is still leading in scoring but not by much. 335 points for Dekker, 331 for Brust, 313 for Kaminsky. Dekker has now fallen behind Kaminsky for rebounds- 150 for Dekker, 151 for Kaminsky. This one will go down to the wire. Dekker is also 2 back in steals with 20, 22 for Brust and Hayes.

Hayes leading the team in steals is especially impressive in limited minutes and since he is a post defender. I meant to do a post about this a while back but haven't got around to it. I saw a podcast about the NBA draft that said there is a weird and largely unexplained correlation between college post players having high steals percentages and having NBA success. The best they could come up with was that post players with high steals rates are more aware, high basketball IQ guys and that's why they are more successful.

Jackson's assists- He has predictably fallen off since the preseason and has 98 assists for the year, 3.9 per game. He will fall well short of Tracy Webster's single season record of  179.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Backup Packers QB

For the second day in a row I have read a WI sports writer blog about the strength of Scott Tolzien's arm as a reason to keep him in GB.
Demovsky: Matt Flynn's price is sure to be reasonable. That is probably not in question. What is uncertain is whether they viewed him as just someone who could keep a season alive or a possible long-term backup? Scott Tolzien probably has more upside because he’s got a better arm, but Flynn is comfortable in the Packers' offense and has proven time and again he can function well in it. It will be interesting to see what kind of strides Tolzien makes in coach Mike McCarthy’s quarterback school this offseason.
Jason Wilde: Thus, it would make sense for the Packers to bring back Flynn, who’s now proven in two separate stints that he can handle the job if Rodgers goes down, and continue to develop Tolzien, who has the smarts as well as the strong arm to someday be that reliable backup.

This from Wilde's blog at ESPNmilwaukee.com was what coach Clements said:
“We like Scott,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements replied when asked if he could see the team developing Tolzien long-term. “He is a hard worker, he’s always here, he’s intelligent, he works at it. So he certainly has that capability.”
I don't know what else Clements said that wasn't printed, but I'd be surprised if he was glowing about Tolzien's arm strength.

I don't know that I have ever heard anyone else talk about Tolzien and his strong arm. Granted, this was in the context of being a backup quarterback, and in comparison to Matt Flynn who does not have a strong arm. Still, anyone who watches Tolzien loop balls anytime he cannot take a big step into his throw knows a strong arm is not his selling point.

I like Tolzien. He is smart, he makes good decisions, and he can get into good plays. Given a chance I think he could be a decent backup in GB or elsewhere. I loved watching him at UW, but I remember a drastic difference when Russell Wilson took over and all of a sudden the Badgers could run an out pattern where the ball wasn't in the air forever. Comparing him to Wilson isn't fair either. 

I just found it odd that with all his good qualities, arm strength is the selling point both these writers chose to mention.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Facts

Here are the facts, folks:

The big news this week is that Northwestern is out of the cellar, ahead of Illinois. It doesn't look good for Illinois going forward, either. The last two columns show each team's remaining strength of schedule (big red numbers are bad) and rank. Illinois has by far the toughest remaining schedule.

Nebraska and Ohio State have the easiest remaining schedules. Ohio State's easy schedule is bad news for Wisconsin's hopes of getting the 4-seed in the Big Ten tournament. At this point, I think there's a better chance of passing Iowa, considering that Ohio State will have the tiebreaker over Wisconsin. Wisconsin will have a chance to take matters into its own hands: if it can win at Iowa, that would be huge. (This is unlikely, but a guy can dream.)

Overall, the gap between number 1 and number 12 in adjusted efficiency this year is remarkably small. I've done these calculations now for 2012 and 2013, and the final spreads were much larger:

This is a reflection of how much more balanced the league is this year. This year's Illinois, in last place at 2-8, still has a much better adjusted EM than any of the bottom three teams last year—and they aren't far behind 8th place Purdue. This year's Illinois has also performed better so far than the bottom three teams from 2012.

So the bottom of the league is much better than it has been recently. But the top of the league also isn't as good. In last year's final Kenpom ratings, the Big Ten had four teams in the top nine: Indiana (3), Michigan (4), Ohio State (7), and Michigan State (9), and Wisconsin wasn't far behind at 13th. This year, the Big Ten's big five (same teams, except replace Indiana with Iowa) are all currently rated between 11th and 17th—solid, for sure, but no one spectacular.

No dominant teams plus no cupcakes equals craziness. That's Big Ten basketball this year.

Edit: It occurs to me that comparing the final numbers from 2012 & 2013 to this year's mid-season numbers might not be a good idea. Although these numbers are "per possession" they are also "per possession compared to average" so it's safe to assume they'll widen as the season goes on. I did a quick check on the 2013 numbers, and after 59 games that year the gap between 1 and 12 was .40 (the final gap was .58). Still, that's significantly larger than the .26 gap this year.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Rules

Here is a chart showing the offensive efficiency during Big Ten play since 2003 (courtesy of Kenpom.com):

The average from 2003 to 2013 was 102.9; this year it is 102.8.

In other words, the new rules seem to have stopped working. Probably because they're no longer enforced. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

What's a mid major?

In earlier days there was a clear distinction between the big 6 and the rest of college basketball. There were years when a conference would be in a down cycle and it would be insultingly compared to an up-cycle A10 or Conference USA, but this never lasted. The big 6 just had too many advantages to stay down very long. Then the big 6 decided to get bigger and the Big East died, or at least only exists in a zombie-like form.

There are still 5 major conferences, but with all the shuffling, is there now a middle class of college basketball? While perusing the changes in at AP poll this week I noticed that 7 of the top 14 teams are from outside the big 5. The new American conference has 2 of those teams, and the zombie Big East has 2 more. There is also the always competitive A10, and recently competitive Mountain West. These conferences are more than just Gonzaga and the rest conferences, as they have multiple quality teams. They don't have the depth of talent that the Big 5 do, but they are not really mid Majors anymore either.

Much was made of the Mega conferences destroying the competitive balance as they sucked up every quality team in a major market, but so far the new middle class seems to be thriving in college basketball.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Overachievers & Underachievers

There've been some rather unlikely goings on in the Big Ten so far.

Both Ohio State and Wisconsin got through the non-conference season undefeated, but both have badly underachieved in the conference season so far.

Northwestern suffered home losses to Depaul and Illinois State, among many others, but is now 5-5 in the Big Ten after notching road wins at Indiana, at Wisconsin, and at Minnesota.

Here's a chart showing how each Big Ten team has performed compared to expectations (as calculated using their current Kenpom ratings):

Northwestern's performance, in particular, has been remarkable. Based on the Kenpom profile, they had only a 6 percent chance of winning 5 or more of their first 10 games. Will they regress to the mean? Probably, but who knows. 

By contrast, there was a 20% chance that OSU would have 4 or fewer wins, and a 15% chance that Wisconsin would. They already have regressed to the mean after their lucky non-con runs: OSU's overall expected record is 17-5 (which is their actual record) and Wisconsin's is 16-6 (compared to 17-5 actual). Both teams spent three-quarters of the season playing like 1-seeds and the last quarter playing like NIT teams.

Saturday, February 1, 2014