Big Ten

Around the Big Ten 2010-11: Wrap Up

Our Around the Big Ten preview series is complete and we finally took the time to tally all of our participants projections. The results were similar to last year: abundant optimism. In this post we present the results, share some thoughts, and also solicit thoughts from a neutral party, the Big Ten Geeks.

First off, here are the cumulative standings (team names link to specific previews/interviews):

Team B10 W B10 L Overall W Overall L
Michigan St. 14 4 24 7
Illinois 14 4 24 6
Purdue 14 4 27 4
Wisconsin 13 5 23 7
Minnesota 12 6 26 7
Ohio State 12 6 23 8
Northwestern 10 8 21 9
Indiana 7 11 17 14
Penn State 6 12 14 15
Iowa 4 14 12 17
Michigan ?? ??    
Overall 106 74    

*Note: Some interviews were conducted before Robbie Hummel’s injury. The Purdue interview was in fact after Hummel’s injury.

Even without including Michigan in the results, the overall conference record was 106-74, or 32 games over .500. Hypothetically, if Michigan were to somehow go 0-18, that would still leave the projections 14 wins too high. By my eyes, the most overrated teams appear to be: Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, Penn State, and Northwestern. Considering the other results in the survey, Ohio State is probably severely underrated by being placed in 5th place.

Here’s what Josh Reed, of the Big Ten Geeks, had to say while comparing the results of our interviews to his own projections:

First, let me say that I love that you do this.  It’s a fascinating annual study in fanbase psychology, and the overwhelming takeaway is that Our Team is Awesome and Your Team Stinks. Not surprising but lovely to see nonetheless.

So, with that in mind, how about I find the examples where I think the prognosticators actually undersold their team? For starters, I’m going with Ohio State. Yes, they lost Evan Turner, but not very much else, and they have a dynamite recruiting class coming in. Dan Hanner at Yet Another Basketball Blog has done some excellent work in running some numbers on preseason expectations, and one of the takeaways is that losing high-volume players doesn’t sting as much as one might expect. A big part of this is that by virtue of being high-volume, the player generally does not sport otherworldly efficiency.  I think that will bear out in OSU’s case.

And some credit is due for Wisconsin, who I think pegged the prediction rather on-the-nose. I think Tournament performance clouds a lot of these expectations, but they really shouldn’t. How a team performs over an 18-game conference schedule is more telling than the fact that Cornell shot out of their minds. And over last year’s 18-game schedule, the Badgers were the best team in the Big Ten by efficiency margin by a country mile. I know Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon aren’t coming back, but it’s not like the team was gutted.

Iowa also got it on the nose, but hey, I wrote that one :-).

Everyone else, I’m afraid, overshot it. I think the most controversial prediction we have (at Big Ten Geeks) is Michigan State not being in the top 2 in the conference. Again, this goes back to NCAA Tournament performance. The Spartans won a busted region–barely. This doesn’t take away the fact that they finished 4th in the conference by efficiency margin last season. Still, they probably would have improved on that if not for the fact that Chris Allen isn’t coming back. But he isn’t, and that means that MSU is now replacing two starters, which, I should mention, is the same amount as Wisconsin. It’s one thing for the Badgers to run in place, it’s another when 4th-place MSU (by efficiency margin) does.

Finally, as for Michigan, well, there will be quite a few Ls on the schedule, as they will probably finish near Iowa at the bottom of the conference. That’s expected, however–the team is very young. Though it is encouraging to see Darius Morris becoming more assertive. When I saw him last year, it appeared to me that he had all the tools to be an All Big Ten type of player, but just wasn’t aggressive enough. He, Hardaway, and Jordan Morgan figure to be a big part of UM’s success going forward. But that Beilein offense needs one or two marksmen to go with those guys. Plenty of candidates on campus, however.

I should also add that predicting zero dropoff despite the absence of Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer, and Robbie Freaking Hummel requires a level of stalwart fandom that I can only hope to one day achieve.  Bravo, Hammer and Rails

Make sure to read the Big Ten Geeks full conference predictions here.

Beyond record predictions, we also surveyed interviewees on a number of other topics ranging from the toughest place to play in the conference to the most feared player in the league. Here are the results of those surveys:

Toughest Arena Votes
Wisconsin 7.33
Northwestern 1
MSU 1.33
Illinois 0.33
Predicted Champs Votes
MSU 4.33
Purdue 3.33
OSU 2.33

*Note: Some writers were interviewed before Hummel’s injury.

Most Feared Player Pre Hummel Post Hummel
JaJuan Johnson 3 3
Robbie Hummel 2 N/A
Demetri McCamey 1 2
Kalin Lucas 1 2
Jared Sullinger 1 1
Jon Leuer 1 1
Draymond Green 1 1

Note: The two people that chose Hummel were given a follow-up choice (seen in the second column).

Most Improved Votes
Jordan Taylor 2
William Buford 1
Ralph Sampson 1
David Lighty 1
Luke Mirkovic 1
Christian Watford 1
Durrell Summers 1
JaJuan Johnson 1

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