The Only Colors started a tradition of plotting game-by-game efficiency numbers and applying third order polynomial regressions to track every Big Ten teams’ form throughout conference play. The third degree polynomial regression allows for two changes of direction and really starts to show the ups and downs of league play. These numbers are undoubtedly influenced by schedule, but are still useful to paint each team’s season thus far. Offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) is in blue, defensive efficiency is in red with 1 point per possession set as a baseline.
Indiana didn’t actually start out as strong as many expected but has rounded into form throughout February. Despite a close win over Michigan State, the Hoosiers are playing great basketball in February and look the part of conference champions and legitimate national title contenders.
Find the rest of the league after the jump, sorted by efficiency margin.
We’ve talked about it plenty and Michigan’s defensive regression is clear in this graph. The Wolverines held opponents under a point per possession throughout the first half of the league season and have struggled to do the same in February. Michigan’s offensive numbers have regressed over the course of the season but that has a lot to do with Michigan opening league play with two ridiculous offensive outbursts than consistent poor play.
It’s no secret that Wisconsin plays the best defense in the Big Ten and the Badgers performance has rarely dipped above a point per possession on the defensive end. In fact, Wisconsin’s defensive trend line never intersects the 1-point per possession plateau Offensively there’s a bit of a midseason lull but recent blowouts have the Badgers playing some of the best basketball in the conference.
Michigan State’s defense has been very consistent but the offense has fluctuated. Early in league play when the Spartans seemed to be playing a close game every night, the offense was struggling. In mid-February, when Michigan State hit full stride the offense was cruising on all cylinders and not many teams can beat Michigan State when the Spartans are scoring the ball.
Ohio State, like seemingly every other team in this conference, had a stretch where it lost three of four games. Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin all shredded the Ohio State defense but those games appear to be more of an outlier turned trend by the schedule than anything else.
Iowa has been remarkably consistent all season but just hasn’t been able to get over the hump. The first half of the season was defined by near upsets while the most recent Hawkeye failure was a disappointing loss to Nebraska. Iowa has really only been blown out once, at Michigan, but just hasn’t been able to win close games.
This graph paints the Illini season perfectly with a bad first half and a good second half. Illinois’s improvement was on both sides of the ball as it went from a bad offense, bad defense to a good offense, good defense mid-way through the season.
Minnesota’s offensive regression under Tubby Smith is starting to feel like a yearly ritual. The offensive wheels have fallen off once again in Minneapolis but the Gophers might have enough stashed away to limp into the NCAA tournament.
Indiana’s beat downs of Purdue were emphatic and that’s putting it gently. Still, this young Purdue team has really struggled on both ends in the second half save for a blowout win over Northwestern last weekend.
There was a stretch in late January that Northwestern was competitive but injuries have derailed the Wildcats down the stretch. The defense has been bad for most of the season but recently the offense has been no better.
Nebraska’s offense has improved steadily throughout conference play but it was outlandishly bad for the first month of the season. The Cornhuskers didn’t have a single performance better than a point per game until their fifth game.
Is Penn State edging closer to a win? Give Pat Chambers credit, his team continues to fight and improve despite a winless conference season thus far.