yardbarker
RealGM Basketball

Nebraska Cornhuskers BlogNebraska Cornhuskers Blog

Comparing The Conferences

The Pac-12 has been suffering through a long dark period. The Big Ten has been dominant (at least in the pre-conference schedule) for the last few years. Should we expect a change this year? Is the Pac-12’s slump over? Is the Big Ten’s boom about to come to an end? Let’s take a quick look at some basic roster data and see if we can uncover any trends.

Part of predicting the season is noting the number of elite high school prospects on each roster. Not only are these players more likely to play well as freshmen, but they are also more likely to breakout later in their career. Recall, for example, Michael Snaer of Florida St. Snaer was a former Top 20 recruit, and while it took him three seasons, he broke out in a big way in 2011-12. After adding up the numbers…

- The Big East has the most former RSCI Top 100 prospects on rosters heading into the season with 58.

- But the Big East has more teams, and the Big East has only 3.9 elite recruits per team. The ACC has the most former Top 100 recruits per team with 4.6 per team.

- But James McAdoo is the only former Top 10 prospect in the ACC this season. That seems like an unprecedented lack of super-elite talent for the conference. If you want super elite talent, you probably want to watch the SEC, assuming everyone is declared academically eligible. John Calipari never lets us down on the recruiting trail.

- The SEC, however, is only welcoming ten Top 100 freshmen this year as a whole. Even the Big Ten, the land of typically poor recruiting, is welcoming more Top 100 freshmen than the SEC this season. And yes, the slumping Pac-12 brings in quite a few elite recruits this year.

Conf

T10

T100

T100 Fr

ACC

1

55

22

BE

1

58

17

SEC

4

49

10

B10

1

40

15

B12

3

33

11

P12

3

37

15

MWC

1

15

5

A10

0

11

3

The next table isn’t really roster data, but it does reflect some of my preliminary projections about playing time.

- The ACC is going to be the youngest conference in the nation this year, according to my projections.

- The Big East has a startlingly low number of key seniors on rosters this year.

- As usual, the MWC and A10 have more mature rosters. They lose fewer players to the NBA and that helps the top MWC and A10 teams compete, even without a plethora of blue chip talent.

Class

Sr%

Jr%

So%

Fr%

MWC

35%

30%

17%

17%

A10

33%

27%

19%

21%

P12

28%

32%

18%

22%

B12

32%

19%

26%

23%

BE

22%

32%

27%

19%

B10

27%

26%

23%

24%

SEC

25%

28%

24%

22%

ACC

25%

22%

23%

31%

The Pac-12 is getting older in a hurry, thanks in no small part to an influx of transfers. Note that your transfer numbers may vary slightly. I’m excluding transfer walk-ons and a few JUCOs who seem unlikely to play in the next table.

Incoming Transfers

D1

JUCO+

P12

15

8

SEC

10

11

BE

14

6

MWC

7

5

B12

7

5

A10

8

3

ACC

3

3

B10

5

1

The transfer table doesn’t mean the Pac-12 has suddenly become the conference of transfers. This is all a natural consequence of recent league history. The Pac-12 teams have struggled the last few years making those teams particularly attractive places for transfers to matriculate. If you want to transfer and PLAY in an elite league, you would have chosen the Pac-12 too.  On the other hand, the Big Ten has been on an upswing and few coaches have needed to dip into the JUCO ranks as a quick fix. Deverell Biggs of Nebraska is currently the only incoming JUCO player projected for the Big Ten this year.

Overall, the Pac-12 was a depleted league, but it is adding a number of impact freshmen and key transfers this year. The days of the league failing to field a Top 25 team are over. As for the Big Ten, the jury is still out. The teams at the top still have plenty of talent, but programs like Purdue could be in for a bit of a slip without an influx of can’t miss players coming in.

2012 Big Ten Power Rankings

The Big Ten was incredibly close at the top, with a three-way tie in the standings and also in our statistical rankings. Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan were the three parties on top, but the former two were clearly much better than the latter. The Wolverines overachieved, to their credit, and finished a modest fifth in our rankings. 

In order to determine our team rankings, we calculate the difference between a team's own FIC per game and their opponents' FIC for the entire conference season.

The FIC is a single statistical measurement that encompasses things such as scoring efficiency, rebounding, blocked shots, etc. Its purpose is to combine the box score into one statistic, both on a team level and for players.

1. Michigan State: 20.36  
2. Ohio State: 19.01  
3. Wisconsin: 9.25  
4. Indiana: 4.04  
5. Michigan: 3.12  
6. Purdue: -0.74  
7. Minnesota: -1.49  
8. Iowa: -4.67  
9. Northwestern: -4.99  
10. Illinois: -10.11  
11. Nebraska: -16.17  
12. Penn State: -17.62

Big Ten Power Rankings (Jan. 9th)

With teams having played either three or four conference games, it is an opportune time for a Big Ten power rankings.

1. Indiana (3-1, 15-1)

Assembly Hall is well on its way to becoming the new Breslin Center. Indiana has beaten a No. 1 (Kentucky) and a No. 2 (Ohio State), and has yet to lose a game on its home floor. The Hoosiers only loss of the year was on the road against Michigan State, and this team has been impressive. Indiana has the ability to do its work on the inside with Cody Zeller — who is averaging almost 15 points a game — or on the outside, where it is shooting almost 46-percent from beyond the arc. In a close 73-71 win over Michigan, Indiana’s starting frontcourt of Zeller and Christian Watford combined for 43 points. Three days later, the Hoosiers made 15 3-pointers in a win over Penn State. Eventually, Indiana is going to need a big win on the road, but for right now, they top this week’s Power Rankings.

2. Ohio State (3-1 Big Ten, 15-2 overall)

The Buckeyes could make a case for the No.1 spot as they continue to roll through the early, albeit cupcake, portion of their Big Ten schedule. Ohio State has beaten Northwestern, Nebraska and Iowa, and it’s only Big Ten loss was on the road against Indiana. The Buckeyes get another chance against the Hoosiers at home next week, but their schedule doesn’t get tough until late January. Ohio State has a four-game stretch against Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State, so we will have a much better idea of how the Buckeyes will fare in the Big Ten in a couple of weeks.

3. Michigan State (3-0, 14-2)

It’s hard to fault a team that hasn’t lost since November, back-to-back losses that came against North Carolina and Duke. But in a very strong Big Ten, Michigan State hasn’t done enough to rise to the top. The Spartans did hand Indiana its only loss, but they also needed an overtime and to beat Wisconsin—and if Ryan Evans had shot the game-tying 3-pointer about .2 seconds earlier, who knows what could have happened in double overtime. If Keith Appling can keep up his sidekick to Draymond Green role, Michigan State could be a dangerous team come March.

4. Michigan (3-1, 13-3)

Sunday’s win against Wisconsin was probably the best game Michigan has played all year. Sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, as the Wolverines held Wisconsin to 19 first half points en route to a 59-41 victory. But on nights when Hardaway Jr. is off, Michigan will struggle. Last week on the road against Indiana, he scored 17 points, but went 0-7 from deep in Michigan’s only Big Ten loss. Freshman point guard Try Burke is a great talent, but he is a freshman and can be a streaky scorer (4-15 against Indiana and 6-15 against Wisconsin). The post play, specifically the interior defense, will continue to be a question all season, especially when Jared Sullinger and Draymond Green come to town.

5. Wisconsin (1-3, 12-5)

The slowest-pace team in the Big Ten has lost three conference games in a row, but they will almost certainly make the Tournament for the 14th year in a row. Senior point guard Jordan Taylor is leading the Badgers in scoring despite shooting 40-percent from the floor. He is also averaging more than eight minutes a game than the next closest Wisconsin player, playing almost 35 minutes a game. The Badgers will only go as far as Taylor takes them.

6. Purdue (3-1, 13-4)

This is where things start to get murky. Illinois, Purdue, Iowa, Northwestern, and Minnesota could all conceivably make the Tournament, but the Big Ten is probably only going to send seven, maybe eight, teams to the tournament. Basically, five teams that so far aren’t that far apart are fighting for two or three spots. Purdue has beaten all the teams it was supposed to, but it also doesn’t have a defining win. Robbie Hummel leads the team with 16 points a game, and Purdue could backdoor its way into the tournament with a couple upsets here and there. The Boilermakers have a brutal month long stretch coming up, playing Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State in the span of seven games.

7. Illinois (3-1, 14-3)

Illinois is a solid team that doesn’t wow in any particular area. The Fighting Illini have four players averaging more than 10 points a game, but nobody averaging more than 13. The standout could be Meyers Leonard, who is averaging 13 points and eight rebounds a game. Illinois hung tough with Missouri and beat Gonzaga, but also lost to Purdue by 15 and only beat Nebraska by five — The fighting Illini season could go a lot of different ways over the final two months.

8. Iowa (2-2, 10-7)

Iowa beat Wisconsin by seven, then lost to Ohio State by 29. A team like Illinois that doesn’t have a standout player or characteristic, the next month will go a long way to figuring the Hawkeyes out.

9. Northwestern (1-2, 11-4)

Northwestern doesn’t have a particularly impressive win, and has lost to Baylor by 28 and Ohio State by 33, but they could still hang around the Big Ten. The Wildcats have two very solid players, Jon Shurna (almost 19 points-per-game) and Drew Crawford (17 points-per-game), and could be in a decent position by doing well against the lower half of the Big Ten. But as with teams 6-10, the next month is going to tell us a lot.

10. Minnesota (0-4, 12-5)

Playing the what-if game is never fun, but Minnesota losing Trevor Mbakwe was a crushing blow. The Golden Gophers went into conference play with a 12-1 record, then promptly lost their first four conference games. A few good bounces could land Minnesota in a good spot, but not having Mbakwe really makes this season tough.

11. Penn State (1-3, 9-8)

The Nittany Lions played Indiana tough on Sunday, only losing by eight, but that might be one of the high points of the season — moral victories can’t be discounted for struggling teams.

12. Nebraska (0-4, 8-7)

The Cornhuskers have lost their four Big Ten games by a combined 73 points. That is all. 

Freshmen Bring Hope

Teams that play a lot of freshmen are the most likely to improve as the season goes on, while those with a lot of experience are more likely to plateau. In this piece, we examine freshmen minutes for every major school in the country.

Bounce Back Candidates

A sudden drop in production can be a pure statistical outlier and a recovery could do wonders for their team's performances this season. We outline a few candidates for the 11-12 college basketball season.

How Schedule Expansion Impacts Making The Tournament

Utah, Colorado and Nebraska will join new conference and impact the schedule length. Do the odds of making the NCAA tournament increase or fall with an 18 game schedule?

College Coaching Series Part 3

Part two showed that Jim Calhoun's teams have been the best in the nation at forcing missed shots over the last 9 years. But which coach has consistently taught the best defensive rebounding?

Surprises And Flops, Part 2

Examining the surprises and flops this season in the Big East, ACC, Big 12 and Atlantic-10.

College Coaches On The Hot Seat

Is there an empirical model to predict when a coach will get fired? The short answer is no, but there is data to suggest who deserves scrutiny.

 

Basketball Wiretap Headlines

    NBA Wiretap Headlines

      NCAA Wiretap Headlines

        MLB Wiretap Headlines

          NFL Wiretap Headlines

            NHL Wiretap Headlines

              Soccer Wiretap Headlines