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Post Big Ten/ACC Challenge Advanced Stats Conference Roundup and Thoughts

See how the Big Ten landed in some of the latest advanced stats rankings.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Despite months of agonizing breakdowns and analysis, it seems like it takes just a week or two for all the preseason chatter to dissipate. Every expert and fan believes they know exactly what’s going to happen.

Until it doesn’t.

Preseason projections are hard. With so many moving parts and so little real data, predicting what’s going to happen isn’t an easy task. Hell, even with games in the bag, early season results can be incredibly misleading. It can easily take months before fans have a legitimate viewpoint on where teams sit in their leagues.

For the Big Ten, the time is rapidly coming where we can move from projections into legitimate rankings. More than a month of the season is in the rear-view mirror and many in the conference have already played 10 games. Fans now have some legitimate data on which to base their analysis.

So, what have we learned about the Big Ten?

The simple answer is that we’ve learned a lot. But let’s dive into some of the best and most popular statistical metrics to look at how the Big Ten has performed so far.

-Big Ten In 12/8 RPI Rating:

  • #8 - Minnesota
  • #23 - Northwestern
  • #31 - Purdue
  • #38 - Maryland
  • #44 - Indiana
  • #46 - Wisconsin
  • #53 - Michigan
  • #60 - Nebraska
  • #65 - Michigan State
  • #84 - Rutgers
  • #92 - Ohio State
  • #97 - Illinois
  • #106 - Penn State
  • #244 - Iowa

Thoughts

Let’s first start with the obvious. It’s still incredibly early to dive into RPI ratings with any real faith at this point. Not only is there still nearly a month left of non-conference play, but many wins aren’t nearly as valuable as they will be down the line.

For an example, look no further than Michigan State’s win over Wichita State. Despite many considering the Shockers as one of the better teams in the country, Wichita State sits at just No. 94 nationally in RPI. There’s no way that low rating will hold up, but until it changes, teams like Michigan State will suffer in the RPI ratings.

With the general comments out of the way, there are two things that I found really interesting about these rankings. To start, Minnesota at No. 8 is damn impressive given last season. I still don’t know if the Gophers are a legitimate NCAA Tournament contender yet, but it’s been an outstanding start for the program. If Minnesota takes care of business over the next five games (all at home), Minnesota is going to be in excellent position for a postseason appearance.

Three teams on the other side of this dynamic are Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio State. The Buckeyes and Illini came in at the tail end of the top 100 and the Hawkeyes fell well outside the top 200. Iowa’s win over Iowa State on Thursday (not included in the ratings yet) will surely help the team’s RPI, but the clock is ticking on these three. They need to win and do it soon.

-Big Ten In KenPom Rating

  • #8 - Wisconsin
  • #11 - Purdue
  • #15 - Indiana
  • #27 - Michigan
  • #33 - Ohio State
  • #38 - Michigan State
  • #44 - Northwestern
  • #54 - Minnesota
  • #62 - Maryland
  • #71 - Illinois
  • #76 - Iowa
  • #83 - Nebraska
  • #117 - Penn State
  • #138 - Rutgers

Thoughts

Unlike the RPI ratings, we can take the KenPom ratings a little more seriously at this time. Since KenPom ratings are opponent adjusted and continue to improve with each additional game, a lot of the RP’s issues (some described above) aren’t as meaningful. However, it’s important to note that these will continue to change going forward.

The biggest takeaway for the Big Ten from these ratings is the substantial improvement from the Big Ten’s bottom group. Rutgers is currently 141 (!!!) spots higher than it finished last season, the Big Ten only has two teams outside the top 100 (it had four last season), and the bottom three teams average out to be 86 spots higher than they were last season.

That’s immense improvement for the conference.

Additionally, the middle of the league remains a mess. Eight Big Ten teams are rated between No. 33 and No. 83 (50 spots) and five fall between No. 54 and No. 83 (29 spots) on the ratings.

To put how tight that divide is into perspective, consider that KenPom gives No. 83 Nebraska a 41 percent chance to beat No. 33 Ohio State at home. In short, even the best team (of those eight) against the worst is just north of a coin flip. That tiny separation is going to lead to a plethora of close games and plenty of thrillers for Big Ten fans down the stretch.