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Compu-Picks 2011 Preview: Big Ten

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Jul 24, 2011


2011 Compu-Picks Previews Each 1-A League: Big Ten

Below is the preview for the Big Ten, consisting of three tables.

The first table outlines the projected rankings for each Big Ten team, sorted in each division from best to worst, and then presents the following selected key stats:
Rank - Projected 2011 ranking, from 1 to 120
2010 Rank - 2010 ranking using the current compu-picks model
Prev 4 yr - ranking of the average rating from 2006-2009
Recruit Rank - ranking of past 4 years of recruiting (each year equally weighted), from scout.com
Recruit Trend - the difference between the past 3 years of recruiting and the previous 3, ranked from best to worst
Injuries - starts lost to injury during the 2010 season (from Phil Steele)
Turnovers - turnover margin during the 2010 season, from cfbstats.com
Draft Losses - based on the 2011 draft
Ch - new head coach, per collegefootballpoll.com (1 indicates a new coach, . indicates no new coach)
Starters - returning offensive / defensive starters, per Phil Steele magazine (* if the QB returns), with some edits due to subsequent news

The second table shows the expected number of total wins for each team, as well as the odds for each potential number of wins, based on 2500 season simulation runs (note: a . indicates zero odds, while 0% indicates a non-zero probability that just rounds to 0%).

The third table shows the odds of winning the league, the expected number of league wins for each team, as well as the odds for each potential number of league wins, based on 2500 season simulation runs (note: a . indicates zero odds, while 0% indicates a non-zero probability that just rounds to 0%).

Projected ranking and key statistics

Team Rank 2010 Rank Prev 4 yr Recruit Rank Recruit Trend Injuries Turnovers Draft Losses Ch Starters
Ohio State 8 8 3 3 8 7 15 23 1 7/4
Penn State 26 52 12 21 19 22 -4 11 . 7*/7
Wisconsin 31 18 33 37 53 28 14 41 . 6/6
Illinois 62 33 68 35 119 10 8 29 . 7*/6
Purdue 63 85 65 60 69 32 -6 14 . 7*/9
Indiana 91 90 80 65 40 24 -7 8 1 6/6
Nebraska 17 13 26 26 59 26 -1 31 . 5*/7
Michigan State 29 35 47 38 6 7 5 4 . 6*/6
Michigan 55 54 41 12 83 22 -10 11 1 9*/7
Iowa 65 29 37 46 62 18 13 29 . 5/4
Northwestern 68 80 72 68 47 7 -1 0 . 9*/7
Minnesota 78 78 71 52 95 20 2 0 1 6/8

Projected Results - All Games

Team Rank SOS E(wins) 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Ohio State 8 55 10.20 . 24% 27% 21% 13% 7% 4% 2% 1% 0% 0% 0% 0% .
Penn State 26 53 8.49 . 4% 11% 18% 22% 18% 12% 7% 5% 2% 1% 0% 0% 0%
Wisconsin 31 48 8.36 . 5% 11% 17% 20% 16% 12% 9% 5% 3% 1% 1% 0% .
Illinois 62 50 6.33 . 1% 3% 5% 9% 12% 16% 17% 14% 11% 7% 4% 1% 0%
Purdue 63 47 6.00 . 1% 1% 4% 7% 13% 15% 18% 16% 11% 8% 4% 1% 1%
Indiana 91 60 4.00 . . 0% 1% 2% 4% 7% 9% 15% 20% 18% 13% 8% 4%
Nebraska 17 45 9.01 . 11% 15% 20% 17% 15% 9% 6% 3% 2% 1% 1% 0% .
Michigan State 29 54 8.14 . 2% 7% 15% 20% 21% 17% 9% 5% 2% 1% 0% 0% 0%
Michigan 55 36 6.24 . 1% 3% 4% 9% 13% 15% 17% 14% 11% 7% 4% 2% 1%
Iowa 65 69 6.25 . 1% 3% 5% 9% 13% 14% 15% 15% 10% 7% 4% 2% 1%
Northwestern 68 67 5.83 . 1% 2% 5% 7% 12% 13% 15% 15% 13% 9% 5% 3% 1%
Minnesota 78 62 4.90 . 1% 1% 2% 3% 5% 10% 15% 18% 20% 14% 8% 3% 1%

Projected Results - League Games

Team Rank Division Odds Adj Div Odds E(wins) 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Ohio State 8 55.1% 6.48 . 28% 31% 21% 12% 5% 2% 1% 0% 0%
Penn State 26 20.4% 45.4% 5.33 . 8% 18% 25% 21% 14% 8% 4% 2% 1%
Wisconsin 31 14.1% 31.5% 4.84 . 5% 13% 20% 22% 18% 12% 7% 3% 1%
Illinois 62 5.6% 12.4% 3.45 . 2% 4% 9% 14% 18% 20% 16% 11% 5%
Purdue 63 4.4% 9.7% 3.44 . 1% 3% 8% 15% 21% 22% 17% 10% 4%
Indiana 91 0.5% 1.0% 1.54 . . 1% 1% 3% 6% 11% 21% 29% 28%
Nebraska 17 40.7% 5.39 . 12% 18% 22% 20% 14% 8% 4% 2% 1%
Michigan State 29 28.5% 5.05 . 4% 15% 22% 25% 18% 10% 4% 2% 0%
Michigan 55 10.6% 3.57 . 2% 5% 9% 16% 20% 19% 16% 10% 4%
Iowa 65 8.1% 3.37 . 1% 4% 8% 15% 19% 19% 18% 12% 5%
Northwestern 68 8.3% 3.32 . 1% 4% 9% 13% 18% 20% 19% 12% 6%
Minnesota 78 3.9% 2.23 . 1% 2% 3% 5% 10% 16% 23% 24% 16%

Some commentary about the projections:

1) The Legends division looks to have a surprising amount of parity. I'd be very surprised to see Minnesota make any kind of run at it (4% seems like too high of a number even with a VERY favorable East draw, missing both Ohio St and Penn St), but the simple fact that it's even somewhat possible is telling, as is the fact that favorite Nebraska is only at around 40%.

2) The Big Ten's schedule ratings are fairly low for two reasons: first, the league itself is rated decent but not great (the effect of a number of down years, as well as four teams having coaching changes [2nd highest behind the MAC] ); and second, the OOC is, as usual, extremely weak.

3) Ohio St, even with all the off-field issues, still seems like the league favorite. It's worth noting that had Tresselgate not happened, and the team was intact with Tressel behind the sidelines, that they would be an extremely serious national title contender, perhaps even #1. As it is, they still have an enormous amount of talent, and have been consistently right near very top of college football for years. Until and unless the scandal blows up even further (and right now it seems like it might actually go away based on the recent NCAA ruling), it's hard to believe that they're likely to collapse. As long as they remain eligible for postseason play (and assuming no further sanctions, player losses etc. for 2011), Ohio St is still the deserving Leaders division favorite.

4) Penn St is a somewhat interesting case. They'd been solid from 2006-2009, but then took a huge step back in 2010. Their recruiting is strong (and on a solid up-trend), they didn't lose too much to the draft, they had some poor luck with turnovers and injuries, and they return 14 starters including the quarterback. All signs point to improvement from the poor 2010 campaign; the only question is how much improvement, and whether it'll be enough to overtake Ohio St as the division champ. That might be a bit much to expect, but you never know, and at the least the Lions ought to have a solid season, with a reasonable shot at 9+ wins.

5) Wisconsin is a team that looks ripe for a dropoff. 2010 was an unusually good season, with great turnover luck, their recruiting isn't as good as the elites of the league, they lost the most to the draft out of any Big Ten team, and they only have 12 starters (no QB). On the other hand, they still were a strong team in 2010, they did suffer some bad injury luck, and it's possible that Russel Wilson will make a major impact (that's not something that Compu-Picks has modeled out in Wisconsin's projection). So while some level of dropoff is likely (yes, even with Wilson), they should still be a quality team in 2011.

6) Nebraska pretty clearly seems like a program on the rise. They've been on a general upward trend, culminating in a strong 2010 season. It's no wonder they're marked as the division favorites in 2011. That said, they may take a small step back in 2011. They haven't quite been recruiting as well as the national elites, they had pretty heavy draft losses, they have one of the toughest schedules in the league, and they only return 12 starters (including QB though). That said, they're still a strong program, and they did have bad luck last year in both injuries and turnovers, so it's likely that any downturn should be fairly mild.

7) Michigan St is an interesting team. On paper they could be around the same as in 2010; though they had good injury luck and fairly good turnover luck (those things usually revert), they suffered almost no draft losses, and they've got a fairly manageable schedule. However, their big problem is that, despite their gaudy record, they just weren't that good in 2010. They had fantastic luck in close games, and they got blown out in both of their losses (including once to a decent but hardly great Iowa team). It's extremely unlikely that they'd enjoy that kind of fortune again in 2011, so while they might not be a worse team, it's extremely likely that they will have a worse record. Still, with recruiting improving in a major way, if they can keep that up they could potentially make a big impact over the next few years.

There are a few important notes and caveats I need to make about this model:

1) Compu-Picks does not endorse implicitly or explicitly any form of illegal gambling. Compu-Picks is intended to be used for entertainment purposes only.

2) No guarantee or warranty is offered or implied by Compu-Picks for any information provided and/or predictions made.

3) This preseason model is primarily based on the main compu-picks model. Essentially, it attempts to predict how well a team will rate given its rating history, as well as a number of other data points, such as returning starters, draft talent lost, turnovers, recruiting, etc. This means, among other things, that the rankings are power rankings based on how good a team projects to be, as opposed to a more cynical (though accurate) model that attempts to project how the BCS will rank a team by making adjustments to favor those with easy schedules and punish those with tough schedules.

4) For three teams (Auburn, Oregon, UNC), you can see that they're projected to half a new coach. This was a manual adjustment I made to the data based on the off-field issues that each program is dealing with. A new coach is a negative predictive factor, so estimating a 50% chance of having a new coach makes an impact. For UNC, it's more that there's a pretty reasonable chance that they'll replace Butch Davis (or be forced to) before the season. For the other two, it's more a reflection of the possibility that the ongoing investigations will unearth more trouble, possibly leading to a coach replacement and/or current players being declared ineligible. For those two, estimating a 50% chance of a new coach is mainly a proxy for that possibility. It's admittedly arbitrary, but I believe that it's reasonable given the current climate.
I have also provided adjusted division (or league) odds in a number of instances. For the Pac-12 South, it shows the odds of each team winning adjusting for the fact that USC will be ineligible (the original calculation does not account for this). For various other instances, it would only be relevant if the team in question does in fact become ineligible for the division/league title. Should that not happen, you can ignore the adjusted odds.

5) There is a substantial amount of noise in these projections, which is to be expected given the large number of unknowns (who will have good and bad luck with injuries, which young players will improve and which won't, how specific matchups will come into play, etc.). Right now the standard error is a bit over 0.2 on a scale of about -1 to +1. It's important to look at the projections with this in mind to get a sense of how material the projected differences are. Given a standard error around 0.2, it is safe to project Alabama to be a much better team than Mississippi St, but it is not safe to project Arkansas to be any better than LSU, much less a lot better.

6) At this point, there are a number of model features that need to be investigated further. Chief among these is the distribution of extreme events. It appears that the model may be overstating the probabilities of extreme events, such as 12-0 or 0-12 records, or major underdogs winning their division/league. Please keep this in mind when looking at the distribution of win probabilities.

2011 Compu-Picks Blog

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at cfn_ms@hotmail.com

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