Before we get into the first edition of our B1G Basketball Power Rankings of the season, I feel I should give some background on how these rankings happen. Like my football rankings, these are not based on opinion. Well, actually, I guess you can say my opinion does leak in a bit based on the stats I choose to use when formulating these rankings.
They are the stats I think are the most indicative of a team's strength after all.
But that's it. The rest is just a ranking of these teams based on 14 different statistical categories, with overall record weighted greater than the other stats because at the end of the day, wins and losses matter more than anything. The rest is just an indicator of how you got them.
So if you want to yell at me for ranking Illinois too low, that's your right. Just know that I had nothing to do with it, and the only way the Illini can climb is to play better. Because even though we're 8-1 on the season, save for the Auburn game on Sunday, we aren't exactly lighting it up.
So let's get to our first set of rankings.
TEAM, RECORD - POINTS
1. Iowa, 10-1 - 156
The Big Ten has three teams ranked in the top five right now in Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State, but according to our rankings, those three aren't even the best teams in the conference. That'd be the Hawkeyes who rank in the top half of every single statistic we use in this formula save for one. And that's strength of schedule. So are the Hawkeyes getting fat on a weak schedule? Maybe. I tend to think this is just a really good team.
2. Wisconsin, 10-0 - 152
The Badgers aren't very far behind the Hawkeyes, but the truth is that's mostly because of they're 10-0 record. The point gap would be in the double-digits if based solely on statistics. The truth is that while Wisconsin is really good at some things -- shooting the three, not turning the ball over, defensive rebounding -- they're pretty mediocre at other things -- defending the three, offensive rebounding -- and that's what's keeping them from toppling Iowa.
3. Michigan State, 7-1 - 142
Michigan State has a profile that's very similar to Wisconsin, but the fact the Spartans have a loss and the Badgers don't is what made the biggest difference here. Had the Spartans not lost to North Carolina this week odds are they'd be ahead of Wisconsin. Both because of their record and that they'd have played better against North Carolina!
4. Ohio State, 8-0 - 134
Ohio State is mostly being propped up by its record here. I'm not saying the Buckeyes aren't good, because they are. It's just that they actually rank in the bottom half of the conference in eight of the 14 categories I use. They also just happen to be pretty good in the other six.
5. Penn State, 7-3 - 126
And for the first time a bunch of you are like WTF? Yeah, I know, I wasn't expecting it either, but Penn State has been very strong in a lot of areas. Mostly on offense, where it's been incredibly efficient and shot the ball very well. Now, the Nittany Lions can use some help on the other side of the court, but the offense has been strong enough to get them this high even with the three losses. They're kind of like of what Indiana was to our football power rankings.
6. Michigan, 6-3 - 124
Very similar to Penn State. The Wolverines have been efficient on offense and actually rank in the top three of the conference in four of the 14 categories.
7. Minnesota, 8-2 - 122
You can see how tightly bunched these teams are right here, so essentially one good game or bad game at this point could send them up or down a few spots. And I think Minnesota may go up a bit. So far the Gophers have been solid pretty much across the board. It's just they aren't excelling at anything within the conference.
8. Indiana, 7-2 - 105
Simply put, the Hoosiers are very good at some things -- they're the best in the conference at getting to the free throw line and offensive rebounding -- and they're really bad at others -- they turn the ball over more than anybody else in the B1G, and they just can't shoot the three -- and that kind of fluctuation gets you eighth.
9. Illinois, 8-1 - 93
Before you wonder how, you should know that in my original rankings a few weeks ago that I didn't publish but was just using to test the formula, the Illini ranked 11th. So they've improved. But we just aren't very good anywhere except on the offensive glass, and we've had these mediocre numbers playing against the weakest schedule of any team in the conference so far this season. And that's what worries me in the long run.
10. Purdue, 8-2 - 92
The only thing separating the Illini from Purdue really is the fact the Boilermakers have the extra loss. If Purdue is 9-1 instead of 8-2 it's a few points clear of us and we're here in 10th.
11. Nebraska, 6-3 - 78
Nebraska actually ranks in the top half of the conference in more categories than we do, it's just the ones they don't they're really bad at.
12. Northwestern, 5-5 - 76
It doesn't matter what kind of format you use. When it comes to ranking B1G basketball, Northwestern will usually be at the bottom. Had they not been I'd have known something was seriously wrong with the formula.