Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 7:00 PM
Before the 2015-16 college basketball season began, the Iowa Hawkeyes were barely on the radar in the Big 10. They didn’t make the Preseason Top 25 in the AP, even though Maryland, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan all did. A measly six points in the voting had Iowa just outside the Top 40.
Right now, there’s little doubt that they’re the best in the Big 10. They’ve already swept previous national #1 Michigan State in impressive fashion. And, they took care of Purdue this past Sunday in what many expected to be a down-to-the-wire thriller. There’s still work to do with Maryland on deck this Thursday. But…as we speak…Iowa is the class of what might be an improving conference.
Of course, the Big 10 has a knack for disappearing in the Dance! This year…every league has question marks…and all the major teams have exploitable weaknesses. At least Iowa will be seeded in a way that should help them…which may be true for the SIX teams who are currently well within the brackets.
Let’s start our discussion by looking at Monday’s computer ratings from Ken Pomeroy of kenpom.com and Jeff Sagarin of USA Today…
BIG 10 COMPUTER RANKINGS
Iowa: #2 in Pomeroy, #5 in Sagarin
Purdue: #9 in Pomeroy, #9 in Sagarin
Michigan State: #13 in Pomeroy, #8 in Sagarin
Maryland: #14 in Pomeroy, #18 in Sagarin
Indiana: #20 in Pomeroy, #13 in Sagarin
Michigan: #29 in Pomeroy, #22 in Sagarin
Wisconsin: #59 in Pomeroy, #55 in Sagarin
Northwestern: #80 in Pomeroy, #66 in Sagarin
Ohio State: #78 in Pomeroy, #75 in Sagarin
Nebraska: #88 in Pomeroy, #78 in Sagarin
Illinois: #118 in Pomeroy, #103 in Sagarin
Penn State: #135 in Pomeroy, #121 in Sagarin
Minnesota: #200 in Pomeroy, #173 in Sagarin
Rutgers: #278 in Pomeroy, #261 in Sagarin
Wisconsin has fallen off the radar with a new head coach. So, the computers are showing six teams in the top 30…five in the top 20! But, nobody else in the top 50…and Wisconsin not yet seeming like a team that’s qualified to crash the party. Sagarin may be overstating the case with his more favorable rankings. But, there’s just not any evidence you can put forward to say that other conferences should be rated better. So many question marks this season. Iowa is one of the few teams thus far that’s answering every question.
BIG 10 ADJUSTED EFFICIENCY RANKINGS
Iowa: #6 on offense, #14 on defense
Purdue: #38 on offense, #5 on defense
Michigan State: #10 on offense, #42 on defense
Maryland: #24 on offense, #16 on defense
Indiana: #19 on offense, #46 on defense
Michigan: #11 on offense, #125 on defense
Wisconsin: #88 on offense, #65 on defense
Northwestern: #82 on offense, #100 on defense
Ohio State: #146 on offense, #43 on defense
Nebraska: #74 on offense, #123 on defense
Illinois: #112 on offense, #161 on defense
Penn State: #165 on offense, #117 on defense
Minnesota: #205 on offense, #196 on defense
Rutgers: #304 on offense, #221 on defense
Great balance from Iowa…and decent enough balance from most of the others. Michigan State and Indiana will have to shore up their defense once they’re playing within a class of elites. Michigan always plays much softer inside than realized because their slow pace creates the illusion of defense. Purdue may not shoot well enough to string together wins in March. But…you’re going to have a talented and battle-tested sextet heading to the Dance. And, they’re going to be seeded in such a way that some teams are likely to break through.
BIG 10 BRACKETOLOGY (thru January 25)
Iowa: projected to be a #2 seed
Maryland: projected to be a #3 seed
Michigan State: projected to be a #3 seed
Purdue: projected to be a #5 seed
Indiana: projected to be a #6 seed
Michigan: projected to be a #8 seed
All of those teams can sweat some losses before even falling to the bubble. Purdue and Indiana are just as likely to rise up and earn Sweet 16 seeds. We’re often skeptical of the Big 10 in this sport. This season…it’s a really nice group at the top and there’s a lot to like. Sparty’s been a recent disappointment…but we all know how strong they close. They’re one of the few Big 10 teams that doesn’t dissolve under March pressure. Wisconsin’s mental toughness may have retired with their former coach.
We still have two more conferences to get caught up with in the very near future. Look for a summary of the SEC on Thursday to get you ready for that big SEC-Big 12 challenge Saturday that includes Kentucky at Kansas and LSU hosting Oklahoma. Next week, the Pac 12 will finish off our look at the major basketball leagues. Plenty to talk about in other sports too…so keep reading!
And, keep linking up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS! You can purchase BEST BETS every day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about combination packages through the Super Bowl or March Madness, please call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.
Back to football soon, as we run the numbers for the NFL’s Final Four this weekend. Then, we’ll pick up with more college basketball conference summaries next week…
Thursday: College Basketball Conference Summary…the SEC
Friday-Saturday: College Basketball Previews…Kentucky/Kansas and Oklahoma/LSU
Saturday-Sunday: NBA TV Preview…Golden State at New York
Next Friday: NFL Super Bowl Preview…Denver Broncos vs. the Carolina Panthers
Hope you enjoyed our breakdown of the BIG 10. Now, go make some BIG MONEY with THE BIGGEST NAME IN HANDICAPPING, JIM HURLEY!
Be sure to follow:
Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley
Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters