Still, using the log5 method developed by Ken Pomeroy, let's take a look at the missing opponents on each schedule and figure out who had the toughest schedule in the conference. The chart below will list each team with the team they did not play at home and the team they did not play on the road. We'll crunch some numbers after looking at the teams.
|Wisconsin||Michigan State||Ohio State|
|Ohio State||Wisconsin||Penn State|
|Penn State||Ohio State||Northwestern|
The most common trueism about the Big Ten this year is that it was incredibly balanced with everybody except Indiana having a chance to knock you off on a given night. Given this fact, the teams who didn't face Indiana twice were at an extreme disadvantage. Does that mean Purdue and Michigan had the toughest schedules? Maybe. Below is the average expected winning percentage (using offensive and defensive efficiency and adjusting for home/away) for each set of extra opponents before factoring in the team, with the fancy conditional formatting included as a bonus.
To further clarify what these numbers mean, Michigan's remaining opponents, against average competition, would win 629 out of 1000 games. Wisconsin's would win 915 out of 1000. The teams on top got an easier schedule, since they didn't get to play the easier teams, while the teams toward the bottom got a tougher schedule.
Our gut reaction to the schedule was correct. Purdue and Michigan, by virtue of not playing Indiana, had the toughest schedules. Schedule strength is only half of the equation. It doesn't really matter, for example, how tough Indiana's remaining schedule would have been, as they probably would have lost those games anyways. Similarly, even though Purdue and Michigan had easy remaining schedules, Purdue probably has a better chance of winning both of their remaining games. Below are the chances that each team goes 2-0, 1-1, and 0-2 against their remaining opponents.
Chances are that Purdue would have won both of their remaining games had there been a full schedule. For that reason, you could say the Boilermakers would have had a legitimate gripe for the regular season conference crown had they finished within a game of the Spartans.
One more quick excercise: I am going to take the favorite of each unplayed game and add them into the standings, to get the "True" Big Ten Standings.
You may notice that the numbers above disagree slightly with these. Michigan State was statistically more likely to go 1-1 against the remaining competition, but went 2-0 here. This is likely because they were a very very slight favorite over Wisconsin, so the odds of going 2-0 were very reduced despite being favored in both games.
You can see that Ohio State, among the conference's middle teams, got a raw deal from the schedule in addition to Purdue and Illinois. Is anyone at all surprised to see that Penn State had an easy schedule? That team was the definition of "flash in the pan."
When the conference schedule does not allow for a complete round robin, the standings can be a bit skewed. While the Big Ten is unlikely to produce a schedule champion, the same cannot be said of other conferences like the Big East. Remember this when Louisville gets knocked off in the tournament.