Weekly Conference Review in the B1G, and player efficiency ratings


Ten of the twelve teams in the Big Ten conference now own a "signature win", and we're nowhere near through with January. Wow! I’ve crunched the efficiency numbers for the first quarter of conference play, throwing out the non-conference schedule, and added them into my rankings. Importantly, I only worked through the games last Thursday (1/12), so this doesn’t include the numbers from the upsets that Iowa and Northwestern sprung this weekend, or the beatdown that the Buckeyes put on the Hoosiers. Rankings, commentary, and ratings are below the jump.

I've taken the box scores for the first four or five conference games and run them through my formula to get individual per-game and per-possesion efficiency ratings. The what and why can be found here, and the worksheet can be found here.

Terminology
IPSPG = individual possessions per game, or how many possessions
EPtotal= the total Effective Production of the player to date
EPPG= Effective Production Per Game
EPPS= Effective Production Per poSsesion

Mean per-game 10.3
Median per-game: 9.9

Mean per-possesion: .2797
Median per-possession .2803

1. Michigan State 4-1

Still in the lead despite getting spanked at NU, but I don’t really expect them to stay here. The schedule just doesn’t get any easier coming up. The efficiency stats show that Keith Appling & Derrick Nix have put together an incredible start, Draymond Green is getting it together again, and Brandon Wood’s play has leveled off a bit. Brandon Kearney’s per-possession rating is tops in the conference, but he put together a really nice line in a blowout over Iowa, so expect a regression to the mean, post-haste. A trip to Michigan is up next, which should be an interesting game since the Wolverines swept the Spartans last season.

Name EPPG/EPPS
Kearney, Brandon 6.3/.6419
Appling, Keith 29.3/.5661 1PG
Green, Draymond 29.8/.5357 1PF
Nix, Derrick 18.3/.4681
Dawson, Branden 13.3/.3908 2SF
Payne, Adriean 9.9/.3652 4C
Thornton, Austin 11.5/.3392
Wood, Brandon 13.1/.2541 6SG
Trice, Travis 3.3/.1319

2. Ohio State 4-2

I’m keeping them up here despite a loss at Illinois, as I just think they’re unlikely to face another incredible performance like the one Brandon Paul put on... and it’s worth noting that the Buckeyes still almost pulled out a road victory. Also, the revenge they just exacted on Indiana in the first half demonstrated to me that there still is a real gap between the top two teams and the rest of the conference. Lenzelle Smith’s efficiency was well above average before his breakout game against IU, and DeShaun Thomas and Aaron Craft are also playing at relatively high levels as well. The only note of concern is that the bench has become markedly less efficient in conference play, but with a lot of freshmen on hand that’s somewhat to be expected.

Name EPPG/EPPS
Sullinger, Jared 29.6/.5879 1C
Williams, Amir 5.5/.4144
Thomas, Deshaun 17.6/.3983 3PF
Craft, Aaron 17.6/.3593 4PG
Buford, William 18.3/.3319 2SG
Smith, Lenzelle 12.2/.3209 4SF
Scott, Shannon 6.8/.2766
Thompson, Sam 5.1/.2327
Weatherspoon, JD 3.0/.2037
Ravenel, Evan 2.7/.1752
Sibert, Jordan 2.7/.1285

3. Illinois 4-1

Brandon Paul’s amazing performance probably has given the Illini a lock for a NCAA tourney spot. Which is probably good for the conference, and moreso for those of us here at CQ who want Bruce Weber to be performing just well enough not to be on the hotseat. Paul’s performance versus OSU did give him a giant bump in his numbers. That’s good for Illinois, for Leonard’s numbers have dropped in conference play -reasonably so, but DJ Richardson & Tyler Griffey’s stats have also fallen off a cliff. Sam Maniscalco is battling injuries, and the bench is producing precious little. I will say that it’s a little unfair to Tyler Griffey to compare him to other starting power forwards when he’s really only getting 15 possessions a game (less than Derek Elston, for example), but the apparent four-guard line-up with Tracy Abrams as the de facto starter at point alongside Leonard, Paul, Richardson, and Bertrand is hard to assess. I’d predict a series of losses for Illinois, but they’ve actually got a pair of winnable games up next (@PSU,Wisconsin at home).

Name EPPG/EPPS
Paul, Brandon 25.5/.4068 1SF
Leonard, Meyers 17.5/.3382 5C
Bertrand, Joseph 15.5/.3152
Henry, Myke 4.6/.2811
Maniscalco, Sam 11.3/.2778
Egwu, Nnanna 4.6/.2346
Richardson, DJ 10.7/.1881 12SG
Griffey,Tyler 1.9/.1231 12PF
Abrams, Tracy 4.9/.1066 12PG

4. Michigan 4-2 W(OT) v. NU, L @ Iowa
It was more disappointing in the way that the Wolverines lost at Iowa than recording the loss itself. The Hawkeyes simply had the Wolverines solved, shortly after Northwestern shouldawouldacouldadidna beat Michigan in Ann Arbor. It’s not a good time to start slumping, as after MSU comes to the Crisler Center, a three-game road trip awaits (Arkansas, Purdue, Ohio State) before they return home to face Indiana. I’m still ranking them above IU for the moment as they did manage to pull a win out of their hat versus Northwestern at home, which the Hoosiers were unable to do against Minnesota. Numbers-wise, frosh Trey Burke has started out very, very well, while Smotrycz and Novak have had relatively rough starts.

Name EPPG/EPPS
Burke, Trey 26.3/.4632 3PG
Hardaway, Tim 18.7/.3454 3SF
Morgan, Jordan 13.5/.3342 6C
Smotrycz, Evan 12.6/.3189 7PF
Vogrich, Matt 3.2/.2808
Douglass, Stu 10.5/.2526
Novak, Zach 11.5/.2419 7SG

5. Indiana 3-3
It was a pretty disappointing week, but I don’t think I can drop IU any lower than this in all fairness. Watford has shot 12.5% on two-pointers since the Michigan game, Verdell Jones has done nothing but damage to his own numbers for the last week, and the Hoosier defense has been embarrassed. That said, they still own some great wins, and sixth man Will Sheehey is returning (not included yet in the efficiency numbers). We knew these guys weren’t national title threats when they were taking down Kentucky & OSU. We shouldn’t freak out now after a couple of losses. A road win at Nebraska should calm any existential doubts about this club. The award for surprisingly solid efficiency over the first five games goes to Matt Roth - off-the-bench snipers usually have the worst efficiency rates unless they’re hitting everything... which Roth has pretty much done so far. The other efficiency rates are very disappointing, with everyone but Zeller coming at average... at best. To look at this with a silver lining, Oladipo & Watford are playing pretty terribly for them - even compared to last season, so expect their numbers- and the Hoosier defense- to bounce back at some point soon.

Name EPPG/EPPS
Zeller, Cody 19.4/.4147 2C
Roth, Matt 9.0/.3137
Pritchard, Tom 3.8/.2898
Oladipo, Victor 14.8/.2871 9SF
Hulls, Jordan 14.7/.2689 8PG
Elston, Derek 3.7/.2508
Watford, Christian 12.6/.2183 11PF
Jones, Verdell 9.9/.2116 10SG
Abell, Remy 2.1/.1662

6. Iowa 3-3

While I don’t expect the Hawkeyes to finish above .500 in conference play, looking at their remaining schedule there are only three or so games that I would mark down as sure losses. Beating Michigan at home after winning at Minnesota and at Wisconsin gives Iowa a great chance to finish with an overall winning record. The real concern here is the unevenness of performance - a really good win over Michigan followed two cruel beatdowns by MSU & OSU. If I didn’t see those blowouts as a huge drag on the individual numbers, it would actually rather surprise me to see that this is a .500 team. Aaron White looks really great in efficiency off the bench, but everyone else looks a little bit less than mediocre. And Josh Oglesby is off to a truly terrible start.

White, Aaron 15.2/.4138
Archie, Devon 4.3/.3127
Gatens, Matt 15.2/.2725 5SG
McCabe, Zach 9.6/.2565 9C
Marble, Devyn 13.9/.2476 9PG
Cartwright, Bryce 8.9/.2401
Basabe, Melsahn 9.9/.2393 10PF
Brommer, Andrew 1.9/.1958
May, Eric 6.2/.1883 11SF
Oglesby, Josh 0.0/.0000

7. Wisconsin 3-3
Some redemption has started to fall Wisky’s way. The Badgers hit threes early and posted up late to win at Purdue, and then held on at home versus a newly scrappy Huskers team that they had destroyed on the road just a couple of weeks earlier. Bo Ryan’s club still doesn’t look as good as their gaudy computer rankings, but they finally look like they’ll piece together enough conference wins to get another at-large NCAA bid. Jared Berggren has perhaps the most notable fall-off in efficiency in conference play, so it begs the question of why Frank Kaminsky is getting a mere 8.6 possessions per game?

Name EPPG/EPPS
Kaminksy, Frank 3.6/.4238
Evans, Ryan 16.1/.3511 4PF
Taylor, Jordan 19.4/.3411 5PG
Bruesewitz, Mike 11.2/.3063 8SF
Berggren, Jared 9.5/.2407 10C
Gasser, Josh 12.5/.2315 8SG
Brust, Ben 8.6/.2116
Wilson, Rob 1.6/.1148


8. Purdue 3-2
I’m really not trying to pick on or disrespect the Boilers here. They’ve got two road wins, a better conference record than the above three teams, and I do think they’ll finish above Iowa (who they beat on the road) and have a solid shot at getting into NCAA tournament. However, the home loss to Wisconsin really hurt them this week. Also, there’s a rough point in the schedule awaiting Painter’s boys after the home game with Northwestern (facing three more road games with four ranked teams in five games). Also, I told everyone to disregard DJ Byrd’s poor pre-conference numbers, and he has sure responded in conference play - only centers Elliot Elliason and Derrick Nix have better numbers off the bench! Terone Johnson has also surprised with a pretty good performance off the bench, while Jacob Lawson’s learning curve in Big Ten games has been disappointingly steep.

Name EPPG/EPPS
Byrd, DJ 15.5/.4584
Johnson, Terone 13.2/.3727
Hummel, Robbie 16.2/.3469 5PF
Carroll, Travis 10.3/.3298 7C
Jackson, Lewis 11.8/.3243 6PG
Smith, Ryne 12.3/.2829 4SG
Barlow, Kelsey 12.4/.2791 10SF
Johnson, Anthony 3.3/.1934
Hart, John 2.4/.1844
Lawson, Jacob 2.6/.1205

9. Northwestern 2-3
The Wildcats final got a court-storming signature victory after years of near misses when they took down Michigan State at home. If David Curletti really is just a super-late bloomer and can continue that sort of performance (that game isn’t included in the numbers below), maybe Carmody’s club can turn it around and get back into the at-large conversation. The Wildcats do seem to be on an uptick, as they absolutely should’ve beaten Michigan on the road. Still, I’m holding back any real changes in expectations until they play road games at Wisconsin and Minnesota this week. I did love how they showed how to beat the Michigan State bigs to the bucket - and if the Hoosier guards had showed any ability to hit a cutting big man in the last couple of games I would be especially encouraged. Finally, I saw a good nickname for the frosh point: "Sobocop!"

Name EPPG/EPPS
Shurna, John 20.6/.3349 6PF
Crawford, Drew 18.5/.3081 6SF
Mirkovic, Luka 10.6/.3287 8C
Sobolewski, Dave 17.3/.2801 7PG

Curletti, David 5.9/.2502

Marcotullio, Alex 6.2/.2411

Hearn, Reggie 6.8/.2139 9SG
Cobb, JerShon 0.8/.0292

10. Minnesota 2-4
I feel like I should be boosting the Gophers higher after two great road wins, but they were such hard-luck losers in the previous four games I’m still cautious about them being anything but the best of the bottom tier. The most notable thing about the conference stats so far with Minny is that the bigs are all playing very well. Welch and Coleman are also providing good great efficiency performances from the wing, and the only real area of concern is point guard as the Andre Hollins experiment appears to be dormant for the time being and Maverick Ahanmisi has been less than efficient, to say the least.

Name EPPG/EPPS
Elliason, Elliot 9.6/.5092
Williams, Rodney 24.4/.4756 2PF
Otosenieks, Oto 5.5/.4237
Sampson, Ralph 17.0/.4136 3C
Coleman, Joe 9.2/.3675
Welch, Julian 15.2/.3416 1SG
Hollins, Austin 13.8/.3079 7SF
Armelin, Chip 5.4/.2893
Ahanmisi, Maverick 8.7/.2165 10PG
Hollins, Andre 3.8/.1732
Ingram, Andre1.5/.1581


t-11. Nebraska 1-5
Nebraska just put a hurt on Penn State and gave a scare to Wisconsin in Madison, so it’s been a pretty good week for Doc Sadler's squad. The Huskers are clearly a different team when they have Dylan Tally and Jorge Brian Diaz playing, even just to come off the bench. I’m not ready to boost them above Penn State, as frankly the Lions seem like they might yet be the better club overall, but it’s pretty unclear at this point. Bo Spencer has had a rough adaptation to conference play, but I expect him to bounce back. I’m a little surprised at senior Caleb Walker’s poor start, and still quite disappointed by the freshmen class here. I noted how little Doc Sadler has work with from the bench when Talley & Diaz were hurt, and you can see it spelled out pretty clearly below.

Name EPPG/EPPS
Richardson, B. 15.9/.3267 3SG
Talley, Dylan 12.8/.2991
McCray, Toney 14.7/.2964 8PF
Diaz, J.Brian 10.3/.2699
Ubel, Brandon 9.2/.2248 11C
Walker, Caleb 8.0/.1744 12SF
Spencer, Bo 8.6/.1671 11PG
Fox, Mike 1.6/.1613
Hilliard, Corey 0.1/.0134
Rivers, David 0.0/.0000
Moore, Josiah 0.0/.0000

t-11. Penn State 1-5
After such a promising previous week, the Nittany Lions came crashing back to earth with ugly losses at Nebraska and at home against Minnesota. To make matters worse, that was probably the most winnable two games on their docket for a while. The personnel looks a little better than the Huskers, but Billy Oliver and Jermaine Marshall are right behind Frazier for most possessions played, despite both having pretty rough starts in Big Ten play (Oliver’s shooting in the Purdue game being the exception). So, Chambers is maximizing the possessions of low-efficiency guys in the first six games at the cost of playing guys like Borovnjak and Woodyard more (and maybe for good reasons like spreading the floor with shooters to create room for Frazier to operate, I just don’t know). I’m also a little confused about the rotation here, as Jon Graham appears to be the starting power forward but plays less minutes per game than freshman Ross Travis, and I’m not sure if it’s because Travis is more effective or if Graham just picks up quick fouls early. Anyway, right now PSU and Nebraska seem like the only two conference teams likely to finish below .500 overall.

Name EPPG/EPPS
Frazier, Tim 27.8/.4715 2PG
Borovnjak, Sasa 8.4/.3232
Glover, Matt 12.4/.3206 5SF
Woodyard, Cameron 10.4/.3193
Travis, Ross 7.0/.2868
Graham, Jon 6.4/.2766 10PF
Marshall, Jermaine 8.6/.2039 11SG
Oliver, Billy 7.4/.1868 12C
Collela, Nick 4.2/.1519
Lewis, Trey 3.1/.1252

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