The sun seems to be shining just a bit brighter since Penn State's very surprising upset of Michigan in Happy Valley. Before the Minnesota game, the objective for IU was clear: beat Minnesota, beat Iowa, and beat Ohio State, and the Big Ten title would be IU's and IU's alone before the season finale in Ann Arbor. The Minnesota loss changed that, but 24 hours later Penn State ensured that it would not be the first Big Ten team to go 0-18 and gave IU's Big Ten title hopes a huge lift. IU now stands at 12-3 in the Big Ten. Wisconsin and Michigan State are a game back at 11-4. Ohio State and Michigan each have five losses. For IU to clinch the outright Big Ten title before heading to Ann Arbor, there are four games that matter. First, of course, IU had to win its next two home games, against Iowa and Ohio State. Pomeroy gives IU a 91 percent chance of beating Iowa and an 82 percent chance of defeating Ohio State. If IU wins those two games, then IU's worst possible Big Ten record is 14-4. The only two four loss teams right now are Michigan State and Wisconsin. Michigan State's best chance of a loss is at Michigan on Sunday. Pomeroy gives Michigan a 66 percent chance of victory. Wisconsin's best chance at a loss is next Thursday, at Michigan State. Pomeroy gives Michigan State a 54 percent chance of winning. I feel pretty comfortable with all of those possible outcomes. We don't need a single upset in those four games. On the other hand, the Pomeroy odds say that there is only a 26 percent chance of all of those things working out. Interestingly, the Pomeroy odds suggest that IU has a better chance of winning out (43 percent), including in Ann Arbor, than of winning versus Iowa and OSU and being able to count on MSU and Michigan to defend their home courts. It doesn't "feel" like the truth, but those are the current projections.
|Roy Devyn Marble||27||30.0||4.4||11.0||40.5||1.3||3.7||33.7||3.8||4.7||80.5||0.8||3.0||3.8||2.8||2.0||0.9||0.2||1.4||14.0|
|Abodunrin Gabriel Olaseni||27||9.6||1.0||2.0||50.9||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.8||1.1||75.9||1.3||1.6||2.8||0.1||0.4||0.3||0.8||1.2||2.8|
I don't follow "bracketology" all that closely, and I have to say that I'm surprised that Iowa is considered so far outside of the field (not even in Lunardi's last 8 out). The Hawkeyes have an decent chance to finish 9-9 in the Big Ten, and they have wins over Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa. Their only truly awful losses were at Virginia Tech and at Nebraska. This is by far Iowa's best team since Steve Alford left town, but my guess is that the Hawkeyes' regret will center on a) being unable to pull off the upset in close home losses to IU and Michigan State early in the Big Ten season; and b) the failure to hold second half leads on the road against Purdue or Nebraska. IU should be able to hold serve at home against the Hawkeyes, but I hope the Hoosiers, having tasted an opponent's desperation in Minneapolis on Tuesday, are ready to play a team that must believe it can save its season with a win in Bloomington. The Hawkeyes, in a total reversal of last year's fortunes, are a very good defensive team. They rank #3 in the conference in defensive efficiency, and are holding opponents to 30 percent from three point range in Big Ten play. The game in Iowa City was IU's worst offensive performance (.92 points per possession) of this season or last season. If the Hoosier offense looks good early, then IU should be in good shape.