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Big Ten Basketball Rankings, Week 5

Another weekly stab at ranking the Big Ten basketball teams, with latest results and player efficiency ratings included


For this week's round-up, I went ahead and ran my efficiency stats for the Big Ten players through 12/1. I've included the results of this weekend in my standings, but not in the number-crunching. The what and why can be found here, but my efficiency stats, in a nutshell, try to value each players' contributions (points, rebounds, assists, etc.) and efficiency (how many missed shots, turnovers, etc.). I calculate both per-game and per-possession rankings by taking the box scores from Big Ten teams' games and running them through my player efficiency ratings to determine the individual worth of 128 players. For the findings below, I trimmed anyone who played less than 3 games total or 9 possessions per game to eliminate outliers. So that has cut the number of players listed below down to a "tidy" 118. The full worksheet can be found here:

Let me say that I am quite aware of the small sample size here, and of the variance in strength of schedules. This first running of the numbers is only to check in, to get a starting point for how the pre-conference numbers end up and how they compare to the in-conference numbers. I do find some interesting things out by looking at these numbers (Shannon Scott is having a great year without scoring! Penn State, Purdue, and Nebraska's starters are remarkably inefficient).


IPSPG = individual possessions per game, or how many possessions (on worksheet)

EPtotal= the total Effective Production of the player to date (on worksheet)

EPPG= Effective Production Per Game

EPPS= Effective Production Per poSsesion

for reference:

Mean 12.2, .3548

Median 11.6, .3568

With outliers included

Mean 11.5, .3605

Median 10.9, .3627

(So, essentially, if a particular player is above 12 EPPG and .3550 EPPS, they're doing pretty well. If they are below that mark, not so much, but keep in mind that outside shooters tend to get lower rankings and bench bigs tend to get higher rankings. This is why I compare and rank starters by position across the conference).

1. Indiana (9-0) W v. Central Connecticut State 100-69

Quick Thoughts: You thought Zeller's poor performance against Georgia couldn't hurt him? Don't worry about him finishing second to Jared Berggren right now. Cody's not had the best performances, and been recovering from a nasty sickness, and these numbers were run before his 19/19 game on Saturday. Despite all of the raised-eyebrow-concern Hoosier fans have had about Watford's slow start and inconsistency, he's still rating as the 5th power forward in the conference. I wouldn't be surprised to see his efficiency rise in Big Ten play, too. Victor Oladipo is second only to Brandon Paul among Big Ten starting wings, and no shooting guard is looking more efficiency than Jordan Hulls. Again, there's all sorts of qualifiers to throw out about scheduling and sample size, but the Hoosiers certainly don't look worse than anyone in the conference. On a less happy note, you can see that Austin Etherington, even in very spotty minutes, was starting to put together some efficiency numbers approaching respectability before his injury. He could easily take over Maurice Creek's role off the bench next year, if there's room.

Player name, EPPG / EPPS, Conference ranking of player by position

Zeller, Cody 26.8 / 0.5796 2C

Oladipo, Victor 23.1 / 0.5329 2SF

Hulls, Jordan 22.6 / 0.4836 1SG

Abell, Remy 11.6 / 0.4576

Sheehey, Will 16.2 / 0.4421

Watford, Christian 17.9 / 0.4181 5PF

Ferrell, Yogi 16.1 / 0.3852 5PG

Etherington, Austin 4.5 / 0.3488

Creek, Maurice 4.8 / 0.2362

Hollowell, Jeremy 5.7 / 0.2336

2. Michigan (9-0) W v.Western Michigan 73-41, W v. Arkansas 80-67

Quick Thoughts: With the season-ending injury to Tim Frazier, Trey Burke takes over the de facto top point guard spot in the Big Ten. Although Nik Stauskas' standing on the team doesn't look especially impressive, note that he is fourth when compared to other Big Ten starting guards. Freshman Mitch McGary's efficiency numbers are very impressive off the bench, as are back-up rookie point Spike Albrecht's, but I'm a little surprised that Jordan Morgan's numbers have stayed so steady throughout his career. If there's one notable thing about measuring the Wolverines' efficiency against the Hoosiers, it's that two of the better marks on the UM roster are from guys who may not get off the bench in a Big Ten game (Bielfedlt & Albrecht) and McGary has never played more than 19 minutes in a game.

Burke, Trey 27.4 / 0.5171 2PG

McGary, Mitch 11.4 / 0.5096

Robinson III , G. 20.6 / 0.4172 7PF

Albrecht, Spike 4.6 / 0.4006

Bielfeldt, Max 3.8 / 0.3929

Hardaway Jr, T. 19.4 / 0.3696 6SF

Stauskas, Nik 15.9 / 0.3635 4SG

Morgan, Jordan 10.9 / 0.3453 7C

Horford, Jon 3.5 / 0.2639

Vogrich, Matt 4.1 / 0.2076

3. Illinois (10-0) W v. Western Carolina 72-64, W @ Gonzaga 85-74

Quick Thoughts: OK, they're still unbeaten even after a trip to Gonzaga, so it is time to show John Groce and the Illini some respect. Brandon Paul is early contender for Big Ten POY, and is second only Jared Berggren in the efficiency rankings, even before his explosion against the Zags. I have to say, while I'm becoming convinced on Groce as a coach, I am according them the respect of a top-three ranking, but I'm a little leery given their inconsistency from game to game. Really, Groce is working with the same players that Bruce Weber had, and there have been some improvements in efficiency ratings, but they're not outrageous. And outside of Paul, the peer comparisons don't look particularly great for the Illini versus the rest of the conference. I'm thinking it'll be enough to get Illinois solidly into the NCAA tourney now, but I'm not yet sold on them as a real contender for the Big Ten crown, yet.

Paul, Brandon 25.0 / 0.6234 1SF

Bertrand, Joseph 15.4 / 0.4321

Griffey,Tyler 14.4 / 0.3568 10PF

Langford, Devin 3.1 / 0.3271

Richardson, DJ 17.2 / 0.3258 9SG

Abrams, Tracy 14.7 / 0.3102 8PG

McLaurin, Sam 9.9 / 0.3029

Egwu, Nnanna 11.2 / 0.2806 12C

Henry, Myke 4.8 / 0.2659

4. Minnesota (10-1) W v. South Dakota State 88-64, W @ Southern Cal. 71-57

Quick Thoughts: Trevor Mbakwe hasn't even stopped coming off the bench, and he's third overall in the efficiency rankings, behind only Paul and Berggren. It doesn't look like he's lost anything in his layoff, and yet Minnesota is now using him as just one piece of their team, rather than the drafthorse that they were at this time last year. It's easy to look at the rankings of Elliason and Williams (and Walker) to see the depth of these Gophers, but how about the job Coleman and Austin Hollins are doing on the wing? One more note, Tubby Smith just became the 19th coach to win 500 games. That's pretty elite company, but I wonder where people think he ranks just among current Big Ten coaches?

Mbakwe, Trevor 17.2 / 0.5928

Williams, Rodney 26.1 / 0.5513 1PF

Elliason, Elliot 12.2 / 0.4681 4C

Coleman, Joe 20.7 / 0.4532 3SF

Hollins, Austin 21.4 / 0.4366 3SG

Walker, Maurice 6.3 / 0.4321

Otosenieks, Oto 5.6 / 0.3729

Hollins, Andre 17.5 / 0.3762 7PG

Ahanmisi, Maverick 7.1 / 0.3761

Welch, Julian 7.1 / 0.3119

Ingram, Andre 3.6 / 0.2327

5. Ohio State (6-1) W v. Long Beach State 89-55

Quick Thoughts: How is Shannon Scott leading the Buckeyes in efficiency? Try on a 6-to-1 assist/turnover ratio, and then throw almost two steals a game. DeShaun Thomas is second, and despite his good pre-game numbers, his efficiency may never get all that high on a per-possession basis due to his taste for outside jumpers. Craft and Thomas are doing fine, but I'm a little puzzled in why Evan Ravenel continues to get more minutes than Amir Williams. Also, we may see LaQuinton Ross eventually take over the starting spot from Sam Thompson, as his last two games have been phenomenal.

Scott, Shannon 18.0 / 0.5757

Thomas, Deshaun 23.8 / 0.4493 4PF

Williams, Amir 10.5 / 0.4001

Craft, Aaron 21.8 / 0.3931 4PG

Smith Jr, Lenzelle 16.8 / 0.3446 6SG

Della Valle, Amedeo 4.4 / 0.3358

Ross, LaQuinton 10.0 / 0.3227

Thompson, Sam 12.7 / 0.3195 10SF

Ravenel, Evan 10.0 / 0.3036 10C

McDonald, Trey 1.6 / 0.1338

6. Michigan State (8-2) W v. Arkansas Pine-Bluff 76-44, W v. Loyola (IL) 73-61

Quick Thoughts: I'm not sure why Derrick Nix is getting more possessions than Adriean Payne: even out of position for much of the first part of the season, Payne is still more efficient than anyone on the roster. Brandon Dawson looks like the best bet for your next super-efficient MSU superstar, fwiw, although that breakthrough may not come until next season. How about that Denzel Valentine, though? Getting starting minutes and posting totally decent efficiency averages as a relatively unheralded recruit is a nice little bonus. There are areas of concern, especially when one looks down the bench. Nonetheless, I think what Izzo really needs is for Travis Trice to get back up to speed and earn starting minutes: improved ball-handling and outside shooting seems to be what this Spartan team really lacks.

Payne, Adriean 16.9 / 0.5116

Dawson, Branden 20.8 / 0.4767 2PF

Valentine, Denzel 16.5 / 0.4162 5SF

Appling, Keith 23.6 / 0.4158 3PG

Harris, Gary 13.2 / 0.3401 7SG

Nix, Derrick 14.3 / 0.3288 8C

Costello, Matt 2.7 / 0.2796

Trice, Travis 6.2 / 0.2263

Gauna, Alex 1.8 / 0.1476

Kearney, Brandon 3.8 / 0.1332

Byrd, Russell 1.5 / 0.0667

7. Wisconsin (6-4) W v. Nebraska-Omaha 86-40, L @ Marquette 50-60

Quick Thoughts: This Badgers club is in trouble, and while I do believe that Bo Ryan will right the ship to make to the NCAA tourney, it may be last team from the Big Ten to squeak in. for a team that's struggling this much, one thing you'll notice is the relatively high efficiency marks across the board. Tellingly, the two worst marks at the point guard slots, pointing to another reason Josh Gasser was slated to slide over to start at the lead spot before his season-ending injury.

Berggren, Jared 26.7 / 0.6497 1C

Brust, Ben 22.1 / 0.4686 2SG

Showalter, Zak 6.6 / 0.4637

Dekker, Sam 14.4 / 0.4622

Kaminsky, Frank 7.1 / 0.4541

Evans, Ryan 18.6 / 0.4179 6PF

Bruesewitz, Mike 12.4 / 0.3627 7SF

Marshall,George 10.2 / 0.3057 11PG

Jackson, Traevon 9.4 / 0.2783

8. Iowa (8-2) W vs. South Dakota 87-63, W v. Iowa State 80-71

Quick Thoughts: The Hawkeyes look pretty efficient inside (Woodbury is starting out like Cody Zeller did last year!), and really inefficient on the perimeter. Even Marble is in the bottom half for Big Ten scoring guards. I don't know if starting Anthony Clemmons alongside Mike Gesell is the answer or not (they have reeled off three wins, so that's something), but there's not a lot of other options for coach Fran McCaffrey.Zach McCabe's been playing out of position, and I'd watch for his efficiency to actually rise as his game shifts more inside, and I'd actually expect Josh Oglesby to bounce back at some point from a truly horrible performance so far. Oglesby doesn't do much but shoot threes, and he hasn't been hitting for a spell, but he'll likely snap out of it.

Woodbury, Adam 14.4 / 0.4916 3C

White, Aaron 21.4 / 0.4587 3PF

Olaseni, Gabe 5.7 / 0.4574

Basabe, Melsahn 13.5 / 0.4198

Marble, Roy Devyn 18.3 / 0.3389 8SG

May, Eric 10.7 / 0.3369

McCabe, Zach 9.4 / 0.3192 11SF

Gesell, Mike 12.6 / 0.3021 10PG

Clemmons, Anthony 7.6 / 0.3015

Oglesby, Josh 4.0 / 0.1493

Ingram, Pat 1.7 / 0.1416

9. Nebraska (6-2) L v. Creighton 42-64

Quick Thoughts: Sure, they got spanked by Creighton at home, but who didn't see that coming? However, Ray Gallegos' sudden "improvement" makes a lot more sense looking at his per-possession efficiency rating. It's still markedly better than his in-conference rating in the Big XII two years ago (.0284), but it's easier to see that he's producing because he's getting a lot of minutes. Of Gallegos' in-conference peers at his position, only Anthony Johnson's rating is worse, and only slightly at that. Still, with Andre Almedia producing, coach Tim Miles looks to have a reasonable shot of staying out of the cellar this season. That'd be impressive, given that his only perimeter options off the bench are six-foot walk-ons.

Almedia, Andre 14.5 / 0.4505 6C

Ubel, Brandon 19.3 / 0.4115 8PF

Talley, Dylan 15.9 / 0.3361 9SF

Parker, Benny 13.4 / 0.3095 10PG

Rivers, David 8.7 / 0.2287

Gallegos, Ray 12.1 / 0.2249 11SG

Peltz, Mike 5.2 / 0.2011

Menke, Trevor 2.5 / 0.1094

10. Northwestern (7-3) W @ Baylor 74-70, L v. Butler 61-70

Quick Thoughts: I've been raving about the surprisingly good performance of Reggie Hearn this season, but freshman center Alex Olah deserves some hype, too. He's actually one of the very top-rated freshmen, behind only McGary and Woodbury to start the year. Wow. I think one key to how mystifying Drew Crawford's year has been so far is examplified in his standing here: seventh on the team, and just below redshirt freshman Mike Turner. Yuck. Another home loss keeps Carmody's squad from rising up much in the standings after that surprising win at Baylor.

Olah, Alex 14.2 / 0.4667 5C

Hearn, Reggie 20.7 / 0.4414 4SF

Marcotullio, Alex 8.5 / 0.3903

Swopshire, Jared 17.1 / 0.3882 9PF

Sobolewski, David 19.9 / 0.3771 6PG

Turner, Mike 10.3 / 0.3788

Crawford, Drew 16.7 / 0.3472 5SG

Abrahamson, Kale 3.1 / 0.2114

Demps, Tre 1.2 / 0.0691

11. Purdue (4-5) W v. Lamar 72-39, L @ Eastern Michigan 44-47

Quick Thoughts: Well, the Purdue fans' hype about Jacob Lawson is not wrong, he is playing very efficiently, when he gets the minutes. He's only 7th on the team in possesions played, though. Furthermore, although my system tends to reward big men off the bench, this is rather ridiculous. The only starter in the top seven here is Terone Johnson, and the only other guard among this group is Raphael Davis. Coach Painter is maximizing the minutes of the three least efficient players on the roster by giving Byrd and the three Johnsons starting minutes.

Lawson, Jacob 12.5 / 0.5087

Marcius, Sandi 3.7 / 0.4487

Simpson, Jay 5.3 / 0.4517

Carroll, Travis 7.3 / 0.3891

Johnson, Terone 18.3 / 0.3601 8SF

Davis, Raphael 5.2 / 0.3481

Hale, Donnie 8.6 / 0.3213

Anhrop, Dru 3.6 / 0.2991

Hammons, AJ 10.1 / 0.3164 9C

Byrd, DJ 13.0 / 0.2572 11PF

Johnson, Anthony 10.9 / 0.2171 12SG

Johnson, Ronnie 7.9 / 0.1758 12PG

12. Penn State (5-4) L v. LaSalle 57-82, W v. Army 78-70

Quick Thoughts: It's easy to get a quick look at Frazier's impact here, as he was the only player in their first 7 games who was above-average in efficiency. Quick note: I did not count Frazier's scoreless six minutes in the game against Akron where he was injured, so this is only counting his first three games. Also, don't look for Jermaine Marshall to remain so low, he started poorly but has really stepped up in Frazier's absence. I expect his numbers to rise markedly. Brandon Taylor will also likely take over the starting center role as Jon Graham and Ross Travis slide over as starters, but we'll see if he keeps it when matched up against the intimidating bigs of the Big Ten.

Frazier, Tim 32.5 / 0.5209 1PG

Newbill, DJ 17.6 / 0.3249 10SG

Graham, Jon 9.4 / 0.2926 11C

Taylor, Brandon 7.3 / 0.2539

Marshall, Jermaine 12.9 / 0.2448 12SF

Travis, Ross 11.4 / 0.2228 12PF

Borovnjak, Sasha 3.4 / 0.1295

Colella, Nick 3.1 0.0962