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Looking at Big Ten Efficiency Margins

Efficiency margin is a way of telling which teams are better than others by looking at tempo-free margin of victory. The efficiency margin is points per possession minus opponent's points per possession. A big, positive efficiency margin (say 0.29 like Ohio State's, which would translate to an average of about a 20 point margin of victory over their average 69 possessions per game) is good and a negative efficiency margin is bad. The "adjusted" efficiency margin takes into account the opponent's average efficiency margin, so an individual game's adjusted efficiency would be (Team A's efficiency margin) + (Team B's average efficiency margin). This makes performances against good teams look better than an equal performance against a bad one. It also makes teams with harder schedules look better than teams with weaker ones. The game data is up to date.


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A few quick thoughts:

  • Ohio State is far and away the class of the Big Ten. Every win they've had has been a resounding beatdown, and I'm willing to write of Brandon Paul's explosion a fluke. I think that they probably have the best chance of any team in the country to beat Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Michigan State is still a clear number two. Even though we beat them here in Ann Arbor, I think MSU has the best chance of anyone to unseat OSU for the Big Ten crown. I don't necessarily think it will be a sure loss for us in East Lansing (Zack Novak has Draymond Green's number, which is awesome), but a split against this good of a team isn't a bad thing.
  • Man that loss to Iowa hurts. It was easily Michigan's worst performance in Big Ten play, and we'd be a game ahead in the standings if it didn't happen. The other "how in the world did that happen" game would be Penn State's dismantling of Purdue.
  • Your darkhorse NCAA Tournament contender is... Minnesota? Seems weird, but the Gophers have weathered the loss of Trevor Mbakwe and their efficiency margin indicates that they are in good position for a second half turnaround. They have a tough remaining schedule though.
  • Nebraska had a brutal stretch to open their Big Ten tenure. Wisconsin twice, Michigan State, Ohio State twice, and Indiana is rough. I guess it's baptism by fire, and Nebraska quickly learned what it's like to be in the best conference in college basketball.