2018 Big10 Football Post Season Analysis

I will start with final power rankings, which I see as this:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Michigan
  3. Penn State
  4. Iowa
  5. Northwestern
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Michigan State
  8. Purdue
  9. Nebraska
  10. Minnesota
  11. Indiana
  12. Maryland
  13. Illinois
  14. Rutgers

The most difficulty for me was which team, Michigan State or Wisconsin, should land in the #6 spot. They had comparable, but different regular seasons and in the end it mostly comes down to which metrics you tend to emphasize when comparing teams.

TeamW-LNet PtsSOSBlowout Ls
Michigan St7-560131
Wisconsin7-521532

I compiled these rankings based on a combination of computer and human analysis. The first thing I did was come up with a ranking formula that rates each team on a number of metrics including wins, SOS, close games, blowout wins and blowout losses.

Here are those results:

RankTeamWinsNet PointsClose LossesBlowout WinsBlowout LossesSOS RankRating
1Ohio State12231061452.21474
2Michigan10231071152.21057
3Penn State9175241361.29317
4Iowa8169340491.08886
5Northwestern8320070.81663
6Purdue65642130.67276
7Michigan State721211130.36126
8Wisconsin76013253-0.29206
9Nebraska4-1551120-0.36903
10Minnesota6704339-0.65981
11Maryland5-224516-0.75738
12Indiana5-4211217-0.78590
13Illinois4-16112558-2.43836
14Rutgers1-21521637-3.35546

As you can see, it’s quite close to the final rankings. Purdue is the only team that changes more than one spot. I have them two spots lower, at #8, which I will attempt to justify.

I need some sort of other analysis to compare against, or at least support/deny some of my thoughts around where these teams rank. I thought a cluster analysis would give me a better idea of which teams were comparable to each other in 2018.

I created two cluster plots using two different methods and the results are below:

The only difference between these is that in one Nebraska and Purdue are lumped together as similar, and in the other, Purdue joins a cluster with Northwestern, Michigan State, and Indiana.

Good to see everything else the same because it gives me more confidence that those teams are similar and should thus be grouped together.

This confirmed or taught me a number of things:

  1. Ohio State and Michigan had the best two seasons by a lot
  2. Although Northwestern had an impressive season and made it to the Big10 championship, Iowa and Penn State both appear to have had better overall performances throughout the season
  3. Rutgers is clearly the worst team
  4. Nebraska’s season was most comparable to Purdue

Once I finalized my rankings, I compared them to both the BTN final power rankings and the Sagarin Rankings for good measure and mine were not terribly different. So this gave me confidence in where the teams are positioned.

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