Big Ten by the Numbers

I realize that doing anything related to logic and numbers in a league with 12 teams named the Big Ten seems counterintuitive, but I’m not going to let that stop me.  Here are some interesting numbers I found for each of the league’s 12 squads.  And unlike the contrast between the conference’s name and its number of members, these actually make sense.

Illinois – 114.8 – ORtg of Joseph Bertrand, who has been playing extremely well lately.  Through the first 12 games, Bertrand had scored just 38 points, but starting with his 19-point game against Missouri where he was a perfect 9-of-9 from the field, he has been outstanding.  After his 25-point outburst (on 11-of-12 shooting) against Nebraska, Bertrand has 75 points in the last five games, making 34-of-47 from the field.  For the season, he’s making 63.2 percent of his two-pointers, and he’s providing Bruce Weber with another capable scorer.

Indiana – 4 – Consecutive games where the Hoosiers have allowed at least 1.00 points per possession.  IU had done that just twice over their first 12 contests, and three of their four Big Ten opponents have scored at least 1.08 ppp.  No one had scored over 1.04 ppp against them in the non-conference, and Kentucky was the only team to reach that mark.  Indiana’s defensive turnover rate is down in league play, and they are also allowing better shooting percentages against them.  Tom Crean has really harped on getting more deflections this year, and those seem to have tapered off over the first few Big Ten games.

Iowa – 12 – Games where the Hawkeyes have allowed at least 1.05 ppp, including seven of their last eight.  The team is really starting to gel offensively and have a great turnover rate despite playing at a relatively fast pace.  Guys like Matt Gatens, Roy Devyn Marble, Aaron White, and Bryce Cartwright are all playing well, but they have to improve defensively to take the next step.


Michigan – 85.3 – Percent of minutes played by freshman point guard Trey Burke.  Part of this is a result of not having other options at the points, but Burke also commits just 1.8 fouls per 40 minutes and is playing extremely well.  If not for Cody Zeller at IU, Burke would be a lock for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.  He boasts a terrific 29.8 assist rate and has scored in double figures in 10 straight games and 14 of his last 15.

Michigan State – 10 – Number of games out of their last 11 where the Spartans have scored at least 1.04 ppp.  They have actually scored 1.11 ppp or more in seven of those games, which is a huge improvement over what they showed early in the season.  Draymond Green is doing a little of everything for this team (as expected), but Keith Appling is playing terrific basketball in the backcourt.  MSU continues to pound the offensive glass at a high rate, but they have drastically cut down on their turnover rate as well.

Minnesota – 32.2 – Free throw rate in the 10 games without Trevor Mbakwe.  They posted a 51.6 FTR in the seven games where their star big man played.  The Gophers are now 0-4 in the Big Ten and have scored less than 1.00 ppp in three of their four conference games after doing that just once in their first 13 contests.  Without Mbakwe inside, their inability to consistently get to the line and their continued struggles from beyond the arc (33.9% from deep this year) are magnified.

Nebraska – 76.5 – Free throw percentage, which ranks eighth in the nation.  Unfortunately, the Huskers rarely get to the stripe as evidenced by their subpar 32.0 FTR.  The schedule-makers didn’t do them any favors with their first four Big Ten games against Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Illinois, but poor offensive efficiency is killing them.  Nebraska ranks 184th or worse in each of the four factors on offense.

Northwestern – 25.5 – OReb%, which ranks 326th in the country.  The Wildcats aren’t much better on the defensive glass given their 235th ranking there.  They have lost three of their first four league games, and things don’t get easier with their next five against Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Purdue.  A slew of losses there will move them directly off the bubble, and while they shoot the ball well and don’t turn it over, the fact that they rarely grab their own misses or get to the line puts a ceiling on their offense.  That’s not good news for a team that is limited defensively.

Ohio State – 0.80 – Number of points per possession under which OSU has held five of their last six opponents.  The Buckeyes rank first in the nation DReb%, which definitely helps.  They also rank seventh in defensive TO% and rarely put their opponents on the line.  During Pomeroy’s recent explanation of Wisconsin’s rating, he suggested that Ohio State should remain atop the adjusted deficiency rankings for the rest of the season.  That’s pretty impressive for a team with so many offensive weapons.

Penn State – 47.8 – Tim Frazier’s assist rate, which ranks second in the nation.  Quite frankly, Frazier is the Penn State offense.  He’s playing just under 90 percent of the minutes, ranks in the Top 10 in usage rate at 32.4, and somehow has a TO% less under 20.  He’s also drawing an amazing 7.0 fouls per 40 minutes and has already attempted 125 free throws.

Purdue – 7.2 – Robbie Hummel’s turnover rate, which places him in the Top 10 in the country.  His 25.8 usage rate makes that even more impressive, and while I know that sometimes forwards can end up with a low turnover rate based on how infrequently they hand the ball, that’s not the case with Hummel.  One concern for Purdue fans is the amount of minutes Hummel is logging, and the Boilers really need one or two of his teammates to become consistent contributors. 

Wisconsin – 38.8 – Percent of the Badgers’ field goal attempts that come from beyond the three-point line.  Not surprisingly, Wisconsin ranks 321st in FTR, and they also are outside of the Top 200 in OReb%.  Consequently, they aren’t going to win many games when they struggle from behind the arc as they have in the last three games where they have gone 15-of-70 (21.4%) from long range.  They have also been getting pounded on the offensive glass, allowing OReb% of 35.3, 34.3, and 40.0 in their last three contests.

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