Ohio State

Using win shares to evaluate the remaining undefeated teams

Most college basketball fans intuitively understand win shares. Football guys freak out when their team loses, whereas basketball guys understand that teams lose. Even if a team is projected to be favored in every remaining game, as Wichita State currently is, that doesn't mean they'll go undefeated. In fact, the odds are overwhelmingly against them going undefeated in the regular season.

A 15-point favorite is going to win roughly 90% of the time. So if a team played 10 straight games in which they were 15-point favorites, the odds are that they would go 9-1. It's just math.

Those are win shares. Teams lose.

Heading into Saturday there were 16 teams which had yet to drop a game. Two lost, leaving us with 14 undefeateds. Using Ken Pomeroy's projected point spreads for all 14 teams' remaining games, I was able to generate a rough look at the odds facing them if they want to be the first team since Indiana in 1976 to go undefeated. This obviously only considers the regular season, as post-season matchups won't be determined for months. This also ignores multiple games in Christmas tournaments, as those matchups haven't been set either.

The list is ordered from the strongest team in the nation (according to Pomeroy) and working down from there. Does Ohio State, since they're the best team in his system, have the best chance of going undefeated?

The 'Underdog?' column shows how many games Pomeroy projects for each team where they won't be the favorite. Win shares are simply wins broken down by odds. That 15-point favorite (a 90% chance of victory) is credited with 0.9 future wins. The other columns are self explanatory.

Team Remaining Games Underdog? % Perfect Win Share Record
Ohio State 23 3 0.20% 26-5
Pittsburgh 22 2 0.08% 25-6
Villanova 22 3 0.09% 26-5
Syracuse 22 3 0.04% 25-6
Arizona 22 4 0.07% 25-6
Wichita St 22 0 2.60% 28-3
Connecticut 22 5 0.00% 24-7
Iowa St 21 4 0.00% 21-7
Massachusetts 22 1 0.20% 25-5
Oregon 23 5 0.00% 22-8
St. Mary's 23 3 0.03% 23-6
Missouri 22 8 0.00% 23-8
Boise St 21 6 0.00% 21-8
Toledo 23 3 0.01% 25-6

Wichita State, who is currently favored in every remaining game, has the best chance at 2.6%, while no one else even tops 1/5 of 1%. And this doesn't even include the postseason. In other words, it's hard. Indiana 1976 looks pretty safe.

Two undefeated teams play today. Oregon travels to Ole Miss, while Saint Mary's hosts Eastern Washington.

Using win shares to evaluate the remaining undefeated teams

Most college basketball fans intuitively understand win shares. Football guys freak out when their team loses, whereas basketball guys understand that teams lose. Indiana, for example, is projected to be favored in every remaining game, but that doesn't mean they'll go undefeated. In fact, the odds are overwhelmingly against them going undefeated in the regular season.

A 15-point favorite is going to win roughly 90% of the time. So if a team played 10 straight games in which they were 15-point favorites, the odds are that they would go 9-1. It's just math.

Those are win shares. Teams lose.

Heading into Saturday there were 18 teams which had yet to drop a game. Four lost, leaving us with 14 undefeateds. Using Ken Pomeroy's projected point spreads for all 14 teams' remaining games, I was able to generate a rough look at the odds facing them if they want to be the first team since Indiana in 1976 to go undefeated. This obviously only considers the regular season, as post-season matchups won't be determined for months.

The list is ordered from the strongest team in the nation (according to Pomeroy) and working down from there. Does Indiana, since they're the best team, have the best chance of going undefeated?

The 'Underdog?' column shows how many games Pomeroy projects for each team where they won't be the favorite. The other columns are self explanatory.

Team Remaining Games Underdog? % Perfect Win Share Record
Indiana 22 0 1.4% 28-3
Florida 23 0 6.4% 28-2
Syracuse 23 2 0.8% 27-4
Duke 22 0 4.4% 29-2
Michigan 22 6 0.01% 25-6
Arizona 23 1* 0.5% 24-4
Cincinnati 22 4 0.0% 24-7
Wichita State 21 2 0.1% 25-5
Illinois 22 12 0.0% 22-10
New Mexico 21 5 0.0% 23-8
Wyoming 20 6 0.0% 22-8
Charlotte 21 8 0.0% 20-10
LSU 24 12 0.0% 16-13
Eastern Kentucky 21 9 0.0% 20-10

(*2 games to be determined in December tourney)

It turns out that Florida and Duke have the highest probability of an undefeated regular season. And the reason is that the Big Ten is just too strong top to bottom, whereas the ACC is weaker, and the SEC is weaker still. Also, note that the undefeated LSU Tigers, using win shares, project to a 16-13 record.

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