You can make up any kind of statistics or power rankings you want, and I’ve done just that with Big Ten men’s basketball.
Once teams have played, say, eight or 10 games, the standings totally speak for themselves. But for now, with teams having played either two-ninths or one-sixth of their league schedule, all we have to go by is who teams have played and where they’ve played them. By the end of the week, several teams could be elevated or devalued. So I give you the following formula not to be taken the least bit seriously. It is valid only until tonight’s games have started, if then:
Home wins over anyone: 0 points (You’re supposed to win at home, period. Right?)
Home losses to anyone but Northwestern and Penn State: minus-2 points.
Home losses to Northwestern or Penn State: minus-5 points.
Road wins over Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin: 2 points.
Road wins over Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska and Purdue: 1 point.
Road wins over Northwestern or Penn State: 0.5 points. (Hey, any road win is a good road win. Ask Illinois, which lost at Northwestern Sunday.)
Road losses against Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin: minus-0.5 points.
Road losses against Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska and Purdue: minus-1 point.
Road losses against Northwestern or Penn State: minus-2 points.
The standings, with actual won-lost record in parentheses:
1. Michigan +2.0 (3-0). The Wolverines have two road wins. We’ll see how they do at Wisconsin this Saturday.
2. (tie) Iowa +1.5 (3-1). The most-impressive win by any Big Ten team all season is Iowa’s at Ohio State.
2. (tie) Michigan State +1.5 (4-0). To be the man you’ve got to beat the man, and Michigan State is the man right now.
4. Wisconsin +0.5 (3-0). Besides Iowa, Badgers have played Northwestern and Penn State. At Indiana tonight.
5. Ohio State -1.5 (2-2). Has to get back on the horse Thursday at Minnesota.
6. Minnesota -2.0 (2-2). Was so close to winning in East Lansing last Saturday.
7. (tie) Illinois -2.5 (2-2). You can’t lose at Northwetern and be taken seriously.
7. (tie) Indiana -2.5 (1-2). Got drilled at home by Michigan State. Must beat Wisconsin tonight.
9. (tie) Northwestern -3.0 (1-3). Can’t go 0-18 in the conference. That’s something.
9. (tie) Purdue -3.0 (1-2). Next three games are against Illinois, Penn State and Northwestern.
11. Nebraska -4.0 (0-4). The home arena is spiffy. The team? Not so much.
12. Penn State -6.0 (0-4). Lions could easily go 0-for-January.
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