Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 12

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

Another wild weekend produced another wild series of Pairwise flips. Penn State swept Wisconsin, Michigan State tied and beat Michigan and Minnesota and Ohio State split.

Penn State has moved back up to sixth in the Pairwise. Minnesota is fifth, Ohio State 15th and Wisconsin 21. The Gophers have the sole lead in the conference now and has a three-point lead over the Badgers. Penn State is five points out of first and Ohio State is 10 points out. The Buckeyes, though, are just seven points (so about three games) out of second.

(After the jump: Each game has wild PWR implications and Penn State is nearly a lock and Michigan may be the worst in the B1G)

Each Game Wildly Affects The PWR

The Pairwise has been fluctuating wildly with Big Ten teams. A loss can drop a team four places and a win can minimize the damage. Penn State went from 11th to 7th and Ohio State dropped outside of the top-15 in the Pairwise and then back into it. The losses against Michigan and Michigan State are especially killer, because the teams are so bad.

While it’s unlikely Minnesota would lose to a team like Michigan and Michigan State, they could fall to Wisconsin, which could also affect their Pairwise quite a bit. And as far as Ohio State goes, they’ve already lost a game to Michigan (which sent them out of the Pairwise) and it might happen again.

Penn State Is Almost A Lock

Last week I said it’s not time to panic for Penn State yet, and I’m sure everyone in State College is breathing a little easier after the sweep against Wisconsin. It had big implications on two fronts: First, it showed the Nittany Lions aren’t completely done and second, it has given them quite a bit of Pairwise stability. Before when I calculated a potential Pairwise finish, it showed Penn State wouldn’t make the NCAA tournament if they were swept by Minnesota and Wisconsin. So getting not one but two wins from the Gophers is huge.

I haven’t calculated to see which games Penn State needs to win to finish high enough, but it’s safe to say they can’t really lose to Michigan or Michigan State (no one can).

Michigan May Be The Worst in the B1G

I know that Michigan is higher than Michigan State in the Pairwise (although not by much), but after the two series they’ve played this year, I think Michigan State is better. The Spartans are a mess, yes, and they don’t but they had some impressive wins (including the victory over North Dakota). And they destroyed Michigan on Saturday.

The Wolverines have gotten good goaltending, as I’ve mentioned, but the defense has been a mess and offense has struggled. And the Spartans just seem to have Michigan’s number. While they’ve played well against the Wolverines in the past, that was because of the good goaltending and defense the Spartans used to have.

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