The rosters are settled, the players are back on campus, and formal practices are set to begin.
So that means it’s preseason rankings time for college hoops.
Well known college basketball analytical site barttorvik.com has updated their projections for the 2023-24 season. The Big Ten is the jumbled up mess you thought it was, with ten teams ranked from No. 29 to No. 63 nationally.
Here’s where each Big Ten team lands in Torvik’s preseason national rankings, along with their Big Ten strength of schedule in parenthesis:
1 – Purdue (No. 8 hardest Big Ten SOS)
8 – Michigan State (14)
29 – Illinois (5)
31 – Wisconsin (2)
32 – Indiana (11)
35 – Northwestern (10)
38 – Maryland (7)
40 – Ohio State (13)
45 – Iowa (12)
47 – Nebraska (9)
58 – Rutgers (4)
63 – Michigan (3)
130 – Minnesota (6)
150 – Penn State (1)
Now of course the kind of data driven analyses produced by outlets like Torvik’s must come with the necessary cautions about inherent limitations, especially in the preseason. But it’s still fun to examine an impartial assessment, even with its warts.
Torvik projects IU will have the No. 43 most efficient offense in the country, and the No. 22 defense.
As you likely know by now, the Big Ten operates on an imbalanced schedule that creates inequities when it comes to strength of schedule.
According to Torvik’s strength of schedule model, Indiana has the fourth easiest league slate, trailing only Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa. And that strength of schedule variable seems to lift IU in Torvik’s conference projections.
Torvik’s data says IU has a 4.6 percent chance to be the outright Big Ten regular season champ, a 10 percent chance to share the crown, and a 46 percent chance to get a double-bye at the Big Ten Tournament with a top-four finish. IU is projected third in all three of those variables.
The site also models a “Win Matrix,” which runs 50,000 models of the Big Ten regular season. That leads to a range of anywhere from five to 18 Big Ten wins, with 11 league wins the most likely (18.5%) scenario. Indiana finished 12-8 in the Big Ten a year ago, tied for second place. Torvik is currently predicting 19-11 overall and 11-9 in the league for the Hoosiers.
Embedded in all of the team projections are player projections.
Torvik’s model says Xavier Johnson will lead IU in scoring with 15.3 points per game. He gets there with the highest projected minutes percentage and usage rate on the team. That figure is not unheard of. Johnson’s career high points per game for a season is 15.5 — his freshman year at Pitt. Up next are newcomers with big expectations — Mackenzie Mgbako (13.8) and Kel’el Ware (10.4).
The projections say Mgbako will lead IU in rebounding (6.8 per game) and Johnson will top the assist column (4.9).
There are plenty of suspect elements in the Torvik data. For example, it suggests Ball State transfer forward Payton Sparks will play more minutes than Malik Reneau, and C.J. Gunn won’t be a top-10 contributor on the team. Things like that could end up being true, but right now it’s just data influenced by last year’s numbers.
Indiana opens the 2023-24 season on Nov. 7 when they face Florida Gulf Coast in Bloomington.
For complete coverage of IU basketball, GO HERE.
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”