Interesting. FYI though, you know what is more similar than the 65 pt gap between Illinois (7) and Iowa (8) compared to the 72 pt gap between Illinois (7) and Purdue (4)? The 75 pt gap between Illinois (7) and Penn St. (9).The Athletic Poll rankings. The actual poll is behind a paywall. However, Jeremy Warner kindly provided the breakdown of the Poll results for us. 28 rankings from 1st to 14th (14 points for 1st, 1 point for 14th). I plotted the Data as a normal distribution plot and determined the Percentile for each team. Doing so allows me to get a more clear picture of how the folks over at The Athletic feel like the B10 will shake out this season. Breaking the data out there are a few key things that jump out at me.
1. The gap between Illinois (7) and Michigan (5) is very small. Only 16 of the total 2940 points awarded or roughly 0.5%. Put it another way, the 3 teams in 5th thru 7th are all within the 60-66th percentile. This tells me that the folks at the Athletic would not be surprised with Illinois finishing anywhere between 5th thru 7th. I am definitely biased but I think that Michigan and Wisconsin are riding their recent success while Illinois is being held back by their recent failures - I believe this puts us in a great position to leap frog into a 5th place B10 finish or better.
2. The 65pt gap between Illinois (7) and Iowa (8) is similar to the 72pt gap between Illinois (7) and Purdue (4). Put another way, the difference in percentile is approximately 22 to drop to 8th place, or to move up to 4th place. This tells me that The Athletic feels it is just as likely for Illinois to finish 4th as 8th. It also sort of sets their Ceiling / Floor expectations for Illinois to be within this range. Again, noting that the rankings are likely holding Illinois back due to recent failure, I could see our Floor / Ceiling for the season being closer to 8th through 3rd.
While I don't think I'd be happy with an 8th place finish in the B10, I would be happy if Illinois was consistently (~80% of seasons) finishing in the 3-8 range in B10 Standings with the occasional (~10% of seasons) 1-2 finish along with the occasional (~10% of seasons) 9-10 finish (and staying out of the 11-14 range all together).
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School Data Percentile Michigan State 391 94.89% Maryland 349 89.53% Ohio State 336 87.24% Purdue 311 81.92% Michigan 255 65.78% Wisconsin 241 61.02% Illinois 239 60.33% Iowa 174 37.25% Penn State 164 33.89% Indiana 155 30.97% Minnesota 127 22.68% Rutgers 95 14.95% Nebraska 69 10.14% Northwestern 34 5.60%