With the start of the season almost here, every writer, blog, and town drunk (not necessarily mutually exclusive categories) has come out with their predictions for how each team will finish by the end. With these predictions come the equally inevitable accusations of "no respect" and the ever present "They never understand my team".
However, only rarely are these predictions actually judged against the subsequent events. That's where this article comes in. I took the consensus predictions from last year and graded all the Big Ten teams relative to their expected finish. (If you want a more thorough look at the rest of the B1G's 11 team years, take a look here.)
Overall, this year was fairly accurately predicted. Note that the three-way tie for first (and second and third) means they all get a "2" for their final position.
Average Predicted Finish: 9
Actual Finish: 5 (+4)
Instead of being godawful, they were just sort of average.
Average Predicted Finish: 5.6
Actual Finish: 2 (+3.6)
We should have seen the intensity of this team from winning that dorm brawl.
Average Predicted Finish: 3.1
Actual Finish: 2 (+1.1)
I think Gabe Carimi is still blocking an NU defender. They're somewhere in northern Canada.
Average Predicted Finish: 10
Actual Finish: 9.5 (+.5)
The Gophers sure proved the haters wrong. Instead of 10th, they finished in a tie for 9th.
Average Predicted Finish: 7.1
Actual Finish: 7.5 (-.4)
No matter where Michigan is predicted to finish, they always do slightly worse.
Average Predicted Finish: 1
Actual Finish: 1.5 (-.5)
Nebraska was the only team in any conference selected unanimously to win their division. While they didn't steamroll through it quite as much as expected, they performed much better than a number of other teams picked to finish first (Texas, Florida).
Average Predicted Finish: 10.4
Actual Finish: 11 (-.6)
Indiana couldn't live up to the preseason expectations of tying for 10th.
7. Ohio State
Average Predicted Finish: 1.1
Actual Finish: 2 (-.9)
A three way tie for first? We expected better.
Average Predicted Finish: 6.3
Actual Finish: 7.5 (-1.2)
In fairness, Northwestern was in a 4 way tie for 5th before Persa got hurt.
9. Penn State
Average Predicted Finish: 3.5
Actual Finish: 5 (-1.5)
JoePa got #400, but not many others.
Average Predicted Finish: 7.5
Actual Finish: 9.5 (-2)
I can't think of an ACL joke that hasn't been made.
Average Predicted Finish: 2.4
Actual Finish: 5 (-2.6)
I don't know if Iowa was much worse than the previous year, but expectations were much higher and they got a few bad bounces.
Now the fun part: the consensus predictions for this year.
Last year the poll on this article correctly identified the most overrated team and had the second most overrated team in a virtual tie for second (I blame the "Michigan Sucks" write-in votes for taking Penn State to 3rd). The most obvious choice this year seems to be MSU, but my pick is Wisconsin. Who was the last team at any level to successfully start a quarterback with only 3 months experience in their system? (I honestly don't know the answer to this question. If anyone does, please tell me.) Plus, their first 4 conference games are against Nebraska, MSU, and OSU. If they lose two of those, they could be eliminated from the divisional race. Teams without motivation can become almost arbitrarily bad.
My pick for most underrated is of course Northwestern. The consensus from this site is about 4-5 conference wins. 5 would be at worst 3rd place. The other two reasonable options are the two teams ahead of Northwestern in the division, Michigan and Iowa.
Note: I can't figure out a way to have two polls, one for underrated and one for overrated. Underrated will have to be in the comments.