In this portion of Getting to Know Everyone, I am going to look at breaking the B1G into tiers. In future articles, I will look at rivalries, previous conferences, coaches and key players, recent accomplishments, and typical expectations.
The B1G is home to some powerhouse programs with multiple NCAA Championships in Michigan (9), Michigan State (3), Minnesota (5), and Wisconsin (6). Initially, it appears that Michigan is out front with Wisconsin and Minnesota as Tier 2. However, a one and done tournament, like the NCAA, does not always crown the best team in a given year. I will look at a multitude of categories to determine a pecking order in the B1G.
Raw Totals for Championships and Tournaments
I included each teams total seasons (not including this year) as well as noting how many seasons were as an independent and how many were during a season in which the NCAA Tournament was held. The best team in each category is bolded. Looking at the raw numbers, it is clear that Michigan and Minnesota are in the 1st tier while Michigan State and Wisconsin occupy the second tier. Ohio State has marginally more success than Penn State, even with 49 extra seasons. Michigan and Minnesota have the longest histories of any B1G teams with MSU close behind. Wisconsin and Ohio State have played even less games as D1 schools. I was surprised to see that Penn State had a varsity team for a few seasons in the 40s. Since the games played are so different between teams, I decided to look at percentages of seasons (where that category was available) where each accomplishment was met.
Percentage of Seasons with Championships and Tournaments
TS is for total seasons, CS is for seasons in a conference, CT is for seasons with a conference tournament, NT is for seasons with a NCAA Tournament. When looking at percentages, WI moves into a tier between UM/MN and MSU. Wisconsin has been a historically elite tournament (conference and NCAA) team while not being as strong in the regular season. Michigan and Minnesota again dominate but Minnesota has performed relatively poorly once reaching the championship game compared to Wisconsin and Michigan. Wisconsin has made up for less seasons by winning conference tournaments and being very efficient once reaching the Frozen Four.
I am not overly surprised looking at this analysis as I would have broken the B1G into three tiers at a glance. After looking a little more in depth I think the B1G needs to be broken into 4 tiers:
Tier 1a -- Blue blood National Title Contenders
Tier 1b -- Cyclical National Title Contender, lower valleys than Tier 1 in general
Tier 2 -- Occasional National Title Contender
- Michigan State
Tier 3 -- Occasional Conference Title Contender
- Ohio State
Tier 4 -- New Team/Wild Card
- Penn State
I have trouble placing Penn State as there is not a history to base future performance on. They are the wild card in the conference and are surprising this year. If other teams join the conference, they will be placed into a Tier 4 for new teams.
Any team is capable of winning the B1G Conference Tournament in any given year but I would expect Minnesota and Michigan to win the regular season 6-7 times out of 10 with Wisconsin and MSU winning 3 or so times. Penn State could mess all of this up if they continue to improve. I just don't see OSU making enough improvements in the near future to predict a B1G Championship.
Share your Tiers and reasons why I'm wrong in the comments. Next time, we'll look into rivalries around the league.