With the conference tournaments in the books for the last few spring sports, the 2014-2015 B1G All-Sport Standings (B1GASS) are complete. But it's not enough to simply observe the final, complete data set and move on. The B1G All-Sport Standings incorporate the entire year's worth of work from every student and staff member of every sport at every school in the conference. That's a big deal, and winners deserve to be recognized.
That's why I'm proud to present to you the inaugural B1GASS Cup!
As a refresher, these standings are my attempt to quantify the performance of each Big Ten school against each other across all sports. Methodology is described in the original post here. Most recent B1GASS update is here.
To present an even broader picture of the relative success of the various athletic departments than I did in the last post, I included both a B1G and a national championship count. A couple of notes about the championship figures:
- For most conference sports, a first place finish is not the same thing as a conference championship, hence the different values in those two columns. A full list of B1G champions by sport can be found here.
- Several schools sponsor varsity sports in conferences outside the Big Ten, with most of those under NCAA jurisdiction but a few in non-NCAA sanctioned sports*. Those sports are not included in the B1GASS table, but national championships won in those sports are included in the championship count.
B1GASS Cup Final Results
Based on these results, the 2014-2015 BIGASS Cup Champion has been determined. Let's head down to the field for the trophy presentation.
The winner is...
THE Ohio State Buckeyes, as God and Woody intended!
The final results table:
Four somewhat distinct tiers emerge from this data:
Tier 4: The B1Ggest Loser (#14)
Oh my god.
Tier 3: The Saddest Rivalry (#12-13)
Never having really paid too much attention to which schools were traditionally good or not good at the non-revenue sports, I came into this with the idea that Indiana is, typically, good. Whether or not that's usually the case, the fact is that this year they sucked pretty hard, because Purdue finished in last place 6 times (no one else, save Rutgers, was last more than 3 times) and STILL finished ahead of the Hoosiers.
Purdue... yeah, this is about what I expected out of Big Ten Welfare Queen Purdue, the founding member of the conference that STILL has fewer conference titles than U. Chicago (who left 70 year ago) because they're content to sit on their couch rehabbing their ACLs and cashing BTN checks. At least make it look like you're trying, guys.
Tier 2: The Solid Middle (#5-11)
The line between Tiers 1 and 2 is somewhat blurry, but with the relatively large gap between #4 Illinois and #5 Penn State, and less than .100 CS% separating #5 Penn State and #11 Iowa, I felt it was a good place to make the cut. Similar to Indiana, I had a perception that Nebraska athletics were consistently strong across the board, so we'll see if this is a one-time down year for them or if five years in they just haven't adjusted to that Bee-One-Gee Speed. Also, congrats to Maryland for coming in and instantly inserting themselves into the middle of the pack.
Looking at the teams in Tier 2, I realized how much I let a school's success in football and men's basketball influence my perception of their athletic department as a whole--I was very surprised to see Michigan State so close to the bottom and Northwestern so close to the top.
Tier 1: The B1G Boys (#1-4)
Illinois does apparently have SOME nice things, as they performed well enough to claim #4. Illinois, if you do actually know how to compete, as it appears, then why can't you do it in the sports that matter? Michigan, as you would expect, had strong showings across the board. And thanks to having only one out of twenty-four teams finish in the bottom third of the conference all year (let that sink in for a minute), Minnesota takes second place. As for Ohio State, very few things DIDN'T go right for the Buckeyes this season, which we'll get to in a moment.
Now, one order of business before we dive into the data...
The Little 4
- Ohio State, thanks to some good finishes down the stretch, surpassed Minnesota to take 1st place in the inaugural B1GASS Cup. The Buckeyes finished at the top of the conference in nearly every metric--average standing, CS%, WCS%, first place finishes, top 3rd finishes, B1G Championships, and national championships (of which they had as many as the rest of the conference combined). To say it was a great year to be a Buckeye would be an understatement.
- Minnesota, Illinois and Northwestern impressively ended the year without finishing in last place in any sport. On the flip side, Purdue, Indiana and Rutgers ended the year without finishing in first place in any sport.
- Speaking of Rutgers... Wow. Pour yourself a stiff drink and let's examine the wreckage. Think about this. They averaged a 10th-place finish, despite five of the sports they participate in having fewer than 10 members. Their CS% was 2.6 standard deviations below the mean and more than a whole standard deviation behind second-to-last Indiana. In addition to being one of three schools to not finish 1st in anything, the Knights have the fewest top 3rd finishes and the fewest middle 3rd finishes. Out of 23 sports teams, the Knights only finished better than the bottom third of the conference FOUR TIMES (next worst was Indiana and Northwestern with 11). Rutgers finished in last place 10 times in 23 chances. These numbers are staggering. Look, I understand where the Knights were coming from, the step up in competition, the time it will take to utilize resources, that you'll be dominating all of us in 50 years, etc. But I can't imagine there has been any B1G school with such an awful performance across the board in decades, and maybe in the history of the conference. Get it together, guys.
- I had never realized that Wisconsin has three separate varsity rowing teams--men's, women's, and women's lightweight. (Yet they can't fund baseball? Even Rutgers funds baseball, albeit on a field more decrepit than your local rec league field.) Badgers gonna Badger. Side note, what genius decided the women's team's would be distinguished by weight? Either he wasn't married or he wasn't for much longer.
- Michigan State is an interesting outlier in that they had 18 sports finish in the top or middle tier, good for fifth in the conference--yet they somehow ended up finishing below .500 at 9th place overall, surrounded by teams with only 12-13 sports in the top or middle tier.
- Finishing in 8th place at just slightly over .500, Maryland definitively showed an ability to compete in the B1G in their first year--at least in some sports. They tied for the conference lead with 5 first-place finishes, but on the other hand they only converted those 5 first-place finishes to 2 conference titles, making the Terps the only school in the conference with a discrepancy of more than 1 between those two tallies. There seems to be little middle ground with Maryland's programs--they're mostly either elite or awful, without much in between. On the other hand, winning the women's lacrosse national championship and finishing runner-up in the men's probably means they're not worried about it too much.
B1G National Championships
This is unrelated to the B1GASS Cup, but let's take a minute while we're covering every sport at every school in the conference and give credit where credit is due: six Big Ten schools combined to bring home a conference record TEN national championships this year, beating the previous high of nine set in 1999-2000. B1GASS Bonus Points (redeemable for nothing) awarded to the following title-winning programs:
Ohio State: Football, wrestling, pistol, synchronized swimming, rowing
Maryland- W lacrosse
Michigan State- W cross country
Minnesota- W hockey
Nebraska- W bowling
Penn State- W volleyball
And finally, to bring the 2014-2015 B1GASS Cup to a close, the one question that matters during Rutgers Week here on OTE:
Is Rutgers Bad?
Empirically, completely, undeniably: yes.