Big 10 Championships Mid-Season Analysis: Michigan or Indiana?

Now that all the major mid season invites are complete, pretty much every team in the country has had a meet that they’ve taken seriously. This means that we can get some useful information by comparing team’s times so far. The easiest way to do this is with our Swimulator. Swimulator runs a projection of a meet using best times from this season respecting reasonable event choices and the three event limit (no diving). So far I’ve looked at the national meet for both men and women, but it’s time to start looking at conferences.

The first conference up: the Big 10. Last year Michigan won the women’s meet by a healthy 300 point margin over Indiana and Indiana took the men’s meet by a narrow 40.5 point margin over Michigan. This year, Indiana and Michigan appear ready to take the two top spots in both meets again, and there’s a reasonable chance of a close race for the title in both the men’s and women’s meets.

Women’s Analysis

In the current women’s Swimulator rankings Michigan hold a minuscule 5.5 point lead over Indiana (1199.5-1194). Last year as of December 15th in the same Swimulator rankings Michigan had 1330 points to Indiana’s 1013. At Big 10 championships neither team deviated dramatically from their mid season projection Michigan scored 1371 swimming points, 41 more than projected, and Indiana scored 1045.5 swimming points, a gain of 32.5.

If that pattern repeats itself, the meet figures to be much more competitive this year. Indiana returns all 107 of their diving points from last year, and Michigan return 82. At this point, the gap between these too teams is too close to call. Should be exciting in February.

There is some evidence that Michigan rested a bit less than Indiana this year at their mid season meets. Indiana’s swimmers were an average of 1.1% faster than last year at their mid season meet and Michigan were on average 0.0% faster. That data could mean any number of things. One possibility is that Michigan have more time than Indiana left to drop at the end of the year. If that’s the case, expect another easy Michigan win. Another possibility is that Indiana’s swimmers are just better this year.

That the Swimulator ranking places these teams on even footing may come as a surprise to anyone following the nationals Swimulator projections where Michigan is ranked first overall and Indiana is a relatively distant 9th with barely half Michigan’s projected point total. These seemingly incongruent results come about because a conference meet scored to 24 places against lesser teams is a very different meet than nationals. At nationals, great relays and a few truly elite swimmers can go a long way. In a conference format, the bottom half of the roster matters a lot, and the advantage gained from top end swimmers is lessened. In the nationals projection Mackenzie Looze and Shelby Koontz project to 0 points, but in the Big 10 projection, both score over 60.

By projected points, Michigan’s top 9 swimmers out score Indiana’s top 9 swimmers by a decent margin (672-619), but after that Indiana’s depth takes over (Michigan’s 16th swimmer Katie Duggan scores 11, Indiana’s 16th Ileah Doctor scores 24). When the meet is as close as this one appears to be, getting as many of your 10th-20th swimmers into B and C finals as possible can make a big difference.

Behind the top two, the next team is Wisconsin with 877.5 projected points, but they seem unlikely to hold onto their third ranking at conference. Ohio State is 58.5 points behind Wisconsin and return 121 more diving points. Minnesota are 186.5 points back of Wisconsin, but they return 192 more diving points.

Given that, Ohio State looks like a slight favorite for 3rd with a possible great competition between Wisconsin and Minnesota for the 4th spot. Northwestern Purdue could be competitive for 6th. If Purdue can avoid dropping as many swimming points this year, their elite divers should be able to make it close.

Women’s Data

Current Swimulator Swimulator Last Season Dec. 15 Swimming Points 2018 B1G Meet Diving Points Last Year Returning Diving Points
Michigan 1199.5 1330 1371 94 82
Indiana 1194 1013 1045.5 107 107
Wisconsin 877.5 724.5 748 7 7
Ohio St 819 935.5 966.5 128 128
Minnesota 691 783.5 820 229 199
Northwestern 549.5 428.5 439 89 89
Purdue 470.5 536.5 486 207 159
Penn St 383 338.5 418 0 0
Iowa 377.5 281 304 34 34
Rutgers 344.5 355.5 276 110 32
Nebraska 329.5 410 318 40 40
Michigan St 173 221 168 4 4
Illinois 159.5 181.5 150 37 37

Men’s Analysis

The men’s meet is also shaping up to be competitive, but unlike the coin flip women’s meet, the Indiana men look like a slight favorite. Michigan hold a narrow 1416.5-1378.5 advantage over Indiana in the current Swimulator projection. Last year at this time Michigan held a 1444-1198 advantage over Indiana. At Big 10s’s Michigan scored 1519.5 swimming points, and increase of 75.5, and Indiana scored 1373, an increase of 175. Indiana’s 285-98 diving point advantage was enough to carry them to a narrow 40.5 point win.

This year Michigan’s mid season margin has been reduced from 246 points to 38 points. Working in Michigan’s favor is Indiana’s reduced advantage in diving. Indiana graduated 126 diving points and Michigan return all of their diving points. Indiana have some solid freshmen divers, but none of them are Michael Hixon.

Indiana gained about 100 more points than Michigan last year over their mid season projections.  If the team’s scores evolve similarly this year Indiana will win more comfortably than last year. Indiana and Michigan were both faster than last year at their mid season rest meets by similar amounts, so a points change resembling last year wouldn’t be a surprising outcome.

However, despite their diving advantage and swimming points upside, an Indiana win isn’t a guarantee. Both teams will be competing with one eye on this meet and the other on nationals. Decisions about who and how much to rest will be a factor. Michigan are fast enough and deep enough that this meet is unlikely to be completely decided before the final day. A single relay DQ could suddenly make this meet very competitive.

The biggest riser in these rankings is Purdue who have 203 more points than they did at this point last season.  With Ohio State 103.5 points behind where they were at this point last year, Purdue looks on track to significantly narrow the nearly 600 point gap that existed between them in 4th and Ohio State in 3rd last year. They remain 197 points back with a similar number of returning diving points, so 3rd is likely still be a pipe dream; however, they are trending in the right direction.

Men’s Data

Current Swimulator Swimulator Last Season Dec. 15 Swimming Points 2018 B1G Meet Diving Points Last Year Returning Diving Points
Michigan 1416.5 1444 1519.5 98 98
Indiana 1378.5 1198 1373 285 159
Ohio St 890 983.5 1037.5 263 167
Purdue 693 490 557.5 178 178
Wisconsin 573 648 673.5 23 23
Minnesota 537 674.5 560.5 152 152
Iowa 532.5 540 581.5 33 25
Penn St 472.5 398 340.5 49 45
Northwestern 406 273 255 5 5
Michigan St 249 424 247.5 0 0

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4 years ago

Purdue 😳

Reply to  Observer
4 years ago

Will never budge higher than 4th and then only when diving scores very well. Based on guys swimming they are a bottom third recruited and coached team.

Reply to  Meeeeeee
4 years ago

Vote down if you want. But i suggest if you don’t believe me simply look at Swimswam’s power rankings and the comments from the experts there.

Daniel Ross
Reply to  Meeeeeee
4 years ago

I am sure I must have coached Meeeeee, We are trying to make you proud of your swim and dive team, and will keep trying to, come back to campus meet our guys watch em work, they want to make the guys before them proud!! Dan Ross

4 years ago

OSU didn’t rest at all for a mid-season meet, so expect them to drop big time at Big 10s.

Just sayin
Reply to  SeaMonster
4 years ago

Neither did most of the B1G team

4 years ago

Where is the D2 analysis!

Reply to  Andrew Mering
4 years ago

And the Delta State invite.

4 years ago

IU for the win in BOTH Women and Men. Coach Looze will be Coach of the Year..or more precisely is already Coach of the Year! Go IU

Reply to  Socrateshatesoliveoil
4 years ago

So much LOL right here