Boilermetrics: Crystal Ball

Boilermetrics: Crystal Ball


The return of Boilermetrics, a series in which I dig up numbers about upcoming games and throw them into an incomprehensible pile. Now that you've read our annual Predicto and had a chance to rush to your favorite bookie or online site to bet* against us, you must be wondering how far off our predictions actually are. I thought I should take a look at various analytical sites to kill all the buzz see what other number-crunchers think.

*Just joking! Kids, online betting is illegal, at least in AZ, IA, LA, MT, and WA.

**Also, I thought about quoting lyrics from Styx's song, but after doing some reading, I decided not to. I'll trust you, the reader, to cue the appropriate lines for each prediction below.

Football Outsiders: 86th in I-A, t-6th in Big 14 West, 3.7 mean wins

The Football Outsiders Almanac for 2015 is available; I encourage analytical people to rush out and buy it immediately so that you'll have a full supply of numbers during the season. (Disclosure: I was a volunteer charter for FO for nine years and know some of the guys who run it.)

If you do buy it, you'll get their win prediction for all I-A schools as well as details for the top 50 ... which Purdue is not in. F/+ has Purdue 86th in I-A, right between Colorado and Rutgers (sigh), two spots back of Appalachian State (raise your hand if you remembered they'd moved up to I-A), and three spots back of Indiana.

Illinois, presumably with the benefit of a softer non-conference schedule, will finish even with Purdue at 2-6 in conference play, but is slightly less than a full win ahead of the Boilers at 4.5.

The good news is that their most recent predictions, released today, move Purdue up to 78th, ahead of that bunch of teams above (but not Illinois, who's in 74th).

Sagarin: 88th in DI, 7th in Big 14 West, predicted 2-10

Jeff Sagarin's preseason ratings are ugly. Purdue is last in the conference at 64.29, which essentially predicts an 0-8 conference schedule (even with home advantage, Purdue wouldn't beat Indiana). Indiana State is 119th, so there's that. Bowling Green is 90th.

There are three I-AA teams ahead of the Good Guys: four-time champions North Dakota State, along with playoff regular Northern Iowa and 2014 runner-up Illinois State. No, I don't want to see Brock Spack's team play the Boilers.

Massey: 86th in DI, 7th in Big 14 West, 3.7 mean wins

Ken Massey's predictions aren't any nicer: the only I-A game Purdue's favored to win is Bowling Green, no road game is predicted to be closer than 8 (he has Marshall 38-24) ... ugh. The 3.7 wins come from the Indiana and Illinois games: both those teams are 2-point favorites, so in an average scenario, the Good Guys would take at least one of those, and often as not they'd either take both or steal another game somewhere. (All other home opponents are at least 10-point favorites. Given that Minnesota lost to TCU by 6, I could see that.) Massey also puts South Dakota State ahead of the Boilers, who are 82nd in his I-A rankings.

This is as much a factor of Purdue's schedule as of the current state of the program: while only MSU and Wisconsin are in Massey's top 20, seven opponents are in the top 50, with only Bowling Green and Indiana State outside the top 100.

Massey has a lot of neat features on his site, at least if you're not paying attention to what they say. His Monte Carlo simulation gives Purdue a 47.9% chance to record fewer than 4 wins (most common outcome: 3 wins, 21.534%). You can also check out Purdue's all-time record against every opponent - I think it excludes certain games, but don't know offhand which ones. Anyway, this is a good time to reflect on the fact that overall, the Boilers are still well above .500 (54 games according to Massey, 61 according to the media guide), and 72-39-6 against Indiana.

He even has a link to predictions in sports I didn't even know he rated: the soccer team should knock off Evansville 2-1, but volleyball will likely go 2-1 this weekend in St. Louis (losing 1-3 to BYU and sweeping the other two). He actually has the Boilers ranked fourth in the Big 14 in volleyball, but it's early.

Vegas: 7th in Big 14 West, O/U 4 wins (over -125, under -105)

You knew this wouldn't be pretty. While your heart may know that Hazell has the pieces in place to continue the rebuilding process, the sports books are more than happy to take your heart's money and buy more 90" TVs with it. The Golden Nugget has Purdue as 300-to-1 underdogs to win the conference, equal to Rutgers, and the win line is the same as Illinois', although oddly you can get +133 betting the under on Illinois (over is -163). And this is from August 20, so unless they knew that Tim Beckman was going to be fired ... that might make sense, actually, that they'd encourage you to take the under, knowing that Beckman would be fired soon and be replaced by someone who can actually coach (whether or not at the Big Ten level, we don't know, but at least Cubit's peak in the MAC was higher than Beckman's).

Are you ready for some basketball?

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