Sean Harrington's Insider: 'Real' standings
Each week, former Illini and current BTN analyst Sean Harrington breaks down the Big Ten (listen to him as he calls Sunday's Purdue-Penn State game, 11 a.m., BTN):
Michigan (16-0, 3-0)
The Wolverines won their first three league games by an average of 23.6 points. Now the real test begins with games at Ohio State and Minnesota.
Indiana (14-1, 2-0)
The Hoosiers got off to a great start by picking up both of their wins on the road.
Minnesota (15-1, 3-0)
The Gophers flexed their muscles with a 17-point win at Illinois to set up a showdown Saturday at Indiana.
Ohio State (12-3, 2-1)
The Buckeyes did what they had to do, split a pair of road games against Illinois and Purdue.
Michigan State (13-3, 2-1)
The Spartans stole one at Iowa. With Nebraska and Penn State up next, Michigan State might find itself on top by next week.
Illinois (14-3, 1-2)
The roller-coaster ride continues for the Illini after a home loss to Minnesota. A very winnable game at Wisconsin is next.
Wisconsin (11-4, 2-0)
Badgers won their first two games in typical Bucky fashion by averaging 53.5 points.
Iowa (11-5, 0-3)
The Hawkeyes had a chance to beat two ranked teams at home but couldn’t hold on.
Purdue (7-8, 1-2)
After a huge win against Illinois, the Boilermakers have dropped two in a row.
Northwestern (10-6, 1-2)
The Wildcats finally shot the ball well from three and got a much-needed win at Penn State.
Nebraska (9-7, 0-3)
The Cornhuskers had a couple of close losses against Wisconsin and Michigan, but the talent is not there to pull out the wins.
Penn State (8-7, 0-3)
The Nittany Lions were held in the 50s for the third consecutive game in Big Ten play.
Player of the Week
Joe Coleman, Minnesota
Coleman’s career-high 29 points came at the perfect time for Minnesota to knock off the Illini at the Assembly Hall. His performance helped the Gophers establish themselves as one of the elite teams in the Big Ten.
Standings: Through the eyes of a coach
This season, the Big Ten is as good as it has been in several years. Road wins are going to be at a premium. It is also just as important to protect your house. Coaches always preach to their teams the importance of winning at home. However, the coaches also know that championships are won on the road. Here is the system that the coaches use in the locker rooms to show the players exactly where they stand in the conference. It is called the “Plus/Minus Standings.” This system gives you the true league standings at any point during the year that takes out unbalanced home and away schedules between teams.
Here is how it works. Home teams are supposed to win, so a home win is a 0. Road teams are not supposed to win, so a road loss is a 0. A home loss is a -1, and a road win is +1. Take a look at the difference between the two standings:
Regular standings today
Michigan State 2-1
Ohio State 2-1
Penn State 0-3
Plus/Minus standings today
Indiana 2-0 +2
Michigan 3-0 +1
Minnesota 3-0 +1
Wisconsin 2-0 +1
Michigan State 2-1 +1
Ohio State 2-1 +1
Northwestern 1-2 0
Illinois 1-2 -1
Purdue 1-2 -1
Nebraska 0-3 -1
Iowa 0-3 -2
Penn State 0-3 -2
In the regular standings, the Hoosiers are a half-game behind Michigan and Minnesota, but in the true “Plus/Minus Standings,” the Hoosiers have a full-point lead because of their two road wins.
It is very early in the year, but here are a couple of things to watch throughout the season based on what has happened in the first three games.
— Illinois let one get away from it at Purdue. So, Illinois needs to hope that Purdue beats a lot of teams at Mackey Arena, otherwise the Illini will drop a game on every team that goes in there and wins.
— Minnesota got an impressive win at Illinois. The Gophers are hoping Illinois runs the table at home because that would give Minnesota a game up on every team in the league.
Road wins are momentum changers. The Illini have a great opportunity to get momentum back on their side with a road win Saturday at Wisconsin.
In a typical year, the conference champion will finish the year with a +4 or +5.