Now we have this debate come up again, so I thought that I would look into the two conferences and the two teams strength of schedule as of November 20, 2010. Let's take them in order.
Strength of Schedule (SOS) of the Big Ten vs. Western Athletic Conference
Now there is a difference between the two conferences, and the Big Ten has an overall stronger conference schedule than the Western Athletic Conference. Here are the two conference teams winning percent and strength of schedule as I measured them using the methodology I outlined in a previous blog.
|Big Ten Ave.||61.124|
|New Mexico St.||74.455||0.200|
|San Jose St.||59.200||0.111|
Notice that the difference in strength of schedule is higher (easier) for Big Ten teams on average than for Western Athletic Teams. So Gee's comment that teams that play in the Big Ten play more challenging teams on average than teams in the Western Athletic Conference. But just because the Big Ten's strength of schedule is harder than the Western Athletic Conference does not make Ohio State more worthy than Boise State. So let's turn to the two teams themselves.
Strength of Schedule (SOS): Ohio State vs. Boise State
Listed below are the two teams 2010 schedules and the two teams opponents strength of schedule as of November 20th. Notice that both teams have played very poor teams, such as Boise State playing Wyoming, New Mexico State and San Jose State. Ohio State has played some fairly low productive teams such as Eastern Michigan, Purdue and Indiana. In fairness, Boise State plays their strongest opponent (Nevada - currently ranked #5 in overall productivity) this week and then follows with a very weak Utah State (#99 in overall productivity), while Ohio State plays an above average Michigan (currently ranked #37) in overall productivity.
|Boise St.||Virginia Tech||18|
|Boise St.||Oregon St.||67|
|Boise St.||New Mexico St.||118|
|Boise St.||San Jose St.||116|
|Boise St.||Louisiana Tech||84|
|Boise St.||Fresno St.||80|
|Boise St.||Utah St.||DNP|
|Ohio St.||Miami (FL)||17|
|Ohio St.||Eastern Mich.||114|
|Ohio St.||Penn St.||68|
Yet all of this does not refute the overall productivity of the two teams. Taking this into account, we see that in terms of team productivity, Boise State is the most productive team in the land (ranked #1 in overall productivity) while Ohio State is ranked #6 in overall productivity. So even though Ohio State has a tougher schedule than Boise State, I have adjusted for conferences in the estimation of team overall productivity and found that Boise State is the more productive team. Additionally, when explaining the factors that drive winning percentage, my measure of strength of schedule is not statistically significant when controlling for points scored and points surrendered; point spread; or total productivity.
Full disclosure: I am an employee of a Big Ten university.