got me to thinking about which teams really could go winless in conference play. The thing that Seth Davis doesn’t appreciate is that even if a team is worse than any other team in its conference, it’s really difficult to navigate through your conference schedule with nary a win. Only six teams have done it over the past five seasons, and while Iowa could join that list this season, their chances would appear to be far less than 50 percent. One reason is that their conference schedule is extremely favorable for picking up a win somewhere.
For starters, they get two games against Indiana. When the Hoosiers go to Iowa City, it would seem that based on what we know now, the Hawkeyes should have at least a 50 percent chance to win that game alone. In addition, home games against Penn State, Michigan, and Northwestern also provide reasonable chances at victory. Heading into last night’s game at Illinois, the winless prognosticator said Iowa’s chances for 0-18 were only about 3 percent.
I was curious how this stacked up to the rest of the country. Heading into Tuesday’s play there were 43 teams that had at least a 1-in-1000 chance of going winless in conference play. Here are the top ten.
Fordham 49.8% Drake 10.8 Toledo 6.1 Dartmouth 5.8 DePaul 4.1 Bryant 3.9 Penn 3.5 Iowa 3.2 UMBC 3.1 Arkansas 2.1
I wouldn’t recommend buying the percentages to the precision past the decimal point, but I do think we have enough info to take the numbers seriously. (Obviously, Courtney Fortson’s return renders the Hogs’ listed chances meaningless.) And for one team, there truly is a 50-50 chance of securing a donut by season’s end. For everybody else, it’s still a long shot. Add up those figures for all of college hoops (many of which are zero since a lot of teams have already secured a conference victory) and you get an expectation that somewhere around 1.2 teams will go winless this season, which is right on the five-year average. If you were smart you would peg Fordham as that team right now, although even with the Rams, the odds are technically against them.