Analysis: How Hawkeyes’ Turnaround Measures Up Nationally

February 12, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Not that it will come as a surprise to anyone, but Iowa’s turnaround this season ranks as the best among programs in the six high-major conferences in terms if increased winning percentage. Its overall record of 19-5 currently is up .368 from last year’s 14-19 mark.

Here’s a chart looking at the high-majors that have risen up from losing overall marks last season to being above .500 in 2018-19 (please click on chart to enlarge):

Rival Iowa State owns the best in-conference increase with a 7-4 Big 12 record, up .414 from its 4-14 mark a year ago. At 8-5 in the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes own the second-best jump in league play, up .393 from 4-14 in ’17-18. The Cyclones sit second in overall record gains at plus-.331.

Ole Miss (16-7, 6-4) comes in third in overall and conference record increases, up .321 from 12-20 overall and .322 from 5-13 in the SEC. Wisconsin rates fourth in both at plus-.253 overall and plus-.303 in the Big Ten.

Not all improvements are created equally as the seven high majors that have gone from a losing record last year to
a winning one this season play different schedules. And sorting things out depends on what metrics one chooses to use.

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The NCAA is leaning this season on the new NET ranking system, said to be weighed more heavily than the RPI. Those ratings through games on Sunday show Wisconsin at No. 11, the highest among the programs being discussed here. Iowa State checks in at No. 16, with the Hawkeyes at No. 26 and Ole Miss 10 spots behind them.

The NCAA doesn’t show a listing of its official strength of schedule ratings. Several other sites measure the metric.

Among the schools being analyzed here, taking Jerry Palm, Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin schedule strength ratings into consideration, Wisconsin comes out on top of all three. Nationally, it’s 14th in Palm, fifth in Pomeroy and second in Sagarin.

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Here’s how the others rate in strength of schedule:

Palm – Iowa State (36), Minnesota (53), St. John’s (59), Iowa (64), Ole Miss (65) and DePaul (128).

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Pomeroy – Minnesota (23), Iowa (28), Iowa State (44), Ole Miss (46), St. John’s (53) and DePaul (87).

Sagarin – Minnesota (25), Iowa (26), Iowa State (32), Ole Miss (48), St. John’s (70) and DePaul (72).

We’ll find out during the next few months which of these teams rises above the rest to claim the best turnaround. Right now, it appears Wisconsin, Iowa and Iowa State are best positioned to do so.

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