Hot Reads: Playing the Odds in the Big Ten West
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Hot Reads: Playing the Odds in the Big Ten West

July 03, 2019

On Monday, I did my own analysis of the Big Ten win totals posted at 5Dimes. That same day, Tom Fornelli of dove in on the numbers posted by FanDuel.

Fornelli is good at analyzing odds. It's not just a matter of reacting to the number, but considering the price and probabilities as well.

Per the numbers in that story, FanDuel has Nebraska's total a half-game higher than 5Dimes, putting the Huskers at 8.5 with +164 odds on the over and -194 on the under. That half-game is making a pretty big difference. More on that in a second.

For now, here's Fornelli's breakdown of the Huskers' prospects at 8.5:

An argument could be made that Nebraska enters 2019 with the best QB in the conference in Adrian Martinez, and an offense that got better as the season went on in 2018 should take a larger step forward in 2019. The question is whether Nebraska's defense will follow suit. If it doesn't, getting to nine wins will be damn near impossible. What's working in Nebraska's favor a bit is its schedule. It gets Ohio State from the East but avoids the Michigan schools and Penn State, drawing Indiana and Maryland instead. Like the Minnesota situation above, if we're just picking over or under, I'd take the under 8.5. But look at that price on the over! Can Nebraska get to nine wins 37.88 percent of the time? I think so. I think 8-4 is more likely, but 9-3 happens often enough to make it the right play.

With the number set at eight wins, you had to pay the juice to take the over on Nebraska. To win $100 on the over at 5Dimes, you had to wager $120, and that meant Nebraska needed to win nine games 54.5% of the time for that to pay off before factoring in the push.

At 8.5, however, you're getting plus money and that drops the break-even percentage all the way down to 37.88%. You do, however, lose the ability to push. That's worth considering even if nobody makes wagers, real or for bragging rights only, to push. (Where's the fun in that?)

Interestingly enough, Nebraska is one of only three Big Ten West teams where Fornelli was leaning towards the over at FanDuel's odds. Northwestern and Illinois were the others.

Plug Alert

If you haven’t had a chance to read Derek Peterson’s story in the 2019 Yearbook yet, might want to think about seeking it out.

For example . . .

It’s a great story with a lot to digest and this was great work by Chris Walsh on the graphic. 

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