Hot Reads: Should You Take the Over on 8 Wins for Nebraska?
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Hot Reads: Should You Take the Over on 8 Wins for Nebraska?

July 01, 2019

What percentage of the time do you think Nebraska wins at least nine games in 2019? Not to give it away right of the top, but that is the answer to question posed in the title: Should you take the over on eight wins for Nebraska?

5dimes released its Big Ten win totals––except for Rutgers, insert own joke here––last week, as well as those for the majority of Power 5 teams. Nebraska is still holding strong at eight, same number it had during the early, early rollout of these win totals for notable teams.

Here are those totals along with the odds for taking the over or under. If you're not familiar with "American odds" (or just need a refresher) a negative number is indicating how much must be wagered to win $100 (-110 means a $110 bet, if it wins, returns $100), a positive number indicates how much a $100 wager would return (a bet at +150 returns $150). Next to the odds I've added the break-even percentage (BE%), also known as the implied odds, which tells you how often the bet would have to win for you to break even. That's why you have to decide if you think Nebraska can win nine games more than 54.5% of the time in 2019. That these percentages don't add up to 100 is why sports books stay in business. (All odds are as they were listed on Sunday night.)

Illinois 3 -275 73.3 +195 33.9
Indiana 6 -140 58.3 +100 50.0
Iowa 7.5 -230 69.7 +170 37.0
Maryland 4.5 -130 56.5 -110 52.4
Michigan 9.5 -175 63.6 +155 39.2
Michigan St 7.5 -130 56.5 +110 47.6
Minnesota 6.5 -210 67.7 +160 38.5
Nebraska 8 -120 54.5 +100 50.0
Northwestern 6.5 -140 58.3 +100 50.0
Ohio St 10 -110 52.4 -110 52.4
Penn St 8.5 -170 63.0 +150 40.0
Purdue 7.5 +130 43.4 -170 63.0
Wisconsin 8.5 -130 56.5 +110 47.6

Some thoughts . . .

>>You have to pay a little bit of juice to take the over on Nebraska right now. At -120, Nebraska needs to win nine games at least 54.5% of the time for that bet to be sound (though technically it's a little lower because you can push on eight, but then we're really getting in the weeds). Back when I reverse engineered projected win totals using the FPI rankings, Nebraska's total came in at 7.81. S&P+ has the Huskers right at eight. Do with that what you will. If you want to take the under, right now it’s a coin flip in terms of a break-even percentage.

>>It appears as though people really like over three wins for Illinois. The Illini are one of the big movers since I first saw these totals last Thursday, going from -190 to -275 on the over. That took the break-even percentage from 65.5% to 73.2%. Illinois should be favored in at least four games this season.

>>Iowa also got some action on the over, going from -190 (65.5%) to -230 (69.7%) on 7.5 wins. While it doesn't have anything to do, really, with the year ahead, the Hawkeyes have won eight or more games in each of the past four seasons.

>>While Minnesota's win total may seem low for as much buzz as the Gophers have generated this offseason, it came with a pretty high price on the over (-210) from the start. The oddsmakers seem to be saying, "we see the potential, but prove it."

>>That 0.5 on Purdue's 7.5 looms large. You have to pay to take the under on the Boilermakers at that number, which makes sense. My FPI estimate had Purdue at 5.5 projected wins, S&P+ has them at 7.1 but the Boilermakers only have a projected win probability of 60% or more in two of 12 games.

>>Among the big two in the East, you'll get the same price over or under on Ohio State at 10 wins. Michigan's at 9.5 but with a premium (-175) to take the over.

>>Maryland was something of a shoulder shrug at -120 on both the over and under of 4.5 wins. (Makes sense to me, I don't know what to expect from the Terps either.) But Maryland must've gotten some action on the over as it's up to -130 now.

>>Indiana at six wins with juice on the over is somewhat interesting. The Hoosiers have been what I'd call a pretty good 5-7 the past two years and their nonconference schedule should be (better be) three wins. Can Indiana get four more against an East schedule and a West draw that includes Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue? Somebody thinks so.

>>The oddsmakers were looking for some public opinion on Michigan State releasing the Spartans at 7.5 wins with -105 (51.2%) on the over and -115 (53.5%) on the under. So far, the public likes the over, bumping that up to -130 (56.5%). Michigan State does return a ton of experience and has had a knack for bouncing back from disappointing seasons of late. 

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