We’re halfway through the Big Ten season. And no, it hasn’t been kind to Penn State fans, or Michigan fans.
But hey, let’s look on the bright side. This season will forever be remembered as an anomaly in CFB history, there were some bright spots on both sides of the ball once Will Levis came in for Penn State last weekend, and there are plenty of enticing Top-25 matchups this week. That’s reason enough to get out of bed on Saturday. Let’s focus on the week to come.
Quick Note on Elo’s Performance This Season
On the podcast this week we talked about how Elo is doing vs. DraftKings this year, and the conclusion was… not as good as we would have hoped. While Elo itself is doing as well as any other season in terms of predicting outcomes, it doesn’t seem to have an edge against the Sportsbooks. You can listen to the podcast to get all the details, but we boiled it down to:
Limited information built into Elo vs. much more information put into setting odds
Extra uncertainty week-to-week with more starters being out (Elo has no adjustment for this)
Increased importance of the transfer portal in the offseason in recent years
Betting strategy (we tested this with all $10 bets, all Moneyline, and all positive expected value)
So, as always, use Elo win probabilities and expected values as a guide, in addition to basic research to rule out any teams with red flags (starting QB out, lots of starters out, exceptionally poor play or coaching turmoil, etc.)
Week 12 Features Three Top-25 Matchups
For some reason Indiana–Ohio State doesn't scream "Top 10 Matchup" to me, but nevertheless, this is the world we’re living in.
There are three top-25 matchups this weekend, and Elo recommends bets on two of them. To anyone wanting to bet on the #3 Buckeyes or #9 (yep) Hoosiers, Elo suggests you sit this one out. The Buckeyes are favored at 91.9% win probability, so while it may be a safe bet, at -1115, it’s probably not a very profitable one. There’s a -20.5 spread you could dabble in, but we really don’t know.
Here’s what Elo says about the other two games:
#14 Oklahoma St. vs. #18 Oklahoma — Oklahoma -278 ($0.37 EV, 76.3% WP)
#10 Wisconsin vs. #19 Northwestern — Northwestern +265 ($2.63 EV, 34.6% WP)
For what it’s worth, Drew and I both like Oklahoma to win, so while it’s not the best profit, it’s still profit. Oklahoma also outclasses Ok. St. on every down on offense in success rate. Oklahoma St. struggle on 1st down, yet they still pass the ball 21% less than the D-I average pass rate on passing downs (2nd-and-7 or 3rd-and-5 or more). No other team is below average in the Big 12. With Oklahoma allowing only 3.3 YPA on rushes this year, good for 19th-best in the country, that might not be the most effective strategy.
Contrarily, we both took Wisconsin to win against Northwestern, but there’s definitely some good value in picking the underdog in this one. While we don’t have the probabilities, you could also opt for the spread of +7.5 for Northwestern, as Northwestern and Wisconsin both boast top defenses in the conference so far.
That being said, when you look at success rate, it’s clear that Wisconsin has the more consistently solid performances on both offense and defense, albeit with only two games of data to look at.
Let’s take a closer look at the data on the Big Ten and Big 12 this week.
Big Ten Offenses
Big Ten Defenses
More Big Ten Stats
Big 12 Offenses
Big 12 Defenses
More Big 12 Stats
Week 12 Win Probabilities
Once again, the full list of win probabilities is much too long, so you can view it here. You can also see all the bets recommended by Elo for Week 12, as well as our historic performance, on our Google Sheet.
That’s all. Enjoy your weekend and these great matchups. Fingers crossed that Kirk and Chris finally get a game that’s competitive into the 2nd half this Saturday night.