It's June. The temperature is rising. The sun is shining. In some parts of the country, aliens have emerged from the earth in droves and are getting into everything. That's right, it's summer, and summer is the most exciting season of the year because it's the last season we have to get through before fall arrives ... and fall brings football.
Still, while we have a few months of sitting around and waiting for the college football season to start, it's never too early to look into our crystal ball and find strong investment opportunities. So today, we're taking a look at the latest Big Ten conference title odds from William Hill Sportsbook. I have been tasked with breaking it all down so that you, the happy consumer, will have all the information you need to feed your family with gambling winnings.
So let's get to it.
Best bet -- Ohio State (-170): "OMG you're picking Ohio State? That's so boring!" Yeah, I know. Nobody enjoys betting on the favorite because it seems too easy, but let's not kid ourselves. If we look at the odds, we see that Ohio State's implied odds at -170 are that it will win the Big Ten 63% of the time. Penn State's got the second-best odds at +800, which equates to 11.1%. Forgetting for a moment that sportsbooks never give odds that add up to 100%, that's still a 52% difference between Ohio State and Penn State, and again, Penn State is considered the second-best team!
So now the question becomes, if we play the 2021 Big Ten season 1,000 times, will Ohio State win the league 630 times? Yeah, probably! I don't know if you've noticed, but ever since Urban Meyer took over the program, the talent gap between the Buckeyes and everyone else within the conference has grown larger. Ohio State hasn't won the conference four years in a row and in five of the last seven (which equals 71.4%, by the way) by accident. Sure, they could slip up in the regular season, but it's hard to imagine them losing enough times to miss out on the conference title.
Worst wager -- Michigan (+1000): Wow, what a wonderful post this is for Ohio State fans so far. Not only do I have the Buckeyes as the best bet, but now I'm kicking the Wolverines in the face and calling them the worst wager. Well, let's make one thing clear: I think Michigan's being a little underestimated heading into 2021. I don't think the team is as bad as it looked in a strange 2020 season, and it's likely to be one of the better teams in the Big Ten.
The problem is that Michigan has a massive fan base, and they all want to believe. Sportsbooks know this. So they have to skew the odds a bit to protect themselves in case Michigan does get its act together and put together a magical season, toppling Ohio State and winning the conference. Can it happen? Yeah, but not often enough to justify the +1000 (9.1%) price.
Value pick -- Wisconsin (+900): There's a rule when looking for value picks in the Big Ten: look to the West. The theory is that it's an easier division to win because Ohio State does not exist there. Then, if you win the West, you get a shot at Ohio State (or somebody else!) in the Big Ten Championship, Game. And hey, if it happens to be your day, maybe you shock the world.
It's an easier path than Penn State and Michigan face, so when I see Wisconsin at +900, I see value. This is a team that's favored to win the division, and it could be the most talented team in the West. We know the defense will be one of the best in the league, as will the offensive line. And if QB Graham Mertz fulfills his potential, it could be the most dynamic Wisconsin offense we've seen since that Russell Wilson guy moonlighted as a Badger for one season back in a time when we were learning the words "grad transfer."
Longshot -- Northwestern (+3000): Like most of the world, I'm expecting Northwestern to take a step backward in 2021. It won the West last season, but it'll be breaking in a lot of new faces both on the field and on the sideline. That said, it's still Northwestern, and exceeding expectations is kind of Northwestern's thing. Nobody was picking it to win the West last season. Seriously, just look at the idiots here. Seven of them asked to give their predictions, and not a single one of these morons picked Northwestern to finish higher than sixth place in the division. Pat Fitzgerald probably had their dumb faces alongside their picks on the walls of the Northwestern weight room.