Photo courtesy of Wake Forest athletics
Welcome to the first of several articles going over the preseason win totals for all 131 FBS teams.
Thanks to Playoff Predictors for being a free site that allows each and every game to get picked. To ensure that we didn’t just blindly choose overs or unders, all 131 teams had their schedules picked.
Explaining the Math
All Power 5 win totals and odds are from June 13, so not all odds listed may be current. Group of 5 odds are not yet widely available at multiple sportsbooks, so those articles will get started whenever those odds are released, but the games have been picked.
Where sportsbooks had differing win totals, the combination of odds with the lowest hold was kept, because sports bettors usually look for the lowest holds before looking at any prices or numbers.
For those unaware, the hold is however much over 100% each side of the bet adds up to. It’s how the sportsbooks win bettors’ money in the long run.
A lower hold is better for bettors. Anything below 2% is considered good, and a negative hold is great because it means the bet is skewed in the bettor’s favor.
Plus odds (+) means that betting $100 will profit that much. Minus odds (-) means that to profit $100, a bettor must wager that much.
The sportsbooks considered — due to having all, or very nearly all, of the Power 5 teams — were PointsBet, FanDuel, DraftKings, and Barstool.
Special thanks to Kelley Ford. We’ll be referencing some of his models that he’s posted to his Twitter (@KFordRatings).
We’re able to take the odds and turn it into expected return. Expected return means how much profit should be expected per $1 wagered if the models are correct.
By his own admission, they’re not perfect. And as the old saying goes, “all models are wrong, but some are useful.”
They’re an interesting piece of the puzzle worth considering, but do not take any of these opinions as gospel. It’s all in good fun and to acknowledge just how wrong we were at the end of the season.
Let’s begin with the ACC Atlantic:
Image Credit: Kelley Ford, Twitter
Boston College — Over 6.5; Confidence: 2/10
DraftKings has the over at +120 and FanDuel has the under at -110, meaning there is a negative hold of -2.2%.
According to Ford’s ratings, there is an 82% chance that the Eagles go under. This gives the under an expected return of $0.57 per $1 put on the under at FanDuel.
Games against Maine, Rutgers, Connecticut, Duke, and Syracuse should be wins.
Games against Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Louisville should be close.
Between winning the toss-ups of Florida State and Louisville, we think Boston College gets to seven wins — albeit with a low confidence rating of two.
NC State — Over 8.5; Confidence: 3/10
DraftKings and PointsBet have the over at -145 and FanDuel has the under at +155. This means a negative hold of -1.6%.
According to Ford ratings, the under has a 44% chance. Because of the way the odds are set up, this actually makes the under the more profitable bet, with an expected return of $0.12 for every $1 put on the under at FanDuel.
Eight games on the Wolfpack’s schedule look like probable wins. And there are no games that look like likely losses.
So, NC State needs to go just 1-3 against Clemson, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, or Wake Forest.
Because the odds are so slanted towards the over — almost 60% — we stuck with a low confidence of three. But NC State should comfortably get to nine or 10 wins.
Clemson — Under 10.5; Confidence: 4/10
Our first under for the ACC!
DraftKings has the over at +110 while Barstool has the under at -125. This means the hold is 3.2%.
Ford’s ratings have the under with a 55% chance and an expected loss of $0.01 per $1 wagered on the under at Barstool. In other words, it looks like the books have set Clemson’s total as well as possible.
To go under, we just need to find two losses between Wake Forest, NC State, Notre Dame, or Miami.
We think it’s more likely that Clemson goes 10-2 than 11-1, and therefore we are going with the under.
Florida State — Under 6.5; Confidence: 6/10
PointsBet has the over at +100, while Barstool has the under at +130. This gives us a negative hold of -6.5% — the lowest we were able to find to date.
Ford’s ratings have the over at 71% with an expected return of $0.42 per $1 wagered on the over at PointsBet.
Florida State faces a tough schedule.
Duquesne, Georgia Tech, and Syracuse are likely wins. But are there four more?
Between LSU, Louisville, Boston College, Wake Forest, NC State, Clemson, Miami, Louisiana, and Florida, we keep getting 5-7 or 6-6.
Beating LSU on Sept. 4 will go a long way toward FSU getting to seven wins.
Wake Forest — Over 8.5; Confidence: 7/10
Both FanDuel and PointsBet have the over at -110 while DraftKings has the under at +110. This gives us a hold of 0%.
Ford’s ratings have the under at 75% with an expected return of $0.58 per $1 wagered on the under at DraftKings.
With the exception of USC, this is perhaps the most extreme example of us disagreeing with Mr. Ford’s ratings.
Except for NC State, Wake Forest’s toughest competition comes at home.
Clemson, Boston College, and North Carolina are all at home. Miami, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, and Virginia are nowhere to be found on the schedule.
Which four teams are good enough to where one would feel comfortable betting against Wake Forest’s 8.5 win total?
Louisville — Under 6.5; Confidence: 7/10
Louisville was tricky because one book had the Cardinals at 5.5. wins. One had them at six wins, and two had them at 6.5.
The lines we took down were +105 for the over and -125 for the under — both from DraftKings. This means a 4.34% full hold.
Ford’s ratings have the over at 60% with an expected return of $0.23 per $1 wagered on the over at DraftKings.
Louisville should start 2-2 or 3-1, but Louisville isn’t getting to 7-5. James Madison is the only game after Week 4 that looks like it should be a win for the Cardinals.
UCF, Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State, and Kentucky are all teams that are better than Louisville.
That would mean Louisville would need to go perfect in the toss-up games against Florida State, Boston College, Virginia, and Pittsburgh. Unless, of course, it can steal a game against the five likely losses listed above and not lose to any of the likely wins. Feels unlikely.
Syracuse — Under 4.5; Confidence: 8/10
FanDuel has the over at +100 and Barstool has the under at -113. This means a 3.05% hold.
Ford’s ratings have the over at 62% with an expected return of $0.24 per $1 wagered on the over at FanDuel.
It’s surprising that Ford’s models are so high on the Orange. Outside of Connecticut and Wagner, it’s hard to find a win on Syracuse’s schedule.
Trips to Clemson, Pittsburgh, and Wake Forest are probably losses. The same is true for homes contests with NC State and Notre Dame.
We also don’t like its odds against Virginia, Boston College, Purdue, or Florida State.
Maybe if Syracuse can start hot and snag wins against Louisville and Purdue in the first three weeks of the season, it can hit the over.