2012 College Football Futures: Value Picks For Regular Season Win Totals

posted in College Football

Now that our final 2012 college football season projections are out, we can compare them with the offshore futures markets, and see if there are any good values to be found.

This post will take a look at team regular season win totals, taken from Pinnacle Sports on the afternoon of August 29th, 2012. Keep in mind that the win totals are for regular season games only, meaning conference championship games and bowl games don’t count.

The table below lists the teams, their win total lines, and the Pinnacle payout odds associated with betting the Over or Under. It also shows our average win forecast for each team, and how that forecast translates into Over or Under probabilities. Finally, we show which side of the lines our projections imply have value, and what the projected return on investment (ROI) would be for any of those bets:

TeamWins O/UOver LineUnder LineTR ProjTR Over%TR Under%TR SideROI
Alabama10.5+101-11810.339%61%Under 10.512%
Arkansas8.5-109-1078.445%55%Under 8.57%
Auburn7.5+150-1776.433%67%Under 7.55%
Clemson8.5-115-1017.634%66%Under 8.531%
Duke3.5-243+2034.977%23%Over 3.58%
Florida St9.5-294+2429.546%54%Under 9.584%
Georgia9.5-179+1528.429%71%Under 9.578%
Kentucky5.5+350-4444.232%68%Over 5.542%
Louisville9.5+253-3096.311%89%Under 9.518%
Marshall6.5+249-3035.333%67%Over 6.514%
Michigan St8.5-120+1037.128%72%Under 8.547%
Mississippi5.5+379-4884.840%60%Over 5.590%
Missouri7.5+146-1727.550%50%Over 7.522%
Nebraska8.5-152+1309.054%46%Under 8.56%
Notre Dame8.5+181-2157.835%65%
Ohio State8.5-459+2888.343%57%Under 8.5120%
Oklahoma St8.5-130+1118.852%48%
Oregon10.5-139+11910.441%59%Under 10.528%
South Carolina8.5-145+1247.227%73%Under 8.562%
TCU8.5+153-1808.853%47%Over 8.533%
Texas8.5-227+1908.952%48%Under 8.540%
Texas A&M7.5+158-1868.461%39%Over 7.557%
USC10.5-136+1169.729%71%Under 10.554%
Vanderbilt6.5+150-1767.565%35%Over 6.563%
Virginia Tech9.5+107-1257.924%76%Under 9.537%
West Virginia8.5-105-1117.328%72%Under 8.537%
Wisconsin8.5-326+2669.156%44%Under 8.560%

Notice a pattern? Our value calculations tend to gravitate toward:

  • High payout odds for the under on teams with high win totals
  • High payout odds for the over on teams with low win totals

In other words, either the market is overconfident in its ability to predict a team’s win total, or our projections are being too conservative and bunching teams too close to average.

Our best guess is that it’s a mixture of both. For teams where our final projections see a lot of value — like Mississippi over 5.5 or Florida State under 9.5 —  it’s more reasonable to believe that our forecasts have likely pegged the correct side of the line in terms of value. Those projections may not play out to be even close to exact for every team, but across a group of them, we’d hopefully get more right than wrong.

Regarding teams where our projections see less value (say, under 15% ROI) — like Auburn under 7.5 or Duke over 3.6 — it may be prudent to dial back expectations, and lay off. There can be a sizable amount of error in these projections, so it’s always best to apply a safety buffer.