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2010 NCAA Football Predictions: Big Ten

Handicapping the Big XII is both frustrating and like shooting fish in the barrel. The South is an absolute coin flip with too many variables to produce a legitimate favorite. However, when looking at the future odds for the Big XII North on, I see opportunity as a sports investor.

I use the term “sports investor” because that’s what you are when you play futures. It’s not the immediate return that comes with playing a side or total. Picking futures is an inexact science that separates the value players from the one’s who play it close to the vest.

When looking at the Big XII North, the odds are horrific. The Nebraska Cornhuskers are –250 to win the division, which will yields a payout of only $0.40 on the dollar. The next betting choice is Missouri (+300), followed by Kansas (+500) and Kansas State at (+600).

While it is clear that there is no value in betting the Huskers, there is no number you can put to the rest of the North that would get me to wager a dollar on them to play in Dallas in December. Excluding Nebraska, the North lacks speed, talent and good coaching. Even at the generous returns Vegas is offering on these teams, I would pass.

The question is can I really take Nebraska at $.0.40 on the dollar? For arguments sake, lets assume that Texas will beat Nebraska in Lincoln giving them one loss. If the Huskers were 80% favorites in each of their remaining Big XII games, the law of compounding probability says they would still have a better than 50% chance of losing one of those five games.

While that is annoying from a mathematical standpoint, it doesn’t bother me as an investor. That being said, with each win Nebraska posts over a team in the North, the compounding probability will shift back into the Huskers favor. I am confident that Nebraska should have an easy time with the rest of the pretenders that make up the Big XII North and will win the division going away.

My final reason for betting on Nebraska is the “Sam Bradford” factor. Unlike the 2009 Oklahoma Sooners, Nebraska’s hopes do not hinge on one player. Should they lose their quarterback or running back early in the season, they will still be a heavy favorite in the North.

If my broker at Smith Barney called me up and said “I have a blue chip company should yield 40% ROI in five months, even if the market gets volatile,” I would say “lets invest.”


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