Today, I decided to make some virtual rounds on the sportsbooks for college football season lines.
I like to consider myself a student of the game, so this was clearly done for purely academic purposes. Get it? Student, academic.......yeah.
All bad wordplay aside, one of the lines that stuck out the most was the Wisconsin Badgers to win the Big Ten Leaders Division at minus-500 (from Bovada). For those unfamiliar, that means you would bet $500 to win $100.
Now, the line of minus-500 does include how, in real life, Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible to win the division this season.
These odds aren't great by any measure, but it got me thinking: Really, what are the actual chances that Wisconsin doesn't take home the Leaders Division title this year?.
Without Ohio State and Penn State in the picture, we're left with Wisconsin pitted against Illinois, Purdue and Indiana—otherwise known as the opposing sides in arguments that are a lot more substantial if we were talking about college hoops.
I know that Wisconsin lost Russell Wilson and Paul Chryst. I get it. Still, you have to think that Wisconsin would easily finish ahead of these three teams, even if they put Rob Bolden or the QB of your flag football team behind center and tell them, "just turn around and give Montee the ball."
We haven't even acknowledged the fact that Danny O'Brien could end up being a good QB.
To pretend this requires some analysis:
What are the chances that Wisconsin wins the Big Ten Leaders Division?
1. Purdue and Indiana are Purdue and Indiana.
2. Wisconsin plays at Oregon State out of the conference, where Illinois plays at Arizona State. Advantage: Wisconsin.
3. Illinois has a brutal road schedule. They play at Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State and Northwestern in the conference. Wisconsin plays at Nebraska, Indiana, Purdue and Penn State. Advantage: Wisconsin
4. Wisconsin is the better team. Advantage: Wisconsin
I don't see what's not to like here.
Of course, none of this is breaking news to anybody.
The main reason for writing this article was to ask one simple question: Seriously, how small are the odds that Wisconsin doesn't come away with this division?
I would obviously never present anything as a sure thing in the world of sports or gambling. Between gambling ruining lives and "Any Given Sunday...err, Saturday," it's just not a good idea.
Granted, all of these reasons explain why the odds are as unfavorable as they are at minus-500. But hey, you could do much worse than a potential 20 percent return over a few months by making more conventional investments in today's economy.
Nick Pournaras is a Senior at Penn State University.