Just like politics, sports seem to inspire debate. Debates over who is better than who, the greatest of all time, and even fundamentals such as, what is a sport?
For what its worth, ask me, and I’ll tell you baseball is an activity—not a sport.
A SB Nation article proposed an interesting debate hypothetical: Which group of teams would we be comfortable taking to win the national title against the field?
Taking this a step further, we at Building the Dam contemplated: Which group of teams would we be comfortable taking to win the Pac-12 championship against the field?
In search of an answer, I first reviewed this and then looked at current odds from various sportsbooks. The goal was to create a bet that was 50/50 or as close to that as possible.
As of July 14, Justin Hartling of Oddsshark.com had the following Pac-12 Championship futures:
Washington State +1400
Arizona State +2000
Oregon State +5000
These American Odds correspond with the following implied probabilities:
Stanford - 25%
UCLA - 22.5%
Washington - 20%
USC - 15.4%
Oregon - 15.4%
Utah - 7.7%
Washington State - 6.7%
Arizona - 4.8%
Arizona State - 4.8%
California - 4.3%
Colorado - 2%
Oregon State - 2%
Note that implied probabilities do not add up to 100%. The amount over 100% is what is known as the bookmakers’ margin. From these numbers, the most numerically “fair” bet would be the top 3 of Stanford, UCLA or Washington versus the field (51.7% vs. 48.3%). However, most people I spoke with jumped on the top 3. The “expert” consensus is that the Pac-12 will be between Stanford and Washington; throwing in expected Pac-12 South winner is icing—thus making the top 3 too comfortable a bet.
In order to increase debate, we settled on a top 2 versus the field. One team from the Pac-12 North (Stanford) and one from the Pac-12 South (UCLA).
Which side would you take?
The sportsbooks odds increasingly point to Washington as a contender this season, but the Huskies would need to make a big jump from their 4-5 conference showing last season. USC and Oregon have owned the the Pac in recent years, but are predicted to regress this season.
For what its worth, I’d put $100 on the field. Maybe its because I want “the experts” to be wrong. Or maybe I just want to hold onto a little hope for the underdogs.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.