5 quick thoughts on the early 2021 B1G title odds
The odds are out.
BetOnline.ag released the early betting odds for the 2021 B1G title, which included all 14 teams. It’s still awfully early to be placing wagers on teams, but that’s part of what helps build anticipation for the start of the season.
Here’s a quick look at the odds for all 14 teams in the B1G:
- Ohio State: 2/3
- Wisconsin: 8/1
- Michigan, Penn State: 17/2
- Iowa: 11/1
- Indiana, Northwestern: 12/1
- Nebraska: 14/1
- Minnesota: 20/1
- Michigan State, Purdue, Rutgers: 50/1
- Maryland: 80/1
- Illinois: 100/1
Some of those odds are pretty interesting, while others seem to be spot on. Here are a few quick thoughts on these early odds from BetOnline:
No surprises at the top
Would you believe me if I told you Ohio State and Wisconsin are the teams with the two best odds to win the B1G in 2021? Oh, you would.
Both the Buckeyes and Badgers have made the trek to Lucas Oil Stadium six times in the past 10 years and have played each other three times in the past seven seasons. Oddsmakers expect that same matchup again at the end of the season.
Ohio State is the hands-down favorite to claim a fifth-straight conference title at 2/3 odds. Wisconsin comes in next on the list at 8/1. That’s a fairly significant gap between the two. But, the Buckeyes have had the Badgers’ number in Indianapolis, winning all three matchups.
It may be a pretty stale projection at this point, but it’s also one that’s hard to argue.
Best value: Minnesota
If you’re looking for the best chance to get the biggest bang for your buck, Minnesota might be the answer. Sure, the Golden Gophers aren’t exactly the most attractive pick after a 3-4 campaign, but at 20/1 odds, this feels like a really good value.
Minnesota was without key offensive linemen Curtis Dunlap Jr. and Daniel Faalele last year and their return should make a huge difference for the offense, especially with Tanner Morgan back under center and Mohamed Ibrahim in the backfield. Defense is still a big question in the Twin Cities, but it should be an improvement on what we saw last year…which, to put it mildly, was not good.
P.J. Fleck should have this team playing like it did during that 2019 season when the Gophers finished 11-2. And if that’s the case, you might be rowing the boat all the way to the bank to deposit your sizable payday.
Worst value: Michigan
Death, taxes and Michigan with reasonable odds to win the B1G. At this point, it’s becoming comical to see the Wolverines near the top (17/2) of the list, but the maize-and-blue winged helmet still has people placing money on Jim Harbaugh’s team.
Michigan was just 2-4 a season ago and really showed no signs of life at any point after the season opener against Minnesota. There will be a new starting quarterback and a handful of the top players from last year have either transferred or declared for the NFL Draft.
To put it bluntly, don’t bet on Michigan. We’ve been down this path before — yes, even the guy behind the keyboard — and it doesn’t end will. Harbaugh should have a much better team than the one we saw in 2020, but this isn’t a B1G title contender right now.
Illinois doesn’t belong at the bottom
Illinois struggled last season, finishing with a 2-6 record that resulted in Lovie Smith’s firing. Any coaching change, even if it is Bret Bielema, usually forces a team down to the bottom of the betting ladder. But I’m not convinced that should be the case for the Fighting Illini.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe Illinois is going to win the B1G West. But at 100/1 odds, the Fighting Illini have the worst odds of any B1G team heading into the 2021 season. With nearly two dozen super-seniors returning to Champaign, a handful of transfers who can make an immediate impact and a coaching change that should be a significant upgrade, I’d put Illinois ahead of at least a handful of teams.
To me, Illinois fits in perfectly with that group of Michigan State, Purdue and Rutgers, all pegged with 50/1 odds to win the B1G. That seems fair, right?
Names on the jerseys still matter
Northwestern won the B1G West last season, finished 7-2 and gave Ohio State a run for its money in the B1G Championship Game. Indiana was 6-2 and also gave the Buckeyes one hell of a fight in Columbus. But because the names on the jerseys are “Northwestern” and “Indiana,” the teams have both been given 12/1 odds.
That’s not horrible, but they’re also behind Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and Iowa. The Hoosiers and Wildcats were a combined 5-0 against those four opponents.
Obviously, success in the previous season doesn’t always translate to the next one. But it’s still somewhat surprising that Indiana and Northwestern weren’t at least ahead of Michigan and Penn State, both of which finished with losing records in 2020.
On a positive note, Pat Fitzgerald and Tom Allen really seem to thrive in that underdog role. This will probably just add more fuel to the fire for two of the most intense head coaches in the B1G.