Chicago Colleges: over-unders 12

Predicting over-unders: Leaders Division

August, 23, 2012
Our preseason predictions are getting into full swing with a look at the over/under win totals for each Big Ten team.

Here's how this works: Bovada Sportsbook provided baseline totals for regular-season wins only for every Big Ten team except Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern and Purdue. For those teams, we came up with our own reasonable number. Then it's a matter of deciding if we think each team will finish above or below that baseline (or a push, in some cases).

On Wednesday, we gave our picks for the Legends Division. Now it's the Leaders Division's turn, and unlike real life, all teams are eligible here.


Over-under: 6.5 wins

Adam's pick: Under. Illinois has some talent, particularly in the defensive front seven, but too many questions on offense combined with a tricky schedule, especially on the road, lead to another 6-6 season. The Illini drop at least one non-league game and squeak into a bowl at .500.

Brian's pick: Under. Road games at Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Arizona State are no picnic, and it feels like Northwestern is due at home. I'll call all those losses and throw in Purdue at home for 6-6.


Over-under: 2.5 wins

Brian's pick: Over. Barely. It will be a weird year for the Hoosiers, who start out beating Indiana State, Ball State and UMass to go 3-0. Then they will go winless in the conference again and fall to Navy for a nine-game losing streak.

Adam's pick: Over. The Hoosiers won't make too much noise in the Big Ten, but they'll surprise somebody along the way and notch Kevin Wilson's first conference victory. Combined with two non-league wins, IU finishes 3-9.

Ohio State

Over-under: 9 wins

Adam's pick: Push. The Buckeyes will cruise through a soft non-league slate, but reality arrives in the Big Ten opener against Michigan State. Although a 10-win season certainly is within reach, I think Ohio State has a few stumbles in Big Ten play in its first go-around under Urban Meyer.

Brian's pick: Over. If the Buckeyes were eligible to go to Indianapolis, they would. Maybe I'm being too confident in the Meyer effect, but I think Ohio State wins every game except its trips to Michigan State and Wisconsin for a 10-2 finish.

Penn State

Over-under: 5.5 wins

Brian's pick: Over. People picking the Nittany Lions to be terrible this year because of the sanctions aren't really paying attention. The defense is too good, and this team will be competitive. But the schedule is harder than it seems, and attrition will take its toll late in the year. Penn State goes 6-6.

Adam's pick: Over. A great defense carried Penn State to nine wins in 2011. It certainly can boost the Lions to at least a six-win season this fall. The offense will look very ugly at times, but Bill O'Brien will eventually work his magic and see some results. I have Penn State finishing 7-5.


Over-under: 7.5 wins

Adam's pick: Under. It certainly wouldn't shock me if Purdue won eight or even nine games this season, but the Boilers will need to pull some upsets to do so. Purdue likely will be the underdog against Notre Dame (road), Michigan (home), Wisconsin (home) and Ohio State (road). There also are some toss-up games (Penn State, Illinois, Iowa). I have the Boilers going 7-5.

Brian's pick: Under. I also have Purdue going 7-5. That's at least improvement from last year's 6-6 mark. Notre Dame will be a turning point. If the Boilers can win that one, I think an eight-win season is a real possibility. They need to become a lot more consistent after not posting back-to-back wins all of last season.


Over-under: 9.5 wins

Brian's pick: Under. Wisconsin won't have to be perfect to win the Leaders Division this year, and that's a good thing for the Badgers. They stub their toe three times in league play to finish 9-3 but go to Indianapolis anyway because of Ohio State's probation. That will still put them just one win away from the Rose Bowl.

Adam's pick: Over. A favorable non-league schedule helps the Badgers, as does missing Michigan in Big Ten play and getting recent nemesis Michigan State at home. Wisconsin also hosts Ohio State in late November. While the Badgers won't breeze through the Big Ten, I don't see them losing more than two league games. As a result, they'll record another 10-win season.
As we get closer to the start of the season, it's time to begin rolling out some predictions. A fun way to kick things off is by picking the over/under for win totals for each team.

Here's how this works: Bovada Sportsbook provided baseline totals for regular-season wins only for every Big Ten team except Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern and Purdue. For those teams, we came up with our own reasonable number. Then it's a matter of deciding if we think each team will finish above or below that baseline (or a push, in some cases).

We tried this last year and didn't fare too well. I went 6-6, while Adam was 4-8. But we are improvement-driven. Let's start this off with the Legends Division.


Over-under: 7.5 wins

Adam's pick: Over. Just barely. The favorable schedule pays off for the Hawkeyes, who drop a game they shouldn't, maybe in non-league play, but also win one they shouldn't in Big Ten play. Iowa finishes 8-4.

Brian's pick: Over. We are on the same page, as I've also got Iowa at 8-4. Don't necessarily love the composition of this team right now, but I love that schedule. I see a 5-0 start and then just enough in the final seven games to get it done.


Over-under: 9 wins

Brian's pick: Under. This will be an unpopular opinion in Wolverine Nation, but I'm picking Michigan to go 8-4. Tough, tough games against Alabama, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Ohio State -- the last of those three on the road -- make me think the Wolverines take a step back this year.

Adam's pick: Push. While I'd love to answer this question after Week 1, we're doing it now, and I'm sticking with my belief that Michigan will be a better team than in 2011 with a worse record. The schedule simply is too treacherous, although a win against Alabama changes everything.

Michigan State

Over-under: 8.5 wins

Adam's pick: Over. The Spartans have been perfect at home the past two seasons, and I don't see them slowing down in 2011. They have a treacherous midseason stretch in Big Ten play and some early challenges, but they'll get to nine wins at least.

Brian's pick: Over. If I didn't think sports gambling was a great way to lose money, I would have thrown down a bunch of cash on the Spartans' ridiculous over-under of 7 wins last year. I feel nearly the same about this one. This is a nine-win team or better.


Over-under: 8.5 wins

Brian's pick: Over. The Huskers have won at least nine games in each of the past four seasons, and I think they get to that number before the regular season ends. Taylor Martinez and the defense should both be improved over last year's 9-4 squad.

Adam's pick: Over. While there are some potential challenges in non-league play, Nebraska should get through unscathed and win at least five Big Ten games again. A more experienced team plus greater familiarity with the Big Ten translates into a season at least as good as last year's.


Over-under: 6.5 wins

Adam's pick: Under. I'm torn between 6-6 or 7-5 for the Wildcats, and a strong start certainly raises the ceiling on the season. Ultimately, Northwestern drops at least one non-league game and has some ups and downs in Big Ten play, finishing 6-6 in the regular season yet again.

Brian's pick: Over. I like a 7-5 season for Northwestern, which has to get a little bit better on defense and has a strong cadre of receivers for Kain Colter. Wildcats lose a game they shouldn't but continue their tradition of at least one big upset.


Over-under: 4.5 wins

Brian's pick: Over. I could see the Gophers winning all four of their nonconference games and making a run at a bowl game. In reality, that's probably a bit ahead of schedule. But if MarQueis Gray has the kind of year I think he will and the defense improves, Minnesota will be much more competitive and should get to five wins.

Adam's pick: Over. Minnesota will be a better team in Year 2 of the Jerry Kill era. Will it be enough to get back to a bowl? Not so sure. The schedule doesn't give Minnesota many breaks, but I see the Gophers going 3-1 in non-league play and winning two Big Ten contests to finish 5-7.