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Outkick Bets: Where Are the Upsets?

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There are few things as tempting as seeing that plus-sign next to a team’s moneyline. You can find plenty of deals on favorites, small and large, but who doesn’t want more? Name one person who know that doesn’t sometime, occasionally, want to root for the underdog to win. You can’t and that was the reason for my latest deep-dive. Upsets. Who’s doing them and who’s losing to them? Where can we find more bang for the dollar we invest in these games? Guys, I think we’ve found something pretty interesting.

First, I invested a lot of time into finding where the upsets were happening. Which conferences were involved in games that featured an upset the most? The conference is… the ACC which has 28 games in which the underdog won outright. Not far behind is the PAC-12 with 25 games in which an upset occurred. Here’s a chart:

CONFERENCE # OF GAMES ENDING IN UPSET
ACC 28
PAC-12 25
BIG 10 19
SEC 19
MAC 18
MOUNTAIN WEST 18
AMERICAN 16
CONFERENCE USA 12
BIG 12 11
INDEPENDENT 11
SUN BELT 7

It’s a great start but I needed to look even deeper. I continued digging for more and more specific tells of a potential payout. I wanted to also note which conferences did the most upsetting vs. which conferences were being upset the most. The data continues by showing the ACC and the PAC-12 tying for the most times being upset, each getting upended 16 times apiece. Let me share that breakdown in a chart (technical term):

CONFERENCE # TIMES LOST IN AN UPSET
ACC 16
PAC-12 16
AMERICAN 10
BIG TEN 10
SEC 9
MAC 8
MOUNTAIN WEST 8
BIG 12 6
C-USA 5
INDEPENDENT 4
SUN BELT 4

The data continues to speak to us. I also noted the conferences that were victorious in an upset and made some people some hard-earned cash. So far, this season has told us that the conference pulling the largest number of upsets is again, the ACC. They’ve done the honors 12 times. Three conferences tied for second-most upsets won with 10. CHART!

CONFERENCE TIMES WON IN AN UPSET
ACC 12
MAC 10
MOUNTAIN WEST 10
SEC 10
BIG TEN 9
PAC-12 9
CONFERENCE USA 7
INDEPENDENT 7
AMERICAN 6
BIG 12 5
SUN BELT 3

That is the chart we now need to focus on. After all, we are looking for the teams doing the upsetting for the tasty plus-money. As a side note and for fun, FCS teams nabbed 9 upsets and as you see, that would rank pretty highly amongst conferences (it’s been a wild 2021 thus far). The one problem is that this data mixes conferences. We are now into full-fledged conference play. We need to see the numbers of upsets happening in intraconference battles. I got your back, check out this chart with all of that:

CONFERENCE # OF GAMES WITH UPSET TOTAL GAMES IN CONFERENCE % OF GAMES ENDING IN UPSET
ACC 8 14 57.1
PAC-12 6 17 35.3
SEC 6 20 30.0
BIG TEN 5 20 25.0
MAC 5 12 41.7
AMERICAN 4 11 36.4
MTN WEST 3 11 27.3
SUN BELT 3 11 27.3
BIG 12 2 12 16.7
C-USA 2 11 18.2
INDEP. 1 2 50.0

Hmmm, now we are somewhere interesting because there is a place where the upsets are happening even more than others including inside the conference. That percentage of conference games ending in an upset for the ACC is one that cleared up my sinuses and kept me going deeper in this hole. In those 8 games that an ACC team upset another ACC team, five featured the HOME team being upset. Also five of those games had spreads of double-digits and the average spread was 10.69 points (nice). That kind of spread would get on in the neighborhood of +310-330ish odds on the moneyline. Value, value, value. This weekend there are 5 ACC games inside the conference. CHART ME!

GAME SPREAD UNDERDOG MONEYLINE ODDS
Clemson @ Syracuse (FRI) Clemson -13.5 +470
Duke @ Virginia Virginia -11 +320
Pittsburgh @ Virginia Tech Pittsburgh -5 +172
Miami @ North Carolina North Carolina -7 +225
NC State @ Boston College NC State -3 +134

The data suggests at least two of these underdogs will win. We had it happen twice last week, once the week before and five the week before that. If we boil it all down, the numbers point at home ACC favorites being upset more so than not. If that remains true, watch out Virginia and North Carolina. There’s no mare charts.

Written by Arky Shea

Arky is a decade plus veteran of sports talk radio and a podcaster since before it was cool (2006). He has also won many, many awards for being good at it. As you read this, he is probably working an angle to win $50 on a game and wondering when the Alabama dynasty actually will end.

One Comment

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  1. The best way to describe the PAC-12 is a circular firing squad. The conference does it to itself Every. Single. Year. The PAC-12 has been a collection of mediocre teams for the past 5 or 6 years – maybe longer. While that is not a surprise to anyone, mediocre teams can beat any other mediocre team any week of the season. ASU is starting to flex it’s muscle a bit, but I guarantee you they will lose to someone they are not supposed to – probably at home to my woeful Trojans.

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