Big 12 win totals: Iowa State, Texas Tech due for monster years
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If the Big 12 is a game of Monopoly, the Oklahoma Sooners are either seasoned vets or have been stealing money from the bank while the other players aren't looking. Either way, it's been sheer domination.
The Sooners, who've claimed four straight conference titles, unsurprisingly lead the pack in Big 12 win totals for 2020 at a juiced 9.5. However, I'm looking elsewhere to find value.
Here's the conference outlook for the upcoming season.
Big 12 win totals
Strength of schedule
|Team||National SOS Rank|
As mentioned in our Big Ten win totals, luck can come in all shapes and sizes. For this exercise, we'll use turnover margin and second-order wins - a postgame win expectancy metric - to determine which teams were lucky or unlucky during the 2019 regular season.
Baylor: +11 TO, 11 actual wins, 9.9 expected wins
Kansas State: +1 TO, 8 actual wins, 6.4 expected wins
Iowa State: -3 TO margin, 7 actual wins, 9.4 expected wins
Iowa State over 7.5 (-170)
Most bettors wouldn't pay this price on Iowa State to go over, but I'll do so with open arms. In fact, this is currently my favorite bet on the board for 2020.
In handicapping win totals, some of the main factors to use are returning production, strength of schedule, and luck. Iowa State is pretty much the perfect storm.
The Cyclones are in the top half of the country in returning production, bringing back 62% of their offense and 71% of their defense from 2019.
The luck is what's really driving me to bet the Cyclones over this total. Only one other team in the nation had a bigger positive discrepancy between actual wins and expected wins last year (more on this later). Additionally, Iowa State's four losses came by a combined 11 points.
A season after performing like a 9.4-win team, the Cyclones don't figure to be worse off. Bet the over.
Texas Tech over 5.5 (-170)
So, which team was the unluckiest last season by second-order wins? It was the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who should have won 6.5 games based on their performance but had to settle for a 4-8 mark. Eerily similar to Iowa State, Texas Tech also went 0-4 in one-score games, losing those four by a combined - yeah, you guessed it - 11 points. The only reason the Red Raiders didn't make the "unlucky" list was because they oddly went plus-4 in turnover margin.
The returning production isn't as pristine as Iowa State's - Texas Tech is No. 106 in offense and No. 44 in defense - but the schedule trumps just about every other team in the conference. The Red Raiders will face the second-easiest slate in the Big 12, which includes home games against Oklahoma, Baylor, and Texas. They should also have some gimmes against UTEP, Alabama State, and Kansas.
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.