Big Ten win totals: Maryland, Wisconsin will surprise
Ohio State is in a class of its own in the Big Ten's pecking order. Although the rest of the conference faces an uphill battle for a regular-season title, there's still win-total value to be found.
Here are my three favorite bets for the Big Ten.
2021 SEC win totals
Maryland could be the Big Ten's surprise team in 2021.
The program pulled off consecutive top-five recruiting classes in the conference in 2017 and 2018, and it should start reaping some benefits as those players develop. Especially on offense, as head coach Mike Locksley possesses a dangerous core.
Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is back under center for a unit that ranks No. 14 in the country in returning production. He gets his top-two receivers back from last year in Dontay Demus Jr. and Rakim Jarrett, who combined for 41 catches, 617 yards, and four scores over five games this past campaign. Jeshaun Jones, whose 16.5 yards per touch paced the team in 2020, is returning too as a big-play threat.
The Terps totaled just 14 combined points against Northwestern and Indiana last year. But they deserve a pass, as the Wildcats and Hoosiers finished the season ranked No. 1 and No. 14 in the country in DF+ (a defensive-focused metric), respectively.
Otherwise, Maryland ran like a well-oiled machine, averaging close to 35 points per game over three contests.
Plus, with 85% of last year's defensive production back, Maryland will win much more frequently this fall.
What's not to like about Wisconsin?
Head coach Paul Chryst hasn't nabbed a conference title over six years at the post, but he's averaged 10.4 wins across the last five full seasons. Now the Badgers are among the top 25 both offensively and defensively, with a schedule that features four straight home games immediately and no Ohio State to worry about.
I love the team's potential, and I'm even more fond of the plus-money price attached to the over.
There aren't many teams I'd rush to fade in this market, but Northwestern is an obvious regression candidate after a surprising 7-2 campaign.
The team lost a first-round draft pick on both sides of the ball, both units rank bottom-five nationally in returning production, and the program went 3-0 in one-score games in 2020.
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has fared well in the underdog role, but there will be a target painted on his back following last year's surge.
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.