Reason for hope: an important goal is still in sight

Submitted by michelin on November 8th, 2009 at 3:01 PM

This is a message the players should get. My first reaction to UM’s predicament was to give up on the team this year. When you are expected to lose both of the next 2 games by significant margins, it’s easy to get discouraged. But then I wondered, what’s the chance that UM could still get to a bowl game this year and end up with a decent record. Given turnovers, missed extra points, injuries, illnesses, unexplained fluctuations in motivation, etc.—how likely is it that UM could steal one of the games Just think: Purdue beat OSU. Navy beat ND. NW beat Iowa…Washington(?state) beat USC….I could go on. The point is that there’s a lot that can happen that is not predictable with certainty even if one team is a big favorite. So what’s the chance that UM might finally catch a break after an otherwise heartbreaking season?

I first calculated the predicted point spreads based on UM OSU AND WI’s Sagarin Predictor ratings to get an idea about the possible point spreads in our next 2 games, as calculated below (the sagarin ratings are actually used by vegas to help set the betting lines, and the rating method chosen actually predicts the outcome of games).

I took a random game on the net that had posted both a 12-14 pt spread and odds roughly comparable to spreads I calculated for UM vs WI (-11 ) and OSU (-15).

I found that UM has a 31% chance of getting to a bowl game and the second most likely final record is 7-6.

Conclusion: A nearly 1/3 chance of a bowl is not a reason for hopelessness…in fact, it’s a far better chance than was the team's early season goal of winning the B10.

So, now is not a time for the team to get discouraged..but rather to redouble their efforts… One of their important goals is still in sight.


In the random game selected, the line for the Favorite = -550 in percent form or -5.5 for Odds/probabilities, as used below)
Similarly, the line for the Underdog was +461 or 4.61`) and
Here's how we translate the odds. If you need to risk 4.6 to win 1 on underdog, this to mean that for ever 4.6 losses, Vegas expects the Underdog to win 1 time. So their unadjusted winning percentage is 1 / (1+4.6) or .18 or 18%. If you have to bet 5.5 to win 1 on the Favorite that means that for every 1 loss, the Favorite will win 5.5 times. Their unadjusted winning percentage is 5.5 / (1+5.5) = .85 or 85%
Here, 18% + 85% is greater than 100% (103%), because of the house advantage. So, we divide each team’s unadjusted Winning % by the total of the two teams 1.01 or 103%.
When we adjust these numbers to correct for the house’s take, we get:

Adjusted Pr favorite wins= .85/1.03=.83
Adjusted Pr underdog wins =.18/1.03=.17

Since this is based on a 12-14 point spread and OSU spread is 15, WI is 11, I based on the Sagarin ratings (see below), I will adust the above probabilities of favorite winning by +.02 for OSU and -.02 for WI.
So Pr OSU wins=.85
Pr WI wins = .81
Thus Pr (both OSU and WI win)=.85*.81= .69.
That means UM has a 1-.69=.31 or 31% chance of beating either OSU or WI and going to a bowl game.
We have a (1-.85)(1-.81)=.094 or 9.4%
Assuming a 50% chance of wiining a bowl game the (getting in is assumed automatic if we are 6-6), we then have

15.5% chance of going 7-6 or 8-5 (10.8% chance of 7-6 and, in the unlikely even we beat OSU and WI, which has a 4.7% chance, going 8-5)
15.5% chance of 6-7 or 7-6 (10.8% chance of 6-7 and, in the unlikely even we beat OSU and WI, which has 4.7% chance, going 7-6)

Summary of record probabilities:
8-5 4.7 % approx 5%
7-6 15.5% (=10.8+4.7) Approx 15%
6-7 10.8% approx 11%
69% chance of going 5-7

Method of computing point spreads based on Sagarin predictor ratings at

Home field adjustment for Power ratings
MI 69.89+1.5 = 71.39,
OSU 88.02-1.5 =86.52
Difference= 15.13 = approx 15 point spread favoring OSU

Adjustment for home field
Wisc-77.57+1.5= 79.07
UM 69.89-1.5= 68.39
Difference = 79.07 -68.39= 10.68 = approx 11 point spread favoring WI



November 8th, 2009 at 3:10 PM ^

I like the math, but that is a long road just for some hope.

I see hope in the fact that we basically have nothing to lose anymore. What I would really like to see is RR pull out all the stops to get the win next week. He has yet to show any tricks up his sleeve. Does he not have any? Would he rather hold back than go for broke?


November 8th, 2009 at 4:35 PM ^

Also, I wonder if less practice time is one cause of UM's collapse. IT began around the time that all the noise was being made about practices...I wonder if that noise deterred even the voluntary workouts for UM players that almost all our competitors are continuing to have.

The negative publicity--which unfairly focused only on UM---can deter even perfectly legitimate activites, if one is unsure of whether they are in a gray zone.

I am not a lawyer, but f the NCAA does anything to UM, I think UM's lawyers should take a close look at what can be done about the clear bias. You cannot enforce a vague rule for one team only.

Regardless of the NCAA decision, I wonder what can be done about the damage that's been done to UM's image and earnings potential, starting with the phony academic accusations..then a million other things and finally the so-called practice issues.


November 8th, 2009 at 3:23 PM ^

I don't see winning just one of the next two games as a long road...if that's what you mean.

But I agree with you about strategy. If you increase the unpredictability of the outcome of each play, you can increase the chance that an underdog will win--that is, provided your plays are not so dumb that they have only a very small chance of succeeding.

Regarding strategy, though, I hope that we will not see on this site a bunch of detailed analyses of our weak points. I worry that this is just making the job of opposing coaches easier: unless, perhaps, someone can post a few really misleading analyses--like disinformation is spread in war.


November 8th, 2009 at 4:14 PM ^

optimism (and your math). I also agree with another poster that since M has nothing to lose in the next two games, they can be more unpredictable. However, they really needed to beat either Illinois or Purdue.