Everyone Loves an Upset

Ryan Moreland · July 9, 2023


By: Jeff Melinyshyn (@jmel1125)

Wow, what a regular season we just experienced. From teams not wanting to be #1 to Upset Wednesday of the final week of the regular season. But now it is time to put records aside. It is simple, win and advance. Yesterday, like Santa on December 24th making his way to all the children, Mike dropped the playoff schedule for next week. My degenerate side kicked in with the sportsbook, but for my sake and yours that is not the point of this article. Today I want to take a look at all the matchups and see what is the probability of the upset. I will take a look at previous games this season where the higher-seeded team was not favored and what happened in those games. Without further ado, let’s get to it! 

#9 Kentucky v. #8 North Carolina

If this game is not a pick’em I will be surprised. Kentucky loves being the underdog, they are 3-1 as underdogs with two upsets. The only time they did not cover was week 7 as 5.5-point underdogs against Miami.

Upset probability: 90%

#16 Northern Illinois v. #1 Oklahoma State

What NIU team will show up? The Huskies finished 2-2 as underdogs this season. They were also favored against Kent State and lost. It is going to be a tough hill against the #1 team. But this season has been crazy. That said, they have a better chance of covering the spread than pulling off the upset.

Upset probability: 10%-0%

#10 Notre Dame v. #7 Florida State

Notre Dame was favored in more games than not. They finished with a 1-2 as underdogs with their only upset coming last week against Texas who were favored by 11.5. Florida State just got shell-shocked by Kentucky. This could be the game of the week.

Upset probability: 50%

#15 Oklahoma v. #2 Michigan

Oklahoma had a tough schedule and it showed being the underdog six times this season. In the second half of the season, they covered the spread against Michigan, Boise State, and Oklahoma State, all teams in the top five in rankings. Though no upset on their resume, maybe, just maybe, in a season full of unpredictability, the Sooners can get it done.

Upset probability: 50%

#11 Texas v. #6 Florida

Texas finished the season 2-1 as underdogs this season in the sportsbook (not counting pick’em games. They were 0-2 in those if you were wondering). The Longhorns upset over Florida State in Week One, might be the best upset for any team in this article (debate that amongst yourselves). The only time they did not cover the spread was against Michigan. They also had a solid cover against Oklahoma State in Week Seven. What Texas team shows up will be the real question.

Upset probability: 50%

#14 Illinois v. #3 Miami

Illinois closed out the season on a high note after an upset at the hands of rival Ohio State the week before. Looking at the numbers Illinois finished 3-2 against the spread and their lone upset was over Notre Dame. The Fighting Illini covered against UNC and Oklahoma State. They did not cover against Florida and Michigan.

Upset probability: 40%

#12 Georgia v. #5 Boise State

Only the underdog three times this season Georgia did little to ignite confidence. They were able to cover against an Alabama team that was not playing their best ball. They did not cover against Miami or Florida. Fun fact, Georgia was favored against Boise when they played in Week Two. Can they return the favor now that they are the underdog?

Upset probability: 40%

#13 Pittsburgh v. #4 Alabama

If you want to find a hot team as an underdog look no further than Pittsburgh. They have covered or upset in four consecutive weeks. Starting in Week Five they covered against FSU, upset Auburn, covered against UNC, and then upset WVU. Alabama finally put on a solid performance in Week Eight but now it’s the playoffs.

Upset probability: 70%

So what does this mean, after reading this article maybe it will open up more eyes to the sportsbook and how good the bookies are with doing the lines. Also, there were A LOT more upsets and covers this season than I can remember. I hope you enjoyed this article and I will be back for the second round of the playoffs. 


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