This is the third edition of determining statistically how many wins the Wake Forest football team will achieve. We ran this last year to much success, and this statistical method provides a better way of predicting how many wins any given team will achieve during the year because instead of assigning "win" or "loss" to each game it assigns a probability to each game (say 40 percent or 60 percent).
When we ran these numbers last year it gave an indication that we were right on the fence for a bowl game at 5.46-6.54 (5-7), while going 3.16-4.84 in the ACC. Well, these numbers were right on the head, as Wake Forest finished the year a game short of bowl contention at 5-7, while also finishing 3-5 in the conference.
The main theory is assigning percentages to each game based on the line (or in this case, your predicted line for each game), rather than assigning just "win" or "loss" to each game:
The error my friend is making is that he is making definitive all of nothing calls on games that are anything but locks. Football games are not 100%/ 0% probabilities (typically). Now, could my friend be right? Absolutely, but his methodology is suboptimal at best.
It just so happens I have a friend of mine who is a professional gambler. He has a day job, but he makes his living betting sports like a day trader plays the stock market, complete with a healthy dose of arbitrage. Every year since my freshman year of college, we've gotten together and broken down the upcoming season, and we have a method. We call it proportional win shares. You can call it whatever you want, but I think you'll see how it's more effective than simply assigning "win" or "loss" to the games.
The idea is simple: assign a winning % to each game. For instance, you could say that FSU has an 80% chance of beating Maryland (0.80), of that they have a 20% chance to beat UF (0.20).
Here is the chart on how you take your perceived line for each game, and translate it in to a percentage:
-18/ -18.5/ -19/ -19.5
After you get your line for each game (and write it down or whatever), you do the following with each of the 12 numbers that you have:
You might be a bit lost right now, but that's okay. Here's the idea. A 3 point underdog, has a moneyline value of "+145". In numerical terms, that comes out to 245, because you add 100. Still with me? If not, it's okay. Keep following. To determine a team's projected winning percentage, based on the vegas line, simply take the moneyline value in numerical terms, and divide it into one.
Team A is favored over Team B by 3 points.
Thus, Team B is an underdog of 3 points.
Team B can be referred to as +3
Using the chart above, we can see that an underdog of +3 is "+145" moneyline value.
Remember to add 100 to the "145", to get "245".
Then, divide 100 (always 100 here) by 245.
100/245= 0.408, which we will round to 0.41
0.41 is the same thing as 41%.
So, Team B (the 3 point underdog) has a 41% chance of winning this game.
If Team B has a 41% chance of winning, then Team A must have a 59% chance of winning (because these numbers must add up to 100%)
After you get the percentage number for each game (you will have 12 numbers that look like the following: .99, .77. 55 etc.), you simply add them up, and that will give you a number that you can round to the nearest whole number. Voila, there is your win prediction for the year. You can also isolate the ACC games and just add those up to see how many ACC games you think we will win based on the percentages you assign to each game.
Post your results below, or just keep them to yourself, but I found this very interesting and I actually hit right around my number. It does allow a good way to look at each game and not demand a "win" or "loss" for each team, which can often be inaccurate.
Big props to Bud Elliott as always for his excellent writing and analysis of football.
Here is the Wake Forest 2013 schedule for easy access:
Note: The lines next to each game are just the predicted lines that I came up with for each team aside from the Clemson and Florida State lines, which I got from the Golden Nugget.
PRESBYTERIAN (no line) .99
@ BOSTON COLLEGE (+3) .41
LOUISIANA MONROE (-6) .71
@ ARMY- (-7) .74
@ CLEMSON (+21) .11
N.C. STATE (+2) .45
MARYLAND (-6) .71
@ MIAMI (+17) .13
@ SYRACUSE (+2) .45
FLORIDA STATE (+18) .12
DUKE (-6.5) -260 .72
@ VANDERBILT (+15.5) .14
Overall Record- 5.68-6.32 (6-6)
ACC Record- 3.10-4.90 (3-5)
Based on this information it looks like Wake Forest will once again be right on the bowl fence.
The Deacs are projected to win just over 5.5 games, which obviously isn't possible, so it will either be 5 or 6 wins. A draw a few things from this breakdown, the primary point is that the first 4 games are very, very important to Wake Forest if they want to make a bowl game. The odds have those 4 games at 2.85-1.15, meaning it's more likely the Deacs start 3-1 than 2-2. That 3rd win in the first 4 games could mean the difference between bowling and staying at home.
The schedule is easier on the front-end, with games against Florida State and Vanderbilt (with Duke wedged in the middle) to close out the year. Those two teams will likely be ranked in the top 25 at that point, and if Vandy isn't it is likely because they play in the SEC. Overall, this schedule is a little easier than last year, while the team should be a little better. This leads me to be optimistic that 6 games can be attainable, and the numbers back that up.
The games break down into 3 categories to me: Likely Wins (over 70%: Presbyterian, ULM, Army, Maryland, Duke), Toss-Up Games (between 40-60% to win: Boston College, N.C. State, Syracuse), and Likely Losses (Clemson, Miami, Florida State, Vanderbilt). A couple of those teams can be swapped a bit. For instance, I feel that Duke and Maryland could fall in the Toss-Up category more than the Likely Win category, but both are fringe teams any way.
Breaking it down this way, the Deacs need 4 wins in that first group, and 2 wins in that second group to become bowl eligible. The final group yields a 0.50-3.50 win likelihood, so stealing one there is pretty unlikely, especially since three of those games are on the road. The middle group breaks down to 1.31-1.69, meaning winning one of those three games is more likely than winning two. "Stealing" that second win will be crucial to get to a bowl.
I think it is all going to come down to the November 23rd game against Duke. The Deacs have them at home this year thanks to the schedule adjusting required to fit the new members of the ACC into it moving forward. That could play a big role in the season and will ultimately be why Wake Forest goes 6-6 and gets back to a bowl game for the first time since 2011.
Comments, questions and critiques are always welcome, especially in an article like this. Enjoy!
How many games will Wake Forest win in football this year?
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