Michigan is the +190 ‘chalk’ to win the Big Ten

Published on May 17 at 4:45 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

Odds to win the Big Ten Championship (per 5Dimes)
Championship – Dec. 1 (Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis)

Michigan +190
Wisconsin +230
Michigan State +380
Nebraska +525
Illinois +1300
Iowa +1800
Penn State +1800
Northwestern +2200
Purdue +2500
Indiana +4000
Minnesota +8500

How to read the odds:

Bet $100 to win $190 on Michigan
Bet $100 to win $525 on Nebraska
Bet $100 to win $2,500 on Purdue

With Ohio St. ineligible to go to the Big Ten Championship Game, the league is obviously a little more open to be had. Coming off a stellar year under Brady Hoke, Michigan is installed as the favorite.

This moniker is well deserved thanks to the return of Denard Robinson, one of the nation’s most explosive quarterbacks. After the Wolverines play Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in the season opener and travel to South Bend to face Notre Dame, they’ll be well prepared for league play that starts at Purdue on Oct. 6 and is preceded by an open date.

But is plus-190 enough value for a season-long wager on Michigan? Probably not. The Wolverines get Michigan St. and Iowa at home and don’t have to play Wisconsin, but they travel to Nebraska and play their regular-season finale in Columbus.

Wisconsin is the defending champ and although it lost QB Russell Wilson, there are plenty of reasons for optimism in Madison. For starters, Heisman candidate Montee Ball is back and he’ll run behind an offensive line that features a pair of potential All-Americans, Ricky Wagner and Travis Frederick.

The Badgers have a new QB in Danny O’Brien, another transfer who was outstanding at Maryland in 2010 with a 22/8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. However, he didn’t mesh with new coach Randy Edsall and lost his job during a disappointing 2011 campaign (7/10 TD-INT).

The toughest Big Ten road games for Wisconsin are at Nebraska in its league opener and at Penn St. in its regular-season finale. The Badgers host Michigan St. and Ohio St. at Camp Randall.

Michigan St.’s year will be determined by a three-game stretch (at Michigan, at Wisconsin, vs. Nebraska) from Oct. 20-Nov. 3. Mark Dantonio’s squad has to replace QB Kirk Cousins, but the offense has four starting offensive linemen returning to open holes for RB Le’Veon Bell. The Spartans should be solid on defense with an excellent secondary, quality linebackers and one of the country’s best pass rushers in William Gholston.

What about Nebraska and its plus-525 odds? I just don’t see it happening due to perhaps the toughest in-conference schedule. The Cornhuskers have to play at Iowa, at Michigan St. and at Northwestern, in addition to home games vs. Wisconsin and Michigan.

Prediction: Wisconsin
Sleeper: Iowa

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