Sagarin Betting System Rankings

Bettors are often interested in sports rating systems. They use these ratings as a source for “Power Ratings,” traditionally used to determine the spread between teams. Check this Sagarin Betting System Guide.

A Sports Statistician

Jeff Sagarin, an American sports statistician, created one of the systems available to bettors “the Sagarin Betting System”.

He is best known for developing a system for ranking and rating teams across various sports, now called the Sagarin Rankings or the Sagarin Betting System

Since 1985, his ratings have been a regular part of the USA Today sports section. The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has used them for determining the participants in the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship tournament.

Teams as the Cinderella of the Story

Which always has a number of teams that start cinderella stories. They also participated in the college basketball Bowl Championship Series from 1998 to 2014.

Like many other rating systems, Sagarin does not disclose the specific methods behind his Sagarin Betting System. Each team gets a different rating system, and he only explains that it takes components from the Elo rating system, which is used worldwide to rank chess players. 

Predictor System

This system only considers wins and losses without referencing the victory margin. The “Predictor” system takes into account the victory margin.

The difference in the rating scores of the two teams is used to predict the margin for victory at neutral venues. 

Both systems give teams higher ratings in the Sagarin system if they win games against stronger opponents. This also takes into account home-venue advantage. 

The Predictor system also considers the margin of victory or loss, but the law involving diminishing returns applies.

A football team that wins 7-6 receives a lower amount of points. However, a team who defeats the same opponent 21-7 is awarded less. 

However, a team that wins by 35-0 points receives similar ratings as a team who defeats the opponent by 70-0.

Comfortable Wins

This characteristic allows for recognizing “comfortable wins” while limiting the reward for running up the score.

A Bayesian net weighted with starting rankings is used at the beginning of a season. However, weights are no longer necessary once the graph has been well-connected. Sagarin asserts that the rankings are impartial from this point.

American College Sports Sagarin’s Ratings

Sagarin’s ratings have particular relevance in the world of American college sports, mainly football and basketball. With hundreds of teams competing in NCAA DI competitions, it is impossible for a team to play against more than one of its opponents.

To determine the winners of championship games or tournaments, it is essential to distinguish between solid teams and weaker teams. The system is also applicable to other sports, such as golf.

Sagarin Compared to KenPom

When it comes to college basketball betting, the KenPom ratings have a huge impact. Ken Pomeroy, the creator of the KenPom system, explained that his goal is to show how strong a team would be if they played today, regardless of injuries or emotional factors. 

The KenPom ranking system includes statistics such as:

  • shooting percentage
  • victory margins
  • schedule strength

The final calculation of offensive and defensive efficiency for all Division I teams. KenPom’s predictive component also considers home-court advantage. This means that KenPom can often predict which team will win depending on the location.

KenPom’s Accuracy

KenPom was a great place to bet on basketball in its early days. Some bettors discovered that KenPom was more accurate than the betting houses at predicting how a game would end, especially in terms of totals.

It wasn’t long until the sportsbooks realized this and began using KenPom to set their odds.

It’s rare to see a point spread on reputable college betting sites that is more than one point from the KenPom predictions unless there has been a severe injury or suspension. 

Why Ranking Systems Matter

A sports ranking system will consider the sports competitions’ results and analyze them to assign ratings to each athlete or team. Some common systems are used frequently, such as expert polls, betting markets, and computer systems. 

These rankings are numerical representations that indicate competitive strength. They can often be directly compared to predict a game’s outcome between two teams.

They can be obtained directly or by sorting the ratings of each team and assigning an ordinal ranking to each team. Logically, the highest-rated team is awarded the #1 spot. 

In addition, rating systems are an alternative to traditional sports standings. These are almost always based solely on win-loss ratios across the sport or a conference.

Most Common Uses of Sports Rating

The most common use of sports rating systems in the U.S. is to evaluate NCAA college teams in Division I FBS. This allows for the selection of teams to participate in the College Football playoff.

Sports rating systems also govern the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. These systems are frequently mentioned when discussing teams that might or should be invited to participate in contests.

Computer Ranking Systems

Computer ranking systems may tend to be more objective, without any specific player, team, or regional bias.

They can be verified and repeated and require assessment of all criteria. However, ranking systems that rely on human polls have inherent human subjectivity. This property may or not be attractive depending on the system’s needs.

Factors That Influence Rankings

Different rating systems have different goals. Some systems are retrodictive and provide an accurate analysis of games played up to date, while others give more weight to the future than past results. People who are unfamiliar with these goals can misinterpret rating system results. 

For example, a system that gives accurate point spread predictions for bettors may not be suitable for selecting the best teams to play in a championship or tournament.

However, some factors come into play for most ranking systems. The Sagarin System is one of the very few exceptions.

Home Advantage

Two teams of equal skill play more often when the home team wins. The effect’s size can vary depending on what era, game type, season length, and sport. It also depends on how many time zones were crossed. However, playing at home can increase your chances of winning in all circumstances.

The strength of a team’s opponent is called the schedule. A win against a weaker opponent is often viewed less favorably than one against a stronger opponent.

Many times, teams from the same league who are being compared to each other for playoff or championship consideration have not played the exact same opponents. It is, therefore, difficult to judge their win-loss records.

Points vs. Wins

The representation of game outcomes is a crucial difference among sports rating systems. Some systems save final scores in separate ternary events, such as wins, draws, or losses. Others record the exact game score and then rate teams using margins of victory. 

Other systems record the exact final game score and then rate teams using the margin of victory. This is often criticized because it encourages coaches to increase their scores, which is often considered unsportsmanlike.

Other Sytems

Other systems find a middle ground and reduce the marginal number of points per victory. Sagarin decided to limit the margin of victory to a certain amount.

Still, other systems choose a middle ground, reducing the marginal value as the margin of victory increases.

In-Game Data

Some system designers include more detailed information than just points and wins. Some examples include lead changes, statistics, and individual statistics.

Although data about weather, injuries, and “throwaway” games may have an impact on game outcomes, they are hard to model.

“Throwaway games” refer to games in which teams have earned playoff slots and secured their playoff seeding before the end of the regular season. 

Team Composition

Teams frequently change their team composition within and between games. Players often get hurt. It is not uncommon to rate a particular team based on a certain group of players. 

Some leagues assume parity between all league members, such as when each team is built from an equal pool of players through a draft or free agent system, as in many major league sports like the NFL, MLB, and NBA.

This is not true for collegiate leagues like Division I-A football and men’s and women’s basketball.

Cold Starts

There are no games to compare teams’ relative quality at the start of a season.

The cold start problem is often solved by using some measure from the previous season and perhaps weighted according to how many players are returning for the next season. 

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Sagarin Betting System FAQs

Jeff Sagarin, an MIT graduate, created the eponymously-named ranking system.

No, not necessarily. There is no foolproof method to guarantee wins in sports betting, but having access to more data makes for more intelligent choices.

The system began to emerge in the 1970s but didn’t take hold until the early 1980s when the system became popular.

No, there are others, such as the KenPom system.

USA Today has included the results of the Sagarin System continuously since 1985.