At MyTopSportsbooks, we continue to provide sports bettors with pertinent information to make educated picks that are based on data, not emotion, to find winners. We talk about strategy, systems to use and ways to make bets with different types of funds to demonstrate online sports betting is as easy as getting out of bed. In today’s update, we will look at the Sagarin betting system and how it applies to the major sports across the betting spectrum. It will give a sports bettor insight and confidence to place bets based on a system that has taken the guesswork out of sports wagering. Jeff Sagarin, a sports statistician and mathematician, developed his rating/betting system in the early 80s. Most of Sagarin’s work was confined to college sports but has since expanded and is one of the major systems punters use to help develop winning betting strategies across many sports.

The Basics, Sagarin Ratings

The Sagarin rankings system is a computer-generated model predicated on Elo rating that defines an opponent’s strength and Blue to determine the margin of points. Since the development of those two systems, Sagarin has abandoned them for something more specific.

What has emerged as their replacements are three categories to help add more information to the equation. The computer rankings that are featured on ESPN for college basketball games are based on for components.

  1. The Predictor: it looks at game scoring and nothing else
  2. The Golden Mean: another system based on scoring, but the math equations have not been released, so it isn’t easy to see the similarities between the Golden Mean and Predictor systems.
  3. Recent: recent games carry more weight in the system than earlier in the schedule.

The three systems are combined to determine an overall rating and are used to rank the teams under review. To understand the Sagarin rankings, you take the rankings for both teams, compare them against each other and add the home advantage bonus to the home team’s ranking.

The home advantage bonus changes as the season go on; for college basketball, he lists the advantage as four points, and for college football, the home advantage bonus is three points. At the same time, Sagarin developed the rankings/ratings system for college football and college basketball, and it appears in the USA Today regularly. It has been used in other sports like the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR and golf to qualify and identify potential winners in each sport. You can use the system at any betting site or in Vegas when laying down a bet.

The Basics, Sagarin Ratings

Betting With Sagarin

There are many public domains where the Sagarin ranking appears, and we will use an NFL example to illustrate how they work. The New England Patriots are visiting the New York Jets in an NFL matchup. Suppose the Patriots hold a ranking of 27.50 and the Jets hold a ranking of 21.50, making the Jets the underdog. You add three points to the Jets ranking – home advantage bonus – and it comes out as 24.50. Compare that number to the Patriots’ ranking of 27.50, and you find a three-point Patriots advantage for the margin of victory. Applying the rankings to the NHL and NBA is the same. Let’s look at an NBA example to demonstrate how Sagarin works in pro sports.

The Los Angeles Lakers are visiting the New York Knicks and have a home-court advantage. The Lakers hold a ranking of 92.50, while Knicks have a ranking of 90.50. You think a Lebron James team should be favoured, but based on the three-point home bonus advantage, the Knicks are 93.50 over the Lakers at 92.50 in the rankings system. Next, we turn our attention to the NHL, where the numbers are smaller, and the home bonus advantage is significantly less.

The Dallas Stars are visiting the New Jersey Devils, and suppose the Stars have a rating of 4.42 while the Devils have a ranking of 4.0. You add 0.15 – home advantage bonus for NHL games – to the Devils’ total, and you get 4.15. The favorite, in this case, continues to be the Stars, as their ranking is higher even after the home bonus advantage has been added to the Devils’ ranking.

Using Sagarin for NCAA College Football

Suppose we factor in the most recent college football rankings that feature the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Michigan Wolverines. For example, OSU holds a ranking overall of 94.50 and a recent ranking of 92.50. On the other hand, Michigan has an overall 94.50 and a recent ranking of 93.50. You add the home bonus advantage to the Michigan total – overall 97.50/recent 96.50 – and you see that Michigan is the favorite in both scenarios. You can see how this will be helpful in placing NCAA Football bets.

Using Sagarin for NCAAB

Let’s take you through a Men’s College Basketball betting example to highlight the Sagarin system with the accompanying spread we mentioned earlier in the article. Suppose the University of North Carolina Tarheels is hosting the Kentucky Wildcats in a Division I game during the regular season. The power rating example for UNC is 89, and the rating for Duke is 87. It looks like a tight contest, and UNC is the best team. Then we add the home bonus advantage to the UNC rating – four – and UNC has a rating of 93. Then we take the Duke rating of 87 and subtract it from the UNC rating, leaving the Tarheels the favorite by five. For NBA ratings, you use the same formula in the Sagarin system to determine what may be a winning bet. Much of the college power rankings are based on strength of schedule and common opponents like the Kenpom ratings system developed by Ken Pomeroy.

Using Sagarin for NCAAB

Using Sagarin Ratings for Other Sports

When we look at the application of Sagarin, one thing stands out; it is used for team sports. But you can use it for individual sports, like golf. If you visit the Sagarin website, you will see golfers ranked and how they will fare when pitted against each other with the advantages identified in the system. The lower the golfer shoots, the better the ranking based on average strokes per 18 holes. Hence a player who averages 66 per 18 will be better than a player who averages 68 per 18 holes.

Tips for Betting Using the Sagarin System

  • The system’s success rate is 75 percent, and 53 on the point spread bets. No betting system or betting strategy is perfect, but the Sagarin system is a reliable predictor to help sports bettors place their wagers. The system can be used for Moneyline bets and point spread action, but don’t put blind faith into it as we know things can happen during games that change outcomes, like injuries.
  • Now that we have mentioned injuries, this is the key weakness of Sagarin. It makes no allowances for players going down before or during a game. The system takes the points and the points only into consideration.
  • Another factor that comes into play when assessing two teams is the human factor. If we refer back to an NCAA college basketball example, a team playing for a tournament birth – March Madness or NCAA tournament – has a lot to play for as opposed to a team that has qualified or is out of contention come game time. Motivation is essential and an excellent tool to use when looking for a value bet.

Pros and Cons of Sagarin

  • Pros

The system has been used for decades with outstanding reliability and is popular with bettors.

Sagarin doesn’t charge a fee to use the ratings, and the system is simple to understand and easy to use. You can follow four different pathways using Sagarin, allowing the bettor to pick the most reliable one for their purposes.

  • Cons

Because the system is based on cold hard numbers, star player injuries before the game have no influence. Sportsbooks, and oddsmakers, on the other hand, move Heaven and Earth to adjust the line when a star player goes down, but they have skin in the game and stand to lose a bundle if the lines don’t move.

Sports bettors aren’t a trusting group by nature, and since Sagarin has never published the calculations, some are uneasy about using the system.

The Sagarin system is good for novice and experienced bettors alike, as it takes the emotion out of sports betting and backstops it with math. Like anything, math has limitations, and total dependence on the system isn’t recommended, but using Sagarin as a complementary strategy can be more than effective for your sports bets.

Frank Lorenzo
Frank Lorenzo
MTS Co-Founder
Geoff Johnson
Geoff Johnson
MTS Co-Founder