To celebrate Pinnacle’s 20th anniversary, this article looks at the biggest underdog wins of the last 20 years based on the highest odds taken by Pinnacle customers. Did you bet on any these surprise results?
What do the biggest underdog wins tell us about Pinnacle?
Some of these odds may seem relatively low so it is important to note that this list is drawn from individual fixtures. This means that multiple bets aren’t included and big outright underdogs like Leicester City’s Premier League win or Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph do not make the list.
All of these upsets come from three of Pinnacle’s most popular sports (soccer, tennis and basketball). This makes sense considering these sports have a broad range of matches that provide greater opportunities for big underdog winners (unlike NFL, MLB and NHL where teams will usually be fairly closely matched).
Another concept that should be considered is that of the favourite-longshot bias. If big outsiders are consistently poor value then it is perhaps no surprise that the odds aren’t as high as some would anticipate.
Bearing all of that in mind here are the biggest underdog wins in Pinnacle’s 20-year history.
1) Spain vs. Georgia (soccer)
Venue: Coliseum Alfonso Perez (Getafe)
Result: Spain 0-1 Georgia
Highest odds taken: 85.35
Closing line: 71.76
The biggest upset in Pinnacle’s history saw Spain, the reigning European Champions, suffering their first loss in 16 months at the hands of an unfancied Georgian team.
Georgia, ranked 137 in the world, had not won a game since defeating minnows Gibraltar in Euro qualifying in October. Spain’s starting lineup included four World cup winners and seven Champions League winners.
As expected, the Spanish dominated the match. The heavy favourites enjoyed 74% of the possession but could not prevent Tornike Okriashvili from silencing the home crowd the 40th-minute opener.
- Read: How to bet on soccer
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque was able to call upon the likes Pedro, David Silva, Koke and Iniesta from the bench as Spain attempted to equalise and avoid an embarrassing defeat.
The Georgians were somehow able to withstand the Spanish pressure, holding the lead through to full time to complete a huge upset, much to the delight of bettors who backed them at the top price of 85.35.
2) Lukas Rosol vs. Rafael Nadal (tennis)
Venue: Wimbledon (London)
Result: Rosol 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6,6-4
Highest odds taken: 66.00
Closing line: 42.00
Lukas Rosol’s main draw debut at Wimbledon was an eventful one. After losing in the first round of qualifying in the previous five years he was not expected to make a great deal of progress in the tournament proper.
When he walked out for his second round match against two-time Wimbledon champion Rafa Nadal he was not given much of a chance by most, including the betting market. Rosol himself stated his objective was “just to play three good sets, you know. Just don't lose 6-0, 6-1, 6-1".
- Read: Tennis betting guide
The Czech player surprised everyone, including himself, with a dramatic victory over the much-fancied Nadal. It was the first time the Spaniard had been eliminated before the third round of a Grand Slam in seven years.
Nadal went on to add to his impressive collection of titles whilst his opponent has never gone beyond the third round of a Grand Slam. However, Rosol will always be remembered for defying the odds and producing one of the greatest grand slam tennis upsets.
3) Serena Williams vs. Virginie Razzano (tennis)
Venue: Roland Garros (Paris)
Result: Razanno 4-6, 7-6, 6-3
Highest odds taken: 61.00
Closing line: 61.00
Another tennis match from 2012 makes the top five. This time the unfancied Virginie Razzano toppled perhaps the greatest female tennis player of all time at the French Open.
Parisian Razzano was handed the toughest draw possible at her hometown Grand Slam. Serena Williams had never lost a first-round Grand Slam singles match and was the tournament favourite. In contrast, Razzano had slumped from her position as World number 19 in 2009 to a lowly 160.
Prior to the match Serena was 46-0 in the opening round of Grand Slams and to date Razzano’s win remains the only first-round loss of Williams’ career in a Grand Slam singles match.
4) Duquesne vs. Boston College (basketball)
Result: Duquesne 98, Boston College 93 after overtime
Venue: Alumni Stadium (Boston)
Result: Duquesne 98, Boston College 93
Highest odds taken: 51.00
Closing line: 31.00
The 2005–06 season was the worst in Duquesne’s the 92-year history with the team enduring a 3-24 record. However, despite this record they under normal circumstances they would still not have been outsiders to such a great extent.
What made the Dukes such big underdogs was the fact they were missing four players due to a tragic on-campus shooting (thankfully all players survived) leaving them with a scratch squad mostly composed of freshmen for the trip to Boston College.
To add to Duquesne’s difficulties coach Ron Everhart was absent from the sidelines with luillness. The Boston College roster featured two future NBA first-round draft picks (Sean Williams and Jared Dudley).
It was therefore a credit to Duquesne’s resilience that they forced the much more experienced Boston team into overtime. They went on to defeat their more heralded opponents on their own court, securing one of the biggest upsets in the history of the NCAA.
5) Nevezis vs. Lietuvos Rytas (basketball)
Venue: Lietuvos Rytas Arena
Highest odds taken: 51.00
Closing line: 36.00
Basketball is the national sport of Lithuania and the Lietuvos Krepšinio Lyga (LKL) is amongst the best supported basketball leagues.
BC Žalgiris are the dominant force in the Lithuanian league with 20 titles and have been amongst Europe’s elite for a number of years. However, for a period of time between 2000 and 2010 Lietuvos Rytas (now known as BC Rytas) challenged Žalgiris’ dominance by winning five of ten titles.
In contrast Nevezis have never won the Lithuanian title. However, this did not prevent them from defeating perhaps Rytas’ greatest ever team at full strength, equalizing their playoff series at 1-1 after losing 116-80 in the first match.
The surprise turnaround between matches makes this result one of the top five greatest underdog wins in Pinnacle’s history but ultimately did not stop Rytas from going on to win the Lithuanian championship.