Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Who to pick as your National Champ? In the interest of time, I've attempted to answer that question with one simple chart. Green is good, red is bad:
(The Pinny odds aren't vig-free, but since this is all relative that shouldn't really matter.) While I made that chart with one specific row in mind, one thing I did learn is that Gonzaga is probably the second best title pick. But yeah, unless you're entering a pool based in Gainesville, it does seem that Florida is the optimal title pick this year.
Just for the hell of it, let's look at the Final Four version of that table for the three regions which don't involve UF, starting with the Midwest:
Not really an obvious pick in this one. If you take Florida to win it all, though, I don't think there's much of a need to be contrarian with your other F4 picks, so either of the top two here seem fine. I'll go with the top overall seed, as I'll take them to be UF's opponent on April 8th.
When I tweeted my bracket I honestly hadn't realized how much more popular Ohio St. was than Gonzaga. The Zags seem like the pick here, despite potentially very difficult games in both the second and third rounds.
And finally, the East:
This one is kind of a mess. It's pretty ridiculous that the Canes are as popular as shown here. Taking Indiana isn't very clever, but this theoretical bracket will have them losing to UF in the Final Four, so that seems like a reasonable option.
That puts us at a Final Four of Louisville-Gonzaga-Florida-Indiana, with Florida over Louisville in the title game. I'm not going to bother with analysis of picks within each region; you can see what I did here, although I don't think any of it is particularly revolutionary.
Enjoy the games.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Building on the previous post, I ran the same analysis for the schedule of each team currently vying for one of the top seeds in the tournament. This time I used Wisconsin, currently #8 in KenPom, as the standard.
After doing that, I compared the actual result of the game to the expected result, and either credited or debited the team in question based on that. So if Wisconsin would be 62% to win at Illinois, they get +0.38 "Net W" if they win, and -0.62 if they lose. Do that for every game, add them all up, and you get a number for the strength of each's team's résumé. Here's how they stack up:
For Gonzaga, the reason is simple: they just keep winning. Hate on the WCC all you want, but sweeping your way through the regular season in the 10th best conference in the nation is a notable accomplishment; there were about 1.9 expected losses in there by my methodology, so those 16 games account for the vast majority of the Zags' total "Net W". They played pretty much to expectation in non-con, losing a couple games they should have won but also beating Oklahoma, Kansas St. and Oklahoma St. away from McCarthey Athletic Center.
Lunardi doesn't even have Duke on the top line, which makes sense if you aggressively discount non-conference games and ignore Kelly's absence, but not so much otherwise. Duke had more expected losses in November than most of their peers had in all of non-conference play, a fact that becomes even more impressive when considering the swept through the entire Minnesota/VCU/Louisville/tOSU slate.
And not that they really need it, but Coach K's squad can also get a boost if you weigh the games with Kelly more heavily, as their "Net W%" is a ridiculous +0.178 in those contests (they're 17-0).
Georgetown has a pretty similar profile to Duke (four losses, nearly identical SOS); the Hoyas are lagging a bit only because the Blue Devils have played three extra games (and won them all, obviously). They Hoyas have a chance to make up that ground this week, with a visit to Villanova and then the regular season finale against Syracuse at the Verizon Center. Easier said than done, though.
Michigan was covered earlier; only five losses against that schedule is very impressive. They would jump into the top tier themselves with wins in their last two (at Purdue, vs. Indiana).
Lunardi has Kansas at second overall on the S-Curve, which seems like a bit much; Palm has them as a #2 seed. The Jayhawks have done quite a bit of winning lately, but this year's Big 12 is pretty uninspiring. That loss to TCU is killer, of course; -0.97 "Net W" for just one game. Here are the 10 worst losses for the 12 teams featured in this post:
Other than the top two, none of those are really that horrific. I think we've found a weakness on Miami's résumé, though.
As you can see above, KenPom lists the location for the Indiana-Butler game as "Neutral"; you could reasonably switch that to "Semi-Away", although that only ups Indiana's "Net W" from 1.17 to 1.22. I think the Hoosiers are getting a bit too much respect in Bracketology right now, but that will probably sort itself out one way or another with the game in Ann Arbor on Sunday.
I don't think New Mexico (#25 in KenPom) is all that good, but other than the SDSU mishap they do win quite a bit. With a decent non-con slate and the strength of this year's MWC, I have their schedule as comparable to Miami, Pitt, and Kansas. We'll see if they can keep it going with two road games this week and then the conference tournament in Vegas, but their seeding could become very interesting on a few levels.
Not much to say about Louisville; they probably need to at least get to the final at MSG to have a shot at a #1 seed, which seems reasonable.
I already discussed my issues with Miami's schedule a couple weeks ago; the other three teams here are at about the same spot on Lunardi's S-Curve.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Through 25 games, which team has played a more difficult schedule: the Miami Hurricanes, or the Michigan Wolverines?
Seems like a fairly simple question. And the standard sources give you fairly consistent answer: it's close, but Miami's schedule has been a bit more difficult.
Is there any way that's true, though?
Using the current KenPom ratings, I took the opponent and location for each of the 50 relevant games here. For each one, I determined how likely Ohio St. -- currently the #13 team in Pomeroy's ratings -- would be to win in each situation. Here are the 10 most difficult games, color coded by which of the two teams (Miami or Michigan) played them:
(Miami's home game vs. Duke also comes in at 55%.)
So, the team with the supposedly easier schedule has the seven most difficult games. Looking at the 10 easiest games, it becomes clear how this is the case:
So, there you have it. Michigan has seven of the 10 most difficult games, but also eight of the 10 easiest. The strength of their schedule on the top end is cancelled out by its weakness on the bottom.
Except, you really can't look at it like that. As you probably noticed, the range of %s in the first chart (15% to 55%) is quite a bit wider than the range in the second one (94% to 100%). All of the games on the second chart are very likely wins, while the first chart is all over the place.
This has an interesting effect when you're calculating SOS by just averaging the ratings of a team's opponents. For these teams, whether they're playing the 327th best team or the 347th best team, their expected win percentage is going to be about the same. On the other hand, there's a huge difference between playing the best team and the 21st best team.
This is more easily shown with a fairly simple chart, splitting each team's schedule into groups of five games, from most to least difficult:
Probably a good time to say that I think the excepted W% column is very important when gauging SOS, and the average rating column is essentially worthless. We care how likely a comparable team would be to win these games; I'm not sure why we would care about the average rating of opponents.
In that light, this chart is interesting. Michigan has a much lower eW% (meaning a more difficult schedule), but their avgRat is also noticeably lower than Miami's (meaning an easier schedule).
The reason for this is the same issue as before. Michigan's avgRat gets killed in the 21-25 group when compared to Miami's, but it just doesn't matter that much, as can be seen in the small difference in eW%. On the other side of the spectrum, their avgRat isn't that much higher for the 1-5 group, but the difference between .938 and .901 (along with the location of the games) has a huge impact on eW%.
So, what's the point? Well, Miami is currently ahead of Michigan in almost every single bracket projection. Which can partially be attributed to the Canes having one fewer loss, but also the consensus in various metrics that they've done it against a more difficult schedule. I think if you look at SOS in a more accurate way, it can lead you to some much different conclusions in terms of seeding. I've looked at this before, and will revisit it in my next post.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
For the most part, you don't see things with lots of obvious factual errors or inconsistencies posted on major online publications. This is because editors exist. However, an exception to this rule can be made for topics relating to sports betting. There's really no reason to think an editor would know anything about math, let alone gambling.
On this topic, the editors probably assume that the writer knows more than they do, and just focus on spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. Especially if the writer previously wrote for a stats-focused football website, and lived in Vegas during the 2011 NFL season, the editor assumes that the writer must have at least a basic grasp on simple concepts relating to math and betting.
Boy, are they mistaken. Take it away, Bill Barnwell:
Will there be overtime?This makes no sense. I honestly don't understand how this isn't ridiculously obvious to anyone who thinks about it for more than two seconds. For the eight millionth time: ALL POINTS IN THE NFL ARE NOT OF EQUAL VALUE. Teams win by three a bit more often than they win by five. You can't just blindly add or subtract three from the spread.
Vegas normally gives the team at home an average of three points on the spread, so if the 49ers were at home, we'd expect this line to be 49ers -6.5; if they were in Baltimore, the line would be 49ers -0.5.
This becomes especially clear when Barnwell claims that the spread would be 49ers -0.5 in Baltimore. So, if HFA was worth four points, that spread would be 49ers +0.5 which is...the exact same thing (in the playoffs). But we made HFA worth 33% more, how did it not change? It's lazy and wrong to calculate it this way.
Bet on a specific margin of victory.So, by betting $100 on either side, we are risking a total of $200, to win either $250 or $350. And we are claiming this is the equivalent to getting +300? Huh? What just happened?
Ravens win by 1-4 points: +450
49ers win by 1-4 points: +350
If you really thought the game was going to be close, you could bet $100 on either side of this line and basically get +300 odds that the game was going to finish with one team winning by three points or fewer, since you'd win $250 if the Niners prevailed by 1-4 points (the $350 prescribed in the odds above minus $100 for a losing bet on the Ravens winning by 1-4 points) and $350 if the Ravens won by 1-4 points.
Also, I'm pretty sure "1-4 points" and "three points or fewer" are not the same thing.
Total number of different 49ers to scoreThis is similar to last year's Gronkowski example, where Barnwell says one simple thing that immediately makes it clear he doesn't understand anything.
Over 3.5: -130
Under 3.5: +110
A defensive or special teams touchdown would make this one really likely to succeed, so you could parlay the +165 odds on that occurring with the Over 3.5 odds here if you wanted.
Parlaying these two is a great idea, except for one small problem, which is clearly stated on the LVH odds sheet that Barnwell links to:
***STRAIGHT BETS ONLY---NO PARLAYS ON THESE PROPSOf course you can't parlay these. If you could, it would basically be printing money, since lots of them are very correlated. If you could, it would be ridiculous to only mention it in one throwaway line of a post, because it would be such a profitable strategy that it would render every other aspect of props-related analysis completely irrelevant. But:
***STRAIGHT BETS ONLY---NO PARLAYS ON THESE PROPSMoving on.
Will there be a safety?Just wanted to cut in real quick and mention that this is my favorite part of this whole train wreck. But sorry, continue educating us, Bill.
This was my biggest prop bet loss last year. I laid out the logic suggesting that betting "No" was a good play, followed through with a bet, and managed to lose within seven minutes of the opening whistle. It was such a big loss that I needed to win every other one of my prop bets to break even (and that didn't happen, either).
But here, again, I'm going to point out why the "No" bet is the right one. Over the past five years, there have been 1,280 NFL regular-season games and 82 safeties, suggesting that safeties will occur in 6.4 percent of games. The odds above suggest, after adjusting for the vig, that safeties will occur in 9.7 percent of games. Furthermore, the most likely scenario that leads to a safety — a quarterback getting sacked in the end zone — is unlikely to occur, since these two teams have had relatively anemic pass rushes during the playoffs. So, again, I think there's value in betting "No" here.What the fuck is this?
The price that gets you to a breakeven of 9.7% is -931. So, yeah, "no safety" would be a good bet at -931. The thing is, and this should really be clear to anyone that can read, the odds on "no" are not -931. They are -1300. So, the 9.7% is completely irrelevant when you're deciding whether or not to bet. The number we should be using is 7.1%, which is really not that close to 9.7% at all; in fact, it's quite close to 6.4%!
I really hope there's a safety.
How will the opening coin toss land?Not much to see here, just your basic absence of logic. The vig is twice as high now, of course they don't need to get the same amount of action for this to be a good idea.
This is basically a sobriety/IQ test from Vegas to see if you're interested in giving them free money. The LVH actually moved the vig on this up from one cent (-101/-101) a year ago to two cents this year, suggesting that they think they can get just as much action on this bet with the extra juice.
How long will Colin Kaepernick's first rushing attempt go?The mode is completely irrelevant. Why are you bringing it up as a counter-argument against the lower median? It just doesn't matter at all, and offers no value beyond what the median gives you. Not that the median is even the best way to analyze this (the concept of looking at "distributions" seems to be generally lost on Bill). How do you possibly have a job where math is one of the core competencies?
Over 5.5 yards: -110
Under 5.5 yards: -110
If Kaepernick doesn't have a rushing attempt, the Under bet wins. If his first run is a kneel-down at the end of the first or second halves, the Under bet wins. The median run for Kaepernick this year is four yards, but the mode (most frequent) run for Kaepernick across his 81 carries is for seven yards.
Which color will the Gatorade/liquid dumped on the winning head coach be?I realize most people don't/shouldn't take handicapping these silly prop bets as seriously as I do, but this is completely just making shit up. Since when do people choose the flavor of Gatorade they drink based on their team's colors? Why would they do that? It doesn't even make any sense.
Red just seems like such a great long shot when you consider that one of the teams wears red as its primary color. Finding purple Gatorade to soak John Harbaugh might be a little more difficult.
How many times will the game be referred to as Harbaugh Bowl, Har Bowl, or Super Baugh during the game?Rules? What rules?
Over 2.5: -110
Under 2.5 -110
Someone is going to get paid by an online sportsbook during the game to watch the contest and just listen for whether the announcers refer to it by any of the above names. What a wonderful, dumb world we live in. This seems low to me, even if the Harbaugh family isn't in attendance; one video package might be enough to knock this one out.
From kick off until final whistle. Live pictures only, any taped pictures or past video does not count towards wager. Half time does not count towards wager. Must say full name. Book manager's decision is final.Good work, Bill.
Monday, January 28, 2013
Sixth annual! Let's get to it:
Section 1: Standard Nonsense
What will be the result of Super Bowl XLVI Coin Toss?
Not much analysis to do here, obviously (well, maybe not obvious to everybody), just wanted to include the best and worst odds I've seen. Unfortunately nobody is offering plus money on either side this year (it's been as high as +103 in the past).
Anyway, just wanted to note how absurd it is to offer -115 on a coin toss when you offer -110 on sides, which are somewhat more predictable than, you know, a coin flip. If you're looking for a summary of coin toss results at each of the previous 46 Super Bowls (?), you can always count on Stockle Mon.
Who will the Super Bowl MVP thank first?
Does Not Thank Anyone, +190
Does Not Thank Anyone, +300
An old friend. Eli didn't thank anyone when we won last year, so adding that to last year's chart, the winner has clearly been "Does Not Thank Anyone" in four of the past five years. And that's really more like 4.5/5, since some books graded it as a winner when Rodgers won two years ago. So at +190/+300, that is clearly the way to go on this one.
Very disappointing that SBET is not offering "Does Not Thank Anyone" as one of their options.
Who will the winning Super Bowl coach thank first?
Coaching Staff/Owner, +450
Does Not Thank Anyone, +800
Same deal as above (see chart). There was some controversy on this one last year, but Sportsbook did grade DNTA as the winner.
What Color will the Gatorade (or liquid) be that is dumped on the Head Coach of the Winning Super Bowl Team?
Lime Green, +550
I think these odds are reasonable, to the extent that betting on Gatorade being dumped on a grown man can be "reasonable". The Giants dumped purple Gatorade on Coughlin last year, which is (still) not even a listed color. "Clear" had a great run from 2005-2008, but it's now lost four times in a row, so that is sad.
Section 2: Alicia Keys
How long will it take Alicia Keys to sing the National Anthem?
Over 2:12, EV
Under 2:12, -140
Over 2:12, -120
Under 2:12, -120
Over 2:05, EV
Under 2:05, -130
Over 2:05, -170
Under 2:05, +130
Over 2:12, +190
Under 2:12, -270
This is is the highest the Anthem O/U has been since I started doing these posts; in the past it's been between 1:34 and 2:01. The reason that folks are expecting such a lengthy Anthem seems clear:
“Wait till you hear this one,” Keys said with a wink. ”You’ll see. I’m gonna do it in a way that only I can do.”So that should be interesting, and could affect the props below. But for this one, between the uncertainty with her approach and lack of research materials, it's hard to know. When in doubt, just go for the available arbs/middles.
Will Alicia Keys forget or omit at least 1 word of the official US National Anthem?
Will Alicia Keys add at least 1 NEW word of the official US National Anthem?
Will Alicia Keys play a piano during her rendition of the National Anthem?
Quite a bit going on here. For not omitting a word, -250 seems pretty short. I think this is due to a) Aguilera screwing up two years ago, and b) Keys' aforementioned promise to mix it up a bit. But really, what Aguilera did seems pretty irrelevant, and while getting creative certainly increases the odds of a mistake, it's not like she can't practice in advance. I'd go with "No" on that one.
Will Alicia Keys be booed during or after her rendition of the National Anthem?
Would definitely stay away here. I'm not sure what exactly would have to happen for a Super Bowl crowd in New Orleans to boo the Anthem, but I'd say there's under a 16.7% chance that it happens here.
Section 3: Beyoncé
What predominant color will Beyonce's top be at the beginning of the Super Bowl halftime show?
BK is from Texas (sorry), so I think we can rule out 49ers and Ravens colors. Doesn't get us very far though. Honestly, I don't have much of an opinion here, just thought it was important to make a really forced reference and post the lines.
Will Beyonce be joined by Jay-Z on stage during the Super Bowl halftime show?
Another arb. Not sure what to do with this one beyond that; maybe there will be an angle on the Beyonce props coming out of her press conference (3pm EST on Thursday).
Will Beyonce's hair be curly/crimped or straight at the beginning of the Super Bowl halftime show?
As we have seen with the "Thanks" props, there can be some controversy on how these unusual props are graded. On the subject of Beyonce's hair, however, Bodog is getting out in front of this issue. This prop includes a link to a separate page, with examples of Beyonce with curly, crimped, and straight hair.
Will Beyonce be showing cleavage during her first song?
Okay, probably time to move on.
Section 4: The Harbaughs
There are a LOT of these. Most of them seem pretty dumb. For example:
Attire - Both coaches wearing hats (will be graded in first quarter):
I realize you could say this same thing about this entire post, but: who cares???
How many times will Harbaugh be said during the game?
Over 20.5, -140
Under 20.5, +110
This would at least be fun to keep track of, and/or a good drinking game. No real opinion though; once about every three minutes seems reasonable.
How long will the postgame handshake/hug last between Jim and John Harbaugh?
Over 7 seconds, -120
Under 7 seconds, -120
The "sharp" money has come in on the under thus far, as this one has come down from 7.5 seconds. I'd still go with the under -- that's a pretty long hug -- but they are brothers, and I'm sure there will be a decent amount of chatting involved, so who knows.
How many times will the game be referred to as the Harbaugh Bowl or Har Bowl or Super Baugh during the game?
From kick off until final whistle. Live pictures only, any taped pictures or past video does not count towards wager. Half time does not count towards wager. Must say full name. Book manager's decision is final.
Over 2.5, EV
Under 2.5, -140
Included the fine print on this one since it seemed important. I would go under here. The game is on CBS, and in the past they haven't messed around much with nonsense like this. Add in the fact that pre-kickoff and halftime aren't included, and that all of these names are completely ridiculous/worthless, and I think this comes in at two or fewer.
Section 5: Miscellaneous
How many times will Jay-Z be shown on TV during the game?
Over 0.5, -120
Under 0.5, -120
Same fine print as the "Har Bowl" prop. I would also go under here, since CBS does not generally pay much attention to celebrities during the actual game. My main concern would be that they show his wife in the second quarter when mentioning the halftime show, but it seems unlikely that they'd be sitting together at that point.
If Ray Lewis is interviewed on TV after the game on the field or in the locker room how may times will he mention "God/Lord"?
Over 3, -120
Under 3, -120
"Does Not Thank Anyone" is in some serious trouble if Ray wins the MVP.
What will be the highest tweet per second during the Super Bowl?
Over 17,000, -140
Under 17,000, EV
This one opened at 15,000, so has been bet up a bit. It looks like last year's game peaked at 12,223 TPS, which was up from 4,064 two years ago. A bit more recently, the Euro 2012 final maxed out at 15,358 TPS. These odds seem pretty reasonable, it probably just depends on whether there's one play that's especially notable. If there's something like Flacco-to-Jones for 70 yards on Sunday that would likely crush all these numbers.
Enjoy the game.
Friday, December 28, 2012
CAR: W, 17-6
IND: W, 20-13
NE: W, 23-16
DEN: W, 34-12
GB: W, 55-7
WAS: W, 27-20
Very chalky week, with 97% of OFP advancing. We're still at 1.6% of the initial entry pool.
Teams used: Eagles, Bengals, Cowboys, Texans, Ravens, Bucs, Giants, Bears, Packers, Patriots, Falcons, Titans, Lions, 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos.
This week's consensus numbers from OFP and Yahoo!:
San Francisco (vs. Arizona; Safety Rating 9.12)
New Orleans (vs. Carolina; SR 6.85)
SR not high enough.
NY Giants (vs. Philadelphia; SR 7.65)
Seattle (vs. St. Louis; SR 8.48)
San Diego (vs. Oakland; SR N/A)
No line yet, but I think this will be a decent option, especially since Palmer is out. There just happens to be an option below where a team better than San Diego is hosting a team that's an even bigger mess than Oakland.
Denver (vs. Kansas City; SR 9.22)
Tennessee (vs. Jacksonville; SR 6.59)
Pittsburgh (vs. Cleveland; SR N/A)
Here we go. Weeden, McCoy and Richardson all managed to get hurt last Sunday, so it looks like the Browns will be starting Duke legend Thaddeus Lewis at QB and Montario Hardesty at HB. So, no line yet but it's going to be tough sledding for Cleveland.
Things could change with injury announcements and/or actual lines on these games, but for now this week's pick is the Steelers.