2013 NCAA Tournament – Second Round

Today I am posting the simulations and ratings for all the 2013 NCAA Tournament Second Round games. The first round file are here.

The results are based on simulations and don’t consider handicapping and situation angles. The purpose is to give a baseline estimation for each game and adjust for handicapping considerations.

CLICK HERE for a summary of the second round games. Note this file includes the Sagarin Rating, Strength of Schedule, my NCAAB simulation, a possession-based estimate I use, the predicted game winner and the current betting line.

Good luck with your brackets and bets. Follow me on Twitter for all my picks.


2013 NCAA Tournament – First Round

I simulated the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The predicted final four was Duke, Pittsburgh, Florida and Indiana. The predicted winner was Indiana over Duke for 136 total points. There are a few key games that will significantly change the predicted outcome. Two key early games are Pittsburgh/Wichita State and UNC/Villanova.

The results are based on simulations and don’t consider handicapping and situation angles. The purpose is to give a baseline estimation for each game and adjust for handicapping considerations.

Today I am posting first round projections. Travelling tomorrow but will try to post all second round games before Thursday’s games start.

CLICK HERE for a summary of the first round games. Note this file includes the Sagarin Rating, Strength of Schedule, my NCAAB simulation, a possession-based estimate I use, the predicted game winner and the current betting line.

Good luck with your brackets and bets. Follow me on Twitter for all my picks.

Horse Plays – December 5, 2012

A few horse plays at decent prices for Wednesday.


Race 1 – #6 Regal Strike (9/2-1). Win/Place and Key in Exacta.
Race 2 – #1 House on Toilsome (15-1). Win/Place.
Race 8 – #1 Villanesca (6-1). Win/Place.


Race 1 – #5 Franklinpark (8-1). Win/Place.
Race 3 – #6 Call Me Mighty (10-1). Win/Place.
Race 7 – #1 Cosmic Crown (4-1). Win/Place and Key in Exacta.

Follow me on Twitter for all my simulations and plays. Good Luck!

Weekend bets…

Looking at a few sides this weekend.

Like Under 61 in tonight’s Navy/C Michigan game.

Bet Tampa Bay Bucs -3 early in the week. Would pass if the line stays above -3.

Bet Detroit Lions +5 early in the week. Also wouldn’t take +3 now but see where the line goes Sunday.

Bet Alabama and Ohio State money line parlay. Not glamorous but money line bets (Tulsa last night) keep the lights on.

Still looking at Purdue. Liked the line before it moved to -2.

Still looking at Fresno St/Boise St Under 61. Simulated the game at 55.

More to come this weekend. GoodLuck!

5 Steps To An Effective Baseball Betting Routine

Major League Baseball is my favorite sport to bet. The long season and many games each day provide plenty of good betting opportunities. But a bettor can get overwhelmed with information and spend too much spinning their wheels.

This post outlines 5 steps you can use to narrow your search for good betting opportunities and create an effective handicapping routine. By limiting the games to focus on, you can spend your valuable time handicapping good betting opportunities. I recommend using a spreadsheet or pen and paper to keep track of these five steps and take notes when handicapping. Also, keeping notes and a bet log helps create a routine for handicapping games. And a routine helps you weed out certain biases in your handicapping or keep you from missing a key pieces of information.

Here are 5 simple steps:

1. Key Stats

One of the easiest ways to eliminate no-play games quickly is to compare key stats that drive team’s production. For baseball, I use 4 key statistics: On-base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, Bullpen WHIP, and Starting Pitcher WHIP. There are plenty of other useful statistics, but I use these as a quick match up guide. Using stat tables on any number of sites (e.g. ESPN) or a game matchup from a site like Statfox, you can quickly highlight games where one team has an advantage. If a team doesn’t have an advantage in 3 or 4 of these categories, throw out the game. If a team only has a slight advantage in 3 or 4 areas, I will keep it on my focus list but with any minor negative I will eliminate the game. You can eliminate half of each days games by following this rule.

2. Starting Pitcher

Now that we have eliminated games where a team has no significant statistical advantage, check starting pitcher form. Again, this should only take a few minutes. If your starting pitcher is not on form (i.e. pitching well or cycling into a hot streak) eliminate the game. A positive sign might be a top starting pitcher coming off a win following one or more losses. A bad sign might be a pitcher coming off a loss or giving up several hits and earned runs following a winning streak. Or a pitcher coming off the disabled list. If you notice a negative trend (or even the belief that he is entering a down streak) you can eliminate the game. You may have other factors you use to determine an in-form pitcher, the key is eliminating games with probable off performances by starting pitchers.

3. Team Batting and Handedness Preference

You have eliminated games with no significant stat advantage and pitchers out of form. Now check how the opposing team performs against pitcher’s with the same throwing arm as your starting pitcher (i.e. How does team X hit against right-handed pitchers?). If an opposing team’s overall On-base Percentage is .300 but .320 against left-handed pitchers (your pitcher is left-handed) you can eliminate the game. If the opposing team has a .320 On-base Percentage but .300 against left-handed pitcher, you can keep the game on your focus list. If you want to dig deeper, review how your starting pitcher has performed against today’s batters (click here for an example).

You can also use this approach to evaluate your team’s batting against the opposing pitcher. If your team hits much worse against left-handed pitchers (and tonight you are facing a lefty) you can eliminate the game.

4. Historical Angles

Your remaining teams have a statistical advantage, a pitcher in form, and preferred batter vs. pitcher matchups. Are there any situational angles that we can use to eliminate or highlight a game? Some negative angles might be: a road favorite coming off 3 losses, a sub .500 team coming off a loss following an extended win streak (3 or more wins), or a good team who has clinched a series with the final game today starting a series the next day against a division rival. At this point when you have 1 or more negative angles, you should eliminate the game unless Steps 1 – 3 are overwhelmingly favorable and you have other strong positive historical angles too.

You don’t have to have positive angles to keep the game on your list, but having positive historical angles can make games a higher priority. In general, I don’t eliminate or keep games as strictly in this step as in Steps 1-3 and 5.

5. Ratings or Predictive Scoring

By now you are likely  down to a few games. Time to check to see if your team should win based on a rating system or predictive scoring model. If you follow this blog, you know I rely on models for each  major sport. Use ratings and models as a guide. They are key to highlighting games with positive expected value. For several sports I use one or more ratings systems and a predictive model. You could make this the first or second step, but for MLB I prefer to use steps 1 -4 and my models to develop a fair line before I see the actual line.

Using your ratings system or model, check to see if it predicts your team to win. What about betting value? Compare the implied probability of the money line to the expect win probability based on your ratings/model. If your ratings or scoring model doesn’t predict a win and/or there is negative betting value eliminate the game. Otherwise you now have a short list of games to bet and you handicapped them yourself. I will post on how I build lines using predictive models and ratings in a future post.

I post my ratings almost every day, feel free to use them.

Putting It All Together

The 5 steps outlined above can give you a good basis for a regular handicapping routine. By following these steps you will be able to quickly determine the better team, eliminate teams with negative match ups or in down pitching cycles, use historical angles to eliminate bad spots for teams, and use a ratings system to establish a baseline for the score and  fair betting line. By establishing a handicapping routine you can eliminate personal biases and prevent information overload, while ensuring you know the better team and are getting value.

Also, you can use similar techniques to narrow down your game list for any sport. I use this approach on MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAAB, and NCAAF (each with their own tweaks of course).

A few tips to create a betting routine that works for you:

  1. Find reliable data sources. I use SagarinStatfox, Foxsheets, Baseball Reference, Park Factors, Pregame, and ESPN.
  2. When you find your data sources, setup each one to auto-open in our browser when you start it. This will put each source in a different tab and be ready to go when you open your internet browser.
  3. Learn to use Excel and it’s “Get External Data from Web” feature. This will allow you to update specific tables you use in one excel file; saving you time from entering data into spreadsheets and not having to learn screen scraping to capture data.
  4. Setup a summary page in your spreadsheet that you can quickly check the 5 steps above for each game. This will be a big time saver. The purpose is to provide all the key data you use to make decisions summarized on one page.
  5. Record bet results. Using your results, you can find weaknesses and constantly improve your process.

Once you get your process and tools in place, your routine becomes more efficient and less time-consuming.

This was a high-level review, but feel free to ask questions about specific examples or situations. Follow me on Twitter for all my simulations and posts. Good Luck!

A Bird in Hand?

The Blue Jays are a -158 ML road favorite today. 84% of money line bets are on them. Brandon Morrow is the better pitcher. Tyson Ross is coming off a terrible outing. The Blue Jays are the better team. They will probably win….But they have lost 3 straight games. Oakland has won 3 straight games. The Blue Jays are facing a right-handed pitcher; their on-base percentage against righties is .305. The Blue Jays have an inferior bullpen. Brandon Morrow has thrown over 100 pitches in all but 1 of his games. He threw 102 last time out,  is coming off a shutout, and his last 3 opponents were mediocre at the plate (Angels, Mariners, Royals).

At a -158 money line, the implied line win probability is 61.5%. Do you think they will win in this situation 6 of 10 times? They might, but I think I will just hold on to my money and not bet on a mediocre team, off 3 straight losses, favored heavily on the road. Just my opinion.

Good luck!

Bet thoughts for Dec 14, 2011

Looked at several bets today. Didn’t like anything in the NHL. A few college basketball games caught my eye but not enough to make any plays.

Started with Tennessee at College of Charleston -2.5. Simulated the game at Charleston 79, Tennessee 71. This result points to CoC -2.5 and Over 143. Not biting on this game though. Too many questions in both teams. Tennessee feels like they are better than their record reflects. They have had a few tough road games. Not sold on Charleston yet; their schedule hasn’t been too tough and want to see how they do against a top-tier team who can score. Passing on both plays.

Probably the most interesting game today is Cincinnati -6 at Wright State. Not sure how good the actual play will be. More interested in how Cincinnati responds to last weekend’s brawl and the suspension of 4 players (including 2 starters). Wright State is a decent team, has a good home crowd, and has played some good teams. Simulated the game at Cincinnati 49, Wright State 45. The line has moved up to Cincinnati -6. Won’t be surprised if Wright State covers this game.

A few other games I simulated. Princeton 72, Rider 58. The line is Princeton -5.5 but not too interested in laying points on a mediocre road team. Auburn 61, South Florida 59. The line is Auburn -2. Auburn has only played 5 games and the 4 games they won were against weak competition; this one is too close to call. Pass.

Will be posting NFL simulations tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter for all my simulations. Good Luck!

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