Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 1:29 PM
50-Unit MAAC Game Of Year Wins Tonight
Following Underdog Cal-Santa Barbara (+4.5) Upset
Win Over Hawaii In Big West Game Of Year
Beating Your Bookmaker In College Basketball
Is Grounded In Numbers And What They Mean
By Kelso Sturgeon
The daily battle to beat one’s bookmaker in college basketball begins with the number and the numbers, understanding what they all mean. In the NBA, who knows as former NBA Coach Jeff Van Gundy alleges teams in the Eastern Conference are purposely throwing games while keeping it hidden from the public.
Meantime, I am pleased to report I won my 50-unit Big West Conference Game of the Year last night as underdog Cal-Santa Barbara (+4.5) knocked off Hawaii, 75-64—a victory that was built on an understanding of the numbers element. Tonight the same numbers analysis has produced my 50-Unit Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference 50-unit Game of the year that is available now on this website and toll free at 1-800-755-2255.
In the daily battle of bettors vs. bookmakers the win goes to the side that has a better understanding of (1) the betting line and why it is what it is and (2) melding together the 10-12 other numbers that reveal what a team actually is and what one can expect each game from its betting profile.
Some numbers are obvious—some quite hidden. For instance we know in the Friday night game between Columbia and Princeton the former is 13-8 straight up (SU) and 6-5-0 against the spread (ATS) and that the latter is 12-5 and 6-5-0 in those categories. We also can easily find out Princeton is 6-0 at home and Columbia is 2-6 on the road.
Statistical data for each game is available, including how many points a team averages on offense and how many it gives up on defense. Dig a little deeper and one can examine the quality of each team’s starting line and whether it is on a winning streak or a losing streak.
Getting the basic numbers on any college team can easily found on each of the 351 teams on their website.
That is just the beginning and one must move far beyond the obvious to get an accurate performance profile on a team, since those making betting lines are operating from the same ocean of data as are handicappers. If the bookmaker bases his betting lines and you are trying to beat him with the same numbers, there is no edge for you and on most nights you are unknowingly counting on luck to get the cover.
Those may be hard words, but they are true. There is no edge for those operating from the same pool of information.
Understanding The Betting Line
Betting lines are not snatched from cloud in the sky but are based on data and are offered to the public at a very tight number that nevertheless makes them bet. This is a big money game and no bookmaker intentionally gives away a single penny. Betting lines are tighter than a dead-heat.
When a bookmaker hangs up a number and invites you to bet, he believes he has you right where he wants you.
For instance, last night Cincinnati opened a 4.5-point home favorite over Connecticut and closed -6. The game fell 5 as Cincinnati won, 63-58. Middle Tennessee was -4.5 at Florida Atlantic and won by 4 points, 67-63, while Utah was -9.5 over Washington and won by 9 points, 78-69.
One could write pages of the results of college basketball games and find just how close betting lines are to the final scores day-after-day. It is safe to say in 75-80 percent of all college games the number is in play in the last minute of the game, meaning 39.5 minutes have gone by and the only thing that counts for bettors is the last 30 seconds.
With betting lines this tight and this difficult to beat, one can only make them soft by finding edges that reveal much more than the obvious.
Keep in mind the betting line is what it is because current history says it will attract almost equal wagering on both teams, with the bookmaker’s built in edge that requires bettors to lay $11 to win $10. If the action is split on the game, he makes a 5% profit while paying off the winners at $10 and collecting $11 from the losers.
One sometimes wonders how teams with standout won-lost records and in the case of traditional power Duke just keep winning and covering. Few teams get the attention as does Duke (18-5) which is an amazing 15-8-0 (65.22%) ATS. In the case of the Blue Devils they are obviously under-rated by bookmakers but it does not matter, because bettors operating from that same pool of information agree.
And then there are those teams far off the beaten path that are winning and quietly covering. Cleveland State is a good example of that, standing 16-9 SU and 17-5-0 (72.7%) ATS. Out of sight and out of mind. Bookmakers can make sloppy lines on teams that are not in the spotlight and get by with it, because few bet on them anyway.
Just in case you do not realize it, money won on Cleveland State has the same value as money won on Duke.
Digging Deep To Find The Hidden Edges
When I speak of digging deep to find the hidden edges, here are just a few of the things I uncovered that proved helpful in handicapping.
Pepperdine is 14-10 this season and is 10-4 ATS as an underdog this season and 10-3 ATS on the road.
South Alabama is 7-16 this season but 0-12 when playing away from home, standing 1-10 ATS on 11 games played on an opponent’s home court. For the record, South Alabama was a 1-point favorite at Troy Thursday night and lost again, 79-74.
Southern Utah is 1-18 straight up this season but stands 8-9 ATS and has covered in six straight games.
Virginia has emerged as a real contender in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference, has won six straight and covered the number in nine consecutive games, all the time flexing its muscles on defense, giving up an average of just 56.0 points per game. How do you spell “under-rated”?
Wichita State is 24-0 and along with Syracuse is one of two remaining unbeaten teams. The Shockers are not only 24-0 this season, they went to the NCAA Final Four, and returned four of five starters from that team: they are 16-5-1 ATS this season and may well be one of the best road teams in recent history, ranked #1 nationally in road wins by going 34-8 in away games over the past three-plus seasons. They stand 8-0 on the road this season and are 7-1 ATs in those games.
It is things such as these that can begin to define a team and its ability to win a game, but you must look for them since they are not readily available.
Tonight’s Betting Menu
This is a big week for conference games of the year and tonight the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is front and center, with four games scheduled and with one of the eight teams in action set to play a knockout game—and I mean KNOCKOUT. The betting line on this game is quite modest and the team I am releasing should crush it and get the money. Win my 50-unit MAAC Game of the Year tonight for just $50, charged to your major credit card. Available on this website and toll free at 1-800-755-2255.
Monmouth (10-13) at Fairfield (4-19)
Siena (10-13) at St. Peter’s (7-14)
Manhattan (13-6) at Canisius (16-7)
Iona (13-8) at Niagara (6-17)
For the record, I won my 50-unit Big West Conference Game of the Year last night as underdog Cal-Santa Barbara rolled into Honolulu and knocked off Hawaii, 75-64.
There are nine games on the NBA schedule tonight and in a world where night after night underdogs hold their own I have found a team—an underdog—that has edges in 11 of the 12 factors I am using right now in handicapping the pros—and that means a big underdog winner tonight. Get my 2-unit NBA Upset Game of the Week tonight for just $25, charged to your major credit card. Available on this website and toll free at 1-800-755-2255.
And, yes, we are taking a look into Van Gundy’s charge that NBA Eastern Conference teams are repeatedly going in the tank. We will write more about this early next week. Meantime, it is bettor beware.