Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 1:00 PM
If you’ve been watching Championship Week on ESPN already, you’ve been bombarded with some of the most ill-informed tripe imaginable. I’m afraid one of the downsides of educating you here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping is that you’re so much better informed than color announcers and studio pundits. I’ve ruined your ability to watch games on TV!
Take all the discussions during the St. Mary’s/Gonzaga championship game in the West Coast Conference Tuesday night. You had:
*Former coaches on the game broadcast and a variety of “experts” in the studio talking about how Gonzaga definitely “passes the eye test” for a tournament team. They didn’t care what “analytics” said…Gonzaga deserved to be in the Big Dance, win or lose. Ultimately, Gonzaga would win an automatic berth that probably shouldn’t have been in doubt anyway.
*Joe Lunardi kept defending having them “on the bubble” or “out” because of where Gonzaga stood in the RPI and their record against quality opposition. This set up an “eye test vs. analytics” debate that couldn’t be believed if you actually follow AND BET ON college basketball.
If the selection process was up to the betting marketplace, and the most respected Power Ratings and rankings that are used in the marketplace, then there wouldn’t have been an argument. Those all had Gonzaga safely in. Gonzaga was favored on a neutral court over St. Mary’s…that right there is enough for “the market” to have the Zags in the NCAA’s.
Unfortunately, the very bad RPI still gets used in discussions by people who should know better. Those of us WHO BET ON BASKETBALL know the RPI is a waste of time. It should have been discarded long ago. ESPN set up its own analytics department because their quants hated RPI! Their own analytics department had Gonzaga safely in.
It would have taken 10 seconds to say that both analytics and “the eye test” had Gonzaga in the Dance even if they lost a close one to St. Mary’s. Then everyone could have shut up and focused on the game.
I make this point to you regular students periodically. Seems it comes up in ALL sports because it’s such a defining characteristic of TV coverage of major events. Everybody has an agenda…but hardly anyone knows what they’re talking about. It’s a shame this frustrates intelligent viewers who make their living understanding sports! But, the bright side is that all of this MIS-INFORMS the general public…which makes it easier for us to pick winners.
*The general public bets based on perceptions created by TV broadcasts and other media
*Vegas oddsmakers are over-influenced by TV because they watch the games themselves
*This softens the lines in a way that helps sharp bettors earn money
What’s a curse to your ears is a godsend to your bankroll!
If you’re just now getting caught up in college basketball because the Big Dance is approaching, here’s my advice. Keep your TV volume down! Then, build your own Power Ratings based on input from respected sources. Use…
*Pointspreads from this week’s neutral court meetings
*Computer ratings from the likes of Ken Pomeroy (kenpom.com), Jeff Sagarin (USA Today), BPI (ESPN’s analytics department), TeamRankings.com, or others that have stood the test of time.
Now, those varying computer approaches don’t agree on everything…particularly when you get way down in the rankings to many of the automatic qualifiers from small conferences. One guy may have a team at #150 while another has them at #170 or whatever. But, if you use a composite of those rankings, and then adjust based on neutral court pointspreads (USC was about -2 over UCLA in the Pac 12 tourney, so try to have USC about two points better than UCLA), you’ll get caught up quick.
As you watch more games (with the volume down) and study boxscores using tips I’ve presented in our coursework all season, you’ll seen have the complete picture. You’ll know what the market thinks…and you’ll be able to spot when the market is wrong.
The big lesson today…an informed bettor is a winning bettor…but a frustrated TV viewer!
The easiest way to avoid frustration is to get my BEST BETS each day. KELSO STURGEON’S daily selections can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters’ office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. We have embarked on the most exciting betting week in the calendar year in the view of many. Be sure you make the most of it!
The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back with you this weekend to talk more specifically about how to handicap championship games in all the conference tournaments. It’s very important that you make smart “on the fly” decisions as each event progresses. Thanks very much for your attendance and hard work. Let’s go make some money!
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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon
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