Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 1:35 PM
Here are a couple of trends I heard this week about college basketball. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is 5-0 in his career in the NCAA tournament when facing teams from the Big East. That sounds like it’s worth knowing because Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans are facing Louisville of the Big East Thursday night. But, wait, the other trend says this: Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has never lost a Sweet 16 game in nine tries in his career. That’s a perfect 9-0…yet Pitino is facing Michigan State!
Who are you going to take if 100% trends of “systems” are butting up head to head like that?
Let me tell you what I do. I throw most trends and systems away because I don’t think they have much at all to do with the basic principles of Advanced Handicapping. Most are just trivia. Beating the Las Vegas line isn’t a game of Trivial Pursuit. It’s a game of chess at the very highest levels. The oddsmaker makes his move by posting a number. I make my move by trying to find his mistakes and attacking.
Look, trends give you the ILLUSION of knowledge. They’re technically facts. Spouting facts makes people sound intelligent. But, facts don’t always have predictive value. In fact, they often have the opposite of predictive value because the world is so complicated. What happens in the real world is that trends and systems are right just often enough to lose you money. They’ll break even at best over time, causing you to juice out with the lost vigorish. At worst, everything that seemed like a sure thing goes down because of regression to the mean. You bet 80% systems and hit 40% of your picks.
I’m always telling you to focus on playmakers and gamebreakers in sports betting. That’s who determines what happens on the floor. What if a 9-0 “system” was based on a team having great playmakers in the past…but they don’t have one at the moment? What if a 5-0 “system” was based on facing a weak conference in the past…but that conference isn’t weak any longer? Those systems are worthless if the world has changed. And, the world is always changing.
Advanced Handicapping focuses on the principles that don’t change:
*Playmakers and Gamebreakers control the flow of action
*You have to score points to win
*You have to prevent opposition scoring to win
*Fast beats slow
*Big beats small
*Smart beats dumb
*Good coaches beat bad coaches
*Oddsmakers focus on the wrong things
*The public focuses on the wrong things
*YOU MAKE MONEY BY FOCUSING ON THE RIGHT THINGS!
These three days off between games in the Big Dance has allowed for all sorts of trends and systems to come out of the woodwork. The Sweet 16 has been played for decades, so there are all sorts of Sweet 16 “angles” that are being promoted right now. Many of the teams and head coaches involved have been prominent in past Dances. It’s not hard to data-mine trivia about them that looks and sounds important but doesn’t have anything to do with what’s most likely to happen on the floor this week.
I’m not saying coaching doesn’t matter. I’m saying that how a coach did with past talent in past situations doesn’t tell you all you need to know about what he’s going to do in his next game with his current collection of talent. Handicap the key players. Handicap offensive production and defensive stinginess. Handicap travel…the crowd…performance of THIS team in pressure situations this year. Find facts that tell you about how THIS game is going to play out. Let your buddies talk about trivia. You’re trying to pick a winner.
I plan on picking plenty of winners Thursday and Friday in the Sweet 16 rounds, then again Saturday and Sunday in the Elite 8 action. I may also include some NBA if a big advantage presents itself. That’s actually fairly common in March because oddsmakers are so focused on the NCAA Tournament that they miss key developments in the pro’s (I can think of seven or eight they’ve missed since the Dance began).
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I’ll be back again early next week with a report that will either focus on the Final Four of the NIT or the latest news in the NBA. Then late next week we’ll talk about Advanced Handicapping strategies for the Final Four of the NCAA’s.
College basketball may be winding down. But, the great response to these articles has been such that we are now confirmed to continue through the NBA Playoffs and early season baseball right here with lessons from my College of Advanced Handicapping. YOU made that possible, and I’m greatly appreciative.