Monday, November 5, 2012

NBA Heavy Underdogs 2012-13 Recap

Official Godiva toy boy and fiance Archibald runs a non-profit pool picking NBA winners against the spread (ATS) over the full season. Players have the right to select 82 games. I focus on with picking heavy underdogs with more than 12 points. Heavy underdogs finished 29-30 ATS for the full 2012-13 regular season -- below 50% for a 2nd consecutive year. But, starting with 2008-9, I am 55.3% ATS with heavy underdogs.

Over a long run of the past two decades NBA heavy underdogs have been one of the most reliable picks for non-profit sports pool players. Archibald turned me on to the academic work on NBA heavy underdogs. Ex-Godiva toy boy Reginald believes in wasting his time analysing each and every game before making picks based on subjective hunches. Yet another reason why Reginald is my ex and Archibald is my xxx-man.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

NFL 2012-13 Recap

For all you non-profit pool players against the spread (ATS) out there, I was glad to win my Super Bowl (SB) pick of

Baltimore +4 over SF

After 47 Super Bowls, underdogs are 23-22-2. Professor Leavitt of Freakonomics fame claims that the SB underdog is one of the best bets in sports because the tendency for bettors to overestimate the overdog ends up being fully reflected in the SB spread.

Despite losing this year, NFC is still up with XXV wins to XXII for the AFC after XLVII Super Bowls.

I went 4-7 ATS in the playoffs this year: 2-3 with road underdogs (counting SF as the home overdog in the Super Bowl on the grounds that they play in New Orleans twice a year), 0-2 with home underdogs, 2-2 with home overdogs. 2013 was my 9th losing record in the last 10 playoff years. I have sorted out a consistent system and expect to start doing better, but bad luck in a small sample size worked against me this year.

I finished 127-122-7 or 50.98% over the regular season: 46-47-2 with home underdogs, 1-1 with home overdog favourites and 80-74-5 with road underdogs.

So, my full season record including playoffs fell to 131-129-7 or 50.4%: 46-49-2 for home underdogs, 3-3 for home overdogs and 82-77-5 for road underdogs.

Incredibly, 11-4-1 in week 3 was good enough to win one of my two pools (only 66 players), but 12-2 in week 6 was not good enough to win either pool. I won one regular season pool and finished 3rd out of 92 players in the other.

In both pools, I won most of the ties in the official point spread and took advantage of some other pool anomalies, so I did better than 51% in both. The fact that I did so well picking almost all underdogs shows that most pool players have an unwarranted bias toward picking overdog favourites.

I have a 51.7% record ATS from 2001 to 2012, but am just barely above 50% from 2007 through 2012. So here's hoping that next season 2013-14 will be more like the first few years of the millenium and less like the past six. I do expect that my method of mostly underdogs with a smattering of value overdogs will be proven out over a statistically significant sample of 1000 years of NFL matches. In the past 21 years since 1992, there have only been 4 years when a simple all-overdogs strategy exceeded 50%.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Canadian Football League CFL 2012 Recap

Correctly picking Grey Cup winner TORONTO +2 over Calgary lifted my record to 43-33-1 against the spread (ATS) for the year or 56.49%.

I can't claim to be the CFL Nostradamus. 77 matches in one year is far too few to be statistically significant. But, I was chuffed to finish ahead of simple all-homer and all-underdog strategies both at 42-34-1. I ended the year 12-2 with home underdogs, 8-9 with home overdogs, 20-21-1 with road underdogs and 3-1 with road overdogs.

Official Godiva toy boy and fiance Archibald failed with his bold predictions that Edmonton would win the eastern playoffs and that the western representative was a near-certainty to win the Grey Cup. Archibald still believes that Calgary would defeat Toronto 6 out of 10 times even in Toronto. Western teams were 17-17 ATS and 20-14 straight-up against eastern teams in 2012. (Start your own blog, Archibald, you handsome but lazy devil.)

I was 57.8% to the good ATS in 2011 and am 55.8% over 4 full years picking CFL winners ATS from 2009 to 2012 -- not enough matches to be statistically significant yet, but nevertheless I am proud of my good fortune so far.

Calgary's mishandling of QB Drew Tate's concussion in the western semi-final really offended me. I pray that he does not suffer permanent damage to this health.

Congratulations to Montreal Coach Marc Trestman for returning to the National Football Leagues as Chicago Bear head coach. He and the Bears will do well.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Major League Baseball 2012 Recap

Updated 30 October

The National League (NL) has now taken 4 of the last 5 World Series contests and 7 of the last 12 as well as 3 consecutive All-Star games. As a result, some fans believe that the NL is a better league than the American League (AL).

Evidence of AL superiority remains overwhelming. AL teams are 142-115 or 55.25% vs. NL teams in 2012 inter-league matches including the All-Star game and the World Series. The AL won inter-league bragging rights for the 9th consecutive year.

The AL has won 13 of the last 16 all-star games to reach a decision and 18 of the last 24.

In the World Series, the AL has taken 17 of the last 29. AL dominance is not simply due the New York Yankees. If we remove the Yankees' 5-2 World Series record during this period, the other AL teams are still 12-10. The AL representative in the World Series is almost always superior to the NL team. If they could play a best-of-1,101 series, we would expect the AL to win 95% of the time. In a best-of-7 affair, random luck allows the NL to win about 40% despite the NL's evident inferiority.

The theme song for most NL team managements must be: "If I only had a brain." One promising sign for the NL is that the NY Mets and Chicago Cubs have imported top AL brains to run their teams. These NL clubs have good long-term futures. Sending the Houston Astros from the NL to the AL will help the NL next year, but will not eliminate the yawning gap between the two leagues. Official Godiva toy boy and fiance Archibald is already predicting that the Astros will lose 120 games next year.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

NBA 2012 Playoffs Recap

For those of you participating in non-profit pools picking winners against the spread (ATS) including playoffs, sticking consistently with with overdog favourites put you at 50-31-3 or 61.3% ATS. Overdogs won almost 80% of all matches straight-up disregarding the point spread -- well above the 2-out-of-3 norm. About 1 in 5 matches has turned on points -- right in line with what we would expect.

Over the past 5 playoff seasons, I am better than 55% to the good ATS. But, a simple all-overdog strategy has been even better at nearly 56%.

Why have overdog favourites been so dominant over an admittedly "too small to be statistically significant" sample size of about 400 matches over 5 years? I don't have a plausible theory beyond wondering whether the unconscious home team bias of referees is even stronger in the playoffs and that this tendency may not be fully factored into NBA playoff point spreads. Does anyone out there have historical records for NBA playoff overdogs and underdogs ATS going back further than 5 years or evidence on referees' home bias comparing regular season vs. playoff matches?

Monday, March 12, 2012

NCAA 2012 Men's BB Recap

For those of you playing in non-profit NCAA pools based on picking winners against the spread (ATS), I finished 31-35-1. The best I can spin this year is to take comfort in not being as bad as last year. Over 5 years since 2008, I am even-steven at 160-160-6.

I should admit that just by picking favourites in every NCAA tournament game for the past 5 years, you would have finished ahead of me every year and would be sporting a 170-150-6 or 53% record ATS since 2008.

For what it's worth, I was correct with my advice for the final to give the points taking Kentucky -6 over Kansas.

Lady G vs. President Obama
President Obama picks winners straight-up with no point line for each bracket and round.

He had a tough time in 2010 and 2011 with none of his final 4 picks coming through. This year he correctly picked Kentucky to reach the final, but his championship pick UNC only got as far as the elite 8. The Baracketer did get 6 of his elite 8 picks correct. Not too shabby. When he picks upsets in the early rounds, I can identify games where Lady Godiva and the Baracketer-in-Chief disagree. In Obama's first 4 years in office, I am 13-25 womano-a-mano against the Baracketer. I won 5-3 in 2009, but the President can boast that he defeated Lady G 6-2 in 2010, 10-2 in 2011 and 6-4 in 2012.

And, speaking of mano-a-womano, kudos to the President for also picking the women's NCAA brackets.

Lady G's System

I myself take no interest whatsoever in American college basketball, but toy boy fiancé Archibald can't get enough roundball. Every year he organizes a friendly, non-profit office pool for the NCAA men's tourney. Instead of picking bracket winners, the object of his pool is to pick winners against the point spread each and every day as the tournament unfolds. The winner of his winner-take-all pool is the contestant who picks the most winners against the spread over 64 matches. All matches are weighted equally starting with the play-in game to determine the 64th team.

To humour Archibald, I participate by relying on economists' studies showing that "heavy" underdogs win more than their fair share of college basketball games against the point spread, while "non-heavy" overdogs win slightly more than 50% (although this particular result is not statistically significant).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Recap

Getting the Super Bowl right picking

NY Giants +3 over New England

brought me back to 50% for the full year at 128-128-11. I finished a dreadful 7-14-1 with my efforts to identify "value overdogs". A plain-vanilla, all-underdog strategy finished well ahead of yours truly at 135-121-11 or 52.6%, just above the long-term average for all-underdogs.

I have been under 50% in the playoffs 8 of the past 9 years. I need to develop a consistent approach and stick to it.

One strange Super Sunday quirk is that the NFC team won the coin toss 14 years in a row until finally losing this year. The chances of calling a fair coin toss correctly 14 times in a row are less than 1 in 10,000.

Professor Steven Levitt, author of the best-seller Freakanomics, argues that the Super Bowl is an unusually good day to pick the underdog. Underdogs are 22-22-2 in 46 Super Bowls so far. But, Professor Leavitt is confident that once we have a statistically significant sample of 1,000 or so Super Bowls, his prediction will be borne out -- provided bettors continue to overvalue overdogs for the next 950 years.


Another quirk is how streaky the conferences have been in taking turns dominating on a straight-up basis. The NFC and AFC (successors to the NFL and AFL) split the first VI Super Bowls. Then the AFC won VIII of the next IX contests. Then the NFC took XV of the next XVI including XIII in a row. The AFC turned the tables to win VIII of the following X matches. And, now the NFC is on a IV out of V run. All in all, the NFC has won XXV of XLVI.