March 25, 2011

Order. Has. Been. Restored.

Jalen Rose was recently talking about Duke and basically said that he grew up despising them and everything they represent.  He said they always represented something that he could never have, and therefore was taught at a young age to dislike their method of operating.  I'm right there with him.  See, I've been a fan of the Razorbacks since Todd Day.  And even though we eventually climbed that mountain-top (and damn near did it TWICE), those early days always ended with me hating Duke.  They were the anti-Arkansas, to my mind, but really, aren't they the anti-Everyone?  There is no other program in the country that comes close to Duke basketball.  I remember a friend in middle school once told me that even the name of the university sounded like a disease.  Like AIDS.  "Hey man, just got back from the clinic... Yeah, my Duke test came back positive."  You can talk about sports hate all you want, and certainly there are valid explanations for despising the Yankees, Cowboys, Red Sox, Lakers, etc.  But those are pro teams.  College programs usually have a healthy dose of regional hate ("It will die.  You think I care?  ROLL DAMN TIDE."), but the Duke hate reaches a true national level.  Seriously, EVERYONE likes to see them lose.  It's one of the most enjoyable experiences we share as a nation of sports fans.

Now then, this post isn't about hate.  It's about gambling.  So get on with it.

I suppose the John Nash in me will never quiet down.  Sure, when I see free money on the table, I grab my satchel and git all I can, but I never stop looking for that pattern.  I like a framework, however loose, to guide my gambling decisions.  Look, this is not Simmons' manifesto - which is so overwrought, conflicting and often just incredibly WRONG - it's a guide to general principles of gambling on a specific sport.  Let me tell you of a few things that would constitute a framework of gambling in various sports:

College Football
We start here because it's the easiest.  It's literally the safest way to make money outside of having a job... and even then, it's safer than your retirement plan.  The plan goes like this:  identify a handful of teams that are good enough to contend for a BCS bowl game, but don't happen to play for one of the DS'ing conferences.  These are teams like TCU, Boise State, Utah, Nevada, etc.  They are the class of their conferences, but they get absolutely no respect from voters, because Fats Turkeyroll will always vote Alabama #1 because every goddamn game is a rivalry.  So how do they get votes?  THEY EARN THEM BY SCORING 80 POINTS ON IDAHO.  So the game is simple - identify these teams and ride them into the ground.  We learned very much from our dear leader this season, and those lessons will last a lifetime.

Professional Football
It's tougher, because there are no votes to be had, but simple axioms do apply.  During the regular season, it's pretty much all about who needs the game more.  The Skins can beat the Eagles if doing so means keeping hopes alive for one of the teams.  Also, in games that really matter, it's all about coaching and preparation.  Anyone alive knew that the Jets had spent their entire playbook to beat the Patriots and would have nothing left for Pittsburgh.  So there are a few rules to follow, but nothing too concrete.

Professional Basketball
First, it's easy to bet the playoffs once you see which refs are calling the games, and what they mean.  Oh, the Celtics have fallen behind 3-2 and they need a win to force Ratings 7, I mean Game 7?  TO THE BAVETTA PHONE!  During the season, I generally follow the "Ghetto Ball" model, the summary of which is to find teams that play horrible ghetto ball (GOLDEN STATE'S BEEN DOING IT FOR 15 YEARS) and hammer them when the time is right.  Orlando is one of those wild card teams... against Boston they are probably going under, but you stay away.  Against Toronto?  GO GO GO.  Still though, ghetto ball is hard to read for most teams... like the Wolves don't like playing defense, but they also don't like scoring.  So tread lightly.

Professional Hockey
Bet the over or under on the Grand Salami if you are drunk in Las Vegas and need more action because you are a degenerate.  Spend 2 minutes thinking about stats, and then just pound a white russian and flip a coin.  Hockey is stupid.

And that brings us to College Basketball.  Besides the obvious "Bet Duke to lose in the tournament if they have to play west of the Mississippi, no matter who they are playing even if it is NJIT", I've always had a hard time with the league.

First, you have to throw out the law of transitive properties.  Who cares if Wisconsin lost to Iowa?  They are going to destroy Belmont (LEARNED THAT ONE A LITTLE LATE, EH DREW?).  And, although it's fun to get down to Friends University, it clearly doesn't matter when isolated to one game.  For example, Florida State lost to AUBURN.  But look at them now.  So you can't get caught up in single-game performances.  Any team can take a game off and still make a run.  Unless they are the Gophers.

Another example of what NOT to do is to bet program history.  This seems like it would be obvious, and of course it is, but I find myself betting histories and past success more often than not.  Oh, Pittsburgh?  That's an over!  But still, you have to research, and break down the matchup.  When you don't, you might as well be betting hockey.

So, what's the solution?  Well, one thing I've found is betting regional matchups.  The theory goes like this:  let's say you're betting the MAAC (and why wouldn't you?).  When an underdog is at home to a favorite from the top of the conference, hammer that underdog.  They'll be 8 point dogs at home and it will go down to the wire.  Why?  Well, first, IT'S THE MAAC.  But second, you have to bet into the parity.  Bet into the fact that even though Rider is good, they aren't THAT good.  Basketball is one of those sports where the home crowd truly sways both the officiating and flow of the game.  That home crowd for Niagara is going to BRING IT.

Also, style of play matters in the tournament.  If a team is plodding, methodical and sound on defense, they are likely going to beat a team that dunks a lot.  If a team makes their throws, and plays ball control, the only type of team that can upend them is another team that does that just a little bit better.  HOWEVER, in the case of Arizona/Duke, there's this fun thing that happens when the underdog starts ghettoing all over the favorite, just dunking down their throat at every opportunity, and once that happens, all bets are off.  So pay attention to the location of the game, and the potential for ghetto fun, but bet coaches and styles.

And really, that's what it's all about... not knowing what's going to happen but betting into the unknown.  This last Duke game gave me a little glimpse at something resembling a theory forming in my head... but I still need more work.  Every sport has an angle by which you can penetrate to the gambling core.  I will find it in basketball.  I have a beautiful mind.

March 17, 2011

Let's start the day off with this...

Listen to Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg. Just buffoons. Gus Johnson would've been dead by halftime.

Particularly, skip to the 5:40 mark. I swear, Jim actually flipped into Master's Mode, thinking he had to keep quiet lest he be yelled at for disturbing the concentration of the holy athlete. IT'S A CHAMPIONSHIP BASKETBALL GAME. And he whispers "Butler has no timeouts".

Here's to another year!

March 5, 2011

Stop everything, I've got a new rule for this blog

Ok, so from now on, I must insist that whenever we post anything along the lines of "This Timberwolves team is a failure" or "This guy the Timberwolves drafted pulled a gun on his moms" or "Looks like Rubio's going to stay in Spain until he's 30", then we need to post this image:

Because I've got to tell you, nothing we could ever say or do could speak more volume to the failure of this franchise than the fact that if you go to Cub foods and buy 4 cans of vegetables, you get two tickets to a Wolves game. NOTHING.

Thank you, carry on.

March 3, 2011

Brigham Young University Athletics Are Bullshit

Ok, so a guy on the BYU basketball team dipped his wick, and we're all just going to freak the fuck out. That's fine.

But this really only pulls back the curtain a tiny bit on the unbelievable amount of bullshit that BYU slings on a daily basis. For years, I thought Notre Dame was the most detestable Division I program due to their complete stubbornness to ever join a conference and be forced to play football against, you know, good teams to prove themselves. No. They would beat Michigan, Michigan State and fucking walk to the dance because they also played Army, Navy and Wayne State. Hey great. Everyone stacks their non-conference schedule. But what if your WHOLE SCHEDULE was non-conference? And the NCAA let this happen, because why? Because they are Notre Dame, and when their program pulls down the pants to take a piss, scented bath soap comes out instead.

But here comes BYU. Now, I don't have a problem with rules. Different programs institute different rules, I get that. You're not going to have the same curfew at Loyola Marymount as you will at Miami. And lord knows that academic violations at Yale are a bit more frowned upon than at Cincinnati. That's fine. And this isn't even one of those posts that points and laughs at BYU because they don't let their athletes drink coffee. Again, when you look at the inmates-running-the-asylum mentality of a LOT of NCAA programs throughout the country (does UNLV even have classes? Do they have buildings? Or does every single student just git buckets?), I think quite a few of them would do well to institute some more rules. Royce White stole a fucking laptop from a dorm, then stole shit from Mall of America. A laptop? Dude, they're like 300 bucks. And I'm pretty sure computer labs are open 24 hours a day during finals week, you know, if you need to finish up that research paper....

No, the reason BYU is bullshit is because they refuse to play games on Sunday. In all sports. Even intramurals.

Now, if you are, say, Friends University, fine. Go ahead and say that you will not play on Sunday. And then everyone will laugh at you and we'll go about our business. But how the fuck is this fair to an NCAA tournament field? They refuse to play on Sunday... so the NCAA bends over backwards to accommodate them. I looked at the history - they've been to the NCAA tournament 14 times in the last 24 years. Guess how many opening round games they played on Friday? Not a goddamn one. Every single year they were scheduled for Thursday.

Ok, so what's the point? Well, let's look at some recent history:

2010 - 7 seed West
2009 - 8 seed West
2008 - 8 seed West
2007 - 8 seed South
2004 - 12 seed West
2003 - 12 seed South

Now, every single one of those opening round games was on a Thursday (big surprise). And, there is no formula to when seeds play. For example, before the tournament begins, we have no idea if the 1 seed is going to play on Thursday or Friday (that is all determined during selection sunday). So, one year, the 7 seed plays on Thursday... the next year it plays on Friday.

And all this means is that the NCAA selection committee is absolutely on their knees to BYU.

The one consistency throughout the years is that despite the seeds switching what day they play, they always play in "pods". Meaning, the 1-16 always falls on the same day as the 8-9. They do this, presumably, so that they can lock in those matchups (the teams would instantly know who they were going to play next... and could even be in the same building to watch them on their game day). So if the 1 seed plays on Thursday, you're damn sure the 8-9 will be on Thursday too.

Now think about BYU in this scenario.... first of all we have to put aside the bullshit regional aspects of this. Because why does BYU consistently play in the South and West bracket, even when they draw 8 and 12 seeds? Because fuck the committee, that's why. But that happens everywhere, so we'll move on. Ok, the ONLY team in the country that has scheduling sensitivity is BYU... I searched and I could find no example of another school being morally opposed to playing on Sunday. So no matter where the NCAA seats them, they have to play on Thursday. And then, of course, they have to seat them the NEXT Thursday too, if they happen to get out of the first round. And, of course, they pull 3 other teams with them the first round, and 3 more then next round... pretty much the ripples touch the entire tournament. I imagine the NCAA selection committee on Sunday - "Ok guys, let's start - like we always do - with BYU... where are we seeding them and we've got to make sure they don't play on Sunday because - HEY IS THAT A HAM-STEAK BUFFET?!?!?!"

In reality, of course, this has little bearing. Teams don't care when they play, and there is no demonstrable advantage to playing Thursday v. Friday (and based on BYU's history in the tournament, Thursday ain't treating them too hot). But it's just an example of horseshit. One team - ONE TEAM - will not play on a certain day, and they have to adjust the entire schedule according to them. And come on, you can't tell me ratings don't then play into the seeding. Let's do a hypothetical: UCLA is the one seed in the West, and BYU is around a 8 or 7 seed. If they go 8, then they have to play on Thursday, which means UCLA does too. Let's see, how do we maximize ratings? When do more people watch... Thursday or Friday? GREASE THE POCKETS, CHARLIE.

The fucking tournament seeding is a joke... we've all seen Duke pull a 5 seed and have their first 4 games within 30 minutes of their campus while USC plays on the other side of the country with a 2 seed. We all know it's sleaze central, and I guess this is just one more example.

It's bullshit, but it's always been bullshit, and we'll keep watching. Damn you.

It looks like the Gophers have a lead in the 2nd Half...