Your weekly dose of sports betting tips and news, every Saturday at 10am Eastern.
NBA analytics from Drew Dinsick – To handicap the NBA, quantitative bettor Drew Dinsick uses a player based model.
He combines an ensemble of player based projections with his own estimates of playing time. One of the player based models is DARKO, whose creator Kostya Medvedovsky made an appearance on The Football Analytics Show podcast. This player model makes Boston -2.5 over Golden State on a neutral court.
During the 2021-22 season, the home team beat opponents by an average of 1.72 points. Home court is larger in the playoffs, but even a large estimate of 2.5 points leads to a pick ’em prediction for Boston at Golden State. The markets closed Golden State -3.5 for Game 1.
NBA Finals Game 2 – The shocking outcome from Game 1 wasn’t that Boston won a game at Golden State, it’s how they dominated the fourth quarter. From ESPN Stats and Info, the Celtics are the first team in NBA history to win a Finals game by double digits after trailing by at least ten entering the final frame.
While the Celtics are notoriously defensive-minded, Cleaning the Glass pointed out how well their shots went down. These percentiles are among all playoff games this season.
- 62.9% effective field goal rate (eFG%) is 91st percentile.
- 51.2% three point field goal percentage is 95th percentile.
- 114.1 points per 100 halfcourt plays is 89th percentile.
What might this trend mean for Game 2? For these playoffs, Boston ranks sixth in eFG% while Golden State is second. Jayson Tatum had a down game per his box score numbers, but so did Draymond Green.
Sports books are expecting the Warriors to bounce back, as Golden State is -4 as of Saturday morning.
World Soccer Predictions – These predictions for regulation time are based on my world soccer rankings that take game results and adjust for opponent with The Power Rank algorithm. The ranks quoted below refer to these team rankings.
- Ukraine at Wales, World Cup Qualifying – Wales has a 46.7% chance to win. Ukraine has a 26.1% chance to win. There is a 27.2% chance for a tie. Ukraine (23rd) got the supposed upset at Scotland (46th) to make it to this elimination match. However, it will be much more difficult against a solid Wales side (21st).
- Uruguay at United States, Friendly – United States has a 41.7% chance to win. Uruguay has a 27.9% chance to win. There is a 30.4% chance for a tie. The United States (16th) looked solid in a 3-0 win over Morocco (24th). However, it’s always tough against South American teams, and Uruguay (13th) beat Mexico 3-0 earlier this week.
- England at Hungary, UEFA Nations League – Hungary has a 13.7% chance to win. England has a 62.0% chance to win. There is a 24.3% chance for a tie. England rocketed up to 6th in my world rankings after making the final of Euro 2021. They should take care of business on the road at Hungary (43rd).
The world soccer rankings are now updated daily based on the most recent matches.
College Baseball – Regionals began Friday for the NCAA Tournament and Tennessee is a massive favorite to win the College World Series (-600 to win its regional per FanDuel and +250 to win the National Championship, with second place listed at 6/1).
As always, path matters when picking winners of a tournament, and if you need help handicapping which teams have the easiest/hardest journey to the end, Parker Fleming has compiled probabilities for every regional with breakdowns of team strengths/weaknesses.
One team that stood out when pouring over his breakdowns was Virginia Tech (10/1 on FanDuel, higher odds than the 12/1 earlier this week). Not only do they have an easier regional, the super regional they are paired with is more of a toss-up with Florida, Oklahoma and Liberty all in contention.
Predicting the NBA – While the Warriors were favorites in Game 1, many analytic models like ESPN’s BPI and FiveThirtyEight suggested going in the other direction, taking the Celtics as outright winners.
However, data scientist Walker Harrison tweeted a thread about how if you had bet against FiveThirtyEight all season, you would have earned a 20-30% return on investment. Harrison did stress though the importance of their model, saying once you remove its home court bias, there are ways to use those predictions for value.
However, we should challenge the assumption that a team’s number-one goal for any regular-season game is to win. Many coaches tweak lineup combinations and want to acquire enough different data as possible so that they know their options when the playoffs arrive. It’s perhaps one reason why Golden State projections seemed intuitively lower during their dynasty.
Hockey Trends – This week, I made an appearance on the All the Kings Men podcast to discuss the analytics of hockey. Topics included:
- why expected goals are useful in predicting the future
- newer stats being devised to isolate an individual skater’s ability
- the philosophy behind tweaking lines
Shopping for the best price – The standard advice says to have multiple accounts and shop for the best price. If you want to bet the Dodgers moneyline against the Mets, -140 is a better price than -150 (break even probability of 58.3% and 60.0% respectively).
But have you thought deeper about why you should shop for the best price? As Ed Miller and Matthew Davidow explain in The Logic of Sports Betting, it’s better to think about both sides of this bet.
Let’s suppose you find one book with Dodgers -140 and another with Mets +140. The combination of these two bets gives a no hold market. You can bet $140 on the Dodgers and $100 on the Mets and end up with your original $240 no matter the result.
Compare this with the typical -110 to bet either side of a spread. Wagering $110 on each side guarantees a loss of $10, and that’s the hold of the sports book.
Shopping for the best price means lowering the hold of the sports book. To learn more about this, check out page 81 of…
Free copy of The Logic of Sports Betting
In their foundational book, Ed Miller and Matthew Davidow provide the ultimate introduction into the sports betting world. In addition to the crucial concept of a no hold market, they write about:
- The surprisingly simple procedure that market making sports books use to determine the spread (it’s not analytics)
- The truth about parlays
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