Your weekly dose of sports betting tips and news, each Saturday at 10am Eastern.
Stanley Cup Finals – On Thursday, Tampa Bay took a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. They can clinch tonight at home. Perhaps what’s most impressive about overcoming the 0-2 deficit is doing it without Brayden Point, who finished in the top 50 this season in expected goals per Money Puck.
Point has been seen skating at practice in full gear. While one player should not substantially change the probability of a series, like if the Lightning advance to the Stanley Cup Final to face Colorado, there may be value betting on them at +195 (FanDuel) to win the Cup outright.
NBA home court – This is the average margin of victory for NBA home teams in full arenas:
- 2016-17, 3.42
- 2017-18, 2.10
- 2018-19, 2.72
- 2019-20, 2.17 (971 games before COVID 19)
- 2021-22, 1.72
The data show a downward trend, and it remains to be seen whether the current season is an outlier or a continuation of the trend (the standard error for the current season is 0.44 over 1230 games).
NBA home court advantage is higher in the playoffs; from 2017 through 2019, home court was 4.11 points, or 55% higher.
If you look at home court in full arenas since the beginning of 2018 in the regular season, that mark has been 2.21 points. With a 50% increase in the playoffs, home court advantage should be about 3.3 points. This suggests about a 7 point swing in spread from home to road.
In the NBA finals, the markets went from Golden State -4.5 in Game 2 at home to Golden State +3.5 in Game 3 at Boston. This 8-point swing suggests the markets might be slightly overestimating home court.
Show me the money – Speaking at a Goldman Sachs investor conference this week, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins made it clear that his sports book is not for pro sports bettors.
We’re trying to get smart in eliminating the sharp action or limiting it at least. Then trying to make sure we have a high parlay mix because people do like that.
You mean square bettors like parlays, Jason.
DraftKings stock has dropped faster than Tom Cruise’s 18F Super Hornet in Top Gun Maverick, as its current price of $13.10 is less than half its price to start 2022.
Golf predictions – Jordan Spieth used to be one of the top golfers in the world. He had a historic 2015 with wins at the Masters and US Open.
More recently, Spieth’s play has fallen off. On an episode of The Football Analytics Show, Matt Courchene of Data Golf discussed the difficult of making quantitative predictions for the former elite player. His research shows that data from more than three years ago has little predictive value.
When Spieth has a streak of good play, Data Golf doesn’t treat him any differently from a golfer without the elite track record. In contrast, the market often gives Spieth more credit because of his history.
Matt gave a comprehensive view of how the Data Golf predictions work in an episode of The Football Analytics Show.
Aaron Judge – Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has made a massive leap to becoming the favorite to win the A.L. MVP award. With the other favorites in Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout slumping at the plate, the honor might be Judge’s to lose (+150 on FanDuel Sportsbook).
It’s an interesting trend because team performance has meant less and less for MVP honors in baseball. However, the Yankees are clearly on an uptick and the Angels are on a downtick, perhaps affecting the outlook among the top three.
Still though, is now the time to bet on Judge to win MVP? I break down the numbers in a recent FOX Sports article.
Belmont Stakes – This July will mark three years since I began working with Dave Weaver on “More Ways to Win”, and yet we’ve never had a public conversation about his first love of horse racing.
While that wait must continue, Dave offered a long shot in Golden Glider (20-1 to win) for which horse could be a good trifecta or superfecta bet in today’s Belmont Stakes. For me, Mo Donegal might not have value at 5-2, but he has proven his versatility and success with just the right draw.
Keeping It Simple – This week, I was reminded about baseball player projection models and how sabermetricians like Tangotiger were able to project hitting and pitching stats about as effectively as anyone, using a simple model.
In it, the model only featured the three most recent seasons and included a simple aging component. When unveiled, it worked well, and has since been used as a benchmark for not overcomplicating other approaches.
That lesson of keeping things simple is an offshoot of what the psychology podcast Hidden Brain discussed this week. It’s a temptation for us to think innovation involves adding, but often, subtraction can be the best approach, whether it’s building betting models or taking a business to the next level.
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. Among other topics, they write about:
- The crucial concept of a no hold market
- 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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