Articles

2021 NBA Playoffs - An ATS Recap

by Al McMordie

Saturday, Jun 26, 2021

The 2021 NBA Playoffs have been unlike any other.  And not just because it featured a 'play-in' round at the start.  We've also had several key injuries along the way that have derailed (or may derail) the hopes of many of the top contenders.  Teams like the Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis), Denver Nuggets (Jamal Murray), Utah Jazz (Mike Conley), Brooklyn Nets (Kyrie Irving; James Harden), and Los Angeles Clippers (Kawhi Leonard) all were greatly impacted.  The upshot is that it is the first time both #1 seeds didn't make the semi-finals since 1994 when the Atlanta Hawks and Seattle SuperSonics were knocked out early.Let's take a look at how the NBA Playoffs have gone -- from a point spread perspective.Our data goes through games of June 25, and does not include the 'play-in' games.Home teams:  37-35 ATS (Faves 29-22 ATS; Dogs 8-13 ATS)Away teams: 35-37 ATS (Faves 13-8 ATS; Dogs 22-29 ATS)Favorites:  42-30 ATS (Home 29-22 ATS; Away 13-8 ATS)Underdogs:  30-42 ATS (Home 8-13 ATS; Away 22-29 ATS)Overs:  36-35-1Unders: 35-36-1Series off Under in previous game:  15 Overs, 14 Unders, 1 PushSeries off Over in previous game:  14 Overs, 13 UndersTeams off playoff loss:  25-33 ATS (Faves 16-13 ATS; Dogs 9-20 ATS)Teams off back-to-back playoff losses:  12-13 ATS (Faves 5-7 ATS; Dogs 7-6 ATS)Teams off double-digit playoff losses:  8-21 ATS (Home 6-16 ATS; Away 2-5 ATS; Faves 2-8 ATS; Dogs 6-13 ATS)Teams off point spread failures by 10+ points:  14-15 ATS (Home 9-11 ATS; Away 5-4 ATS; Faves 9-8 ATS; Dogs 5-7 ATS)#1 Seeds:  12-11 ATS (Home 7-6 ATS; Away 5-5 ATS; Faves 12-9 ATS; Dogs 0-2 ATS)#2 Seeds: 17-8 ATS (Home 11-3 ATS; Away 6-5 ATS; Faves 11-5 ATS; Dogs 6-3 ATS)#3 Seeds: 11-12 ATS (Home 6-6 ATS; Away 5-6 ATS; Faves 7-7 ATS; Dogs 4-5 ATS)#4 Seeds: 11-10 ATS (Home 6-5 ATS; Away 5-5 ATS; Faves 7-5 ATS; Dogs 4-5 ATS)#5 Seeds: 12-9 ATS (Home 3-5 ATS; Away 9-4 ATS; Faves 2-0 ATS; Dogs 10-9 ATS)#6 Seeds: 3-7 ATS (Home 1-4 ATS; Away 2-3 ATS; Faves 1-2 ATS; Dogs 2-5 ATS)#7 Seeds: 3-8 ATS (Home 2-3 ATS; Away 1-5 ATS; Faves 2-2 ATS; Dogs 1-6 ATS)#8 Seeds:  3-7 ATS (Home 1-3 ATS; Away 2-4 ATS; Faves 0-0 ATS; Dogs 3-7 ATS)Interestingly, teams off blowout SU/ATS playoff losses have NOT done well this season.  Consider that NBA teams off SU/ATS losses by seven or more points have gone 11-28 ATS.  Meanwhile, teams off narrow SU/ATS playoff losses by six or less points have gone 13-2 ATS.Another trend to watch is how teams do off back-to-back upset playoff wins.  In this year's playoffs, teams that pulled off consecutive upsets have gone 0-5 ATS.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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2020-21 NBA Season: An ATS Review of the First Four Months

by Al McMordie

Saturday, Apr 17, 2021

We're almost four months into this COVID-impacted NBA season.  So, let's take a look at how the season has shaped up thus far, from a point spread perspective.The first thing which jumps out is the fact that the road teams have outperformed the home teams so far this season.  Through April 16, the home teams are 396-433-7 ATS, while the road teams are (obviously) 433-396-7 ATS.  The split between favorites and underdogs is tighter.  NBA favorites are above .500 at 423-406-7 ATS, which would mean the underdogs are the reverse, at 406-423-7 ATS.Away favorites are 189-162-4 ATS, while home favorites are under .500, at 234-244-3 ATS.  Of course, that would mean home dogs are 162-189-4 ATS, with road underdogs at 244-234-3 ATS.Unrested NBA teams are 125-112-3 ATS vs. rested opponents.Teams off wins are 227-228-4 ATS vs. opponents off a loss.In match-ups between two teams that are each off a win, the road team has gone 101-77-3 ATS, while home teams have had the edge in match-ups between two teams that were each off a loss, as they've gone 92-88 ATS.One of the most interesting datapoints involves match-ups between winning clubs.  In these games, the favorites have rolled to a 93-65 ATS record, including 38-16 ATS if the underdog was off a straight-up loss.  However, match-ups between two losing teams have not produced any interesting data, as the home teams have gone 88-89-3 ATS, while the favorites have gone 91-86-3 ATS.  Finally, match-ups between a winning club, and a losing opponent have seen underdogs with a winning record go 35-18 ATS vs. favorites with a losing record, including 28-12 ATS on the road!  But underdogs with a losing record are much closer to .500, at 151-142-2 ATS vs. favorites with a winning record.  And road teams have also held the edge, generally, in match-ups between winning and losing clubs, as the road teams have gone 190-156-2 ATS.Finally, division match-ups have favored the road teams, as they've gone 78-59-3 ATS, including 45-34-1 with revenge (and 8-3-1 ATS with double revenge).  And, speaking of revenge, this season has been good to revenge-minded clubs, as they've gone 222-190-4 ATS, including 24-16-2 ATS with double-revenge.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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MLB Baseball Futures Bet: MInnesota Twins to Win 2021 World Series

by Al McMordie

Monday, Feb 22, 2021

It's that time of the year again when I pull out my crystal ball to select a team to win this year's World Series.  And my success the last several years with Futures wagers is likely unparalleled.  Here's a quick review for newcomers.  In College Basketball, we cashed Virginia as our Preseason Futures wager (at 22-1 odds) to win the 2019 Title.  Also in 2019, we cashed our Futures wager on the Washington Nationals in Baseball, at 18-1 odds.  This past season we followed up the Nationals with our Preseason Futures pick on the Dodgers, at 4-1 odds.  And that made it three winning MLB Futures in four seasons, as we had Houston, at 10-1 odds, in 2017.  In hockey, we delivered with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season, at 7-1 odds.  And we cashed the Spurs (14-1, 2014), Warriors (5-1, 2016), and Warriors again (-160, 2018) in the NBA.  Our preseason pick on the Baylor Bears (12-1 odds) in College Basketball will also have a decent shot to cash in the upcoming March Madness tournament.  Let's take a look at the upcoming 2021 baseball season.  It's my belief that the two best teams (Los Angeles Dodgers; San Diego Padres) reside in the National League West division.  But having the best team is not the same thing as winning the Championship.  In 2019, for example, we went with the Nationals who weren't the best team, but (at 18-1 odds) I believed they would always have a puncher's chance (or, more specifically, a "Pitcher's chance") with the 1-2 combination of Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.  For this 2021 season, I don't believe there's enough value for me to take either the Dodgers (+370) or the Padres (8-1 odds).  So, instead, I will look at backing an American League team.  And the Minnesota Twins stand out to me as having the best value.  Currently, the odds on the Twins to win the World Series are 22-1.  And the odds on the Twins to win the American League pennant are 9-1.  In contrast, the World Series odds have the New York Yankees at +625 and the Chicago White Sox at +1000.  By my numbers, neither the Yankees nor White Sox rate better than Minnesota, so it's an easy decision for me to go with the Twins as the best value play.There's no doubt that the White Sox are everyone's darlings in the AL Central division.  Last season, the division title went to the Twins, who went 24-7 at home, which was the best home record in baseball.  But they faltered at home in the playoffs against the Houston Astros.  So, perhaps due to last season's flame-out, a lot of pundits are looking past Minnesota.  But not me, as I believe this will be the year that the Twins finally back up a strong regular season with some success in October.   Chicago does have a lot of talent, but it might be a year away from being post-season contenders.  And if Chicago stumbles, the division is clearly Minnesota's to lose.  But regardless of whether the Twins win the division, it should make the post-season.  The Twins' line-up is a solid collection of mostly veterans (Kepler, Cruz, Buxton, Donaldson, Polanco, Sano) with a very talented rookie outfielder in Alex Kirilloff ready to step up.  But it's the pitching that will tell the story for this team.  The top three starters of Maeta, Berrios, and Pineda are sneaky good.  And the Twins addressed their bullpen issues with a huge Free Agent signing which not only should help them immensely, but also hurt their main competitor.  Somehow, the White Sox let veteran closer Alex Colome get away, only to sign with their division rivals after arguably his best season (2-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 12 saves).  Even if Colome isn't the Twins' go-to man in the 9th inning, he will still be a big boost to their bullpen.  Don't be surprised when the Twins finally come together this October.  Take Minnesota at 22-1 odds to win the World Series and 9-1 odds to win the American League pennant.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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NHL Hockey Futures Bet: Colorado Avalanche to Win 2021 Stanley Cup

by Al McMordie

Thursday, Jan 07, 2021

The NHL season will start next week, so it's time for our Stanley Cup futures wager.  Last season, we cashed the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7-1 odds, which continued our jaw-dropping success on our futures selections.  Over the last few years, we have cashed:  2020 - Lightning (7-1), Dodgers (4-1); 2019 - Nationals (18-1), Virginia (22-1); 2018 - Warriors (-160); 2017 - Astros (10-1); 2016 - Warriors (5-1); 2014 - Spurs (14-1).  We also have three futures selections ongoing:  Baylor (12-1) in NCAA Basketball, Milwaukee Bucks (+650) in NBA Basketball, and the New Orleans Saints (10-0) in NFL Football.Let's now turn our attention to this upcoming NHL season.  Our futures selection to win the 2021 Stanley Cup is the Colorado Avalanche, currently at +700 odds.  The season that the NHL is about embark on will look quite a bit different than those in the past.  There will be a shortened schedule of 56 games and the teams have been realigned into four new divisions, including an all-Canada group (the North Division).  The Avalanche are an improving team, having gone from 90 points (in a regular 82-game schedule) in 2018-2019, to 92 points in just 70 games last year, which projects to about 108 points in a full season.  The Avs finished second in the Central Division to the Blues, but they had by far the largest point differential in the Western Conference at +46.  This, despite a shortened season that included several stretches where the Avs were shorthanded due to injuries to key players.  Already the most potent offense in the West, the Avs acquired winger Brandon Saad from Chicago over the off-season and the 27-year-old will likely debut on the Avs' second line, making this team even scarier to defenses than it already is.  Perhaps most important to their chances at a high seed and a deep playoff run is the fact that teams will only play within their division this season and the Avs were a combined 4-2 against the Blues and Golden Knights last season.  Those two clubs figure to be Colorado's main competition in the months ahead.  The Avs won't have to worry about the Stars -- who knocked them out last Fall -- as Dallas has moved to a new division.  If they were a little soft on the blue line last season the Avs could very well have plugged that hole with the acquisition of young D-man Devon Toews from the New York Islanders.  They will also likely be debuting #1 pick (2019) Bowen Byram, considered to be one of the best young defensive prospects in the game.  If the goalie tandem of Francouz and Grubauer can stay healthy and get hot in the post-season, the Avs could very well hoist the Cup for the third time in their history.  Take Colorado at +700 odds.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie.

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NBA Basketball Futures Bet: Milwaukee Bucks to Win 2021 Championship

by Al McMordie

Monday, Dec 21, 2020

's the eve of the 2020-21 season, so it's once again time for our NBA Futures Wager.  Faithful followers love our selections, as we've cashed an unbelievable number of futures over the years.  Here are some recent highlights:  2020 - Lightning (7-1), Dodgers (4-1); 2019 - Nationals (18-1), Virginia (22-1); 2018 - Warriors (-160); 2017 - Astros (10-1); 2016 - Warriors (5-1); 2014 - Spurs (14-1).  The NBA season tips off Tuesday, December 22 with two games:  the Los Angeles Lakers against the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Golden State Warriors against the Brooklyn Nets.  Certainly, when the league created its schedule, it must have believed that those four teams would comprise four of the top five title contenders.  But then Warriors SG Klay Thompson sustained a season-ending injury, which has knocked out Golden State from any championship discussion.  The one title contender which will not be featured on opening night is, of course, the Milwaukee Bucks.  (No, I do not consider the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks or Denver Nuggets true title contenders.)Milwaukee has rolled to the best record in the league over the last two regular seasons, but has flamed out in the playoffs.  Last season was especially humbling, as they only managed to win one game in their series vs. the Miami Heat.  That prompted GM Jon Horst to "go back to the drawing board" to try to re-shape his team.  He make one great trade by acquiring Jrue Holiday, but fell short on what would have been a second great trade when then-Sacramento Kings G Bogdan Bogdanovic refused to agree to a sign-and-trade offer.  Bogdanovic later signed with Atlanta in free agency, while the Bucks were slapped by the league for tampering, and forfeited a 2022 2nd round draft choice.  The upshot is that there's still one major hole for Horst to fill, as the Bucks could really use one more deep threat with whom to surround Giannis Antetokounmpo.  But the pieces are still present to win the Eastern Conference.  And Milwaukee is one of the very, very few teams that can match up with the very good (and very big) Los Angeles Lakers.There's no doubt in my mind that the Lakers are the league's best team, as currently constructed.  But with current championship odds at +250, I'm going to look in another direction.  And when I say "look in another direction," I mean, look only at another team which can match up with the Lakers on the interior.  It's an exceptionally short list, topped by the Bucks.  So, we will play on Milwaukee at +650 (the current odds).  And, of course, it goes without saying that the Bucks team which exists on opening night may not be the team which takes the court at the start of the playoffs.  The trade deadline is still 3 months away, and one can rest assured that Horst will have ample opportunity to add another shooter -- whether by trade, or by free agency (after players get bought out by their teams).Still, the addition of Holiday to this Bucks lineup will be enough to get them over the hump in the Eastern Conference.  Holiday is the best defensive guard in the league, and he has stepped up in the playoffs -- something erstwhile floor general Eric Bledsoe was unable to do.  It's true the Nets will be a threat with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, etc.  But Steve Nash will be a rookie head coach, so I'm lukewarm on how far it will go in the post-season with an inexperienced head coach and a roster which has yet to play meaningful playoff minutes together.Take Milwaukee at +650 to win the NBA Championship in 2021.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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NCAA Basketball Futures Bet: Baylor Bears to Win 2021 Championship

by Al McMordie

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020

The 2021 Men's Basketball Championship will likely be played within the state of Indiana, rather than across the nation, in an effort to reduce travel.  And it is also likely that there will be (at best) sparse attendance at the arenas.  So, what we've come to love about March Madness -- the enthusiasm of the fans, the music of the bands, the cheerleaders -- will be absent.  But that doesn't mean we can't have another futures prediction.Faithful followers have come to learn that our Futures predictions are the best in the business.  Let's review some highlights just in the past few years.  In College Basketball, we cashed Virginia as our Preseason Futures wager (at 22-1 odds) to win the 2019 Title.  Also in 2019, we cashed our Futures wager on the Washington Nationals in Baseball, at 18-1 odds.  This past season we followed up the Nationals with our Preseason Futures pick on the Dodgers, at 4-1 odds.  And that made it three winning MLB Futures in four seasons, as we had Houston, at 10-1 odds, in 2017.  In hockey, we delivered with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season, at 7-1 odds.  And we cashed the Spurs (14-1, 2014), Warriors (5-1, 2016), and Warriors again (-160, 2018) in the NBA.  This Football season, we didn't have a pick in College Football, but we currently have the New Orleans Saints (at 10-1 odds) to win the Super Bowl.So, who is our pick to win the 2021 Men's NCAA Basketball Championship?  We're going to go with a university which has never won a basketball championship (at least by its men, as the Lady Bears have won three titles):  Baylor.   The Bears' odds to win the 2021 Men's Championship are currently 12-1.The Bears last made the Final Four over 70 years ago (1950), and have reached the Title game just once (1948).  But this should be their breakthrough season under veteran coach Scott Drew, who has already won over 350 games at just 50 years of age.The Bears finished last season at 26-4, and spent five weeks ranked #1 in the country.  They lost a couple of key players from last season, in center Freddie Gillespie and guard Devonte Bandoo, and Tristan Clark decided to retire after sustaining a knee injury in his sophomore season.  But there's a wealth of talent in Waco.  In the backcourt, the Bears will be led by Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Donavan Mitchell.   Transfer Adam Flager will come off the bench, as the sixth man.  In the frontcourt, Baylor will have Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Mark Vital.Take Baylor to win the 2021 Men's NCAA Basketball Championship at 12-1 odds.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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2020 MLB Futures Bet: Los Angeles Dodgers to Win World Series

by Al McMordie

Thursday, Jul 16, 2020

Last season, we continued our great run with our futures wagers, as we hit the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds) to win the World Series.  And that followed closely on the heels of our 2019 College Basketball futures wager on Virginia (at 22-1 odds) to win the NCAA Basketball Championship.  And, of course, we also cashed the Houston Astros (at 10-1 odds) to win the 2017 World Series.  So, which team is our pick for 2020?  We're going to go with my hometown club, the Los Angeles Dodgers (currently at +400).   Nothing has gone according to plan for the Dodgers over the last few seasons.  Indeed, last year, they entered the Playoffs as the prohibitive National League favorite, but succumbed in seven games to the Nationals in the NLCS.  Los Angeles hasn't won Baseball's top prize since 1988 but the shortened (60 game) season could be just what the doctor ordered for the Boys in Blue.  The Dodgers usually look like world beaters through most of the 162 games of a normal regular season, only to fade in the Autumn months.  They've won the NL West division the last seven seasons and made the World Series in two of the last three only to come home empty-handed.So, why do I believe this year will be different?  First, the Dodgers pulled off the biggest trade of the off-season when they acquired OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price from the Red Sox in exchange for some prospects.  It's true that Price has opted out of the season due to the risk from COVID.  But that will do very little to hurt the Dodgers' chances.  That's because this pitching squad is deep -- with uber-prospect Dustin May ready to step in for Price, and others (like Josiah Gray and Tony Gonsolin) waiting in the wings if needed.  And if the pitching staff is deep, then the offense is the Grand Canyon.  No team is loaded with more young hitting and fielding talent than the Dodgers, which is why they could afford to part ways with Jeter Downs and Alex Verdugo in the swap with Boston.The experienced players on this club -- guys like Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, AJ Pollock, and Corey Seager -- will appreciate the short season.  Sixty games won't take its toll on this talented -- but often brittle -- cast of veterans which should should set them up for a deep run in the post-season and a third trip to the World Series in the last four years.  Look for the Dodgers to seal the deal this time.  Take L.A. at +400 to win the World Series.  As always, good luck...Al McMordie.

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Big Al's NFL Overtime Solution

by Al McMordie

Monday, Jan 06, 2020

There have been nine NFL playoff games since the new rule which allows a team to walk-off the field with a touchdown on the opening possession.2011  Broncos vs. Steelers  Result:  Broncos win on TD on 1st possession2011 Giants vs. 49ers         Result: Giants win on FG on 4th possession2012 Ravens vs. Broncos    Result: Ravens win on FG on 5th possession2014 Seahawks vs. Packers Result: Seahawks win on TD on 1st possession2015 Cardinals vs. Packers Result: Cardinals win on TD on 1st possession2016 Patriots vs. Falcons    Result: Patriots win on TD on 1st possession2018 Rams vs. Saints        Result:  Rams win on FG on 2nd possession2018 Patriots vs. Chiefs    Result: Patriots win on TD on 1st possession2019 Vikings vs. Saints    Result: Vikings win on TD on 1st possessionSix of the nine games have ended on the 1st possession.The longest was the Ravens/Broncos game, which lasted 16 minutes and 42 seconds (five possessions).The quarterbacks who never got to touch the ball in Overtime:Ben RoethlisbergerAaron Rodgers (twice)Matt RyanPatrick MahomesDrew BreesIf I was king of the world, I would have a 5th quarter, followed by sudden death, if still tied after 15 minutes.The NFL must have already considered (and discarded) that idea.Therefore, my next favorite idea is just a tweak on the current rule.  And maybe it's something that would be considered.I believe that a team should have to score not just a touchdown, but also a 2-point conversion if it wants to walk off the field after the first possession.  That would have changed the above outcomes from six of nine ending with one overtime possession to, maybe, just three of nine.That's a hugely more satisfying outcome.Further, a coach would have a myriad of things to consider when he was confronted with the choice of whether to go for a 2-point conversion following a score on an overtime's opening possession.One choice might be to just kick the extra point and let the overtime continue for at least one more possession (where you could only be BEAT) if the other team scored a touchdown and went for 2.Certainly, the team which plays defense on the opening possession would almost always go for 2 on a second possession, if down seven points, lest it kick a game-tying extra point only to give the ball back to its opponent with the possibility of then losing on a field goal on the overtime's 3rd possession.But, who knows?  So much would depend on the teams and their personnel.The strategic decisions would be fascinating.But, more importantly, it would greatly decrease the current unfairness of the existing format, and level out the vagaries of a coin flip.Just my thoughts...Al McMordie

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