The Safest Bet in Sports

I’ve promised that I would never place a 100% win probability on any game on this site, and that will always be true here. My goal is to determine the likelihood of outcomes and identify the safest picks. But what makes a pick safe? When it comes to sports, especially at a non-professional level as is the primary focus here, there really doesn’t appear to be a truly safe pick. But when a specific match-up features the same result, year after year, it becomes difficult to believe that a different outcome will occur in the next event.

This week, Michigan State plays at Michigan. This will be the 11th meeting in which Mark Dantonio is the Spartans head coach. In the previous 10 meetings between these two teams, against the spread, he is 10-0. His team covers when they’re favored and when they’re underdogs. Home or away; doesn’t matter. Here’s what I’m talking about:

MSU_Michigan_lines

2007_MSU_Michigan_openingline

Sources for graphics above: http://www.oddsshark.com/stats/dbresults/football/ncaaf

http://archive.scoresandodds.com/grid_20071103.html

I include the 2nd graphic to show that the line opened at Michigan -4.5, which MSU did cover. The first graphic shows that the line closed at Michigan -3.5, which MSU did not cover. At that point we’re really splitting hairs though; this streak is truly incredible.

The opening line for this game on October 7th is -12.5 in favor of Michigan. I’m not saying this is a guaranteed cover for MSU, but I mean…10 in a row? Something is going on here that the Vegas oddsmakers have failed to recognize for a decade. Will this year be any different? I wouldn’t bet on it.

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Tournament Preview

It has been a lot of fun participating in the Bracket Matrix¬†for the first time, even though my formula didn’t do so great compared to everyone else (though I did beat the Yahoo Sports guy!). I’m currently testing out my formula’s ability to predict winners against the spread, and the metric I’m using has produced the following as the “safest” picks to cover:

Kansas -10.5 over New Mexico St

Hampton +34.5 over Kentucky (personally I would never touch a spread this big, but that’s what the metric says to do)

St John’s +3.5 over San Diego St

VCU +4 over Ohio St

Texas Southern +23.5 over Arizona

Notre Dame -11.5 over Northeastern

North Dakota St +18 over Gonzaga

LSU +2 over NC State

Georgia +5.5 over Michigan St

Louisville -8 over UC Irvine

Beyond the first 6 games listed the results are not as statistically significant, but I wanted to include a large enough sample size to produce tangible results. I’ll check back in after these 10 games have been played to share results.

**Please do not put much stock in these picks; I personally would not put any money on any of these, as I have yet to test the data (this is the test of the data!). I am only putting these out there as a measure of accountability.