Tourney Wrapup II — The 3 Point Shooting Teams

By A.J. Coltrane

For purposes of Vegas/March Madness this year I thought it might be helpful to consider how 3-point dependent individual teams were during the regular season. Some of that screwing around was discussed in this post.

Below are the top 10 teams in what I called “Vol” (for volatility) in that post. Below it’s called 3DEP (3 point dependency), which is what I’ll stick with going forward. 3DEP is simply 3 point percentage (x) % of 3 pointers attempted. At least in theory these ten teams rely upon the 3-pointer for a large percentage of their offense, so I’d kind of expect their performances to be very “up and down”. (To have a wider than usual deviation in their level of performance.) If the 3-pointer abandoned them, they were screwed. The flipside is that maybe they can get hot and beat a better team.

Look what happened in the game that knocked them out of the tournament:

Team (Seed) 3DEP 3P% 2P% 3PA% 3P% in Loss 2P% in Loss
Creighton 7 1667 42.1 56.4 39.6 10.5 41.2
Iowa St. 10 1624 37 52.1 43.9 48.0 40.7
Florida 3 1539 38.1 54.9 40.4 20.0 45.7
Valparaiso 14 1493 37.5 56.1 39.8 28.0 41.4
Belmont 11 1485 37.6 57.1 39.5 29.6 50.0
SD St 13 1434 39.4 50.3 36.4 34.8 50.0
St. Mary’s 11 1421 37.3 53.2 38.1 20.0 37.2
Davidson 14 1409 36.6 52.2 38.5 35.3 44.8
Arizona 6 1376 36.3 50.3 37.9 33.3 50.0
Boise St. 13 1362 38.7 48.2 35.2 38.9 54.3
Total 38.1 53.1 38.9 31.0 45.4

Well, duh. They didn’t shoot well and they lost the game. They didn’t shoot well from 2 either. I’m sure that happened to a lot of the losers, regardless of how many 3’s they attempted. If something hadn’t gone wrong they’d still be playing. We don’t really learn anything from that.

Continuing to mess with data though — as a group those are some low seeds — 7 of the 10 teams are double digit seeds. They’d all be underdogs starting with their first game. Look at when they got knocked out of the tournament:

Team (Seed) Lost To Round?
Creighton 7 Duke Round of 32
Iowa St. 10 Ohio St Round of 32
Florida 3 Michigan Elite 8
Valparaiso 14 Michigan St Round of 64
Belmont 11 Arizona Round of 64
SD St 13 FGCU Round of 32
St. Mary’s 11 Memphis Round of 64
Davidson 14 Marquette Round of 64
Arizona 6 Ohio St Sweet 16
Boise St. 13 La Salle Play In

In aggregate the underdogs went 2-4 in their first “real” game (St Mary’s won their play-in game.) Given a fat enough money line of between +150 and +200,  maybe they’d be worth betting on. Hmm…

Here’s 2012:

2012 Team 3P% 3PA% 3DEP Round?
Florida 7 38.0 44.6 1695 Elite 8
Vanderbilt 5 38.8 41.2 1599 Round 32
Iowa St. 8 37.3 41.6 1552 Round 32
Belmont 14 38.1 40.1 1528 Round 64
Wisconsin 4 36.8 41.3 1520 Sweet 16
Missouri 2 39.8 37.9 1508 Round 64
Creighton 8 42.4 35.0 1484 Round 32
South Dakota St. 14 39.0 37.8 1474 Round 64
Duke 2 37.1 38.6 1432 Round 64
Nevada Las Vegas 6 36.7 38.9 1428 Round 64

Note the two upsets — both the #2 seeds lost. Is that useful? Maybe. But I am taking a note on it for later.

As far as the underdogs:  This year there were only two. And they both lost their first game. Our underdogs are now 2-6.

One more year. Here’s 2011:

2011 Team 3P% 3PA% 3DEP Round?
Belmont 13 37.8 42.3 1599 Round 64
Wisconsin 4 37.4 41.2 1541 Sweet 16
Virginia Commonwealth 11 37.0 41.2 1524 Final Four
Michigan 8 35.3 43.0 1518 Round 32
Northern Colorado 15 38.3 39.4 1509 Round 64
Notre Dame 2 38.6 38.6 1490 Round 32
Louisville 4 36.2 40.8 1477 Round 64
Arizona 5 39.7 36.1 1433 Elite 8
Richmond 12 39.0 36.6 1427 Sweet 16
Boston University 16 35.5 40.1 1424 Round 64

I wouldn’t bet a 16 seed to beat a one seed regardless, so we’re tossing that one out. That leaves four teams who combined to go 2-2 in their first game.  All three years combined for 4-6 (not counting St. Mary’s play-in game).

If we restrict it to only the #10, #11, and #12 seeds the record is 3-2. Maybe there’s something there. I may have to do more digging. Coincidentally, my only money-line bet this year was on #12 seed Oregon at +160, and that one worked out. But Oregon didn’t rely on 3’s — they were 138th out of 150 during the regular season…

The never-ending quest for an angle continues.

Tourney Wrapup

by A.J. Coltrane

Before the NCAA Tournament I thought it would be fun to get a few people, give them $100 in Monopoly money, and have a blind bid on the tournament teams. The entry fee was 1 “twinkie” per person. The high bidder on the team that won the tournament would receive 3 twinkies, and the 2nd highest bidder would break even and gets his/her twinkie back.

I thought it would be an interesting experiment in game theory — do you put all of your money on a big favorite? There’s a very real possibility that everyone else will want to do that too, so you’d better bid a lot or risk wasting your investment. Alternately you could spread your money around, but what would be the minimum to “claim” each team?

As an added twist, it was possible to bid on “The Field”. “The Field” was defined as every team “leftover” that nobody had expressly bid upon. So — do you bid a lot on The Field, or do you value certain teams enough to put a nominal amount of money on them and hope you don’t get outbid?

The Outcome Of The Bidding:

Team CW BD AJC AS Total Result
Louisville 30 30 12 72 Win Champ
Ohio St 20 10 6 20 56 Elite 8
Georgetown 20 10 20 50 1st Round
Florida 20 10 16 46 Elite 8
Kansas 20 22 42 Sweet 16
The Field 10 10 2 20 42 Final Four
Duke 16 20 36 Elite 8
Indiana 10 12 22 Sweet 16
Miami 2 20 22 Sweet 16
Michigan 2 2 Champ Game
Michigan St 2 2 Sweet 16
Syracuse 2 2 Final Four
Wisconsin 2 2 1st Round
Gonzaga 2 2 Round of 32
Pittsburgh 2 2 1st Round

I [AJC] went with the strategy of trying to get as many teams as possible. I feel like I did pretty well for myself — I “won” Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, and Pittsburgh. If Florida, Duke, or Miami won the tournament I’d still break even. Overall it represented two #1 seeds plus a bunch of good quality to back it up. That “quality” wound up being half of the Final Four teams (Michigan and Syracuse.)

But what was I thinking with Pittsburgh? Bleh.. at least they were cheap.

Ultimately my strategy didn’t work out, of course. The #1 overall seed in the tournament was Louisville, and they did indeed win it all. (Though I was feeling pretty smart when Michigan was up 12 in the first half of he championship game.) Louisville was the team that we bid the most upon in total, and there’s definitely a good correlation between where we chose to invest and how wells the teams actually fared. The biggest “overperformers” were Michigan and Syracuse, while Georgetown was the biggest letdown.

Anyhow, I had fun with it. Hopefully somebody will want to try it again next year.

Vegas, Briefly

by A.J. Coltrane

I’m back, and recovered, from Vegas. I can talk like a normal person again. I went 29-19 this year (60.4%), betting almost every game. That figure includes money lines that I won, which raised my “effective percentage” to 63.7%. That’s pretty good, though it’s about on par with how I’ve done each of the last two years. I’d estimate I’m now “effectively” winning about 65% over the last three years.

To avoid TL;DR, here are a few bullet points about what worked, what didn’t, and some other general observations and thoughts.

1.  I got in the neighborhood of “paying for the trip” this year. To actually succeed in paying for the vacation I’m going to need to lay off the stuff I don’t have a strong opinion on, and (probably) increase the size of the bets somewhat. I feel comfortable with the idea of increased bet size, though I’m not sure that everyone that I travel with shares that opinion. I may have to make little bets on the “unsure” pile, since I’m not in Vegas *not* to gamble.

2.  While watching the games we usually play video poker at the bar. One of our traveling companions was dealt a Royal Flush. Dealt! No “holding” cards.. just lots of hearts. She said she just saw “heart, heart, heart, heart, heart” and held them all. At that point she realized she had a Royal Flush and had won $1000! I’ve seen people hit Royals before, but never someone we traveled with. According to at least one “odds” site, the probability of being dealt a Royal Flush (without a re-deal) is one in 649,740. I’ll need to wait several lifetimes to see it again.

This guy got busted for trafficking.
This guy got busted for trafficking.

3. The betting public had no idea what to do with VCU all weekend, and *that* turned  into absolute no-brainer profit on both games. Here’s why:  VCU’s entire offense and defense is/was predicated upon creating turnovers and scoring off of turnovers. In the first game they played Akron. The line had VCU favored by about 8. Akron’s problem is that their star point guard had been arrested (and suspended) for trafficking (5 pounds(!)) of marijuana. For whatever reason, the public didn’t notice, or didn’t react strongly enough — VCU forced 21 turnovers, gave up 5, led 50-25 at the half en route to winning 88-42.

In the next game VCU was a slight underdog against Michigan. Michigan had the lowest turnover percentage in the country this year. Final:  Michigan 78, VCU 53. Thank you VCU!

4.  I took the Oregon money line at +160 against St Louis. There were a couple of Vegas natives sitting to our right betting the games as well. When I told one I had the Oregon money line he gave me the “You’re smoking crack” hand gesture. Final score Oregon 74, St Louis 57. That one felt pretty good. (Nice guys, actually.)

5.  The worst losses are the close losses. Temple started well against Indiana. Temple looked “longer”, quicker, and skilled enough to play with Indiana. The halftime score was Temple by three. The sportsbook published a second-half line of Temple +8.5. I couldn’t believe it — Temple didn’t even have to win, they just had to lose by less than 6 (or win)! It seemed too good to be true, though it also looked really really strange. I paced back and forth a few times from the book to the bar, and eventually asked our bartender what he thought of that bet. He said that if it were him, he couldn’t make that bet  fast enough. I went ahead with it…

Indiana trailed by four with 2:56 to go. That means I was “10 points up” on that bet with less than three minutes to go. Indiana outscored Temple 10-0 the rest of the game, and I lost by 1/2 point. Temple did literally everything wrong, and Indiana did everything right. What a crusher.

6. I thought Colorado State would be able to take care of the ball against Louisville and keep it competitive. Colorado State had a low turnover rate this year… Wrong, wrong, wrong. Louisville 82, Colorado State 56.

7.  Creighton met their “better” doppleganger in Duke. Creighton had been a great 3-point shooting team all year, but they went 2-19 against Duke and lost 50-66. The line was 6, so that was an easy one to pick. After the tournament ends I’m going to do a post about the heavily 3-dependent teams and what happened to them.

Syracuse-Indiana post-game thought:  Cody Zeller does not have a strong lower body. It showed against Temple, and it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Syracuse swallowed him up. He got his shot blocked about six times against Syracuse. (He finished 4-10 against Temple and 3-10 against Syracuse, though he shot 62.3% during the season.) I think he may struggle at the NBA level, unless he gets a *lot* stronger.

In a not-unrelated note:  Kelly Olynyk went 8-22 while losing to Wichita State. (Though he did score 26 points.) Olynyk made 62.9% of his shots during the season.

Vegas And Some New Recipe Categories

by A.J. Coltrane

I’ve added three new subcategories as children to the “Recipes” tag:  Breads, Pizza & Flatbreads, and Asst Doughs. Most of the existing “dough” recipes fit reasonably cleanly into one of those subcategories. (The Grissini recipe wound up categorized as “Breads”, which I guess is ok.)

The Vegas gambling went fairly well last week, I won over 62% of my college basketball bets. The most interesting “miss” was a fun three-team parlay, combining Wisconsin to beat Syracuse (+150), Florida to beat Marquette (+110), and Louisville to beat Michigan State (+190). I bet $20 to win $324. Wisconsin lost by 1, which killed the parlay. The other two teams won. On the bright side, most of the games from the weekend seemed to follow the “script”, so that’s reassuring for next year. (Exceptions:  Baylor down 20 at the half against Kentucky. That, and Florida shooting 8-11 from 3 point range in the first half, then going 0-9 in the second half to lose to Louisville. I was feeling good about my Florida bets at halftime…)

Three fun MLB prop bets that we put a little money on before leaving town:

More Combined Hits, Homers, and RBIs:  Evan Longoria over Adrian Beltre. (Pick em). Beltre officially turns 33 on April 7. Longoria is 26. I’ll take the 7+ year age difference, thank you.

More Wins:  Jered Weaver over Cliff Lee. (Giving 1/2 win).

More Strikeouts:  Felix Hernandez over Tim Lincecum. (And Lincecum’s inconsistent velocity over the last couple of years.)

The Mavs And The Spread

by A.J. Coltrane

From the Wall Street Journal:   The Dallas Mavericks covered against the spread 15 times in a row(!) prior to Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Finals.

The Mavs were 5 point favorites in Game 2, but lost to the game and ended the streak.

The WSJ piece has an odd title – “The Team Las Vegas Can’t Figure Out”. But then there’s this:

“There’s clearly a major disconnect between perception and reality here,” said Andrew Garrood, executive director of Las Vegas Sports Consultants. “It’s safe to say we won’t see anything like this again for a long time.”


Bell said the Mavs have been receiving a boost from the bookmakers this postseason because of their opponents. Their first-round foe, the Portland Trail Blazers, were a media darling and a popular pick to win among analysts and fans. Meanwhile, the Lakers are a marquee team that typically receives a disproportionate number of bets, which swayed the line a bit in Dallas’s favor throughout that series.

Representing the "206" - Jason Terry of the Mavericks.

I think the excerpts above spell it out pretty well — the title of the piece is something of a misnomer:  It isn’t Las Vegas that hasn’t figured out the Mavs, it’s all the squares who continue to bet for the “media darlings.” It’s the same reason that I have to be truly convinced before I’m going to place a bet on any of the following teams:  Yankees, Red Sox, Cowboys, Notre Dame, or whoever is the current “flavor of the month” in the media.

The piece would have been better served with a different, more appropriate title:  “The Wrong Way To Bet On Sports”

But that would stink of helping to teach people how to gamble on sports, and there’s no way they could publish it like that.

Seahawks To Win 8 Games, More Or Less

by Coltrane

The Vegas over/under for Seahawks wins is 7.5.

The ESPN experts all pick the Seahawks to finish 3rd in the NFC West.  This John Clayton quote is typical of the overall opinions:

DIVISION FINISH: 3 Pete Carroll isn’t loaded with talent as he was as the USC head coach, but he has a nice plan to rebuild the Seahawks. As long as Matt Hasselbeck stays healthy, Carroll could squeeze out seven or eight wins.

Hasselbeck won’t be in Seattle the next time the Seahawks are competitive.  Charlie Whitehurst seems to have the “correct” size, arm, high release, and mobility to be at least an adequate replacement when the time comes.  My concern with Whitehurst (from what little I’ve seen) is that his throws “sail” when he loses his release point.  Jeff Kemp had the same issue when he was with Seattle, and that didn’t turn out well.

Charlie Whitehurst: Looking the part of "The Quarterback."

What makes the Seahawks a .500 team?  For reference, grades NFL players on a 1 to 100 scale.   A grade of 90 or above is considered “Elite”; 80-89 is “Outstanding”, and 75-79 is a “Solid Starter.”

The five highest rated Seahawks:

Lofa Tatupu – 79

T.J. Houshmandzadeh – 79

Aaron Curry – 78

Brandon Mebane – 78

Marcus Trufant – 78

And those are the studs.  

Bill Simmons ranks the Seahawks QBs 28th out of the 32-team league.