The Pi-Rate Ratings

February 20, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For February 20, 2020

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:11 am

Thursday’s Games

 

Home

Visitor

Spread

Albany

UMBC

5.4

Appalachian St.

South Alabama

4.0

Arizona

Oregon St.

12.8

Arizona St.

Oregon

-0.6

Binghamton

UMass Lowell

-2.6

BYU

Santa Clara

16.4

Cal Poly

UC Davis

-2.7

Cal St. Fullerton

UC Santa Barbara

-2.9

Charleston Southern

Campbell

0.9

Cleveland St.

Northern Kentucky

-6.7

Coastal Carolina

Troy

7.9

Colorado

USC

8.6

Delaware

Northeastern

-0.3

Denver

Oral Roberts

-8.2

Drexel

Hofstra

-4.4

Eastern Illinois

Murray St.

-4.6

Eastern Kentucky

Tennessee St.

-0.4

Eastern Washington

Sacramento St.

7.0

Gonzaga

San Francisco

18.1

Hampton

Gardner-Webb

-4.5

High Point

Presbyterian

0.5

Idaho

Northern Arizona

-2.2

Indiana St.

Northern Iowa

-3.3

Iowa

Ohio St.

1.6

Jacksonville

Lipscomb

4.0

Jacksonville St.

Southeast Missouri

9.8

James Madison

Elon

3.1

Liberty

North Florida

9.6

Morehead St.

Belmont

-11.9

Nebraska

Michigan St.

-10.9

New Hampshire

Hartford

3.4

NJIT

Stetson

2.7

North Alabama

Kennesaw St.

14.7

Northern Colorado

Southern Utah

7.2

Portland

Pepperdine

-5.3

Portland St.

Montana St.

3.7

Purdue Fort Wayne

Omaha

-0.5

Radford

UNC Asheville

11.3

Saint Mary’s

Loyola Marymount

16.1

Seattle

Grand Canyon

4.1

SIU-Edwardsville

Austin Peay

-9.9

South Carolina Upstate

Longwood

1.5

Southern Illinois

Evansville

9.4

Stony Brook

Vermont

-3.7

Temple

Connecticut

0.2

Tennessee Tech

UT Martin

0.7

Texas St.

Georgia Southern

6.1

Towson

William & Mary

5.2

UC Riverside

Hawaii

2.0

UT Arlington

Georgia St.

1.8

Utah

UCLA

2.3

Utah Valley

Cal St. Bakersfield

1.7

Washington

Stanford

2.7

Wichita St.

South Florida

11.1

Youngstown St.

Wright St.

-5.8

 

Thursday’s Key Games

Maybe the best top games of the week

 

Time (EST)

Network

Home

Visitor

7:00 PM

ESPN

Iowa

Ohio St.

7:00 PM

ESPN+

Liberty

North Florida

7:00 PM

ESPNU

Stony Brook

Vermont

8:00 PM

ESPN+

Texas St.

Georgia Southern

9:00 PM

ESPN

Arizona St.

Oregon

9:00 PM

ESPN2

Colorado

USC

 

The Big Three Mid-Major Conference Games on TV Tonight

Liberty vs. North Florida–The winner most likely will end up with the number one seed in the Atlantic Sun Conference.  North Florida won the first contest 71-70 in a tight game that stayed close for 40 minutes.  At the time, Liberty was 19-1 and on the cusp of becoming ranked in the top 25.

North Florida’s starting lineup all average double figure points per game.  The Ospreys are by far the best shooting team in the A-Sun, both inside and outside the 3-point line and at the foul line.

Liberty has the best defense in the A-Sun, and the Flames go seven deep with little drop in talent.  With the A-Sun Tournament played on the home courts of the higher seeds, and with these two teams being the two powers of the league, the NCAA Tournament bid will be decided when these two probably play for a third time.  Home court advantage will probably decide it.  Liberty has the edge tonight, which should give the Flames the edge when they play again in a couple weeks.

 

Stony Brook vs. Vermont–Vermont has a 2 1/2 game lead over second place Stony Brook, so this is a must win for Stony Brook as far as the regular season conference race goes.  The conference tournament is played on the home courts of the higher seeds, so getting the #1 seed means home court advantage all the way to the Championship.

These are the top two programs in the league.  Vermont has won 14 of their last 15 games, and they have a conference scoring margin of +15.8 points per game.  The Catamounts dominate every important analytic statistic in the America East Conference.  

On paper, Stony Brook doesn’t have the resume of a team that looks capable of beating Vermont.  The Seawolves barely hold control of the number two spot in the league, but they have done something no other A-East team has done–they beat Vermont, and they did it in Burlington no less.

 

Texas St. vs. Georgia Southern–These two teams are still in contention for the regular season Sun Belt Conference Championship, as they are tied for third with 10-6 SBC records, just two games behind league leader Little Rock and one game behind second place Georgia St.  

Texas St. has one of the top players in the league in senior guard Nijel Pearson.  Pearson combines excellent long range shooting with the ability to get inside and score on the offensive side and fight for rebounds on the defensive end.  Earlier this season, he almost single-handily kept Texas St. in the game at Baylor, and the Bobcats scared the top-ranked team in Waco before finally losing by nine points.

Georgia Southern has a small but quick lineup, and the Eagles are fun to watch play.  This could be the most exciting game of the night.

 

 

January 23, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For January 23, 2020

Games Being Played Thursday

Home

Visitor

Spread

UNC Asheville

Radford

-4.4

Ohio St.

Minnesota

7.7

Hofstra

Delaware

6.7

Stetson

NJIT

-0.1

Kennesaw St.

North Alabama

-6.1

William & Mary

James Madison

10.2

Cleveland St.

Green Bay

-3.1

Detroit

IUPUI

7.0

Winthrop

USC Upstate

16.3

Northeastern

Drexel

7.4

Oakland

Illinois Chicago

5.7

Youngstown St

Milwaukee

3.6

Murray St.

Belmont

-1.1

High Point

Gardner-Webb

-6.5

Old Dominion

Florida Intl.

3.0

Central Connecticut

Sacred Heart

-13.4

Merrimack

Fairleigh Dickinson

7.4

Long Island

St. Francis (PA)

0.6

St. Francis (NY)

Robert Morris

-3.2

North Florida

Liberty

-4.9

Charlotte

Florida Atlantic

4.9

Bryant

Wagner

8.7

Hampton

Campbell

-2.3

Elon

Towson

-5.8

Lipscomb

Jacksonville

2.2

Charleston Southern

Presbyterian

5.9

Middle Tennessee

Louisiana Tech

-12.0

North Texas

UTSA

10.1

Rice

UTEP

-2.0

Arkansas St.

South Alabama

0.2

Omaha

Western Illinois

11.6

South Dakota

Purdue Fort Wayne

7.1

Utah

Washington

-3.4

North Dakota

Denver

9.3

UAB

Southern Miss

8.7

Indiana

Michigan St.

-3.4

Austin Peay

Tennessee St.

7.5

Missouri St.

Valparaiso

3.4

SIU-Edwardsville

SEMO

0.8

Tennessee Tech

Morehead St.

-3.2

Eastern Illinois

UT-Martin

8.9

Jacksonville St.

Eastern Kentucky

8.8

Grand Canyon

Seattle

1.6

Idaho St.

Montana

-1.8

Weber St.

Montana St.

0.2

Houston

UConn

9.1

Colorado

Washington St.

12.8

Loyola Marymount

Portland

5.6

Santa Clara

Pepperdine

3.8

Cal St. Bakersfield

Utah Valley

6.2

 

Interesting Analytics

Every year at this time, the PiRates begin looking at some of the advanced analytics that we have used to gauge potential NCAA Tournament success.

Our R+T Rating ™, is our personal creation that attempts to predict how many more opportunities to score a team might have in a game as compared to an average team.  It relies on rebounding margin and turnover margin with an added emphasis on steals and protecting the ball from being stolen by the other team.  It attempts to estimate the potential extra points available to the team due to the “hustle stats.”

In the past, when a team has an R+T of 15.0 or better, that team has the ability to score on enough extra opportunities to go on a big spurt and put another team away.  When UCLA was the dominant basketball team during John Wooden’s runs, their R+T stats were always at the top of the nation.  When they had the 1964 small lineup that went 30-0, the 2-2-1 zone press created turnover after turnover by the opponent with a lot of steals.  These extra opportunities prevented the other team from scoring, but they also led to easy fast break points, and the Bruins had incredible scoring spurts in every game, the most famous being the incredible 16-0 run in just over two minutes before halftime that put NCAA Championship Game with Duke out of reach.

The Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) and Bill Walton years saw the Bruins totally dominating on the glass while still getting a nice number of steals and forcing turnovers.  These UCLA teams frequently had 20 extra scoring opportunities a game, and with Jabbar and Walton both hitting better than 60% from the field, the Bruins were unstoppable.

Long after UCLA won those 10 titles, the ability to get extra scoring opportunities has remained consistently and vitally important in NCAA Tournament games.  To get to the Big Dance, teams must display an ability to play very tough defense, and teams with good offenses and little else become pretenders when every opponent they face will play much better defense than the average opponent in the regular season.  Thus, the ability to create extra scoring opportunities and the ability to prevent extra scoring opportunities take precedence over just being able to shoot the ball more accurately than the opponent.

Obviously, we do not throw the baby out with the bath water.  Shooting is still quite important.  After all, the object of the game is to put the ball in the basket more than the other team.  If a team gets 10 more chances to put the ball in the basket, but they shoot like our Captain trying to putt at Pebble Beach, 30 more chances might not be enough to overcome the inaccurate marksmanship.  Obviously, shooting ability and ability to prevent made shots remain important.

Then, there is the third key factor.  If State only plays Southeast Northwest Community College and similar teams, they will inevitably end up with impressive stats.  If Tech plays Kansas, Duke, Maryland, Oregon, and Kentucky out of conference, it is going to be difficult, make that impossible, to end up with stats as impressive at State.  Thus strength of schedule must play as important a roll as the other two stats.  Think of schedule strength in the same vein as class in thoroughbred horse racing, where a winner of a claiming race is not going to compete well against the fifth place winner from a Grade 1 Classic race, even if in the last two races, their times for 1 1/8 miles were about the same.

Let’s put all three key stats together and look at a sampling of teams that are producing quality numbers across the board.

 

Team

R+T

TS%

SOS

Baylor

19.1

5.8

55.1

Butler

15.2

8.8

57.2

UC-Irvine

20.2

5.6

50.4

Duke

21.5

8.4

55.7

Gonzaga

27.7

10.1

49.0

Houston

25.5

4.2

54.4

Illinois

22.2

6.2

55.4

Indiana

20.6

3.2

54.7

Kansas

18.5

10.9

62.7

Kentucky

16.2

8.3

52.2

Liberty

15.9

12.6

43.4

Louisiana State

16.9

6.6

54.4

Maryland

16.7

5.2

58.4

Michigan State

21.6

10.2

57.7

New Mexico State

18.3

4.3

49.3

Oral Roberts

16.3

2.1

53.6

Rutgers

19.7

6.2

55.7

San Diego State

18.4

9.9

49.6

Southern Utah

15.7

8

48.2

Stephen F. Austin

22.5

2.9

42.7

Utah State

20.8

6.5

52.3

West Virginia

21.7

5.9

58.8

What you see above are the R+T ratings for 22 teams in column 1.  The formula for R+T is:  (R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T, where R is rebounding margin per game, S is steals per game, Opp S is opponents’ steals per game, and T is turnover margin (Opponents Turnovers minus Teams’  Turnovers divided by games played).

Another excellent formula that estimates extra scoring chances per game is the formula by the brilliant Jordan Sperber, creator of Hoop Vision.  Jordan’s formula is: (Team’s OEff)-((100.9/49.0)*(Team’s eFG%)),  where OEff is offensive efficiency, the number 100.9 represents the average Division 1 team’s offensive efficiency, the number 49.0 represents the average Division 1 team’s effective FG%, and eFG% is effective FG%.  The result represents the extra chances to utilize effective FG%, and like everything else Jordan does, it is a great tool.  By the way, Jordan has worked for my number one rated Mid-Major coach of last year (Eric Musselman), and my number one rated Mid-Major coach of this year (Chris Jans).  His analytics have helped both coaches strategize the way they coach.  Check out Jordan’s website at: https://hoopvision.substack.com

In column 2 above, you see TS%.  This stands for true shooting percentage, which in this case actually stands for the difference in the team’s offensive TS% and the defensive TS%.  To calculate TS%, the formula is: (100 * points scored) /  (2 * [FG Attempts + {.475 * FT Attempts}]) 

The final column represents strength of schedule.  50 is considered an average schedule strength.  55 is considered a strong schedule strength.  60 is considered a tough schedule strength.  Below 45 is considered too weak to consider a team a legitimate contender in the Big Dance.

Gonzaga has the top R+T rating in the nation at the present time.  Their TS% difference is in the top 10, so the Bulldogs should be considered a key contender to run the table in the NCAA Tournament this year, correct?  No, that is not correct.  Gonzaga’s strength of schedule (SOS) is too low.  At 49.0, the other two stats must be discounted.  Gonzaga’s remaining schedule will not give the Bulldogs enough increase in SOS to take their R+T and TS% stats seriously.  This does not mean they will lose to a 16-seed in the first game.  What it means is that when they get to the Sweet 16 and face an opponent with a better SOS and strong R+T and TS%, they will be ripe for the upset.

Baylor, Butler, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan State, Rutgers, and West Virginia have the best resumes today.  They have excellent R+T, TS%, and SOS numbers.  It should be no surprise that the Big 12 and Big Ten are the two best conferences so far this season.  

Kentucky and LSU fall just short of the elites in this test.  Neither team has the important 55 or better SOS mark, although both teams could eventually get over that key number.

Among the mid-major teams to keep an eye on, there are four teams in the West that could be sleepers for the Sweet 16 if they make the dance.  UC-Irvine, New Mexico State, Southern Utah, and Utah State all have strong R+T and TS% numbers with SOS that isn’t totally weak.  Contrast that to Liberty and Stephen F. Austin, two teams where the schedule strength doesn’t cut it.

Then, there are two teams high in the rankings from the lower tier of major conferences.  Houston and San Diego State have excellent numbers, but their schedule strengths make them both on the outside looking in when compared to the power conference teams.  Frequently, teams like these two can make a run to the second weekend of the tournament, and once or twice a decade, they will sneak into the Final Four.  However, when it comes to cut the nets and hear “One Shining Moment,” the happy team is one that comes from one of the top 5 power conferences.

As of today, the top 5 power conferences are: The Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Atlantic Coast, and Southeastern Conferences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 16, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For January 16, 2020

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 6:30 am

Power Conference & Top 25 Teams Playing Thursday

 

Home

Visitor

Spread

Memphis

Cincinnati

4.7

Arizona

Utah

14.3

Arizona St.

Colorado

-1.7

BYU

San Diego

18.1

USC

California

11.0

Gonzaga

Santa Clara

18.4

Washington

Oregon St.

4.1

 

 

January 5, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For January 5, 2020

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 5:16 am

Power Conference & Top 25 Teams Playing Sunday

 

Home

Visitor

Spread

Saint Joseph’s

Dayton

-18.6

Michigan St.

Michigan

7.4

Xavier

St. John’s

6.9

Colorado

Oregon St.

8.5

Minnesota

Northwestern

11.0

Illinois

Purdue

-0.2

Washington

USC

4.3

January 2, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For January 2, 2020

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:45 am

Power Conference & Top 25 Teams Playing Thursday

 

Home

Visitor

Spread

Purdue

Minnesota

5.7

Michigan St.

Illinois

11.2

La Salle

Dayton

-11.3

Utah

Oregon St.

-0.1

Colorado

Oregon

-0.7

Portland

Gonzaga

-22.3

Washington

UCLA

10.3

Washington St.

USC

-2.8

Stanford

California

11.2

San Francisco

Saint Mary’s

-3.5

 

Note 1–We have been asked to explain the spread and when it is positive or negative.  When the spread is positive, the home team is favored by the amount shown.  When the spread is negative, the visiting team is favored by the amount shown.

Note 2–While we basically just issue spreads for games involving opponents from the power conferences or teams in the top 25 of the rankings, our ratings are easily usable for all Division 1 teams and all Division 1 games.  Simply subtract the visiting team power rating from the home team, and add 2 to 6 points for home court advantage.  For a typical mid-major or low-major team, the home court advantage will be 2.5 to 3.5 points. 

For a typical power conference team, the home court advantage will be 3 to 5 points.  For a team with an incredible home court advantage like Gonzaga, Kentucky, and Kansas, use 5 to 6 points.  These numbers can fluctuate based on the opponent.  For instance, if Kansas State visits Kansas, the home court advantage is reduced, because the trip is not taxing to the Wildcats.  To the contrary, if a school like Vermont hosts a team from the West Coast, their regular 3.5 point advantage might be moved to 4.5 or even 5 points.

Updated Ratings will be published Friday around Noon in the Eastern Time Zone.

Also, a new Bracketology list will be published Friday afternoon.

August 28, 2019

PiRate Ratings Picks For August 29-September 2, 2019

Last week, the PiRate Ratings did not make any selections on the two FBS games on the schedule, but our experimental Davey19 system made its first ever pick, and it chose a good one.  The computer program chose Hawaii at +11 against Arizona, and UH not only covered the spread, they won the game outright.

So, entering official week 1 of the college season, the PiRate Ratings stay at $0, while the Davey19 program sits at +$100.

With no NFL games for another weekend, we will jump into the water and stay in the shallow end of the betting pool this week with a minimum of plays.

PiRate Ratings Picks

#1: Money Line Parlay @ +189

SMU over Arkansas St.

South Carolina over North Carolina

 

#2: Money Line Parlay @ +146

Utah over BYU

Purdue over Nevada

Colorado over Colorado St.

Rutgers over UMass

 

#3: Money Line Parlay @ +182

Pittsburgh over Virginia

N. Carolina St. over East Carolina

Missouri over Wyoming

 

#4: 13-Point Teaser @ 10-14

Favorite

Underdog

Spread

Pick

Rutgers

U Mass

28.5

U Mass

Colorado

Colorado St.

0.5

Colorado

Virginia Tech

Boston College

18.5

Boston College

Florida St.

Boise St.

17.5

Boise St.

 

Davey19 Selections

Straight Selections Against the Spread

Favorite

Underdog

Spread

Pick

Virginia Tech

Boston College

5.5

Boston College

Florida St.

Boise St.

5.5

Boise St.

Southern Cal

Fresno St.

13.5

Fresno St.

 

10-Point Teaser @10-12

Favorite

Underdog

Spread

Pick

Army

Rice

11.5

Army

Illinois

Akron

28

Akron

N. Carolina St.

East Carolina

6.5

North Carolina St.

 

10-Point Teaser @10-12

Favorite

Underdog

Spread

Pick

Alabama

Duke

44.5

Duke

Michigan

Middle Tennessee

45

Middle Tennessee

Georgia

Vanderbilt

30.5

Vanderbilt

 

 

 

November 23, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–November 24-28, 2016

Tiny Profit

After a week in which we won two of our five selected parlays, our profit for the season has fallen to a slim margin, but it is a profit.  For the year, we have invested $4,900 in imaginary dollars, and our return has been $5,152.  The $252 in imaginary profit gives us a return on investment of 5%.

This week, we are going with six parlay selections.  One of these is a five-game parlay, and we have not yet won a five-gamer this year.  We have won multiple four-game parlays this year.

November 22-28, 2016
1. College Parlay at +175
Oregon over Oregon St.
North Texas over UTEP
 
2. College Parlay at +126
Bowling Green over Buffalo
Maryland over Rutgers
Penn St. over Michigan St.
Miami (Fla.) over Duke
Alabama over Auburn
 
3. College Parlay at +173
Arkansas over Missouri
North Carolina over NC St.
Arizona St. over Arizona
 
4. College Parlay at +183
Louisiana Tech over Southern Miss.
Wisconsin over Minnesota
Colorado over Utah
South Florida over Central Florida
UTSA over Charlotte
 
5. NFL Parlay at +189
Detroit over Minnesota
Tennessee over Chicago
 
6. NFL Parlay at +140
Buffalo over Jacksonville
New Orleans over Los Angeles
N.Y. Giants over Cleveland

November 10, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–November 10-14, 2016

Emulating Ted Williams
The members of the PiRate Ratings include a couple of baseball analytic specialists that work during the Major League baseball season as “Moneyball” scouts. You know the type we talk about–when you see a baseball defense shift on a pull hitter, and the hitter hits a sharp liner that bounces into the short outfield, but instead of this becoming a base hit, it is a simple ground out, and the fans all boo because they believe this ruins the game, you can thank some of us for giving the baseball team the data that tells the manager where to place that infielder in the short outfield.

There is a lot more to it. How likely is the player to hit a ground ball on a 2-strike pitch as opposed to when he has no strikes or one strike? How much does it hurt or possibly help the starting pitcher the second and third time through a lineup of opposing batters? Our metric specialists can tell you. Of course, the famous batters’ heat maps are part of the services provided. The opposing pitcher, catcher, and coaching staff know that Joe Lefty hits .150 on sliders on the outside corner at the knees and when he does hit the ball, 95.6% of the time it is a ground ball in the 56 hole (the area halfway between where the third baseman and shortstop normally align.

So, when we tell you we know for a fact how often a .299 hitter will play in game 162 as opposed to a .300 hitter, and how much that .299 hitter will be swinging away on the final game of the season, we know that the .299 hitter in Game 162 will only take a walk if it is intentional, and the .300 hitter will do just about anything to stay out of game 162. Even the .301 or .302 hitter will want to be taken out after a hitless at bat that drops his average to anything above .2995.

Ted Williams was an exception to this rule, and for that reason, we admire greatly the “Greatest Hitter That Ever Lived.” In 1941, with his average just a fraction above .400, he did not have to play on the final day of the season. His manager told him he would sit him to protect the .400 average. After a few expletives delivered to the manager, Teddy Ball Game played not just one game but both games of a meaningless doubleheader.

Williams was not one to sit out a game just to pad his stats. The fact that his average only rounded up to .400 from .39955 also motivated him to play. So, what happened that Sunday afternoon? He got a hit in his first at bat of game one, and that brought his average over .400, with no rounding needed. Manager Joe Cronin told him to sit, and Willliams cussed and said he was playing both games from start to finish. Williams continued to hit and hit the rest of the afternoon and finished the season at .407.

What does this have to do with picking football games in parlays, you may ask? It is very simple. Last week, we selected six parlays all at better than 12-10 odds, and we won all six games! The mythical payout for this 6-0 week was a return on investment of 151%. For the season, that brought our batting average into positive territory, and we now show a 12% return on investment for the season.

We could easily ask the manager to take us out of the lineup and be safe knowing that we beat Las Vegas for the year. A 12% ROI is 5% better than the Dow Jones Industrial Average year-to-date return, and we would feel safe in saying that the DJIA is not going to return 12% this year.

Call us the Ted Williams of parlay pickers. We have no intention of sitting out and guaranteeing a winning season. First and foremost, if we go 6-0 every week for the rest of the year or the rest of our existence, it won’t be any different from going 0-6 forever, because as we hope by now you can recite in your sleep, “We NEVER really place monetary bets on anything.” Okay, if you say options in the options market are bets, then maybe you can say this, but the options market is different because it is a legitimate profession that supplies an essential function to the workings of the American Corporate economy.

Second, what fun would it be if we did not issue our wacky picks every week. So, you get picks again today, and you will get them next week and every week there is a full schedule of games. We hope to stay on the plus side of 0, but the important thing is to just enjoy the picks and give our reasons for why we believe out math might help us earn an extra few percentage points.

Therefore, here are our selections for this week.

1. College Parlay at +140
Georgia Southern over Louisiana-Lafayette
Virginia Tech over Georgia Tech
Notre Dame over Army
Miami (Fla.) over Virginia

The key selection here is the Notre Dame game. In our opinion, the Irish should be about -900 against Army, but the numbers are heavily skewed in Army’s favor. Ponder this. Notre Dame played Navy last week and got to experience the multiple option schemes of the Midshipmen in live game action. You cannot ask for better defensive preparation to face this offense than getting to face it two weeks in a row. We are old enough to remember when one third of all college teams ran either the wishbone or split veer offense. There were many times where a defense faced this offense in consecutive weeks, and the second time around, the results were much better for the defense, especially when the second opponent was not as good as the first. The percentage chance of performing much better against the second option team was something like 85 to 90%.

As a case in point, let’s look at our hometown team in Nashville, Vanderbilt. The year was 1974, and Coach Steve Sloan was about to guide the Commodores to a 7-3-1 regular season, the best in 19 years. In September of that year, Vanderbilt faced number one Alabama, who ran the wishbone under Bear Bryant and would be on the way to their second consecutive 11-0 regular season.

Vanderbilt gave Alabama its toughest game of the regular season, actually stopping their wishbone attack in the second half, losing 23-10. The following week, the Commodores hosted a ranked Florida team that used the same wishbone offense under Coach Doug Dickey. The Gators were running over opponents, but on this day, they met a Vanderbilt defense that had stopped Alabama’s offense in the second half the week before. Florida tried running the fullback inside, and Vanderbilt stuffed the run. They tried the outside veer and regular option, and Vanderbilt repeatedly threw Gator backs for losses. Only a couple of costly turnovers prevented the Commodores from slaughtering the Gators that day, and the 24-10 Vandy win was not indicative with how well the Commodore defense controlled the game.

For this reason, we were almost ready to take Notre Dame -510 and put up all of our profit to date and call this our only pick for the week. We believe the Irish have a 97% chance of winning this game and that Army will struggle to top 15 points.

2. College Parlay at +149
Wyoming over UNLV
North Carolina over Duke
Charlotte over Rice
Colorado over Arizona

3. Colege Parlay at +141
Washington over USC
Miami (Ohio) over Buffalo
Central Florida over Cincinnati
Washington St. over California

4. NFL Parlay at +147
Baltimore over Cleveland
Washington over Minnesota
Arizona over San Francisco

November 3, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–November 3-7, 2016

Time to Punt
We thought we would be a bit clever and go with a slate of longshots that if just one selection won, it would be a big “fake” payout last week. Alas, we came up a game short in every selection, and none of the parlays cashed a winning ticket.

We also decided not to play any NFL parlays last week, and as luck would have it, most of the favorites won, and almost any parlay we might have played would have won. Such is life. But, even had every parlay we selected won last week, our bank account would have remained the same. As we try to make sure everybody reading this weekly entry, we do this just for fun and never wager a penny. These days, when it is almost time to ask, “Brother can you spare a dime,” betting anything on anything would be quite foolish. And, when happy days were here again way back when, we didn’t want to part with any of that hard-earned money. Thus, the only real advice we can give is, “work hard, be frugal, and save for the future.”

In past years, we have offered our predictions about a once-every-four-year event that happens the day following the first Monday in November. We are totally unsure of what will happen, next Tuesday, so we will not go there this year. Our hope is that whatever happens Tuesday, that the nation will come together and realize that we all must pull the rope from the same side and not against each other, or else we might lose what took 240 years to put together.

Now, returning to football and mathematics, here is what we are going with this week.

College Selections
We decided to select a couple of underdogs to win outright this week, but we did not bundle them together for the almost 6 to 1 odds. We’d rather guarantee a small profit if just one wins rather than a windfall requiring both to win.

1. Oklahoma State +133 vs. Kansas State.
Our members here believe this is a 50-50 tossup, so getting better than 13-10 odds is a plus in this game. Oklahoma State seems to play up to its competition, while Kansas State has been quiet this year and has not really played what many believe could be its best game. Also, when a team pulls off a big upset at home one week and then goes on the road to face a quality opponent the next week, the opponent usually has a better chance to win. That is why we believe the Money Line odds are so high, and because we believe this Cowboys’ team knows the Big 12 Championship is possible, we believe OSU will overcome the trend and win this one outright.

2. Arkansas +174 vs. Florida
Everything we just said about Oklahoma State could apply to Florida this week. The Gators come off a big win over rival Georgia and now go on the road to face a quality team. There are two differences in this selection from the selection above. Arkansas had a bye week last week, giving the Razorbacks two weeks to prepare for this game. Also, Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen is expected to be near 100% for this game after suffering a knee injury against Auburn two weeks ago. Arkansas needs an upset win in November to guarantee bowl eligibility, and we believe a team like Florida is vulnerable in this game. An Arky loss could mean the Hogs would be 5-6 when they go to Missouri in the final game.

3. 3-team parlay @ +121

Wyoming over Utah State
Colorado over UCLA
North Carolina over Georgia Tech

Wyoming beat Boise State last week in Laramie, and the Cowboys now have the Mountain Division title in their crosshairs after being the consensus choice to finish in last place. Coach Craig Bohl might be positioning himself to be a top candidate for some Power 5 conference job openings. In the past, numerous former Wyoming coaches have gone on to bigger and better things, because winning on a state with miles and miles of open space and few high school football programs says that this coach is a great recruiter, great organizer, and great leader.
Just down the road in Boulder, Mike MacIntyre has the Colorado Buffaloes within striking distance of winning the Pac-12 South Division. UCLA is a wounded bear and limping to the finish with what looks like a losing record this year. Josh Rosen’s season-ending injury seems like Deja vu for the men from Westwood, as just about every great quarterback since Gary Beban seems to have suffered an injury at some point. We’ll go with the Buffs to win big in Boulder in a prime-time Thursday night game.
North Carolina had an extra week to prepare for Georgia Tech’s spread option offense. That is worth an extra 7-10 points to the Tar Heel defense, and UNC doesn’t need that many extra points to make this a comfortable win for Coastal Division co-leader.

4. 4-team parlay @ +180

South Carolina over Missouri
Virginia Tech over Duke
Temple over Connecticut
BYU over Cincinnati
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp was barbecued for his job at Florida, and a lot of fans and media thought his hiring at South Carolina was a mistake. The Gamecocks were picked to finish in last place inthe SEC East and overall by many sources, yet it looks like USC will become bowl eligible rather than settle in last place. To get to six wins, a win over struggling Missouri is a must, and we think the Gamecocks are not too cocky approaching this game coming off the upset of Tennessee.

Virginia Tech probably must run the table in the ACC in November to win the Coastal Division, because North Carolina might not lose another conference game. The Hokies hold the tiebreaker, but it probably won’t matter if they are 6-2. Duke can still get a bowl bid, mostly because they hold the number one spot in APR scores and would be the first team in the 5-7 sweepstakes if 5-7 teams are needed to fill bowl spots (expect at least 1 if not 3 to 5). Tech is plain better in this game and should win by double digits.

Temple coach Matt Rhule is one of the 10 best college coaches in America, and a bigger fish will eventually offer him a large payday to become their coach. It could be that Rhule will hold out until a certain big state school in the Keystone State has a job opening (for awhile that appeared to be ready to happen in 2017). The Owls are back in control of the AAC East with wins over the top three contenders in the division. A win at U Conn this weekend basically wraps up the division title for the second consecutive year.

BYU travels to the Queen City to take on a Cincinnati team that has dissension, and when a team is not on the same page, they suffer results similar to what the Bearcats are experiencing this year. We’ll go with the school playing as a team to beat the maybe more talented team on their home field.

4. 3-team Parlay at +117

Penn State over Iowa
Old Dominion over Marshall
Tulsa over East Carolina
Penn State is still alive for the Rose Bowl! Who could have imagined this a month ago when Coach James Franklin was on a very hot seat and not looking all that happy to be in Happy Valley? A win over Ohio State was a major shot in the arm for this once great program trying to find its way back from purgatory. If the Nittany Lions run the table, which they are capable of doing, and if Michigan wins out and makes the College Football Playoffs, the Rose Bowl could easily select Penn State as its substitute. Of course, this means that the home team must defeat a so-so Iowa team that hasn’t played consistently well this year after a great 2015 season.

Old Dominion has not been to a bowl in its short time in FBS football, but that is going to change this year. The Monarchs need just one more win to become bowl eligible, and their schedule is very favorable for as many as nine wins overall and almost assuredly eight. Marshall is suffering through a rebuilding year at 2-6 and still must play the four best teams in the division. We like ODU to become bowl eligible this week.

Tulsa was a dark horse candidate in the AAC West in the preseason–not to win the division, but just to become bowl eligible for a second year in a row after finishing 6-7 last year. Having to face Ohio State, Houston, Memphis, Navy, and Central Florida on the road would leave the Golden Hurricanes in a precarious position where they would have to all their home games just to guarantee a repeat of 6-6 in the regular season. Coach Phillip Montgomery has quietly installed the spread offense he brought from Baylor and has TU in line to win the West after the Hurricanes knocked off Memphis at the Liberty Bowl last week. The closing schedule is difficult, and the big game at Navy looms next week. In order for that game to really matter, Tulsa must win this week over a rebuilding East Carolina team that will give TU all they can handle, because ECU still holds very slim chances of becoming bowl eligible, and at 3-5, they must win this game. We’ll go with the home team and their big play offense.

6. NFL 3-team Parlay at +178

Kansas City over Jacksonville
Dallas over Cleveland
New Orleans over San Francisco
The 2016 version of the NFL does not allow us (or anybody else) to state matter of factly that any team is a sure thing to beat their next opponent. So, we will not tell you that these three favorites are so much better than the underdogs they are playing that this is almost free money this week. With the way things are going in 2016, chances are rather high that one of these weaker underdogs will win at home.

Jacksonville looked like an expansion team against Tennessee a week ago, so the Jaguars will probably play their best game of the season this week. However, the Chiefs are starting to resemble their teams in the last couple years where they get better and better every week, and their defense is creating a lot of offense with their takeaways.

Dallas is only a slim favorite against winless Cleveland, even though the Cowboys currently hold the number one seed in the NFC! The only sure thing in Cleveland this year is that the Browns will use as many quarterbacks as Terry Francona used pitchers in the World Series.

San Francisco looked terrific in week one, shutting out the hapless Los Angeles Rams. Since then, they have looked worse than Cleveland, while the Rams find themselves in contention for the playoffs. New Orleans began the year looking the exact opposite–like a team destined to lose double-digit games and maybe bring on regime change in the Crescent City. Now, the Saints are breathing down the Falcons’ necks, and it figures that Drew Brees and company should win this game by double digits.

August 31, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–September 1-5, 2016

This just for fun weekly feature turned out to be our most widely read part of the PiRate Ratings last year, because just like a broken clock is correct twice a day, somehow our money line parlays returned 40% on investment last year. People began leaving comments at our sister site, http://www.piratings.webs.com , telling us they were using these picks to wager their hard-earned money. That disappointed us a lot, since we begged them not to do this.

This is a just for fun mathematical experiment. We have no inside information; we have no specialist in Vegas placing wagers anonymously for us like other heavy hitters. In fact, if we were to announce to any book that we would like to play our picks for real, they would bend over backwards to help us do just that. So, that should tell you not to use these picks. Just read what we have to offer. If there is some way to wager just for fun with your friends, by picking X number of teams to win outright, then maybe you can use our selections.

For those not aware of the Money Line, it is a line established to wager on who you think will win the game without having to cover a pointspread. Obviously, if Michigan plays Hawaii, you would take Michigan to win. As Lee Corso says, “Not so fast my friend.” In order to take Michigan to win the game outright over Hawaii, you have to give ridiculous odds to the book. To win just $100 on this proposal, you must put up $75,000! If you want to wager just $100 on Hawaii to win the game in the biggest upset in years, you would win $25,000 if it happened!

Obviously, this is an extreme outlier. Let’s look at a closer game this week. Vanderbilt hosts South Carolina tomorrow night. The current Money Line odds are listed as Vanderbilt -185 and South Carolina +165. This means that if you believe the Commodores will win, you must put up $185 to win $100 ($285, because you get your investment money back as well). If you believe South Carolina will win this game, then by wagering $100, you stand to win $165 ($265 as you will get your $100 back as well if you win) if the Gamecocks win.

A Money Line parlay allows you to combine multiple games in order to raise your total odds. The catch is that if you bet X amount of games as one parlay wager, all X teams must win. It is considered a sucker bet to play this type of exotic wager, but we are not suckers, because we bet $0 every week. We can choose and choose parlays every week, and we will not lose a penny. We hope you will not either.

Here is our plan of attack that worked rather well last year for us. We will select a host of favorites and bunch them into parlays where the odds are better than even money for us should we win the wager. For example, let’s say that you combine three favorites into one parlay wager. Team A is listed at -250. Team B is listed at -235. Team C is listed at -225. The parlay on this three-team wager would be +188, or you would put up $100 to win $188 ($288 because as you know by now, when you win, you get back your investment money as well.)

It is not easy for three teams at -250, -235, and -225 to all win in a given week. That’s the catch. It looks so easy, and there are some nice hotels in Vegas that have been built from funds donated to them by suckers that thought it looked so easy.

Okay, now that you have been warned, let’s get started with our first Money Line Parlays of the 2016 season. We are playing just two parlays this week, and by playing, we mean like it is Monopoly–it is just a fun game.

Parlay #1

This one gives us +167 odds on our $100 fantasy investment. Yep, if we win, we receive $267 from the fake book in fake Vegas.

Tulsa over San Jose St.
Wake Forest over Tulane
LSU over Wisconsin
West Virginia over Missouri

Parlay #2

This one gives us +127 odds on our $100 fantasy investment. So, if we win just one of these two parlays, it will be a profitable week.

Colorado over Colorado St.
Temple over Army
UTEP over New Mexico St.
Minnesota over Oregon St.

Okay, that’s $200 fake invested funds into two parlays. If we lose both, we are out our imaginary $200. If we win #1 and lose #2, we will have a nice profit in week one returning $267 on the $200 wagered (33.5% ROI). If we lose #1 and win #2, we will have a so-so profit in week one returning $227 on the $200 wagered (13.5% ROI). If somehow both parlays win, we will be taking a fake vacation to an imaginary mountain lodge after pulling off a return of $494 on the $200 wagered (147% ROI).

One final warning and plea–please do not wager real money on these picks. Use them for fun only. See if you can come up with your own and see for yourself how easy hard it is.

Happy football holiday weekend.

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