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by Bryan Leonard - 10/25/2005
I like matchups and situational handicapping. This includes such things as
strengths against weaknesses, bad lines, homecoming and revenge spots. Iâ€™m
not big into betting trends. Trends can be dangerous. Some novice sports
bettors think, â€œThis team has lost 3 straight against the number, theyâ€™re
more likely to cover this game.â€쳌 Well, you had better have more reasons on
your side to back a team than just something like that.
For instance, Rice is well coached under Ken Hatfield, a guy who knows how
to teach and gets the most out of what he has. The last few years Hatfield
has recognized that he doesnâ€™t have the skill position speed to institute
the spread offense, so Rice employs an option-oriented running offense. The
Owls started this season 0-3 SU/ATS, getting smoked on the road by UCLA,
Texas and UAB. Anyone thinking they were â€œdueâ€쳌 for a cover lost their money
in Game 4 as Rice lost 41-28 at East Carolina as a +5 dog.
Then Rice came home to play Tulsa â€“ itâ€™s FIRST home game of the season.
Thatâ€™s a fairly brutal schedule. Iâ€™m sure there were people jumping on the
â€œdue factorâ€쳌 trend bandwagon for Rice in that game. Well, they, too, lost
their money as Rice was smoked 41-21 as a +6 home dog. The Owls were again
spanked Saturday at home against Navy. Iâ€™m not suggesting
Rice will run the table, losing every game and failing to cover. Chances are
they will get a win and cover before the season ends.
But thatâ€™s the catch for trend bettors: WHEN will this happen? Itâ€™s
impossible to say based solely on the overdue trend factor. Texas is another
team that is currently running the table. Not only straight up, but against
the spread AND even with their totals. Texas has won and covered every game,
and even gone â€œoverâ€쳌 the total in all seven games. But you canâ€™t look at that
alone and figure the Longhorns will continue to cover and go â€œoverâ€쳌 every
game the rest of the season. Nor can you play the due factor and assume they
are more likely to not cover or go under the total, simply because it hasnâ€™t
Successful sports handicapping encompasses so many factors. I would urge
everyone to incorporate as much as possible when analyzing games. If you
like trends, well, sure trends can offer some value, such as if one team
seems to consistently win and cover over a conference rival every year, such
as Oklahoma had done to Texas the last five years. Of course, that run came
to an end a few weeks ago when a superior Texas team dominated a rebuilding
Sooners squad. Itâ€™s much smarter to look at as many factors as possible,
such as home field, weather, playing surface, coaching, strength versus
weaknesses and revenge spots. Winning ATS is about sifting through all the
pieces and finding several edges in a game, not just one angle.