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Biography

Al McMordie is the most honored technical handicapper in the country, with 43 handicapping championships since 1992.

Active since:  1992

Location:  Los Angeles, CA

Al McMordie is the most honored technical handicapper in the country.  Overall, in the last 29 years, Big Al has garnered 43 NUMBER ONE awards in football, basketball, baseball and hockey; 196 Top 5 finishes; and 374 Top 10 finishes.  Al is a featured handicapper at the most prestigious gambling web sites, and was a panelist on The Winning Edge and Proline Television shows from 2001 through 2010.  Additionally, in 2002, Big Al was featured in FHM Magazine, and he was featured in ESPN Magazine in 2010.

Some highlights:  

In 2021, Big Al ranked #2 in NCAA Basketball with a 157-115 record, and correctly forecast in the preseason that Baylor (at 12-1 odds) would win the NCAA championship.  

In 2020, Al predicted before the season that the Tampa Bay Lightning (at 7-1 odds) and Los Angeles Dodgers (at 4-1 odds ) would win their respective championships.  

In 2019, Al forecast that the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds) and Virginia Cavaliers (at 22-1 odds) would win championships.  

In 2018, Big Al ranked #1 in NFL Net Wins, with a 72-48 record, as documented by The Sports Monitor.  Al also correctly predicted the Golden State Warriors would win the NBA title.

And from 2012, when he also ranked #1 in the NFL with a 76.7% record on his Late Phone Service (as documented by The Sports Monitor), through 2020, Big Al’s won 9 straight NFL seasons.  

In 2017, Al finished #1 in the NHL, and also ranked #1 in the NHL in 2014.

In 2017, Al correctly predicted the Houston Astros (at 10-1 odds) would win the World Series.

In 2016, Al hit another NBA futures pick with Golden State (at 5-1 odds) to win the championship.

In 2015, Al also finished #1 (of 1727 entrants) in the Westgate Casino NFL Mini-Contest, and #2 in NCAA Football in 2016 (at both The Sports Monitor and Handicappers Watchdog).

In 2014, Al forecast the San Antonio Spurs (at 14-1 odds) would win the NBA title.

In 2012, Al won his futures prediction on the Kentucky Wildcats (at 11-2 odds) to win the NCAA basketball championship.

In 2011, Al correctly predicted the Green Bay Packers (at 10-1 odds) would win the Super Bowl.

In 2009, Al predicted the New York Yankees (at 5-2 odds) to win the World Series.

In 2007, Big Al won the $100,000 World Series of Sports Handicapping, and also finished #1 in NCAA Basketball March Madness.

In 2004, Al won the most prestigious handicapping contest in Las Vegas -- The Stardust Invitational.

In 2000, Al was 157-114 in football, including 10-0 (100%) in the NFL Playoffs.  Al has won 21 of his 29 football seasons.  Another highlight of Al's career came in 1997, when Big Al was ranked #1 by SPORTS WATCH in NCAA Football/NFL Win Percentage, and #1 in NCAA Football Regular Season/Bowls by THE SPORTS MONITOR.  Al has one of the best basketball records over the past 29 seasons (winning 21 of 29 seasons), and was ranked #1 in baseball for the 1996 and 2001 seasons.  For consistency across all four sports, you can count on Al McMordie.

Indeed, the Las Vegas Sporting News recognized Al in its December 17, 1996 issue, and wrote that: "[Al's] honesty, integrity, [and] skills...are obvious....We have been impressed by [his] uncanny ability to pick big underdogs that win the game straight-up....We've seen handicappers come and go, and get hot and cold, but no one has been as consistent over time as McMordie, and we strongly urge you to consider him as your handicapper."

Besides being a champion handicapper, Al McMordie is a corporate attorney, and earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan.  Al resides in Los Angeles, California.

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

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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2021 NCAA Tournament: An ATS Review of the First Four Rounds

Saturday, Apr 03, 2021

The 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament has been the most predictable, and least predictable at the same time.  On the most predictable end of things, it is no surprise that the two best teams - Gonzaga and Baylor - are in the Final Four, and rank as the favorites to be playing on Monday in the championship game.  On the least predictable side of things, this tournament has had 14 upsets by a team seeded at least 5 spots worse than its opponent, which is the most such upsets in the history of the tournament.  Likewise, this tournament has had the most wins by teams seeded 10 (or worse), as there have been 16 (not including the four "First Four" games).One of those double-digit seeds, #11 UCLA, has reached the Final Four, along with #1 seeds Gonzaga and Baylor, and #2 seed Houston.Let's take a look at first four rounds of this tournament, from a point spread perspective.  We'll not include the First Four games in this analysis.  And the other thing to take note of is that the 1st round game between #7 Oregon and #10 VCU was cancelled due to COVID-19, so there have been 59 games played, rather than the usual 60.Notwithstanding the fact that the double-digit seeds have done well, underdogs have only gone 30-29 ATS in this tournament, overall (34-29 ATS if you include the First Four games).  Here is a breakdown by seeds:#1 seeds:  12-2 SU, 10-4 ATS#2 seeds: 7-3 SU, 3-7 ATS#3 seeds: 5-4 SU, 3-6 ATS#4 seeds: 3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS#5 seeds: 5-4 SU, 4-5 ATS#6 seeds: 4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS#7 seeds: 2-4 SU, 2-4 ATS#8 seeds: 4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS#9 seeds: 1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS#10 seeds: 2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS#11 seeds: 6-3 SU, 6-3 ATS#12 seeds: 3-4 SU, 5-2 ATS#13 seeds: 2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS#14 seeds: 1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS#15 seeds: 2-4 SU, 5-1 ATS#16 seeds: 0-4 SU, 2-2 ATSAnd here is a breakdown of point spread ranges:Underdogs of +3.5 or less:  7-6 ATSUnderdogs +4 to +7.5:  10-15 ATSUnderdogs +8 to +11.5:  8-2 ATSUnderdogs of +12 or more:  5-6 ATSThe games have tended to go under the total, as the unders are 34-24-1 through the first four rounds (37-25-1 if you include the "First Four games).Let's take a look at some other point spread situations:Teams that won their conference tournament (against foes that didn't win their conference tournament):  17-12 ATSTeams off a straight-up loss (against foes not off a loss):  9-9 ATSTeams off back-to-back losses (against foes not off back-to-back losses):  3-0 ATSTeams off ATS loss (against foes not off an ATS loss):  12-11 ATSTeams off back-to-back-ATS losses (against foes not off back-to-back ATS losses):  10-3 ATSTeams off back-to-back ATS wins (against foes not off back-to-back ATS wins): 20-13 ATSTeams off 3 SU/ATS wins (against foes not off 3 SU/ATS wins):  15-7 ATSTeams playing with revenge:  2-3 ATSGood luck, as always...Al McMordie 

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NCAA Basketball Tournament: Elite Eight Round (1991-2021)

Monday, Mar 29, 2021

We're 15 games away from crowning the champion of this 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament, and I would say it's gone as well as could have been expected, given the extenuating circumstances.  Only one game (VCU/Oregon) was cancelled/forfeited due to COVID-19, and there have been upsets galore.  The Elite Eight round starts today with a Monday/Tuesday schedule for the first time.  The match-ups are as follows:Monday:1 Baylor vs 3 Arkansas2 Houston vs 12 Oregon StateTuesday:1 Gonzaga vs 6 USC1 Michigan vs 11 UCLALet's take a look at how the seeds have done, historically, against the spread in the Elite Eight round.  This data is from 1991 through 2019 (there was no Tournament played in 2020).1 seeds:  34-44-2 ATS2 seeds: 23-29-2 ATS3 seeds: 13-18-1 ATS4 seeds: 11-5-1 ATS5 seeds: 8-0 ATS6 seeds: 3-6 ATS7 seeds: 5-3-1 ATS8 seeds: 5-1 ATS9 seeds: 1-2-1 ATS10 seeds: 4-2 ATS11 seeds: 4-1-1 ATS12 seeds: 0-0-1 ATS13 seeds: none14 seeds: none15 seeds: none16 seeds: noneIn Elite Eight match-ups, the better-seeded team has gone 43-68-5 ATS, including 7-12 ATS as an underdog, 4-7 ATS off an upset win, 2-4-1 ATS with revenge, and 12-19 ATS off a point spread loss.  The worse-seeded team has gone 68-43-5 ATS, including 34-16-3 ATS off an upset win (UCLA and Oregon State), and 19-5-1 ATS with revenge, but just 8-9 ATS off a point spread loss (Arkansas).  Overall, favorites are 48-63-5 ATS in the Elite Eight round.Now, let's review how various point spread ranges have done:Underdogs of +3.5 or less:  30-19-1 ATSUnderdogs +4 to +7.5: 19-19-3 ATSUnderdogs +8 to +11.5: 13-8-1 ATSUnderdogs of +12 or more: 1-2 ATSFinally, some other ATS situations to note:Off double-digit wins (and foe not):  22-26-2 ATS (Houston, Baylor)Off double-digit cover (and foe not): 23-19-3 ATS (Oregon State, USC)Off back-to-back covers (and foe not): 33-25-1 ATS (Oregon State and Baylor)Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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NCAA Basketball Tournament: Sweet 16 Round (1991-2021)

Friday, Mar 26, 2021

The first 32 games of this tournament are in the books (36 games, if you include the "First Four" round), and the Sweet 16 starts this weekend with a Saturday/Sunday schedule for the first time.  The match-ups are as follows:Saturday:1 Baylor vs 5 Villanova3 Arkansas vs 15 Oral Roberts8 Loyola-Chi vs 12 Oregon State2 Houston vs 11 SyracuseSunday:1 Gonzaga vs 5 Creighton6 USC vs 7 Oregon1 Michigan vs 4 Florida State2 Alabama vs 11 UCLALet's take a look at how the seeds have done, historically, against the spread in the Sweet 16 round.  This data is from 1991 through 2019 (there was no Tournament played in 2020).1 seeds:  53-43-4 ATS2 seeds: 38-32-2 ATS3 seeds: 28-36-1 ATS4 seeds: 24-33-3 ATS5 seeds: 15-18-2 ATS6 seeds: 16-16-1 ATS7 seeds: 10-10-1 ATS8 seeds: 5-4-1 ATS9 seeds: 5-2 ATS10 seeds: 9-12 ATS11 seeds: 9-6-1 ATS12 seeds: 7-10 ATS13 seeds: 3-2 ATS14 seeds: 1-0 ATS15 seeds: 1-0 ATS16 seeds: noneIn Sweet 16 match-ups, the better-seeded team has gone 113-111-8 ATS, including 10-6 ATS as an underdog, but just 7-14 ATS off an upset win (Arkansas and Loyola-Chi are off upset wins).  The worse-seeded team has gone 51-48-4 ATS off an upset win (Oregon, Oregon State, Oral Roberts, and Syracuse), but 8-13 ATS off a point spread loss.  Overall, favorites are 108-112-8 ATS in the Sweet 16 round.Now, let's review how various point spread ranges have done:Underdogs of +3.5 or less:  37-34-4 ATSUnderdogs +4 to +7.5: 45-40-2 ATSUnderdogs +8 to +11.5: 22-26 ATSUnderdogs of +12 or more: 8-8-2 ATSFinally, some other ATS situations to note:Same-season revenge:  11-9-1 ATS (Oral Roberts, Oregon)Off double-digit wins (and foe not):  58-42-4 ATS (Florida State)Off double-digit cover (and foe not): 55-51-2 ATS (Villanova, Oral Roberts, Florida State)Off back-to-back covers (and foe not): 57-54-2 ATS (Villanova, Syracuse, Gonzaga, UCLA, USC (but Oregon only played 1 NCAA Tournament game))Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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

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 at BetAnySports) or the Padres (8-1 odds at BetAnySports).  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 (at each of Bovada, BetAnySports and BetOnline).  And the odds on the Twins to win the American League pennant are 9-1 (at each of BetAnySports and BetOnline).  In contrast, the World Series odds at BetAnySports 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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NCAA Basketball Revenge System

Saturday, Feb 20, 2021

We're in the midst of the College Basketball season.  Normally, this would be the time of year when the teams would be playing a conference opponent for the 2nd time.  However, this season, the teams in many (but not all) conferences have been playing back-to-back games against the same opponent all season.  Regardless, let's talk about how we can approach these regular season second meetings.One thing I like to do is consider revenge.  And if I can play on a good basketball team at home, which was blown out in the first regular season meeting, then even better.  So, let's put all of these factors together for our College Basketball system.  What we want to do is:Play on any winning College Basketball team at home in the regular season, if it was blown out by 27 or more points earlier in the season by its opponent.Since 1990, our revenge-minded teams have gone 155-110-11 ATS (58.4%), including 6-1 ATS this season, and 7-3-1 ATS last season.And, although there's nothing wrong with 58.4%, we like to try to improve things a bit by adding another tightener, or two.   For example, if we play on underdogs of more than 2 points that lost their game right before this revenge match, then our 155-110-11 system zooms to 50-22-3 ATS (69.4%) since 1990.Today, on Saturday, one college basketball team fits this 50-22-3 ATS subset of our general system.  And that's to play on the Minnesota Golden Gophers +6 over Illinois.  The Illini blew out the Gophers by 27 points, 92-65, in December,  in Champaign, and we actually had a big play on Illinois in that game.  For the season, Minnesota is 13-9, including a powerful 13-1 at home (where it covers the spread by an average of 5.35 ppg).  And they're the only team to defeat the #3-ranked Michigan Wolverines, who they blew out by 18 points here, in Minneapolis.  Don't be surprised if the Gophers get their revenge on Sunday. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie

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Super Bowl Betting Trends

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2021

Super Bowl LV will feature a terrific match-up between the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks from the previous two seasons, with Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs taking on Tom Brady's Buccaneers.  The Chiefs have been installed as an early 3-point favorite, with a total of 56.5 (all odds from BetAnySports).Let's take a look at some historical trends.Dating back to 1981, there have been 41 Super Bowls.The underdogs have gone 21-17-2 ATS, including 6-4 at +3 or +3.5.And there have been 46 Overs against 34 Unders, but with games in the 55 to 57-point range, the Under is 2-1.There have been 12 meetings between teams that played earlier in the season.The revenge-minded team (here, Tampa Bay) has gone 7-5 SU and 6-5-1 ATS, including a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS when installed as an underdog of +7 points or less.  And the team which covered the point spread in the previous meeting (here, also, Tampa Bay), has gone 7-3 SU and 7-2-1 ATS.With regard to rematches from earlier in the season, the Super Bowls have gone Under eight of 12 times.  When the previous match-up went Over the total, the Super Bowl was 3-1 Under; and if the first meeting went Under the total, the Super Bowl was 5-3 Under.  There have been eight games that involved a defending Super Bowl champion.  Those eight teams have gone 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS, including 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS when not favored by more than 7 points.The team which averaged more points on offense (here, Tampa Bay), has gone 17-23 SU and 14-24-2 ATS, while the team which gave up less points on defense (here, also Tampa Bay) has gone 26-14 SU and 21-17-2 ATS.The team with the better win percentage (here, Kansas City) has gone 17-17 SU and 13-19-2 ATS, including 3-4 SU/ATS when favored by 3 or 3.5 points.The team with the better ATS win percentage (here, Tampa Bay) has gone 23-13 SU and 21-13-2 ATS, including 2-1 SU/ATS when installed as an underdog of +3 or 3.5 points.I am wrapping up my 9th straight winning NFL season, and have released a play in this game, as I look to stay red-hot (currently 82-37 my last 119 selections, as of this writing).  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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

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 at BetAnySports.  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

Monday, Dec 21, 2020

It'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 at BetOnline).  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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2020 NCAA Basketball: An Early Look at Winning Trends

Friday, Dec 18, 2020

The 2020 College Basketball season is almost a month old, so it's a great time to take a look at the season's developing trends.There have been 735 games played with point spreads.  And unlike, say, the NFL, where the underdogs have shined, there has not been a difference in performance between the underdogs and the favorites.  Nor has there been a significant difference between home teams and road teams.Let's take a look at the early numbers.Favorites:  353-363-19 ATSUnderdogs:  363-353-19 ATSHome Teams:  301-286-14 ATSAway Teams:  286-301-14 ATSHome Favorites:  230-227-12 ATSAway Favorites: 59-71-2 ATSNeutral Court Favorites: 64-65-5 ATSHome Underdogs:  71-59-2 ATSAway Underdogs: 227-230-12 ATSNeutral Court Underdogs:  65-64-5 ATSOf course, the best handicappers go beneath the surface to analyze the best situations.  Here are some of the better situations that have delivered the $$$ so far in 2020.Teams off back-to-back losses vs. foes off a win:  64-43-3 ATS, including 35-19-1 ATS off 3+ lossesTeams off 3+ wins vs. foes off a loss:  26-36-2 ATSUnderdogs off back-to-back ATS wins:  22-44-1 ATS, including 10-31-1 ATS vs. foes not off a SU/ATS winUnderdogs off back-to-back ATS losses:  58-40-5 ATS, including 50-29-4 ATS vs. foes not off a SU/ATS lossRoad teams off upset wins:  27-11-1 ATS, including 16-2-1 ATS off a double-digit winTeams off back-to-back upset wins:  7-1 ATSTeams off back-to-back upset defeats:  6-4 ATSSame-season revenge:  17-9 ATSUnrested vs. rested:  26-14-3 ATSGood luck, as always....Al McMordie

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NCAA Basketball Futures Bet: Baylor Bears to Win 2021 Championship

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 at both MyBookie and BetUS.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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Happy 100th Birthday, Wayne Thiebaud

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020

Today is the 100th birthday of Wayne Thiebaud, one of the world's best artists.  We routinely discuss sports and gambling on these pages.  Of course, life is much more than sports.  And one of my favorite passions is art.  I enjoy many kinds of art, but my favorite artist is easily Wayne Thiebaud.Most people know Thiebaud for his renditions of various foodstuffs like cakes, candy apples, gumball machines, and pies.  And his chosen subject matter has led to him being lumped into the pop art classification, alongside such artists as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and Robert Rauschenberg.  But Thiebaud really belongs more to a classical tradition of painting.I recall seeing a retrospective of Thiebaud's work in 2001, in Washington, D.C., at The Phillips Collection.  Among my favorites at that show were his 1962 painting, Around the Cake, and his iconic 1963 painting, Cakes.  Fast forward 12 years to 2013 when my wife and I were planning our wedding.  We were researching wedding cake possibilities when we came across a Martha Stewart article.  Lo and behold, Caitlin Williams Freeman, then the pastry chef at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, had created a wedding cake (actually, 13 cakes) to precisely mimic Thiebaud's Cakes painting.  So, I gave Ms. Williams Freeman a call, and her team made us our wedding cakes!A few months after our wedding, we had the good fortune to be invited to a gala at the Laguna Art Museum, which honored the artist.  We were able to chat with Thiebaud and, of course, told him of our wedding cakes, which he truly enjoyed.Besides his well-known still-life paintings of confections, delicatessen counters, and the like, Thiebaud also paints figure studies (like his Football Player (1963) accompanying this blog post), abstract landscapes, San Francisco cityscapes, and Sacramento deltas.  And he even created California's famous Arts license plate (with its palm trees, ocean and setting sun), so 137,000 Californians drive around with a "Thiebaud" every day.Even though he's reached the century mark, he's still painting (and playing tennis) every day.  And, for those interested, there is a major retrospective of his work ongoing through January 3, 2021 at the Crocker Museum, in Sacramento, CA.  Next year, the exhibit will travel to the Toledo Museum of Art, in Toledo, OH; the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, in Memphis, TN; the McNay Art Museum, in San Antonio, TX; and the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, PA.  Among the paintings on display are the Crocker's own holdings, Pies, Pies, Pies (1961) and, one of my all-time faves, Boston Cremes (1962).Happy Birthday, Wayne!

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2020 NFL Trends Thru Week 9

Tuesday, Nov 10, 2020

We're roughly at the halfway point of the 2020 NFL season, so this is a good time to review how the season has gone, from a point spread perspective.The one thing which jumps out when you look at the numbers is that it's been a "dog" season.  No, I'm not referring to the quality of play, but rather the fact that the underdogs have barked loudly.Over the first nine weeks, underdogs have gone 77-56, 57.8%.And they've made money whether at home (27-27, 56.2%) or on the road (50-35, 58.8%).  And whether they were off a win (25-20, 55.5%) or off a loss (44-27, 61.9%).  And also whether their opponent was off a win (40-31, 56.3%) or a loss (30-15, 66.6%).They've been especially good in the weekday (non-Sunday) games, as they've cashed 14 of 21 (66.6%), including a perfect 9-0 ATS when priced as an underdog of +4.5 or less points.The worst category for underdogs has been if they were off an upset win.  In that instance, they've burned money with a 10-13 (43.4%) record.With respect to over/unders, the games have largely been high-scoring, with the Overs going 71-59-3.  In this set, the division games have largely been responsible for the Overs, as they've gone 27-17-1 Over, while non-division games have gone 44-42-2 Over.Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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2020 NCAA Football Trends Through Week 7

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2020

The NCAA Football season has completed seven weeks.  Meanwhile, the Big 10 Conference will play its first games this week.  So, it's a good time to take stock of what we've seen so far in this 2020 season.The most noticeable trend has been that underdogs have done very well against the point spread.  Overall, underdogs are 80-60-2 ATS.  And dogs have done well both at home (33-22-1 ATS) and on the road (47-38-1 ATS).  If we go further within the numbers, we find that the biggest underdogs have done the best.  NCAA dogs getting more than 13 points have gone 36-19 ATS, including 28-10 ATS in conference games.  But underdogs of 13 or less points have only gone 44-41 ATS (21-16-1 ATS at home; 23-25-1 ATS on the road).Perhaps the most noteworthy trend has been to play on underdogs that did not own a winning record (which would include underdogs playing their first game of the season).  These puppies have barked the loudest, with a 65-35 ATS record.  In contrast, winning teams have gone just 15-25 ATS when installed as an underdog!Teams off an upset loss have not shown a tendency to bounce back this season, as they've gone 8-13 ATS vs. foes not off an upset loss.  And teams off an upset win have gone 12-13 ATS vs. foes not off an upset win.Interestingly, rested teams have gone 13-20 ATS vs. unrested opponents (5-10 ATS as a favorite; 8-10 ATS as an underdog).Finally, revenge-minded teams have gone 45-41-1 ATS, with the underdogs going 34-28-1 ATS, but the favorites lagging behind at 11-13 ATS.

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2020 NBA Playoffs: A Point Spread Recap

Monday, Oct 12, 2020

At the start of the NBA Playoffs, there were a lot of theories about which teams would do well in the Orlando bubble environment.  Would it be wise to take the points with the underdogs, or lay the points with the favorites?  Would the better-coached teams have an advantage, and so forth.  I was one of the handicappers who averred that the better NBA coaches would do very well, and speculated that the Miami Heat (Erik Spoelstra), Boston Celtics (Brad Stevens), and San Antonio Spurs (Gregg Popovich) would be the ones to watch.  Unfortunately, the Spurs' NBA-record streak of 22 consecutive Playoff appearances ended, so we never had the opportunity to see how Pop's troops would have performed in the Playoffs, but his team did go 5-3 ATS in the regular season bubble games.  And Boston (10-7 ATS) and Miami (16-5 ATS) certainly acquitted themselves well throughout the Playoffs.With respect to categories like favorites and underdogs, etc., what was most surprising was how evenly divided things turned out.  Let's review the numbers.There were 83 Playoff games played across the 15 series.  And exactly half the games were covered by the favorite (40-40-3 ATS).  Similarly, teams off a straight-up win also covered exactly 50% (43-43-3), as did teams off a straight-up loss (37-37-3 ATS).If one goes further into the numbers, one finds that the shorter-priced favorites did the worst.  Teams favored by less than four points were an awful 7-16-1 ATS, including 2-9-1 ATS off a win.  Meanwhile, teams favored from -4 to -6 points did the best, with a 16-6-1 ATS record, including 8-3 ATS off a win.The unders were profitable at 45-36-2.  And teams off a blowout loss by 15+ points went 11-9-1 ATS in the Playoffs (and 23-12-1 ATS if one includes the regular season bubble games).Finally, teams off back to back losses went 19-14-2 ATS, including 12-4-1 ATS if they weren't getting 5+ points.  Though teams down 2-games-to-none underperformed at 4-5 ATS.Good luck, as always....Al McMordie  

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

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 at BetOnline Sportsbook).   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

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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