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Bryan Power has cashed 9 straight calendar years (All Sports combined), and has established himself in the upper echelon of sports handicappers.

Active since:  2011 

Location:  Cleveland, OH

Bryan Power began selling sports picks on the internet in August 2011.  He quickly established a reputation for winning month after month, and year after year.  Bryan’s 2-year MLB run in 2013-14 (+ $41,295) was an early highlight.  In April 2015, Power formally announced the formation of Power Sports Picks.  And the results have only gotten better since that time.  Immediately, he set a new standard in College Hoops betting by turning a LEGENDARY $84,556 PROFIT over three remarkable seasons (2015-18), capped by a 19-9 record in the 2018 Tournament.  Incredibly, Power has NEVER had a losing record with plays in any calendar year in his career!  And the 2018 football season was one for the ages as Power made a combined $23,888 in NFL and College.  He’s also up $20,144 the last two years in College Football alone.

Bryan's passion for sports, seemingly unlimited energy and his love of numbers have made him an unstoppable force.  He has his own personal (and private) set of "power rankings" which he is constantly adjusting.  He makes a line for every game on the board, well before one is officially released.  More often than not, his number is bang-on.  When it's not, in order to find out why, he digs deeper.  And that's just the beginning.  From there, he incorporates a combination of fundamental, situational, and statistical factors.  Power acutely understands the need to adapt.  Sports betting is constantly changing.  What works one season (or week) won't necessarily work the next.  Give Power an edge and he'll play on or against any team.  Whether its football, basketball, baseball, or even something more obscure like backgammon or women's basketball, the smart money is on Power to finish on top.  Over the years, Power has beaten them all.  Just as he has no favorite teams, he also has no favorite sport.  Offshore insiders — fortunate enough to be in Bryan's "inner circle” — have witnessed his remarkable success rate with the mainstream sports, like football and basketball.  However, Bryan's success with the lesser sports has also quietly become the "stuff of legend."  Start following today and you'll see what we mean!  

Power draws inspiration from many sources and has been fondly referred to as a walking encyclopedia.  When asked "what his secret is," he's been known to reply with this simple quote from Colin Powell:  "There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

MLB - 2nd Half Predictions

Thursday, Jul 22, 2021

Well, we’re basically a week removed from the All-Star Break, so I thought it would be an appropriate time to make some second half predictions. Some of these takes will be right in line with what I said two months ago. Others (like Milwaukee) have since changed. So here’s what I’m predicting for the second half of the MLB season.At least two teams from the AL East are getting into the postseason. It could be three if Toronto gets its act together. The Blue Jays have the division’s best run differential (+83). The first place Red Sox actually have the third best differential (+63). Tampa Bay is in between, closer to Toronto, at +81. We probably also shouldn’t forget about the Yankees, who have a very similar record to Toronto. But their run differential is way below the other three teams. Thus, I’m not nearly as sold on the team wearing pinstripes.A big key in handicapping this race is that the Blue Jays will resume playing home games in Toronto beginning July 30th. Playing in Dunedin and Buffalo, they’ve averaged a MLB high 5.9 runs per game at home this season, but went only 22-22 in those games. Expect scoring levels to drop at Rogers Centre where in 2019 they averaged just 4.4 rpg. It’s interesting that the Jays are 22-11 in day games and 13-2 in Interleague Play. There are only two American League teams that they have winning records against - Baltimore and Texas. So maybe we shouldn’t totally buy into that run differential? Chicago will run away with the AL Central. Book it. They probably will end up being the first team to clinch a playoff spot in either league. There will be no Wild Card from the Central.I predicted months ago that Houston would run away with the AL West. Right now, they only lead the A’s by three games but that gap is going to get bigger. The Astros are the highest scoring team in baseball and the highest scoring road team. They have the AL’s best run differential and are a playoff lock.Elsewhere in the West, Seattle WILL fall off and finish below .500. They have a -51 run differential entering Thursday’s action. The tremendous luck they’ve experienced in one run games and extra innings is something I’ve previously written about. It has continued, but I sense those records will eventually start to regress. The Mariners hit only .203 at home! They can’t sustain a better than .500 pace with an offense that is that bad.Over in the NL, both Wild Cards will be claimed out West. I’ve been adamant about this from the start of the season. The Dodgers, Giants and Padres are the three best teams in the Senior Circuit. It’s a major dropoff after that. I’m not just speaking about the division, but the entire league. All three teams are in the top five of my power ratings.  Milwaukee has really turned the Central upside-down and could be poised to run away with things. They are the only team in that division to currently have a positive run differential. Their pitching is superb (top five in runs allowed). I do think they are poised to win the division, which is not something I would have been confident in saying a month ago. But a 7.5 game lead seems pretty safe.The NL East remains the most difficult division to handicap in either league. My gut says the Mets, who have been in first place for a while now, are going to take it. But Atlanta now has the best run differential in the East, though they are going to be without Ronald Acuna Jr the rest of the way. The Mets having allowed so few runs gives them the edge though. But continue to monitor Jacob deGrom’s forearm. He’s obviously the predominant reason the Mets are #2 in MLB in runs allowed. It’s a good thing the Mets give up so few runs per game. Because their offense is ranked 29th (2nd worst) in rpg! I still say they make the playoffs though.Put a gun to my head (please don’t!) and I’ll tell you that Astros vs. White Sox is the most likely ALCS matchups. In the National League, the West will cannibalize itself due to the playoff format. The Dodgers are still the team I favor to win the World Series. Top Teams to Bet On (through 7/21):San Francisco +24.5 unitsSeattle +20.3 unitisBoston +15.7 unitsDetroit +13.4 unitsTampa Bay +12.5 unitsWorst Teams to Bet on (through 7/21)Arizona -32.4 unitsMinnesota -24.9 unitsBaltimore -18.1 unitsYankees -16.2 unitsTexas -14.1 units

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Euro Cup Quarterfinals Preview

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021

We’re down to the quarterfinals of this year’s Euro Cup. Some of the sides that remain - such as Belgium, England, Italy and Spain - were expected to get here. Others - like Czech Republic and Ukraine - are a bit of a surprise. Over on the right side of the bracket, there is potential for the ultimate “feel good” story with Denmark. Their tournament got off to the worst possible start with Christian Eriksen collapsing in the opening match and going into cardiac arrest. Later that day, Denmark had to resume the match with Finland and suffered a shock 1-0 loss. Then they blew an early lead to favored Belgium and lost that one too. But Eriksen showed up on the sideline for the team’s final match of the group stage and since then everything has changed. Denmark rolled Russia 4-1 to qualify for the knockout stage, then beat Wales 4-0 in the Round of 16. The right side of the bracket is considered the much weaker half. Next up for Denmark will be Czech Republic, who shocked the Netherlands 2-0 in the Round of 16. The Czechs have conceded only two goals the entire tournament. Going back to earlier competitions, it’s been a long time since they conceded more than one in any match. But something to keep in mind is that even before their “resurgence,” Denmark had been playing well. They had the second best shot difference (+46) and fourth best expected goal differential (+3.4) in the group stage. England should now be considered the favorite on the weaker side of the draw. They are more than a 2/1 favorite to beat Ukraine in the quarterfinals, as they should be. Through four matches in Euro “2020,” the Three Lions have yet to concede a single goal. They are the lone side that can say that. But they’ve only scored four times. Ukraine beat 10-man Sweden in the quarters with the latest game winner ever in a major tournament. They got the game-winner in the final minute of added time. They’ve scored six goals in the tournament, more than England, but also conceded six. It would be shocking to see them in the semis.Over on the other side of the draw, Spain is favored to beat Switzerland. It should not have been as hard as it was for La Roja against Croatia in the Round of 16. They blew a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes. Added time belonged to them as they scored twice. That’s now 10 goals from Spain in the last two matches. Keen observers probably saw this coming. Spain had 7.5 expected goals in the group stage, which was second most of anybody. Switzerland also erased a late two-goal deficit in its Round of 16 fixture. But unlike Croatia, they were able to finish the deal and stunned France on penalties. The Swiss had an underwhelming first two matches of this tournament before blitzing Turkey to stay alive. They probably “should have” lost to France though. This is the first time La Nati has ever made the European Championship quarterfinals in their history. Their record against Spain is quite poor, but they’ve also only been beaten once in the last 11 competitions. Clearly, the marquee quarter final fixture is between Italy and Belgium. Italy looked like the best side in the group stage. They are on an unbeaten run of 31 straight matches, a new national record.  But they needed added time to get by Austria in the Round of 16. Belgium was the #1 ranked team in the world coming into the tournament. They have not lost in 2021. Both sides will come into Friday on 14-match win streaks. But one streak obviously has to end. Belgium has not only won 14 in a row, but 23 of their last 27. They’ve scored a goal in 34 straight matches. But their record against Italy isn’t very good. They have just four wins and 14 losses in the last 22 meetings. There are injuries to monitor on the Belgian side. One of them is Kevin De Bruyne (ankle) and the other is captain Eden Hazard (muscular). Neither injury is believed to be serious, but you’ve got two significant contributors that won’t be fully fit. That could end up being the difference in the match. I, for one, will be looking forward to the remainder of Euro 2020. 

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2021 MLB: Overachievers & Underachievers

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2021

I’m continuing our monthly check-in on “America’s Pastime” with a look at which MLB teams are overachieving and underachieving the most, based on expected vs. actual win totals. Expected win total is sometimes referred to as Pythagorean win percentage. “The concept strives to determine the number of games that a team *should* have won -- based on its total number of runs scored versus its number of runs allowed -- in an effort to better forecast that team's future outlook.”I think this tool is extremely important in evaluating how a team has “really played.”Now onto the over and underachievers. Overachievers - Teams whose actual win total exceeds expected win total by the widest margins. 1. Seattle - At 41-38, the Mariners find themselves on the periphery of the Wild Card race in the American League. But it’s a race they probably shouldn’t even be involved with, at least based on their expected win total which is just 35. Their run differential is -43. The M’s have been really lucky in extra inning games (7-1) and their 18 one-run wins are the most in MLB. I do not expect them to stay in Wild Card contention. Not just because of all the above, but also due to being in the same division as Houston and Oakland. 2. Milwaukee - The Brewers come into the week leading the NL Central at 45-33. It will be interesting to see what happens against the second place Cubs, who actually have a slightly better run differential and thus expected win total. The Brew Crew’s expected win total is just 40. They are 26-9 in day games, but below .500 in night games. I do like Milwaukee’s starting pitching and they very well could win this division. Unlike Seattle, I would NOT write this team off. 3. Boston/Cleveland/St. Louis - These teams have all exceeded their expected win total by four. Boston (47-31) leads a tough AL East, but actually has the third best run differential in the division. They have an expected win total of 43 and I expect them to tumble. I also don’t anticipate Cleveland (41-33)  making the Wild Card, even though they look like a lock to finish second in a pretty weak Central Division. While eight games above .500, the Tribe have a minus 3 run differential YTD and an expected win total of 37. St. Louis has already fallen to fourth in the NL Central (37-41) and while they’ll always stay ahead of Pittsburgh, the Cardinals’ run differential is -52 and that’s fourth worst in the whole Senior Circuit. They have a win expectancy of 33. Underachievers - Teams whose expected win total exceeds actual win total by the widest margins. 1. Miami - The Marlins are last in the NL East. But they are the only team in the division besides the Mets to have a positive win differential. Their actual record is 33-44, but their run differential says they should be 41-36. Being 6-16 in one-run games has hurt. Seeing as how they overachieved last season, I don’t think the Marlins get back in the division or Wild Card race. But they are a team that should have a better overall record.2. Arizona - Well, here’s an ugly one. The Diamondbacks stink. When they won 10-1 Saturday in San Diego, it snapped a MLB-record 24-game losing streak. They have lost 35 of their last 39 games overall. They have baseball’s overall worst record at 22-56. But as bad as things are, the D’backs should have a few more wins under their belt. Their expected win total is 27. They are 2-18 in one-run games. There’s no way any team can continue being THIS bad. 3. Toronto - The Blue Jays are 40-36 and in third place in the East. But they have a +65 run differential. That’s top five in the American League. Compared to pretenders like Seattle and Cleveland and overachievers like Boston, the Blue Jays are actually playing better baseball. They could be a Wild Card team or even win the division. Recently, the Jays have been winning more. They are 7-1 their last eight games, though most of those wins have come against Baltimore. 

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2021 Major League Baseball: Two Months In

Sunday, May 30, 2021

We’re basically two months into the 2021 Major League Baseball season. Here are some observations, followed by an analysis of who has been the best (and worst) teams and pitchers to bet on so far.Observations:I think the White Sox and Astros run away with their respective divisions. Just look at their run differentials compared to the rest of their division foes. It’s not even close. Run differential has long proven to be a strong predictive measure of future outcomes. If that’s the case with these two teams, then both will win their respective pennants. Chicago has the AL’s best run differential heading into Sunday. Houston has a +45 run differential, so it’s odd to see them trailing Oakland (-8) in the standings.The AL East is a strong division that may produce both Wild Cards. Four of the American League’s top six run differentials belong to teams from the East. Tampa Bay had a fantastic May (20-6 entering Sunday) to seize first place from Boston. Honestly, the only team outside the East that looks “Wild Card worthy” in the AL is Oakland and that’s just because of their overall record. Detroit and Baltimore look like the worst teams in the AL, but everyone figured that would be the case coming into the season. You want to talk about some “bad luck?” Minnesota is 1-8 in extra inning games so far. Seattle has the most one-run wins (12) in baseball, a sign they’ve been a bit fortunate.Over in the National League, the West - clearly - looks like the strongest division. Unlike the East in the American League, this is a three (not a four) horse race, but the three horses here (Padres, Dodgers, Giants) have the three top run differentials in the Senior Circuit. San Diego (entering Sunday) is the only undefeated team in Interleague Play. They’ve allowed the fewest runs per game and are currently #1 in my power ratings. The Dodgers are right behind them at #2. The Giants are a surprise, but their run suppression is right on par with the two heavyweights. How do you think it feels to be Colorado or Arizona this year? The NL East and Central both look wide open, particularly the former. I think the Mets, who have played the fewest games in baseball, and the Marlins are the two best teams in the East right now.  Miami has been hurt by a 4-10 record in one-run games. The only thing I can say for sure about the Central is that Pittsburgh is going to finish in last place. Did you see this play from earlier in the week? Put that on the season highlight film. At the top, the Cubs have a superior run differential to the Cardinals, but are still a half game back entering Sunday. Best Teams To Bet On (entering 5/30)San Francisco (+13.8 units)Tampa Bay (+11.5 units)The Giants have won 16 times as an underdog already. They’ve made money in basically all situations, but day games (14-5, +11.9 units) have been particularly profitable. The Rays have actually been money losers in home games, but are +13.9 units on the road. They have been a great road team the last three seasons. Worst Teams To Bet On (entering 5/30)Minnesota (-17.7 units)Arizona (-14.3)Baltimore (-13.3)Colorado (-11.6)Atlanta (-10.2)You expect to see some bad teams on this list and we’ve got three, but the Twins and Braves are surprises here. Both were division winners in 2020. Keep an eye on how they are priced on a game by game basis over the next month. Minnesota has been priced as a 35-16 team, but their record is 21-30. Atlanta has been priced as a 39-11 team, but is 24-26.  The three bad teams on this list have little chance of upward mobility in the standings by virtue of being in tough divisions. But keep in mind they will probably all win at least 55-60 games.Best Pitchers To Bet OnDarvish (SD) - 10-1 team start record (+9.4 units)Pivetta (BOS) - 9-1 TSR (+8.9 units)Flaherty (STL) - 9-1 TSR (+8.3 units)Team start record refers to a team’s record with that particular pitcher on the mound. Darvish took the overall lead, thanks to the Padres coming from behind to defeat the Astros on Saturday. He has fewer individual wins (5) than either Pivetta (6) or Flaherty (8), however. Pivetta, despite being 6-0, has the highest ERA and WHIP of the trio.Worst Pitchers To Bet OnCastillo (CIN) - 1-10 TSR (-10.8 units)Burnes (MIL) - 2-6 TSR (-6.8 units)Dunning (TEX) - 2-8 TSR (-6.3 units)Castillo is running away with this after being a money-loser last season as well. It is a shame to see Burnes on this list as he’s among the league leaders in ERA, WHIP and strikeout to walk ratio. But, hey, you would have lost money betting on Jacob deGrom every time out as well. Dunning just gave up seven runs in his last start, but has actually pitched pretty well at home (2.33 ERA, 1.074 WHIP).

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NBA Playoff Report

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Every first round series is two games in, so let’s take a look at what’s happened so far in the NBA Playoffs and where things may be headed.Eastern ConferenceThe Sixers, as anticipated, are not having much difficulty with the Wizards. They are up 2-0 and well on their way to the second round. Washington is 16-8 SU since April 12th, but they are the only team left in the 16-team field to have a negative efficiency rating and point differential for the year. They allowed the highest number of points per game in the regular season (118.5) and have given up 120 and 125 in the first two games vs. Philadelphia. After shooting an abysmal 2 of 22 from three-point range in Game 2, can they bounce back Saturday?Philly could go from playing the 30th ranked team in scoring defense to the #1 scoring defense in the second round. That’s if the Knicks can get by the Hawks in the first round. That series is 1-1 and will resume Friday in Atlanta. The Hawks have won 11 straight at home (last loss was 4/15 to Milwaukee), but the Knicks are 10-1 ATS run against the Hawks the past three seasons. So something will have to give there. Both games in the series have gone Under. The Knicks are a league best 47-25-2 ATS this season including 9-2 ATS L11 as a road underdog. Brooklyn and Milwaukee could be on a collision course in the other half of the bracket. Both are up 2-0 in their respective series and off blowout wins in Game 2. Of course, now each must get it done on the road. The Nets have -115 odds to sweep the Celtics while the Bucks are +200 to sweep the Heat and +175 to win in five games. It should be noted that the Nets have the shortest odds to win the NBA Finals, but I think the Bucks are a far better value in that regard. Milwaukee had the East’s top point differential and net efficiency rating.  One positive for the Celtics and Wizards is that home teams down 0-2 are 80-38-2 ATS in Game 3 including 29-6 ATS L35 in that spot (first half only). Western Conference OddsThe biggest swing we’ve seen so far in terms of series odds is from Clippers-Mavs. The Clippers, initially -400 to win this series, are now down 0-2 and listed at +220. That’ll happen when you lose twice at home. Only 6.3% of teams that have fallen behind 0-2 in a best of seven series have gone on to advance. The Clippers are 6-2 ATS their last eight games in Dallas and still favored to win Game 3. The Lakers had to win a play-in game just to be the 7-seed. Then they lost Game 1 to the Suns. But they are still the favorites to come out of the Western Conference. They are -300 to win this first round series after taking Game 2 and +333 to do so in six games. Chris Paul’s injury is a major concern for Phoenix, who is a significant underdog in Game 3 and likely will be in Game 4 as well. I really like the Lakers’ path to the Western Conference Finals because I don’t think there’s a chance either Denver or Portland would beat them in the second round. Those teams have split the first two games of their series, which probably won’t be short. Right now, Portland is -155 to advance as they stole the home court advantage. But the Blazers have the worst defensive efficiency rating of any playoff team. Denver doesn’t have Jamal Murray (ACL) and Will Barton is out for Game 3 as well. The first two games both went Over. It speaks volumes that I haven’t mentioned the top seeded Jazz yet, but that’s probably the way they like it. Their Game 2 win was my top play for the month in the NBA. Teams seeded 1-3 that lose Game 1 are now 26-16 ATS In Game 2 since 2005. PG Donovan Mitchell was back for Utah in Game 2 and they scored 141 points. The first two games of this series have gone Over as have four of the five meetings this season. Despite finishing with the best regular season record in the league, Utah has only the 5th best odds to win the NBA Finals

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2021 Major League Baseball: One Month In

Friday, Apr 30, 2021

We’re officially one month into the 2021 Major League Baseball season and the Mariners (+7.0 units), A’s (+7.0), Royals (+6.9), Giants (+6.5) and Pirates (+6.5) have been the five most profitable teams to bet on thus far. There are definitely some surprises on that list and I’d expect four of the five (exception being the Giants) to fall pretty quickly.The A’s won 13 in a row at one point, but still have a negative run differential. Ditto for the Mariners. Kansas City has benefited from a 6-1 record in one-run games. The Pirates are expected to be one of the worst teams in either league this season.Minnesota (-12.5 units) and the Yankees (-10.4) are pacing the “bad bets” thus far. Only the Mets (-7.2), who have played far fewer games than anyone else, are within “sniffing” distance of the bottom of the net unit rankings. Colorado (-5.4), Detroit (-5.2), Atlanta (-5.1), Houston (-5.1) and the Cubs (-5.0) round out the rest of the worst.Atlanta and especially Houston should get better as the season wears on. The Astros have the American League’s second best run differential at +24, but are currently just a game above .500. I think a big story thus far is that none of the preseason favorites are leading the respective divisions. Even the Dodgers are one-half game out of first place (trailing the surprising Giants). The NL West looks stacked thus far with the three best run differentials in the Senior Circuit. The Dodgers are +36, the Giants +24 and the Padres (who were supposed to be LA’s main competition) +14.  Could all three end up making the playoffs?The NL East and Central both appear to be wide open. Milwaukee has gotten tremendous pitching the first month of the season. Only the three teams out West are allowing a fewer number of runs per game. That seems more reliable than Cincinnati, who is 1st in runs per game but 29th in runs allowed. The only team in the East with a positive run differential at this point is Miami and they were pegged for last place before the season began. No team in that division is currently .500. We now move to the American League where no team has established itself as a clear favorite. In the Central, I like the White Sox, who have a +31 run differential. As stated above, Kansas City could start to fade as they’ve been fortunate in one-run games. Can’t say the same for Cleveland, who is the only team in MLB yet to win a one-run affair (0-4). Look for Houston to take charge in the West.The East is the most intriguing division in the AL. With the Red Sox starting fast, everyone except Baltimore should be a contender. Boston is top five (in all of baseball) in runs scored, but the Blue Jays and Yankees have been very good at run suppression. Not sure where this leaves Tampa Bay.Three teams from the East (Toronto, Yankees, Baltimore) are in the top six for most Unders in the first month. Ahead of them are: Kansas City (15-7-1), the Mets (12-5-2) and Detroit (19-7 Under). The Mets and Tigers are the two lowest scoring teams in baseball right now. As of this writing, the Tigers have gone Under in 13 straight.Cincinnati is 17-6-1 to the Over this year, easily #1 in that department. That shouldn’t be a surprise given what I mentioned above. Interestingly, the next two highest scoring teams (White Sox, Arizona) are not among the league leaders in Overs. In fact, only two teams besides the Reds have gone Over at least three more times than they’ve gone Under. Those would be Atlanta and the Angels, the latter of whom is giving up the most runs per game at 5.9.  I hope this provides some insight and I will be sure to have multiple updates as we get into the summer months. 

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NBA: Overachievers and Underachievers

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021

Today I wanted to take a look at some NBA teams that - objectively speaking - have either overachieved or underachieved this season. The objective metric I’ll focus on is the team’s actual number of straight up wins vs. the number of games in which they’ve been favored. If a team’s actual SU win total greatly exceeds the number of games in which they’ve been favored, I think it’s fair to say they’ve “overachieved.” On the flip side, if a team’s number of actual SU wins falls well short of the number of times they’ve been favored, I think it’s fair to say they’ve “underachieved.” Two months ago, I looked at a number of teams that I thought could be potential risers and fallers in the NBA standings. I’m proud to say that much of what I said in that article has played out. The benchmark, or differential, I used to determine if a team has truly over or under achieved was 10. Teams with 10 or more actual wins than the number of times they’ve been favored are the overachievers. Similarly, it takes 10 fewer actual wins vs. the number of times favored to be considered an underachiever.Overachievers 1. Charlotte - Here is a team I do not understand. The Hornets have been favored in only 18 of their first 60 games, yet have a 30-30 SU record. On top of that, mounting injuries “should have” derailed their season. Only four teams in the East have a worse YTD point differential and they are being outscored by 1.6 points per 100 possessions. Even if the Hornets make the play-in round, they won’t last long. 2. New York - Basketball seems to be back in the Big Apple as the Knicks have gone 34-28 SU despite being favored in only 21 games. They are 16-5 SU and 15-6 ATS when favored. Unlike Charlotte, the Knicks seem to be “more legit” as they lead the league in the number of points per game allowed. Even though they just had a 9-game win streak snapped, I expect New York to finish in the top six in the East and avoid the play-in round. 3. Washington - The Wizards just had an 8-game win streak snapped. Even with that, they are still only 10th in the East, just barely in the play-in round. They are a bottom four team in the East in terms of point differential and net efficiency. The defense has gotten better recently, but the Wiz are still 28th in points per game allowed. They do have two All-Stars (Beal and Westbrook), but have only been favored 17 times all season. They should feel fortunate to be 27-34 SU. ‘Honorable Mention: The league’s bottom feeders aren’t favored often, so almost all of them project as “overachievers” by this metric that I’m using. Maybe that’s a flaw of the metric as I don’t think teams with 21 or fewer wins should really be considered as overachieving. Cleveland has won 21 games despite being favored only seven times. Similar examples would be Minnesota and Oklahoma City, who have won 11 and 18 more games (respectively) than the number of times favored. The Thunder have been favored only twice all season!Underachievers 1. Boston - The Celtics are 32-29 and should finish in the top six in the East. But they have been favored in 41 of 61 games and probably should be doing a lot better. Injuries have been a problem. But still, oddsmakers have more faith than they probably should. Boston is only 6-11 SU and 5-12 ATS as a road favorite.  2. Denver - The Nuggets will probably finish fourth in the West, which is lower than either of the previous two seasons (2nd and 3rd). What’s interesting about that is it felt they overachieved both times. This season, they have been favored in 50 of 61 games, but are only 40-21. If they do end up matched with the Lakers in the first round, most people will pick against Denver and I can’t say that I disagree with that.3. Miami - The Heat were in the NBA Finals last October, but won’t be getting back there in July. First off, they are probably going to be in the play-in round. A big reason for that is a failure to win when favored. Miami has gone off as the favorite in 43 of its 62 games, but they are just 32-30 as of April 27th. Last season saw them go a league best 8-1 SU in overtime games. This season they are 0-4 SU in OT. Honorable Mention: Just like bad teams are misleading overachievers by this metric, good teams are misleading underachievers. Milwaukee has been an underdog only four times. Obviously, they aren’t going to go 56-4 SU. But 37-23 feels disappointing. Utah has lost a league-low 17 times, but has only been an underdog in three games. The Clippers have 43 wins while being favored 53 times

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NCAA Final Four Preview

Wednesday, Mar 31, 2021

So we’re down to the Final Four. For as much chaos as we’ve seen in this bracket, three of the four teams that are still remaining were in the top four of my own power personal power ratings before the NCAA Tournament started. The obvious exception is UCLA. I thought Gonzaga, Baylor and Houston would all get here. I was far from alone in that assessment, but wanted to mention it anyway! Last month I wrote about how defensive efficiency is key this time of year. Sure enough, both Gonzaga and Houston rank in the top eight nationally in that regard. Baylor is 28th and UCLA is 45th (per KenPom). Several teams ousted in the Elite Eight, like Michigan (4th), USC (7th) and Arkansas (11th) were all pretty high in the defensive efficiency ratings. Personally, I was a little surprised that both Loyola Chicago (2nd) and Alabama (3rd) didn’t make it to the Elite Eight. Interestingly enough, the team that will likely finish #1 in the defensive efficiency ratings at KenPom is Memphis and they just won the NIT.  But you didn’t come here to read about the NIT.Gonzaga is -250 to cut the nets down and given how they’ve looked so far those odds seem LOW. The 30-0 Zags have won all but one of their games by double digits this season. The exception was 87-82 against West Virginia on December 2nd, the third game of the season. Not surprisingly, Gonzaga opened as a 13.5-point favorite over UCLA and that number has already jumped to -14 as of press time. It’s the single largest spread we’ve seen in a Final Four game since the 1996 National Title Game between Kentucky and Syracuse (UK won but did not cover). For the record, the largest spread in semifinal history occurred in 1972. Ironically, it was UCLA over Louisville and the Bill Walton-led Bruins covered the 17-point number in a 96-77 victory. This weekend’s number will not get that high, even though Gonzaga is just the sixth team since 1985 to win its first four Tournament games by 15+ points. As you (probably) already know, two more straight up wins and Mark Few’s team becomes the first team to go unbeaten since Indiana in 1976. The semifinal with more intrigue will be Baylor (-5) vs. Houston. Like the Gonzaga-UCLA game, the total has ticked down a half-point from the opener so far. If you are wondering, in a hypothetical National Title Game matchup vs. Gonzaga, Baylor would be a 5-point underdog. Houston would be +9.5.  But these teams should only worry about each other for right now, not Gonzaga. Baylor is 3-1 ATS in its four Tourney wins. The lone game they did not cover was the 1st round vs. Hartford, a 79-55 win where they were laying 25.5.  Houston is 2-2 at the betting window in its four games, the worst ATS mark among the Final Four teams.  Gonzaga is 4-0 ATS. UCLA is 5-0 ATS (they were in the “First Four.”)  Two of UCLA’s five wins required overtime. The win over Michigan was by two points. Houston and Gonzaga are both 3-1 Under in Tourney action. UCLA is 3-2 Under. Baylor is 2-2. Another intriguing aspect of the Gonzaga-UCLA matchup is tempo. Gonzaga plays at the 6th fastest adjusted tempo in the nation. UCLA is among the 20 SLOWEST. Houston plays slow as well (328th) while Baylor (186th) is middle of the pack in that regard.  Gonzaga is #1 in the country (by a lot) in points per game scored at 91.6. Baylor is 6th (83.7 PPG). Houston (55th) and UCLA (126th) are much further down the list in points per game, but both are in the top 13 in offensive efficiency (as are Gonzaga and Baylor).Houston is #2 in the country in points allowed at 57.6 per game. None of the other three are close to that as Baylor is next highest at 62nd while UCLA and Gonzaga are outside the top 100. But all three still allow fewer than 69 PPG. It should be an exciting finish to the NCAA Tournament! I’m looking forward to it. 

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European Soccer: What To Look For After The Break

Sunday, Mar 28, 2021

Like every other bettor, the NCAA Tournament has been my main focus in March. But now is also a good time to take inventory “across the pond” as the four major European soccer leagues are set to resume this week after an international break. What I’ll do here is look at the races for the Champions League spots (top four) as well as the races to avoid relegation (bottom three) in the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga. Premier League Current Top Four: Manchester City (71 points), Manchester United (57), Leicester City (56), Chelsea (51)Man City is obviously running away from the pack. They can cement their status as the top side in Europe by winning the Champions League two months from now. Man U and Leicester City, the latter being a bit of a surprise, both seem pretty safe when it comes to UCL qualifying for next season. It’s a little interesting that Man U is the only one of the top four not in the semis of this season’s FA Cup. Chelsea has drawn Man City in the FA Cup semis and has just a two point lead over fifth place West Ham in the EPL. Among teams currently outside the top four, I believe Tottenham (48 points) would be the most likely to break through.Current Bottom Three: Fulham (26 points), West Bromwich Albion (18), Sheffield United (14)West Brom and Sheffield are both locks to be relegated next season. I expect Fulham to catch and pass Newcastle United (28 points) even though the Magpies have a game in hand. Currently, Newcastle has an inferior goal differential and one more loss than Fulham, who is desperately trying to avoid a “one and done” in the English top flight (they were promoted this season).Bundesliga Current Top Four: Bayern Munich (61 points), RB Leipzig (57), VfL Wolfsburg (51), Eintracht Frankfurt (47)As was expected, Bayern and Leipzig are both locks to finish 1-2. The big question is whether the two “upstarts” - Wolfsburg and Frankfurt - can maintain their current positions. They both have the same number of losses (3) as the top two sides. Wolfsburg, with an eight-point cushion, should feel fairly safe. Frankfurt, who has been beaten just one time since Jan 12, is a side I expected to be improved this campaign. More “decorated” sides - Borussia Dortmund (43 points) and Bayer Leverkusen (40) - are in the rear view mirror. A match this Saturday at Dortmund looms large, though so do BVB’s nine defeats. I think Wolfsburg and Frankfurt hold on.Current Bottom Three: FC Cologne (23), Arminia Bielefeld (22), Schalke 04 (10)The key here is the team that finishes third from the bottom enters a relegation playoff with the team that finishes third in Bundesliga 2, so it’s not automatic relegation. Obviously, Schalke is going to be relegated. But above them, five teams are separated by just two points and that includes Hertha Berlin (24) and Mainz (24). Right now, Mainz is the highest they’ve been in the table all season. I would not be surprised if they fell back into the relegation zone. Bielefeld is probably a good bet to finish in the bottom three as well. My guess is Koln lives to fight in the German top flight another year. Serie ACurrent Top Four: Internazionale (65 points), AC Milan (59), Juventus (55), Atalanta (55)Inter is set to end Juve’s nine-year run atop Serie A. I expect Juve and Atalanta to also comfortably finish within the top four. In fifth place is Napoli (53 points), who has a better YTD goal differential than Milan, one that is on par with Juve and Atalanta. But the fact that Milan has a nine-point cushion over Napoli is huge. Napoli having been beaten eight times is a killer. The big dropoff (in points) in Serie A comes between 7th and 8th place, but I feel both AS Roma (50 points) and Lazio (49) are closer to the mid-table sides than they are the top five. Goal differential certainly backs my assessment up there. Two of Napoli’s next three matches are very winnable, so they can catch Milan, who seems curiously underpriced for their next two fixtures. But Napoli must make their move now.Current Bottom Three: Cagliari (22 points), Parma (19), Crotone (15)Parma and Crotone are getting relegated. Cagliari likely joins them as the one thing I’m fairly confident in projecting at the bottom of the Serie A table is that Torino (23 points) will AVOID relegation. Torino has a better GD than the two sides ahead of them. One of those is Benevento, whose -24 GD is third worst in the league. But they have 29 points and having a seven point edge over the bottom three is huge right now. I’d say if there’s one team that could fall into the bottom three, it’s Benevento as Torino should pass them by season’s end.La LigaCurrent Top Four: Atletico Madrid (66 points), Barcelona (62), Real Madrid (60), Sevilla FC (55)This race has been decided for some time now as there’s a 10 point gap between the top four and everyone else. If Barca can pull off finishing first over Atletico, it would be an incredible achievement given how we all viewed the two sides a couple months ago. I have no idea how Real Betis (45 points) has caught Real Sociedad for 5th, given their terrible start to the season. I think Sociedad and Villareal deserve to finish above Betis and Granada, but it’s been a somewhat strange season in La Liga. Current Bottom Three: Eibar (23 points), Alaves (23), HuescaUnlike the other three leagues, there are no locks for relegation yet. If I had to guarantee one, I’d say Alaves, who has the worst GD (-21) and most losses (15). There are five clubs that are seven or fewer points clear of safety right now. Among them, I’d say Cadiz is the most vulnerable based on GD. 

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NBA: Potential Risers & Fallers

Saturday, Feb 27, 2021

Potential Risers1. Atlanta - Remember that 4-1 start? Since then, the Hawks are just 10-18. They are currently 11th in the East. However, they have both a positive scoring differential and net efficiency rating for the season. So they’ve inarguably outscored their opponents while outplaying them on a per possession basis. Don’t be surprised if they climb as high as 6th in the East by season’s end and win the Southeast Division.  2. Dallas - The Mavs finished 7th in the West last season, largely because they were 2-11 SU in games decided by three points or less, a league worst. I figured they’d be a shoo-in to move up in the standings. But after 31 games, their record stands at just 15-16. The good news is there are still plenty of games left. I think the ceiling would be a 5th place finish. Currently, they are 9th. This team has NOT done well off an ATS win or when playing without rest. I expect that to change.3. New Orleans - The Pelicans are similar to the Hawks in that their point differential & net efficiency rating indicates they should be closer to .500. They are currently 11th in the West with a 14-18 record. One thing I notice is that 27 of their 32 games have come on one or zero days’ rest. Hopefully, the schedule breaks better for them in the second half. Zion Williamson has looked great recently. The Pelicans’ last 10 games have all gone Over the total, so you know they can score.Potential Fallers 1. Portland - The Blazers are 28th in defensive efficiency, missing two of their three best players and have suffered six 20+ point defeats. Yet somehow they are currently tied for 5th place in the West. Don’t expect that to last, however. By season’s end, they’ll be fighting for a play-in spot. This team has been lucky to this point. Their six wins by three points or less are tied for most in the league.2. Charlotte - The Hornets are already starting to fade. This is a team that’s been an underdog in 25 of its 32 games. They were expected to finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The East is so depth-shy that there will be multiple teams finishing below them this season and even a play-in spot cannot be discounted. But they aren’t going to maintain a .500 record moving forward.3. Philadelphia - The Sixers are not as good as either the Bucks or the Nets. I do not expect they’ll finish with the best record in the conference, which is something they currently own. 4. Cleveland - This one may seem oddly placed as the Cavaliers are 12-21 and unquestionably considered one of the worst teams in the league. But I believe them to be THE worst team and expect a bottom of the standings finish by season’s end. 

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NCAA Tournament Handicapping: Defensive Efficiency Is Key!

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021

Before you know it, the NCAA Tournament will be underway. With that in mind, I wanted to discuss a key metric I look at every year when handicapping March Madness (well except 2020). Defensive efficiency is key. For those that are unaware, defensive efficiency refers not to the number of points a particular team allows per game, but rather over a given number of possessions. Typically, a team’s defensive efficiency rating is extracted from the number of points it allows per 100 possessions. The site KenPom.com makes even further adjustments and their ratings are the ones I lean on for my own College Basketball picks. Looking at efficiency gives you a better “feel” for how a team really plays defense as opposed to simply looking at the number of points they allow per game. Some teams play at much slower tempos and thus there are a fewer number of possessions per game. Therefore, they are likely to give up a lower number of points per game. (Note: if they don’t, that means they are pretty bad defensively!) Conversely, if a team is giving up fewer points in a game that has more possessions, then they are a significantly better defensive team. Even if you don’t care to understand defensive efficiency, that’s okay. The aforementioned KenPom posts every team’s adjusted defensive efficiency rating and you can view it there. The current top 10 teams in defensive efficiency rating (per KenPom) are: Loyola Chicago, Alabama, Memphis, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Baylor, Houston, Wisconsin, Illinois and VCU. Obviously, you’ve got some names on that list that you’d expect to see. Gonzaga and Baylor are both undefeated and the top two teams in the country. Alabama, Tennessee, Houston, Wisconsin and Illinois are all Top 25 teams you’d expect will perform well in the NCAA Tournament.But there are definitely two names on that list that should jump out to you. First and foremost, you’ve got Loyola Chicago, who is #1 in the entire country in defensive efficiency. The Ramblers are currently ranked in the Top 25, but only projected to be an 8-seed by the “esteemed” Joe Lunardi. In my opinion, this is NOT a team that any #1 seed would want to face in the Round of 32. I would almost certainly take the points with Loyola against any higher seed come tourney time. Remember - they made the Final Four three years ago! VCU is another team to keep an eye on. Right now, the Rams are very much a bubble team. But as a likely double digit seed, they’d make for a very live dog in the Round of 64. Unfortunately for Memphis, they are currently NOT projected to be a NCAA Tournament team. They’d be a real dark horse (to pull an upset or two, not to win the whole thing obviously) if they were somehow to make the field.Underdogs with strong defensive efficiency ratings make for strong plays come NCAA Tournament time. On the flip side, favorites with suspect defensive efficiency ratings are vulnerable to getting bounced early. There are likely to be a handful of teams in this year’s Tourney that will get high seeds despite defensive efficiency ratings outside the top 75. They are: Iowa, Ohio State and Villanova. Ohio State is even in the running for a #1 seed! I would not pick any of these squads to make it to the Final Four. Keep all this in mind when the brackets are released next month. It will help you be a more successful NCAA Tournament bettor. 

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NCAA Basketball: Overrated and Underrated Teams

Sunday, Jan 31, 2021

I did this last month and thought it was somewhat instructive. So I’ll once again compare the current Top 25 rankings (AP/Coaches) and my own power ratings and give you a list of teams I think are overrated and underrated.OVERRATED Missouri (#12 AP/Coaches) - The Tigers did lose earlier this week, so they figure to fall a bit when the new rankings are published Monday. That fall won’t be as precipitous though after holding off TCU (in overtime) on Saturday. In my own power rankings, Mizzou barely cracks the top 40 and I’m pleased that the KenPom ratings say the same. Do not expect this team to make it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.Virginia Tech (#20 AP/#19 Coaches) - Admittedly, now is not a good time to call the Hokies “overrated” as they just upset Virginia on Saturday. They’ve also beaten Villanova! But this team has done the bulk of its damage in Blacksburg, where last I checked the NCAA Tournament WON’T be taking place. The Hokies are going to move up in the next rankings and I feel it might be a good time to fade as they are just ahead of Missouri in my own power ratings, outside the top 30. UNDERRATEDIllinois (#19 AP/#24 Coaches) - So the Illini are going to move up after beating Iowa on Friday. But they still won’t be high enough, at least in my estimation. This is easily a Top 10 team in America and maybe even Top 5. There are only seven teams in the Top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency (per KenPom). The Illini are one of the seven.Colorado (NR) - So the Buffaloes loss to Utah on Saturday pretty much guarantees they won’t be moving into the Top 25. Believe it or not, I faded the Buffs on Saturday. So it may seem strange I’m still calling them “underrated.” But consider that they led the Utes 65-46 with just under nine minutes to go. This is definitely one of the 25 best teams in the country.Arkansas (NR) - The Razorbacks went just 4-5 in January after I called them “underrated” in last month’s column. That’s not enough to dissuade me. All of their losses have been to good teams. Admittedly, most of their wins have been against bad teams. But the SEC remains wide open and I’d put the Hogs up against anybody in the conference with the exception of Tennessee.  

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NBA: How Do The Teams Stack Up So Far?

Sunday, Jan 31, 2021

We’re a little more than one month into the NBA season, so I wanted to share some thoughts on how the two conferences are shaping up. If you’re unaware, the playoff format has been altered. There will be a  "play-in tournament" for teams ranked 7th through 10th in each conference from May 18–21. The 7th place team will play the 8th place team, with the winner earning the 7-seed. The 9th place team will play the 10th place team with the loser of that game being eliminated. The 7th-8th loser will then play the 9th-10th winner, with the winner of that game earning the 8-seed and the loser being eliminated.The top six in each conference do not have to worry about the “play-in tournament” and are assured of playoff berths.Let’s look at who I think has a good shot at finishing in the top six in the East and West. East: The current top six of Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Indiana, Boston & Atlanta are who I expect to be the top six when the regular season concludes. The order will likely shuffle with Milwaukee being my pick to finish on top, which they’ve done the previous two seasons. The Bucks are #1 in the East in both point differential and net efficiency. Brooklyn is #2 in both and now that they have James Harden, will probably finish no lower than third. I expect them to duke it out with Philadelphia for the #2 seed. The Sixers have cleaned up against sub-.500 foes so far (11-2 SU) and did just beat the Lakers, but I don’t see them making the Conference Finals. Atlanta is among the league’s most improved teams so far and as the likely winner of the Southeast Division could finish ahead of Indiana and Boston, if all goes well.  As for the play-in spots, I think you have to look at the likelihood of both Toronto and Miami improving. These teams have been negatively impacted by COVID with the Raptors playing home games in Orlando and the Heat having a thin roster. The East is too weak for these teams not to finish in the top 10. It’s so weak that even teams like Charlotte, New York and Cleveland have a shot at making the playoffs. When all is said and done, expect the Raptors and Heat to round out the top eight. West: The top three have really solidified themselves already. As expected, the Lakers and Clippers are among those three teams. The surprise is Utah, who has won 11 in a row as of this writing, and currently leads the conference. There’s no “smoke and mirrors” either. The Jazz are 12-3 in games decided by 10 points or more and have the best point differential in the NBA. They’ve covered the spread in all 11 games during this win streak as well and have the best ATS record in the league. The Jazz have actually been favored in 17 of their 19 games so far, so the strong start should actually NOT be that surprising. They have yet to face the Lakers, but did beat the Clippers on New Year’s Day.Denver, who has finished top three in the West each of the previous two seasons, would seem like a lock to finish in the top six again this year. I’ve been very disappointed with the Mavericks recently as they’ve lost five straight to fall to 8-12 SU. But like the Raptors and Heat in the East, expect the Mavs to rise up and I’ve got them projected for the top six here. Phoenix is a young and exciting team and I think they’ll also finish above the “cut line” for the playoff scenario.The West is deeper than the East, making the race for the Play-In spots more intriguing. Unlike the East, I think there are some teams that you can easily “write off” though. Oklahoma City, Sacramento and Minnesota are all pretty bad and I would be stunned if any of those three finished in the top 10. That would leave six teams - Memphis, San Antonio, Houston, Portland, Golden State and New Orleans - fighting for the four spots. All of these teams would make the playoffs if they were in the East. They all have significant flaws, Portland’s horrible defensive efficiency for example, but those things can be overcome. I think it’s pretty clear the Warriors are never getting back to their previous championship heights. Memphis and Houston are both solid defensive teams. San Antonio is one of only three teams currently covering at a 60% rate or higher, so they’ve been undervalued. New Orleans is the worst of the six teams, according to every metric. Since it’s so early in the season, I’m not really comfortable choosing which four of these six will get the chance to play playoff basketball.I’ll be checking back in as the season progresses. 

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CBB Entering 2021: Overrated Teams

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

Every week, I like to take a look at the AP & Coaches Polls in College Basketball and compare them to my own Top 25 power ratings. It’s always fun (and instructive!) to spot which teams the pollsters and I aren’t necessarily in agreement on. As we get ready to turn the calendar to 2021, here are three teams that I feel are overrated by the pollsters. All are ranked in the Top 25, but none of them SHOULD be. We’ve got one from the SEC, a conference I covered extensively in my underrated College Basketball teams column. The other two are from the Big 10. 1. Missouri - The Tigers are ranked #12 in the country, but I flat out disagree with that assessment as I’ve got a number of SEC teams rated above them. I had no issue laying a short number against the Tigers, in Columbia, when they faced Tennessee in a battle of unbeatens Wednesday. Sure enough, the Volunteers crushed the Tigers 73-53. Up next for Mizzou is a date with Arkansas, a team that made my underrated list. A loss there and the Tigers could tumble out of the Top 25.2. Michigan State - I bet a lot of you wish I would have written this column prior to Monday as that was when Sparty suffered a humiliating 81-56 defeat in Minnesota. It was their third consecutive defeat, all of those coming in Big 10 play. That’s dropped Tom Izzo’s team down to #17, but my power ratings say they shouldn’t even be ranked. Their best win is the lone time I played them (vs. Duke), but Duke is another team that has no business in the Top 25. Neither the KenPom ratings nor my own consider Michigan State a top 50 team in the country right now.3. Northwestern - Get ready to “sell high” on the Wildcats. Their current #19 ranking is the program’s highest this “late” in the season since 1969! It’s only the 7th time they’ve ever been ranked! After opening Big 10 play with three consecutive upsets (Mich St, Indiana, Ohio St), N’western lost at Iowa (by 15) on Tuesday. Look for that to start a downturn. The upcoming schedule is BRUTAL with the next four games all against legit Top 25 competition. 

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CBB Entering 2021: Underrated Teams

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

Every week, I like to take a look at the AP & Coaches Polls in College Basketball and compare them to my own Top 25 power ratings. It’s always fun (and instructive!) to spot which teams the pollsters and I aren’t necessarily in agreement on. As we get ready to turn the calendar to 2021, here are three teams that I feel are underrated by the pollsters. None are ranked in the Top 25, but all of them SHOULD be. Interestingly enough, ALL three hail from the SEC. So either the pollsters aren’t watching the SEC or my power ratings are giving too much credence to these teams’ non-conference schedules.1. Arkansas - I just cashed an SEC Game of the Month on the Razorbacks Wednesday. They went to Auburn and won by 12. That win keeps the Hogs unbeaten (9-0), yet they are surprisingly unranked. If they beat #12 Missouri on Saturday, you have to figure they’ll climb into the next poll. This is a senior laden team that plays very good defense. They are #15 in my power ratings. 2. LSU - Right behind Arkansas in my power ratings is LSU (#16). The Tigers’ only loss of the season was by four points at St. Louis. Since then, four of their five wins have been by 22 points. They’ve got a huge showdown looming with Florida (more on them in a moment) this weekend. 3. Florida - Wednesday night saw the Gators play for the 1st time since Keyontae Johnson collapsed. That very scary situation occurred on December 12th against Florida State, the Gators only loss of the season. Johnson was the Preseason SEC Player of the Year, so losing him is no “small potatoes.” But the Gators showed they can be quite formidable even without their star as they destroyed Vanderbilt, 91-72, in Nashville. I’ve got the Gators as a Top 20 team. 

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A Look At European Soccer (Serie A & La Liga)

Monday, Nov 30, 2020

With soccer having returned all across Europe last week following the season’s second international break, I thought it would be a good time to examine what’s going on in the “Big 4” leagues.Here I’ll take a look at a pair of wide open leagues: Serie A (Italy) and La Liga (Spain) Serie A: This was supposed to be the year that Juventus’ nine-year run at the top came to an end. They are currently fourth with 17 points. Clubs such as Inter Milan or Atalanta were the picks of many to supplant Juventus. Fresh off an impressive 3-0 win over Sassuolo, Inter is tied for 2nd. Atalanta is 8th as they’ve conceded 16 times, the most of any side in the top half. The big story is AC Milan running ahead of everybody with 23 points taken out of a possible 27. They have not been beaten. Neither has Juventus, but they have four wins and five draws as opposed to AC Milan’s seven wins and two draws. Aforementioned Sassuolo is still tied with Inter for second, but I expect them to drop. Napoli is sitting in 5th and could be the club who moves past Sassuolo into the top four. In the relegation zone, we have a number of sides that could finish bottom three. Don’t be surprised to see Benevento drop there as they’ve conceded 21 times, second most in all of Serie A. La Liga: No one expected Real Sociedad to be running out in front, but they are. Atletico Madrid is just one point behind and has conceded only twice in nine matches with zero losses! Sociedad has conceded only five times and lost once. As tumultuous of a season as it has been, you can never discount Barcelona, the only other La Liga side with a positive double digit goal differential (+10). Barca (currently 7th) should make its way into the top four shortly. What about Sevilla? They’ve recently made a move and are 5th in the table. Real Madrid is 4th. Some of the pretenders have started to fall off, but I’m still surprised to see Cadiz (-3 GD) and Granada (-6) in 6th and 8th place. Not convinced Villareal (3rd) is going to hold its current position either. One side you may want to look to bet against moving forward is Real Betis, who has the worst goal differential in La Liga (-11) but still sits 15th and out of the relegation zone. Yet they have conceded more times than anybody (23) and have the most losses (7). Those four wins seem fluky. 

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A Look At European Soccer (EPL & Bundesliga)

Monday, Nov 30, 2020

With soccer having returned all across Europe last week following the season’s second international break, I thought it would be a good time to examine what’s going on in the “Big 4” leagues.Here I’ll look at the English Premier League as well as the German Bundesliga EPL - Many expected Liverpool to take a step back after last year’s historic campaign. Yet there the Reds are, tied with Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the table (21 points). Thus far, we’ve seen a revolving door of contenders in the Premier League with clubs like Everton, Southampton and Aston Villa spending time on top. All three of those sides have fallen off the pace a bit and now currently sit 8th, 6th and 10th respectively. For my money, Tottenham and Chelsea have been the two best sides. Right behind Chelsea is Leicester City in the 4th spot, but they just suffered a terrible loss to Fulham, one of the four clubs that will spend most of the year fighting to avoid relegation (West Brom, Burnley & Sheffield United are the others). Manchester City and Manchester United being middle of the table teams is surprising. Bundesliga - Any discussion of this league must start with Bayern Munich, the best side in all of Europe. Not surprisingly, they are at the top of the table with 22 points. They have scored 31 times in nine matches. Besides Bayern, there are six other sides that have separated themselves from the rest of the pack in Germany’s top flight. Neither Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg have a loss on their resumes, which is something that even Bayern can’t claim. Yet the two undefeated sides still rank just third and fifth in the table due to an abundance of draws. RP Leipzig and Dortmund were both expected to finish in the top four and that’s where both currently are. They each have a +12 goal differential. Only Bayern is better in that metric. Don’t discount Union Berlin (+10 goal differential) or Gladbach either. The bottom of this league is pretty bad, particularly Schalke, who is still winless in its last 25 Bundesliga matches. 

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NFL: 2 Teams That Are Better Than You Think

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

Anyone who regularly follows my picks knows that I am a big believer in YTD scoring differential being a reliable predictor of future outcomes. Yesterday I took a look at three NFL teams that aren’t as good as their record says they are. Now it’s time to take a look at two teams that are better than you might realize.1. Tampa Bay (5-2, +80 pt differential) - The Buccaneers were likely to improve this year for a variety of reasons. But, despite two losses, they are even better than I’d thought. Coming off a 45-20 win over Las Vegas last week, the Bucs now own the league’s top point differential. Tom Brady and the offense commands the attention, but the defense is arguably the best in the NFL. You can’t run on them. They are allowing just 66 rush yards per game! Looking at the two losses, one was in Week 1 whey they outgained the Saints in New Orleans. The other was a Thursday night road game in Chicago where they outgained the Bears substantially on a per play basis, yet lost 20-19 on a last second field goal. Tampa Bay projects to be favored in almost every game from here on out. They have a shot at being the NFC’s top seed. 2. Miami (3-3, +47 point differential) - This is the real surprise of the list. The Dolphins are the only team in the AFC East with a positive point differential. All three wins have been by at least 18 points. The three losses were to New England, Buffalo and Seattle, two of those being one-score games. I believe this team has a legit shot at winning the division this season. Head coach Brian Flores has obviously “rolled the dice” by making the change at QB to Tua Tagovailoa, but he did so on a bye week and Tua obviously has more upside than veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. The team’s point differential is actually the 7th best in football right now. We shall see if that holds up. This week, the Fins are a dog at home vs. the Rams. Next week they’ll be a dog in Arizona. That means they will have been the underdog in seven of their first eight games. The second half schedule looks to be easier and the AFC East could be decided in Week 17 at Buffalo.

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NFL: 3 Teams That Aren't As Good As Their Record

Thursday, Oct 29, 2020

Anyone who regularly follows my picks knows that I am a big believer in YTD scoring differential being a reliable predictor of future outcomes. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at three NFL teams that aren’t as good as their record says they are. 1. Bears (WL record: 5-2, Point Differential -2) - It should be common sense that a team that’s been outscored on the season probably should not have a 5-2 record. Anyone who watched the Bears play on Monday Night Football against the Rams probably doesn’t think they should be 5-2 either. This is a team that’s been extremely fortunate in the early going. They have won two games in which they trailed by double digits in the fourth quarter. They somehow beat Tampa Bay despite being outgained 5.3 to 4.1 on a yards per play basis. The offense isn’t good as it’s been held under 20 points in half of its games, two of those coming since the move to Nick Foles. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears ended up missing the playoffs. 2. Bills (WL record: 5-2, Point Differential: -4) - I’m not nearly as high on this Bills team as some others seem to be. Once again, having a negative point differential seems to justify my position. The Bills snapped a two-game losing streak on Sunday by beating the Jets 18-10. But they did not cover the large spread. It’s also worth mentioning they’ve beaten the winless Jets twice. They have no other wins by more than seven points and were dominated in games against two of the AFC’s best teams (KC, Tennessee). The offense has been held to an average of 17 PPG the L3 weeks, a stretch which has seen them go 0-3 ATS. A win this Sunday against New England would put the Bills at 6-2 and firmly in control of the AFC East. But this is an average, not great team. 3. Cleveland (WL record: 5-2, Point Differential -21) - This is the biggest “offender” on our list. The Browns were dominated in losses to the Ravens and Steelers, but are 5-0 otherwise. Those losses to the Ravens and Steelers were by a combined 63 points. Three of the five wins have come at the expense of Cincinnati (both close) and Washington (were +5 in turnovers). The upcoming schedule is favorable and the addition of a 7th playoff spot this year may very well end up being what snaps Cleveland’s 18-year playoff drought. But this isn’t a very good team. Note their point differential is roughly the same as the 1-6 Falcons!

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2020 NBA Futures Betting: Dallas Mavericks to Win Western Conference

Saturday, Jun 27, 2020

When it comes to predicting future outcomes, I’ve always been of the belief that a team’s point differential is a far more useful tool than their actual won-loss record. This goes for any sport. If this holds true for the Dallas Mavericks, then they very well may emerge as a team you’ll want to be betting on when the NBA resumes games on July 30th.The Mavs owned the league’s 6th best point differential (+6.1 per game) at the time of the stoppage. The only teams to have outscored their opponents by a higher margin per game were: Milwaukee (+11.2), the Lakers (7.4), the Clippers (6.5), Toronto (+6.5) and Boston (+6.3). Collectively, that quintet owned the five best won-loss records in the league. Dallas posted 23 victories by 10 more points in their first 67 games. So they won more than a third of their games by double digits. Only four teams can say they won a higher number of games by 10 or more points.So why didn’t the Mavs have a better record than 40-27 (straight up)? Simple - they were a league-worst 2-9 SU in games decided by three points or less. They also lost three overtime games. Something I have constantly harped on through the years is that a team’s record in close games is NOT a sign of skill, but rather good (or bad) luck. Through its first 67 games, Dallas was clearly snakebit in this regard. Despite the unprecedented way in which the NBA has chosen to conclude its season, the Mavs should experience better results in close games moving forward. One negative sign for the Mavericks moving forward is their 10-16 SU record versus teams that have a .500 or better record. With the bottom-feeders no longer playing games, Dallas will be unable to “beat up” on those opponents. They’ll have to be better against stiffer competition. Of course, many of the close losses that the Mavs sustained in their first 67 games came to .500 or better teams. Again, look for them to be better in that situation.From a personnel standpoint, the Mavs are of course led by Luka Doncic, who has the most 30+ point triple doubles in the league. They won’t have either Willey Cauley-Stein (opted-out of playing) or veteran guard Courtney Lee (calf injury), but are expected to sign Trey Burke as a replacement for Lee.The Mavs lead the league in offensive efficiency and were a league-best 21-10-2 ATS in road games. Remember that homecourt advantage is now “out the window.”  Dallas is currently 15-1 to win the Western Conference at Bovada Sportsbook. Normally, I’d never consider a team at those odds in the NBA Playoffs, but if there was ever a year for a long-shot, it’s definitely this one. Something to keep an eye on - it’s fairly imperative that the Mavs move out of the 7th spot in the Western Conference. Finishing there would likely result in a first round playoff matchup with the Clippers. Even if they can move into 6th place, Dallas will be much better suited for a playoff run. 

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NFL Teams Set to Decline in 2020

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020

Earlier, I took a long look at NFL teams whose win total should improve from last season. Here I’ll be focused on teams that will win fewer games in 2020 (compared to 2019).  Similar to my “improved list,” oddsmakers are "onto these teams" (check projected win totals below). So I would not say that there’s a ton of value in betting these numbers. However, I do think more than a few will finish UNDER their respective win totals. At the end of this article, you’ll mind my FAVORITE NFL Win total bet for 2020!The first number (listed next to the team) is how many games they won last season. The second number in () is how many they are currently projected to win this season.1. Packers 13 (9)  - Was this the worst 13-3 SU team EVER last year? Probably. The Packers had a pythagorean win expectation of only 9.8 in 2019. They only outscored opponents by 63 points, which was a smaller margin than the 10-6 Vikings (+104), 9-7 Titans (+71) and even 8-8 Cowboys (+113). Green Bay went 9-1 SU in one-score games last season. They were actually outgained on yard per play basis and were +12 in turnover margin. The only saving grace for this year’s playoff prospects is that they play in a weak NFC North.2. Patriots 12 (9)  - The loss of Tom Brady heavily factored into this number. Brady’s replacement (as of now) is Jarrett Stidham, who is a 4th round draft pick with no prior starting NFL experience. Stidham doesn’t exactly have a lot of offensive weapons at his disposal either. After posting a league best turnover margin (+21) last year (against a very easy schedule), the Pats’ defense is set to decline as well.  3. Texans 10 (7.5)  - Coach/GM Bill O’ Brien had a dismal offseason with several questionable personnel decisions. The most flagrant was trading WR DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona. The Texans were actually outscored despite winning 10 games last year. They were outgained on a per play basis as well. Among AFC South teams, both the Titans and Colts are better.4. 49ers 13 (10.5) -  The 49ers had a huge jump in wins last year (went 4-12 SU in 2018). Thus, the “plexiglass principle” kicks in. Last year’s NFC Champs should still be favored to win the West, but they won’t be going 13-3 again.5. Ravens 14 (11.5)  - Similarly, Lamar Jackson and company are not going to win 14+ games for a second straight year! No team in NFL history has ever done that. Still, the Ravens join the Chiefs as the clear top two teams in the AFC.6. Seahawks 11 (9)  - Last year’s Seahawks were the worst 11-win team, perhaps in history.  They benefited from a +12 TO margin and EVERY win was by eight points or less. (Their point differential was only +7!) Their pythagorean win expectation was only 8.2. Even with Russell Wilson, I see Seattle as a single-digit win team in 2020. The NFC West is tough. My favorite win total on the board - Here's an instance where my numbers indicate a team will decline next year and that's NOT being accounted for in the oddsmakers number! Raiders Under 7.5 (Went 7-9 last year) - This is by far my favorite win total on the board, and the odds are currently -105 at BetOnline Sportsbook. The Raiders were -106 in point differential last year. Compare that to the 5-11 Chargers (only -8) and the fellow 7-9 Broncos (-34). They were 7-3 SU in one-score games. Their pythagorean win expectation was only 5.2.  Studies show moving into a new stadium hurts home field advantage for the first two seasons. It should be a much tougher first year in Las Vegas than what’s being expected. Look for the Silver & Black to finish dead last in the AFC West this season. 

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NFL Teams Set to Improve in 2020

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020

Six NFL Teams That Will Improve Their Record in 20201.    Bengals - Cincinnati had the worst record in the league last season (2-14 SU). That allowed them to take QB Joe Burrow with the #1 pick in April’s Draft. The Bengals are projected for 5.5 wins in 2020, so oddsmakers see them as likely to improve - substantially. It’s not just because of Burrow. This team wasn't actually as bad in 2019 as you might think. They led in 12 of 16 games. But they were 0-8 (straight up) in one-score affairs and also had a -14 turnover differential. Those numbers will improve this season. It’s a case of “low-hanging fruit” here, but the Bengals WILL win more games in 2020. 2.   Lions - Detroit wasn’t much better than Cincinnati last year. They finished 3-13 (SU). Unlike the Bengals, the Lions did not draft a QB of the future. They didn’t have to though. They are getting back a (hopefully) healthy Matthew Stafford, which should certainly help their 2020 prospects. A futile record in one-score games (3-8 SU) last year was another problem for the Lions, who lost only one game by more than 13 points. One reason I see the Lions being able to possibly go Over this season’s win total (6.5) is that they play in the NFC North, an “up for grabs” division that has no dominant team.3.    Chargers - The Lightning Bolts finished 5-11 SU last season, but were only outscored by eight points! They were actually favored to win nine games, so it was a clear case of underachieving. A league worst -17 turnover differential and a 2-9 SU record in one-score games did them in. Philip Rivers is gone after being a big contributory factor to that poor TO margin. But I worry about how LA is going to replace him. Veteran Tyrod Taylor will presumably begin the season as the starter, even though the team used the #6 overall draft pick on Justin Herbert. Still, I expect LA to be closer to .500 this season, which is right in line with the oddsmakers’ projection of 8 wins. Despite having (arguably) the weakest home field advantage in the league, you have to figure the Chargers will improve upon last season’s 2-6 SU home record. They also failed to win a single division game last season. Look for improvement in that area as well. 4.    Bucs - Even before acquiring Tom Brady (and Rob Gronkowski), Tampa Bay was a team likely to improve in 2020. They outscored and outgained their opponents last year (both on a per game and per play basis). Jameis Winston was the big reason the Bucs were -13 in turnover margin last season. Brady will help cut down on that number and also improve on last year’s 3-6 SU record  in one-score games. By the way, the Bucs’ defense was #5 in DVOA last year. I’m a little scared of how trendy the Bucs are this year, but the fact they could be favorites in as many as 13 games shows the oddsmakers are taking them very seriously. I do see them challenging the Saints for first place in the NFC South and they are a strong bet to win at least 10 games! 5.    Cowboys - It’s definitely fair to say that the Cowboys underachieved last year. They were favored in all but two games, finished with the league’s 6th best point differential (+113), yet ended up 8-8 and missed the playoffs. The Dak Prescott contract situation is a perceived “distraction,” but don’t let it distract you from the fact this is one of the more talented teams in the entire league, particularly on the offensive side of the football. Perhaps most important of all is that Jason Garrett was FINALLY relieved of his head coaching duties. Mike McCarthy probably wasn’t the best possible replacement for Garrett and an unprecedented offseason doesn’t exactly help a first year coach. But McCarthy did win 10 or more games EIGHT times with the Packers. Oddsmakers project his new team to win 10 games in 2020. 6.    Cardinals - I’m starting to see Arizona as a darkhorse team in the NFC West. Some of that has to do with the fact that I project the three other teams in the division (49ers, Seahawks, Rams) to all win fewer games this season compared to last. Fleecing Houston in the DeAndre Hopkins trade is another big reason why the Cardinals may fly higher than their projected win total of 7.5 in 2020. 

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