Sports Picks For Sale - Team Del Genio

Hot Streaks and Achievements

  • 44-20 (69%), 102-57 (64%), and 226-128 (64%) all sports runs, 9/28
  • 13-4 (76%) NFL and 22-8 (73%) NFL Game of the Month/Year runs, 9/28
  • 18-6 (75%), 70-37 (65%), and 114-69 (62%) MLB runs, 9/28

Biography

Founded by Bally Casino’s former sportsbook director, Team Del Genio provides winners from an oddsmaker’s perspective.

Active Since: 1999

Location: Las Vegas, NV

Team Del Genio continues the sports handicapping legacy of former oddsmaker, Lenny Del Genio.  After heading the sportsbook operations at the Frontier and then Bally’s, Lenny moved to the other side of the window when he started his sports handicapping service where he later mentored the next generation of handicappers.  By maintaining the perspective of the oddsmakers, Team Del Genio represents a consensus service of a small group of handicappers that Lenny personally trained.

Lenny Del Genio was one of Las Vegas’ most influential and iconic Race and Sports Book Directors from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s.  Lenny headed the sportsbook operations at the Frontier and Bally’s during that time.  During those years, Lenny also made frequent on-camera appearances for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and most cable television networks where he commented on major sporting events and gaming trends.  Lenny became internationally known as the unofficial oddsmaker of the Academy Awards and the Emmy Awards with the Del Genio line carried by both the Associated Press and Reuters.  Lenny was featured on many national and international news and entertainment programs, including Entertainment Tonight, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and NBC Late Night.  Lenny later held the position of Vice President/General Manager at Bally’s in charge of casino development while serving as a consultant to Indian gaming.  He then moved on to become the General Manager of Racing Services de Mexico, with special responsibilities in international expansion.  Finally, Lenny moved to the other side of the window in the late 1990s when he started his sports service.  Lenny was an integral part of the gaming industry for more than three decades before passing away in September 2012. 

Team Del Genio was founded by Lenny to provide the best sports wagering information to gambling clients with a keen eye kept on the perspective he gained from his decades of work as an oddsmaker.  Lenny trained and mentored a small group of individuals who served as his right-hand men over the years.  It is this group of handicappers that now maintain Lenny’s legacy with their consensus Team Del Genio picks.  Besides their prestigious Game of the Month/Year plays, the Team offers packages such as their Vegas J*A*C*K*P*O*T, Oddsmaker Error, and their rare 30* Vegas Icon Signature Play which celebrates the decades-long legacy of Lenny Del Genio.  Team Del Genio's reports are available exclusively at Big Al’s Sports Picks.

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MLB - Thu, Sep 29 at 9:38 PM

Oddsmaker’s Edge for the A’s/Angels:

Oakland Athletics vs Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels -250 (DraftKings)

Now that the Los Angeles Angels have been eliminated from the American League playoff race, they are finally playing better baseball. The Angels won for the fourth time in their previous five games with their 4-1 victory against the A’s last night. LA has won seven of their last ten games against...

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NFL - Over / Under - Thu, Sep 29

TDG’s NFL TOTAL OF THE MONTH

Team Del Genio’s is on a 13-4 (76%) NFL run after winning their NFL Monday Night Total of the Month with the Cowboys/...

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NFL Scoring is Down

Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

Scoring is down in the NFL this season. For the first two weeks of the season, teams are averaging 21.41 points per game. In the first two weeks of the season last year, teams averaged 24.0 points per game. Let’s consider the implications of teams averaging 2.59 fewer points per game. The average combined score last year in the first two weeks of the season was 48 points. In the first two weeks of this season, the combined score is just 42.82. The scoring is down even more in this third week of the regular season. Through Sunday night’s low-scoring affair between San Francisco and Denver, teams are averaging only 20.37 points per game, and the average combined score for the previous fifteen games this week has been only 40.74 points. The betting market has yet to catch up with the under posting a 29-17-1 record this season. For prime-time games, the under has cashed in seven of the nine games. These under trends will probably fade as the oddsmakers and the betting market adjusts. Yet when we see the oddsmakers install an over/under below 40 as they did for the Monday night Cowboys/Giants game, we should not get scared off an under play. We had the under for that Monday night game, and bettors won with 39.5 tickets and pushed with 39s with Dallas winning the game, 23-16, to continue the lower-scoring trend. These numbers fly in the face of the conventional wisdom that the NFL has evolved into an offensive-dominated league. Certainly, rule changes designed to protect the quarterback and wide receivers running routes in the middle of the field have had an impact. Yet it would be more precise to indicate that these rule changes help the passing game. Yet with more teams passing the ball more often, scoring has not necessarily increased, as the early season numbers indicate. Perhaps offenses are simply behind the progress of defenses since more and more head coaches opt to not play their first-string offensive players in the preseason. More than a third of the opening week's starting quarterbacks did not take a snap in the preseason. Only three quarterbacks who did not play in the preseason led their team to a victory in Week 1, and two of those quarterbacks were playing against teams who also did not play their quarterback in the preseason. Kirk Cousins led Minnesota to a win against Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers and Justin Herbert led the Los Angeles Chargers to a victory against Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders. Only the Baltimore Ravens with Lamar Jackson started 1-0 after their quarterback did not play in the preseason. Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Joe Burrow, and Ryan Tannehill were all losing quarterbacks in Week 1 after not playing in the preseason. These 11 quarterbacks combined for an 86.1 passer rating and a 6.9 yards per attempt average, which was a significant drop from their combined 100.4 passer rating and 7.7 yards per attempt average in 2021.If rust is the reason for the scoring decline, then it will be a short-term phenomenon. Yet some reasons support the notion that defenses may be catching up to the recent trends on offense that have emphasized the passing attack. More and more defenses are embracing the principles of Vic Fangio who deploys 3-4 base fronts with two high safeties. The two-high safety look became an effective counter to explosive offenses like Kansas City who thrived on big plays from Patrick Mahomes. Yet the Chiefs struggled against teams who played these two-high safety looks. These defensive concepts are now being used against other high-octane offenses like the Los Angeles Rams and the Buffalo Bills. For those who consider NFL trends to be cyclical in nature, then it makes sense that it would only be a matter of time before defenses began to adjust, adapt, and catch up to these new offensive principles. Injuries and poor play on the offensive line are likely playing a role as well. Some observers are concerned that college football is not doing as good a job as they have in the past in training linemen for the next level. As more and more programs rely on pass-reliant passing offenses in the Air Raid vein, many offensive linemen are getting drafted by NFL teams despite the lack of experience playing with a hand on the ground at the line of scrimmage before the snap. Perhaps it is no coincidence that other teams are finding success running the football. As defenses play more nickel and dime sub-packages to defend against passing attacks, those teams that move in a different direction by emphasizing the run can take advantage of these schemes and lack of linebacker depth on the roster. The Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions are two teams with heavy run tendencies who are scoring plenty of points early this season. Bettors should consider these early under trends with a grain of salt. Yet it is important to monitor the possibility that the high-scoring games of the past which compelled oddsmakers to install the over/under in the 50s for many NFL games may be starting to wane.Good luck - TDG.

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Is Dylan Bundy Preparing for a Career Renaissance in his 30s?

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2022

Dylan Bundy is probably not going to ever regain the form he demonstrated in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Signed as a free agent in the offseason by the Los Angeles Angels, the right-hander posted an 11-6 record with a 3.29 era and a 1.04 whip in eleven starts compromising of 65 2/3 innings. His strikeout rate of 27.0% of the batters he faced was the highest of his career. Yet in his second-year with the Angels, Bundy was a major disappointment. He had a 2-9 record with an ugly 6.06 era and a 1.36 whip. He made nineteen starts in twenty-three appearances in pitching 65 2/3 innings. His strikeout rate dropped to 21.2%, and his walk-rate rose to an 8.6% mark of all the batters he faced, a five-year high since his second season in the league with Baltimore.The Minnesota Twins signed him in the offseason with the hopes that he could find that 2020 formula that worked so well with the Angels. Going into his start on Monday against Boston, many of his numbers did not look promising. For the year, Bundy had a 7-6 record with a 4.56 era and a 1.21 whip, yet there were reasons for optimism for his starts this month that helped persuade us to back Minnesota in our MLB Game of the Month on that day. Bundy was coming off a start in Houston the previous Wednesday where he allowed only three hits and two runs in five innings of work. In his four previous starts in August, Bundy has a 2.32 era and a 0.86 whip. His walk-rate of 5.1% of the batters he has faced was the lowest of his career. He had walked only four batters in his last five starts consisting of 24 1/3 innings, and he has not walked more than one batter in an outing since July 26th.The 29-year-old held the Red Sox to just two runs but could not get the final out in the fifth inning to complete five full innings of work. In hindsight, the effort was indicative of where Bundy has gone in his career. He struck out only three batters, and he has a mere six strikeout in his last four starts comprising 20 innings. His strikeout rate of 16.7% is the lowest of his career. Yet he did enough to put his team in a position to win the game, and Minnesota did pull the game out, 4-2. Bundy has only allowed six earned runs in his last four starts for a 2.70 era. While he is not striking out batters like he was in 2020, he has changed his tactics to rely more on his control. After walking only one Red Sox batter on Monday, his walk rate has dropped to 5.0% while averaging just 1.91 bases-on-balls per nine innings. His previous career-low was in that 2020 season with the Angels when he walked 2.33 batters per nine innings. Bundy is a fly ball pitcher with 44.3% of the balls that batters are putting into play being fly balls. Yet his home run rate of 1.27 per nine innings is the second-lowest of his career, behind the 0.68 home runs per nine innings he allowed in his benchmark 2020 season. Bundy is not likely to ever approach the numbers he put up in that shortened season in 2020. Yet by reducing his walks and getting more batters to settle for fly balls when pitching half his games in Target Stadium for the Twins, he just might find a new formula for success. That 2020 campaign was the only year in his career where he posted an era below 4.00. He could develop into a veteran who can be a 3.75 era in the back half of his career just yet.Good luck - Team Del Genio. 

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Lance Lynn's Velocity is Back Up (But Proceed with Caution)

Saturday, Aug 27, 2022

Lance Lynn has been a disappointment for much of the season for the Chicago White Sox. The 35-year-old right-hander was integral to the team’s playoff run last year when he posted an 11-6 record with a 2.69 era and a 1.07 whip in 28 starts. Yet the start of his 2022 season was delayed by his having surgery on his right knee to repair a torn tendon. When he finally got his season going in June after a stint on the 60-day injured list, he struggled to regain his velocity. Going into his fourteenth start of the season on Thursday (August 25th) on the road against Baltimore, the right-hander had a 3-5 record this season in thirteen starts with a 5.30 era and a 1.23 whip. We noted at the time that his velocity has been at its best all season this month. Yet his strikeout rate of 24.5% of the batters he had faced was the lowest in the last four seasons, and while he is striking out 9.17 batters per nine innings in his previous three starts (with the bump in velocity), that rate still represented a four-year low for him if extended to the entire season. Another concern for Lynn even with the return of his velocity has been in giving up too many home runs. Lynn had allowed 14 home runs this season at a rate of 1.77 home runs allowed per nine innings which is a career-high for him. In his previous three starts, he had given up another three home runs for a 1.52 home runs allowed per nine-inning rate which was an improvement yet still would be a career-high for him if extended to the entire season. These underlying issues played a role in our choosing the Orioles that night for our MLB Underdog of the Month. Fortunately, Baltimore won the game in extra innings, 3-2, after tying the game in the bottom of the ninth inning from a Kyle Stowers home run. At first glance, our take on Lynn may have looked to be off. He gave up only two runs, with just one of them being an earned run, in six innings. He struck out eight batters, representing 36.3% of the batters he faced. Yet Lynn’s gopher ball problems continued as he gave up a home run in the first inning to Anthony Santander (who later won the game with a homer in the bottom of the 11th inning). He is now allowing 1.75 home runs per nine innings having given up 15 bombs in his 77 1/3 innings. Lynn has given up eleven home runs in his last eight starts and eight homers in his last six starts. Perhaps bettors can talk themselves into dismissing those numbers because of his earlier velocity issues, but he has still given up four home runs in his last four starts in August even with his velocity back to normal. Lynn is pitching better than he was when returned from the injured list in June. Yet he is giving up too many home runs to then assume he has regained his form from last season. When it comes to backing the White Sox with Lynn on the mound, proceed with caution. Good luck - TDG.

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The Giants' Underrated Starting Pitchers: Alex Wood and Alex Cobb

Saturday, Jul 30, 2022

We backed the San Francisco Giants (our National League Game of the Month) in their opening game at home against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. Manager Gabe Kapler was turning to Alex Wood who had been quite good all month after finding some extra zip on his sinker. In four July starts, the lefty has a 1.31 era and a 0.87 whip. He has struck out 25 batters yet walked only three in 20 2/3 innings. Wood rewarded these observations from our research by taking a no-hitter into the 7th inning before he got into some trouble and gave up two hits including a two-run homer from the Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom. Yet Wood only gave up two hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings to get his seventh win of the season. For the season, he now has a 7-8 record to go along with a 4.11 era and a 1.16 whip. Yet those numbers probably fail to do Wood justice for what he can do for the Giants for the rest of the season. In his five July starts, the left-hander has a 2-1 record with a 1.65 era and a 0.80.Yet Wood is not the only San Francisco starting pitcher who is pitching better than his season numbers would suggest. Kapler gave the starting pitching assignment to Alex Cobb in Game 2 of their weekend series with the Cubs. The right-hander had a 3-4 record with a 4.26 era and a 1.33 whip in fifteen starts. Cobb had been one of the unluckiest pitchers in MLB this season with a strand rate of 58.9%, far below the MLB average for runners left on base which usually hovers in the low 70% range. Yet he is seeing much better results lately. In his seven starts since the beginning of June, Cobb had a 2.82 era and a 1.17 whip. After striking out a career-high 24.9% of the batters he faced last season with the Los Angeles Angels last year, his velocity has been good this year and his strikeout rate of 22.8% is still the second-highest in his last eight seasons. Opposing hitters have a hard-hit rate of 23.3% against him which is the lowest mark in his career. In his nine starts at home at Oracle Park this year, Cobb had a 3.02 era. The 34-year-old right-hander may have pitched even better than Wood did the previous night. Cobb struck out 11 batters in his six innings of work while allowing only three hits and one run. Yet Cobb did not get any run support from his team against Chicago’s Marcus Stroman. Cobb left the game with San Francisco trailing, 1-0, before the Cubs scored three times in the top of the ninth inning. The Giants rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth yet it was not enough and Cobb took the tough luck loss. The Giants had everything go right for them last year in winning 107 games in the regular season. With a 49-51 record going into the final day in July, their management may be tempted to be sellers before the trade deadline. Yet with undervalued starting pitchers in Alex Wood and Alex Cobb joining Carlos Rodon and Logan Webb (and Jakob Junis with his 2.98 era), San Francisco might be better served by adding more bats and riding their pitching staff. With the third wildcard spot added for both leagues for the playoffs, the Giants are still only 4 1/2 games behind Philadelphia to qualify for the postseason. Good luck - TDG.

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The Surging Seattle Mariners Just Added Luis Castillo

Saturday, Jul 30, 2022

The Seattle Mariners had a 29-39 record on June 20th which was worrying bettors who purchased over 84.5 win total tickets at the Westgate in Las Vegas. Yet the Mariners started playing better baseball which culminated with a fourteen-game winning streak heading into the All-Star break with a 43-39 record. Suddenly, Seattle was a serious contender to make the postseason in the American League.The Mariners are led by their rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez who was introduced to the national MLB audience with his breakout performance in the Home Run Derby before running out of steam in the finals against Juan Soto. He is the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to smack 15+ home runs, drive in 50+ runs, and swipe 20+ stolen bases in his first ninety games. The frontrunner to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award has 18 home runs, 57 runs-batted-in, and 21 stolen bases. It turns out he injured his wrist in Seattle’s win against Texas the day before the Home Run Derby which led to him not playing in their three-game series against Houston the weekend after the All-Star Game. The Mariners lost all three games to the first place team in the American League West division. He returned to the lineup on Tuesday of this week and promptly homered in consecutive games against the Rangers. Seattle swept their three-game series with Texas to set up a weekend series rematch with the Astros. The Mariners lost the first two games against Houston, yet these upstarts demonstrated their moxie by rallying from a 4-3 deficit on Saturday by scoring two runs in the top of the ninth inning to steak a 5-4 victory against them. Seattle goes into the last day of July with a 55-47 record, and they have an impressive 26-8 record since June 20th. They may still be eleven games behind the Astros in the division, yet they currently hold the second wild card spot in the American League, with a three-game cushion against Cleveland for the final wildcard spot. The Mariners signaled their commitment to putting all their energies into making a playoff run when they traded significant future assets to the Cincinnati Reds for Luis Castillo. The right-handed starting pitcher has a 4-4 record this year with a 2.86 era and a 1.07 whip this season. Shoulder surgery delayed the start of this season for the 29-year-old, yet he is clicking on all cylinders now. In his four starts this month, Castillo had a 1.93 era and a 0.89 whip. He has struck out 90 batters this season while walking only 28 batters, and he has 30 punchouts to just seven walks in his 28 innings this month. In his six seasons with the Reds, he has finished with a sub-4.00 era five times. He joins Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert to give Seattle as good a trio of starting pitchers as any team in MLB. This surging Seattle team has suddenly become a legitimate threat to win a World Series. Buy your future tickets while there is still value!Good Luck - TDG.

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Previewing the Tampa Bay Lightning/Colorado Avalanche Playoff Series

Saturday, Jun 18, 2022

The Tampa Bay Lightning were expected to have an initial edge against an Avalanche team that had not played for nine days in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. Yet it was Colorado who scored the first goal of the series when Gabriel Landeskog scored at the 7:47 minute mark of the first period before Valeri Nichushkin gave the Aves a 2-0 lead less than two minutes later. Nick Paul cut the lead in half for the Lightning just over three minutes later yet Colorado was able to take a 3-1 lead into the first break when Artturi Lehkonen scored a power-play goal at the 17:31 mark of the first period. It appeared that Tampa Bay initially struggled to adjust to the speed of the Avalanche. Playing in the high altitude in Denver likely played a role as well. Yet the two-time defending champions responded in the second period with Ondrej Palat and Mikhail Sergachev both scoring to tie the game at 3-3. The teams played a scoreless third period before Colorado won Game 1 with Andre Burakovsky scoring the game-winner just 83 seconds into overtime. Tampa Bay has struggled throughout the postseason in the opening games of a series. They only won once in their four Game 1s (against Florida) with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy posting a .884 save percentage in those games.Tampa Bay completed their Eastern Conference finals series with the Rangers with a 2-1 victory at home on Saturday. The Lightning attempt to become the first NHL team to win three-straight Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four championships in a row from 1980 to 1983. It has been a difficult road getting back to the finals for the Lightning. They needed seven games to get by a talented Toronto team in the first round of the playoffs before dominating Florida in the second round. After beating New York and perhaps the best goaltender in the world right now in Igor Shesterkin in six games, the Lightning have a 12-5 record in these playoffs. Forward Brayden Point returned to action in Game 1 after being out since Game 7 of the first-round series against the Maple Leafs. He assisted on a goal and played just under 18 minutes on Wednesday. Point scored 28 goals and added 30 assists during the regular season, and the 14 goals he scored in each of the two previous postseasons is the league’s top mark. Perhaps the biggest edge the Lightning have in this series is with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. In winning the last four games against the Rangers, Vasilevksiy only gave up five goals and posted a .955 save percentage. He began this series with a 2.27 goals-against average in his seventeen starts in the playoffs this year with a .928 save percentage. In his career in the playoffs going into Game 1, Vasilevskiy had a 61-34 record with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. He won last season’s Conn Smythe award for being the Most Valuable Player in the postseason. Led by Vasilevskiy, the Lightning will bring the most disciplined and effective style of play on defense that Colorado will have faced in their playoff run this year.The Colorado Avalanche reached the Stanley Cup finals by completing their second series sweep in the postseason with their 6-5 victory in overtime at Edmonton that eliminated the Oilers from the playoffs on June 6th. The Avalanche opened the postseason with a four-game sweep against Nashville. Colorado is 12-2 in the playoffs with their only two losses coming against St. Louis in the second round of the playoffs. Yet the Aves now face their biggest challenge in these playoffs in playing the Lightning. They take a step up in class which may present a jolt to the system for this Colorado team playing in their first Stanley Cup finals in the Nathan MacKinnon era. Beginning this series after nine days off between games may leave head coach Jerad Bednar’s team rusty, yet they scored three times in the first period. That time off may later help their speed and endurance as this series moves on. An area of concern for Bednar is the state of his goaltending. Darcy Kuemper had a 2.65 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage in ten playoff games before the beginning of this series. His backup, Pavel Francouz, had six victories in his six games (four starts) in the playoffs with a 2.86 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. Bednar did not announce who his starting goaltender would be to begin the finals before calling on Kuemper to be his starter. He stopped 20 of the 23 shots he saved in Game 1. Colorado is allowing 2.9 goals per game in their fourteen playoff games.The strength of the Avalanche is their balanced scoring attack. Nathan MacKinnon scored 11 goals and added seven assists in the first three rounds of the playoffs. Gabriel Landeskog added 17 points in those 14 games in the first three rounds. Mikko Rantanen scored four goals and had two assists last round against the Oilers. Defenseman Cale Makar had five goals and another 17 assists in the first three rounds of the playoffs. Tampa Bay has been the best team in the NHL over the last few seasons, yet it has been Colorado that has perhaps been the best team in the regular season over that span. This is the first Stanley Cup finals for the Avalanche corp group of young superstars. Their ambition to win their first Stanley Cup will depend on their ability to play good enough defense to beat elite opposition and how well their goaltending holds up.Good luck - TDG.

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Previewing the Tampa Bay Lightning/New York Rangers Playoff Series

Friday, Jun 03, 2022

The Tampa Bay Lightning had eight full days off since completing their four-game sweep of the Florida Panthers in the second round of the NHL playoffs. We were concerned that it was near impossible for head coach Jon Cooper to come close to replicating the playoff experience in practices preparing for this game. Sure enough, the Lightning looked a step behind the Rangers in Game 1 of this series on June 1st in a 6-2 loss on the road at Madison Square Garden. Tampa Bay had won eight of their last ten games and fifteen of their last twenty games. Yet they have won just once in their last seven games after winning eight or more of their last ten, and they have won twice in their last nine games after winning fifteen or more of their last twenty games. Perhaps a letdown was inevitable? Yet the Tampa Bay Lightning were 14-0 in the previous two seasons coming off a loss in the playoffs which is why they are the two-time Stanley Cup champions. The resiliency of this team to pick themselves up after a loss, adjust to the things that are not working, and move forward is a trademark of a champion. Head coach Jon Cooper’s team has continued to demonstrate this quality this season. After losing Game 1 on the road, 5-0, at Toronto in their first round of the playoffs, they respond in Game 2 by soundly defeating the Maple Leafs in their own building, 5-3. The Lightning later returned to Toronto for the seventh game of that series to beat them, 4-3, in overtime. Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed six goals in Game 1 on Wednesday which is the most he has ever given up in a playoff game. Yet he has a .924 save percentage in his career in the postseason for a reason. In their four-game sweep last round against the explosive Florida Panthers, Vasilevskiy posted a .978 save percentage by stopping 150 of the 154 shots he faced. The Lightning are still without forward Brayden Point with a leg injury. He was their leading goal scorer in the last two postseasons. Tampa Bay played their best hockey at home this year where they had a 31-9-6. On the road, the Lightning had a solid but not spectacular 28-17-2 record. In five playoff games at home, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been nearly unstoppable with a 1.91 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage. Yet on the road in six starts, those numbers drop to a 2.51 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage which are still good numbers but offer the Rangers reasons to be optimistic. If the Rangers are going to make this a long series, they can need to take advantage of the potential rust that Tampa Bay may have. New York has responded to Gerard Gallant’s coaching. They are 5-0 in potential elimination games this postseason after rallying from a 3-2 deficit to beat Carolina on the road in Game 7, 6-2, on Monday. After a flat effort in Game 5 in Raleigh that drew Gallant’s ire, the Rangers scored five goals and six goals in their dominant victories against the Hurricanes.The team will be very confident with goalie Igor Shesterkin who has a 2.04 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage in seven playoff starts at home this season after the first two rounds. Those numbers are very similar to the 1.85 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in thirty games that Shesterkin played at Madison Square Garden in the regular season. After losing their first game at home in the playoffs to Pittsburgh in that triple-overtime affair that may have tired Shesterkin out for the next few games, the Rangers have since won all six of their games on home ice. He stopped 37 of the 39 shots he faced in Game 1 to continue his strong play.Gallant’s team had two distinct advantages in the first game of this series which helped them beat the Lightning by four goals. After playing every other day for the last month having survived two seven-game series, they will be in rhythm and not miss a beat regarding the intensity of the playoffs. Second, they will bring a defensive focus and physicality to their game that neither Toronto more Florida had in the first two rounds of the playoffs against the Lightning. New York caught a break by hosting an opponent that had not played since May 23rd, yet now they find themselves in unfamiliar territory. This is the first time that Gerard Gallant’s team has had a lead in a playoff series. They lost Game 1 in the opening round against Pittsburgh and in the second round against Carolina. The previous time that the Rangers were playing a game where they were not trailing but not staring at the potential elimination with a loss, it was Game 5 against the Hurricanes when they only attempted 17 shots in a 3-1 loss. New York has won all three of their games since then, yet they have only won twelve of their last thirty games when on a three-game winning streak. Gallant demanded more energy and activity since that game, and the Rangers have found success by being in attack mode when the puck is in the neutral zone. Yet Tampa Bay can counter this tactic which was certainly a central topic for Cooper and his coaching staff in practice yesterday. The Lightning should clamp things down in the middle to force the Rangers’ skaters wide or compel them to chip and chase the puck. Tampa Bay has defended against this approach before in their back-to-back championship runs. Game 2 appears to still be a game New York needs to win. If the Lightning rebound to steal the second game, they accomplish their goal of seizing home-ice advantage as they go back home. Yet even with a loss, Tampa Bay still has three of the remaining five games in front of their home fans, and the old adage is that a playoff series does not start until a team loses at home.Good luck - TDG.

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Previewing the Edmonton Oilers/Colorado Avalanche Playoff Series

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

It is rare for the oddsmakers to install the over/under number at 7, and it is even rarer for the oddsmakers to move past 6.5 to 7s in the conference finals in the NHL playoffs. Yet this is where the oddsmakers are between these two high-powered scoring teams that both averaged 4.3 goals per game in the first two rounds of the playoffs. After the Avalanche took the opening game of this series on Tuesday by an 8-6 score, this series seems destined to have the over/unders installed at 7 or even, daresay, 7.5 the rest of the way. The Edmonton Oilers reached the Western Conference finals with a 5-4 victory in overtime at Calgary on Thursday to end that series in five games. The Oilers scored five times for the third time in four games with that win. They have scored at least four goals in eight of their twelve playoffs games, and they have scored at least five goals in half of those twelve games in the postseason. Edmonton is led by the best player in the NHL in Conner McDavid who has scored seven times in the playoffs and assisted on another 19 goals in the first two rounds of the playoffs. He is joined by Leon Draisaitl who has generated 26 points in the first two rounds of the playoffs as well. Evander Kane has thrived playing on the top line with that pair. He had 12 goals in the first two rounds with a remarkable 23.5% shooting percentage in the postseason. Zach Hyman added another eight goals in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Yet the Oilers were giving up 3.1 goals per game even before Colorado scored eight times against them in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Mike Smith has put up good numbers with a .927 save percentage after the first two rounds yet he has committed several miscues that have cost his team goals. The Flames scored at least three goals in four of the five games against them. Edmonton began the playoffs with a seven-game series with the Los Angeles Kings. The Oilers shut out the Kings, 2-0, in Game 7 to win the series and advance to face Calgary. Edmonton had an 8-4 record after the first two rounds of the playoffs with 52 goals and 37 goals allowed in those twelve games.Colorado moved past St. Louis with a 3-2 victory on the road on Friday to end that series in six games. There three previous games with the Blues had at least seven combined goals scored, with two of those games having nine combined goals scored. The Avalanche had scored 10 power-play goals in the playoffs with a 34.5% conversion rate after the first two rounds of the playoffs. Colorado has scored at least five goals in five of their ten playoff games, and they have scored six or more goals three times. Nathan MacKinnon leads the way with eight goals and five assists in their ten games. Mikko Rantanen has 11 points yet has only scored once despite scoring 36 goals in the regular season. Yet Colorado had allowed 3.2 goals per game in their last five games against St. Louis with goalie Darcy Kuemper posting a .857 save percentage in his last three games. The season-ending injury to defenseman Samuel Girard in the fourth game of the series with the Blues makes the challenge to stop their opponents even stiffer.The Avalanche began the playoffs with a four-game sweep of the Nashville Predators. Colorado scored 43 times in their ten games in the first two rounds of the playoffs while giving up 27 goals. The oddsmakers have installed them as a money line favorite of -160 or higher in all ten of their playoff games. The results of Game 1 suggest the oddsmakers will keep posting an over/under of 7 in this series. Yet bettors should be aware that of the three goals scored in the third period, one was a late empty netter by the Avalanche. There may be unders coming on the horizon, especially when combined scores of six will pay off under tickets. The Oilers appear capable of staying competitive in this series as well in this showdown between McDavid and MacKinnon after almost forcing overtime after trailing 7-4 after two periods.Good luck - TDG.

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Will Home Runs and Scoring Stay Down All Summer?

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Home runs are down and so is scoring after the first quarter of the Major League Baseball season. Is this a trend that we will continue to observe all summer, or are these initial numbers an aberration?There are a few things that are different this MLB season. The baseballs appear to once again be changed. Yet the biggest complaints appear to be coming from pitchers who are finding more of the baseballs with indented laces that make the ball harder to grip. That would seem to benefit the hitters. All 30 stadiums have installed humidors this season, up from the ten stadiums that had humidors last year. Humidors are climate-controlled chambers where the baseballs are stored to prevent them from drying out. A dryer baseball has more bounce off the bat, so baseballs that have been stored at average humidity helps the pitchers.The wild card this season was the abbreviated three-week spring training that became necessary to play a complete 162-game season after the start of the season was delayed by the labor lockout. The shorter preparation time would appear to negatively impact pitchers’ usual development and progress in getting to their full velocity. Yet perhaps the hitters were hurt by fewer at-bats in the spring?The hitting numbers are clearly down. Teams are averaging 4.18 runs per game (through May 22nd, courtesy of Todd Zola from ESPN for all the seasonal data in this article). That is a six-year low, with the scoring average peaking in 2019 during that span with a 4.63 runs per game average. There are 0.97 home runs per game, another six-year low after peaking in 2019 with 1.33 home runs per game on average. The league-wide batting average of .236 is a six-year low as well after 2016 and 2017 had league-wide batting averages of .251. The humidors seem to be having their intended effect. The average flyball distance this season is 314.4 feet, down from 318.6 feet last year. The six-year high took place in 2019 when the average fly ball traveled 323.5 feet. The average exit velocity for fly balls is 92.1 miles per hour this season after the previous three years had average exit velocities of 92.3 mph, 92.3 mph, and 92.5 mph last year. Yet there is evidence that these lower-scoring trends are turning around. When comparing the April 7th opening day to April 30th data to the May 1st through May 22nd numbers, the hitting numbers are up. Home runs are up 15.6% this month, the largest increase from April in the last six years. Batting averages are up 4.2% this month, the second-biggest jump in May in the last six seasons behind last year’s 5.4% improvement in May. Runs are up 7.3% this month, the second-highest increase behind last year’s 10.3% rise in scoring in May.These numbers are important for us when considering over/unders in baseball. VSiN reports that the Under is 362-321-38 through May 30th this season. While that 53% percentage to the under is consistent with the lower hitting numbers this season, it is interesting to note that the under was hitting at a 60% clip a month ago. As the May hitting numbers improved, more overs were coming in. Given these recent improvements in hitting numbers, bettors should beware of playing unders exclusively because of the negative impact of the league-wide humidors. Perhaps the hitters were farther behind than the pitchers after all after the three-week spring training, yet the batters have finally caught up.Good luck - TDG.

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The Early Season Value of Eric Lauer

Saturday, Apr 30, 2022

Eric Lauer has been one of the pleasant surprises of the 2022 season in Major League Baseball. The Milwaukee Brewers’ left-hander came into the last day of April with a 1-0 record that goes along with a sparkling 2.20 era and a 1.04 whip in three starts.Lauer was coming off a dominant effort where he allowed no runs in six innings while striking out 14 batters on the road in Philadelphia on April 24th. He induced seventeen swinging strikes and 36% of his 98 pitches in the effort were either a called strike or a swinging strike. Bettors looking at Lauer’s season numbers last year may have overlooked what appears to be a breakout season. He posted a 7-5 record in 118 2/3 innings with a 3.19 era and a 1.13 whip. Yet Lauer hinted at a possible breakthrough season this year after posting a 2.60 era in his 62 1/3 innings after the all-star break last season. He struck out 3.70 batters for every walk he issued during that span. The crafty 26-year-old has five different pitches at his disposal, and the 94.5 miles per hour on his fastball this season is 1.5 mph higher than last year.Lauer rewarded his backers in his start at home against the Chicago Cubs with seven innings of work where he allowed only one earned run. He struck out eleven batters and continued his impressive ability to miss bats. Twenty-one of his pitches went for swing-and-miss strikes, and 35% of his pitches overall were either called strikes or swing-and-miss strikes. Eric Lauer completes the month of April with a 2-0 record along with a 1.93 era and a 0.99 whip. He has 34 strikeouts in his 22 1/3 innings through four starts. He has walked only five batters. The Brewers were swinging cold bats, yet they have scored 20 runs in their last two games. The opportunities to buy low when Lauer is on the mound make be disappearing quickly, especially if the Milwaukee hitters continue to hit like they have against Cubs’ pitching this weekend. Yet Lauer still may offer some money line or under value as spring moves into summer. Good luck - TDG.

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Analyzing ATS and O/U Data for the NBA Play-In Tournament

Saturday, Apr 30, 2022

We at Team Del Genio like to assess the against the spread and totals data for unique circumstances where perhaps the situation presents an inherent edge to the favorite/underdog or over/under that the oddsmakers and/or market may fail to appreciate. Last month, we looked at how NCAA tournament teams performed in their next if they won their previous tournament game in overtime. This time, we examine NBA play-in tournament games. The play-in tournament to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs is not like any other playoff game in the NBA. While there is a single-elimination dynamic for most of the teams competing in this event (with the exception being for the initial seventh and eighth seeds who earned the opportunity to play a second play-in single-elimination game for the eighth seed if they lose their initial play-in game for the seventh seed), those games are different than elimination games in seven-game playoff series. A playoff series where teams play each other four to seven times in a row breeds familiarity and rewards adaptions and adjustments. These play-in games lack that component. These games might produce interesting data that comes from (relatively) unfamiliar opponents playing in must-win showdowns. The NBA has now had three play-in tournaments, yet for our purposes, we are going to ignore the data from its initial incarnation since those games were played on a neutral court in the bubble during the pandemic-impacted 2020 season. Last year was the first time play-in games were played on true home courts with fans. All six home teams were favored, yet only three of them covered the point spread in victory. Four of the home teams won their games, with Memphis’ 100-96 victory against San Antonio as a 4.5-point favorite being the lone game where the home team won straight-up but did not cover the point spread. The over/unders split out at 3-3, yet the final game went over only because Memphis’ upset win against Golden State went to overtime. That game was still 18 points under the number before the five-minute overtime session where 31 combined points were scored.This year, all six play-in games finished under the number. Atlanta’s initial 132-103 victory at home against Charlotte to advance to play for the eighth seed was the closest call with that final score just finishing under the common closing number of 235.5. All five remaining play-in games averaged more than 11 points below the closing total. The under holds a 9-3 edge in the twelve play-tournament games played on a true home court. All six favorites in the play-in tournament this year won their games. Five of these six favorites covered the point spread in their straight-up victory. Two of these favorites were on the road. Both of these road favorites were playing in the final play-in game, and both covered the point spread in their straight-up victory. In the last two years of play-in games not taking place on neutral courts, favorites are now 8-4 ats. Home teams are just 6-6 ats.Favorites and unders may have had past underlying value in the NBA play-in tournament. Good luck - TDG.

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How Have Teams Fared After Winning an NCAA Tournament Game in OT?

Thursday, Mar 31, 2022

Are NCAA-B tournament teams that come off a victory in overtime in their previous NCAA tournament game at a disadvantage in their next game, or does that dynamic gets priced into the line by the oddsmakers?It remains an ongoing question. There were six overtime games in the NCAA tournament in March. Perhaps analyzing those results can offer insight?Notre Dame outlasted Rutgers in two overtimes, 89-87, as a 1-point underdog in one of the first four games. The ten additional minutes did not appear to take a toll on a Fighting Irish team that did not rely on a deep bench as they made it to the weekend before losing to Texas Tech. They upset Alabama in the first round of the tournament, 78-64, as a 4-point underdog. St. Peter’s upset Kentucky, 85-79, in overtime as an 18.5-point underdog in the first round. That experience seems to energize the team as they proceeded to continue on a magical run that saw them become the first 15 seed to reach the Elite 8 where they lost to North Carolina. St. Peter’s pulled off three upsets along the way, including beating Murray State in the second round. Murray State’s loss as an 8.5-point favorite was the first team to not cover the point spread after winning their prior tournament game in overtime. The Racers needed overtime to cover the 2 points the oddsmakers had them laying in their opening round game against San Francisco which they pulled out, 92-87. Creighton defeated San Diego State, 72-69, in the first round of the tournament as a 2.5-point underdog. They played valiantly against Kansas in the second round despite the injury suffered to Ryan Kalkbrenner in the overtime of the game with the Aztecs. Yet the Bluejays lost the game ultimately, 79-72, as a 13-point underdog. North Carolina blew a 25-point lead against Baylor in the second round but used overtime to upset the defending national champions, 93-86, as a 5.5-point underdog. The Tar Heels followed that up by upsetting UCLA, 73-66, as a 2.5-point underdog in the Sweet 16. Arizona needed overtime to get past TCU, 85-80, as a 9.5-point favorite in the final game of the second round. The Wildcats were then upset by Houston, 72-60, as a 1.5-point favorite in the Sweet 16.In all, NCAA tournament overtime survivors went 4-2 against the spread in their next tournament game. Three of those four winners pulled off upset victories in their next game with Creighton the only team not to parlay their momentum into an upset win. Both overtime losers, Arizona and Murray State got upset as a favorite after not covering the point spread as a favorite in their overtime victory in their previous game. These are interesting trends to continue to scrutinize next year. Good luck - TDG.

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The Sacramento Kings Are Still Playing Hard (and Covering)

Thursday, Mar 31, 2022

The Sacramento Kings may be out of the playoff race, yet they are offering some point spread value down the stretch as they play hard for head coach Alvin Gentry. They played Houston as a small road favorite on Wednesday in a game between two teams playing for next year in the Western Conference. The Kings were on a two-game winning streak before losing at Miami to an angry Heat team desperate to end a four-game losing streak in a 123-100 loss on Monday. Because they are not going to make the playoffs this year, they appear to have shut down De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis for the rest of the season with their nagging injuries. Yet the team is still competitive with rookie Davion Mitchell being given the keys to lead the offense. When they drafted Mitchell with the ninth pick in the first round out of Baylor, many observers were scratching their heads considering they already had Fox and Tyrese Haliburton as starting guards. Yet after Haliburton was traded to Indiana with Sabonis coming over in return, Mitchell has been given the room to develop. In the last five games since Fox has been out before Thursday’s game, Mitchell was averaging 22 points per game with 7 assists per game, 3 rebounds per game, and 1 steal per game. Sacramento beat the Rockets, 121-118, with Mitchell scoring 24 points while adding 8 assists and 5 rebounds. Sacramento cannot do too much to help their ping pong ball odds for the upcoming NBA draft lottery. Having the sixth-worst record in the league, they are losing ground quickly against the Indiana Pacers who are in complete free-fall after that trade. The Kings began the last day of March remaining 5 1/2 games above Oklahoma City who have the fourth-worst record in the NBA. At this point, Gentry probably wants his team to continue to play well and build positive momentum for the future while seeing what Mitchell can do. Our NBA Western Conference Game of the Month was with Sacramento in that Wednesday game in Houston. Bettors who had had -2.5 tickets won, yet there -3s out there with those punters having to settle for the push. The Kings will remain an interesting option for the rest of the regular season. They have covered the point spread in sixteen of their last twenty-five games in the second half of the season along with nine of their fourteen games this month. They are 5-1-1 ats in their last six games on the road, and they have covered the point spread in eight of their last eleven games on the road against teams not winning more than 40% of their games at home. Good luck - TDG.

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The Underrated Cincinnati Bengals

Monday, Feb 28, 2022

Cincinnati lost the Super Bowl to the Los Angeles Rams, yet better game management by the head coach Zac Taylor could have made the difference in the Bengals pulling the upset and lifting the Vince Lombardi championship trophy. Running back Joe Mixon was not on the field for both of Cincinnati’s failed fourth-and-one opportunities. In hindsight, this looks like an inexplicable failure on Taylor’s part to put his best players in a position to succeed. Taylor would later say that Samaji Perine “deserved” the opportunity to be on the field in those situations. The Bengals’ players and fans (and bettors) deserved to have their best running back in Mixon be given the opportunity to get the one-yard necessary to continue the drive. Mixon averaged 4.8 yards per carry in the Super Bowl but was only given 15 rushing attempts in the game. Perhaps it is understandable why Taylor kept Perine on the field for their fourth-down attempt in the first quarter given his ball-catching skills. But for Taylor to not use a timeout to get Mixon into the game when the Bengals had a fourth-and-one on their final drive and about ten yards away from getting into placekicker Evan McPherson’s field goal range for a potential game-tying kick was simply inexcusable. That mistake might have cost Cincinnati the Super Bowl. Neither of the Super Bowl teams had impeccable credentials entering this game, yet observers that were discounting Cincinnati’s chances made a mistake by not focusing on their most recent run of games. After an embarrassing 41-16 midseason loss at home to in-state rival Cleveland, the Bengals followed that up with a hard-fought 26-23 loss at home to San Francisco. Cincinnati’s prospects did not look promising at that point, despite not many appreciating how impressive the close loss with the 49ers would like in hindsight. Since that loss to the eventual loser in the NFC championship game (who had beaten the Rams twice this season), the Bengals won six of seven games. The play of their defense has improved as they held five of those seven opponents to 21 or fewer points. They stymied Kansas City to just a field goal in the second half in both weeks 17 and in the AFC championship game. In the playoffs, Cincinnati had six interceptions going into the Super Bowl. Their defense then faced Matthew Stafford who threw 17 interceptions this season with four returned for touchdowns. While much of the conversation in the two weeks before the Super Bowl included a coronation of Stafford in his first year out of Detroit, what was being forgotten is how different he would be treated if the Bengals had not dropped his errant pass midway through the fourth quarter in the NFC championship game which should have been his 18th interception of the season. Sean McVay only had Stafford throw 17 passes in their opening playoff game against Arizona. If Stafford had finally solved his interception problem, McVay did not seem to be convinced of this just a month before the Super Bowl. The Bengals found success in the second half against the Chiefs in the AFC championship game by relying on a three-man pass rush which allowed them to use eight defenders in pass coverage. One of the advantages of a pass defense like this is that it takes the power out of offensive head coaches like Andy Reid and now McVay since it is difficult for these masterminds to simply scheme out of the challenge. These defenses can be beaten, but it requires the quick-thinking skills of the quarterback. This had not been a strength for Stafford in his career.Joe Burrow, on the other hand, was playing with the utmost confidence and seemingly pressure-free with his career still ahead of him. Cincinnati is well ahead of its rebuilding plan. Isn’t it interesting that six of seven-run going into the Super Bowl was about eleven months after Burrow suffered his season-ending knee injury last season? Burrow worked himself to be available to begin the year, yet doctors often claim it takes a full twelve months to fully recover from injuries like that. The Bengals' late-season surge coincides with that timeline. Cincinnati covered the point spread in nine of their eleven games against winning teams this season, with eight of those nine covers occurring in the second half of the season. The Rams covered the point spread in just three of their nine games against winning teams this season. Considering that the underdog has covered the point spread in eleven of the last eighteen Super Bowls since 2003, we expected that dog trend to continue with this improving Bengals team. Cincinnati was in a position to win the Super Bowl if only had Taylor better managed those final moments. Now the Bengals will go from the hunter to the hunted next season. Defending their AFC North title will be a challenge with four games against two of the best and most consistent franchises in the league in the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers with another two games against the very talented Cleveland Browns. Dan Marino made the Super Bowl in his second year in the NFL but was never able to get his Miami Dolphins back in the big game. Could Burrow suffer the same fate?Good luck - TDG.

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Super Bowl Observations

Monday, Feb 28, 2022

Team Del Genio ended the NFL season on a high note by winning all three of their plays, including their NFL Total of the Year and their NFL 1st Half Play of the Year. Our first decision for the matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals was to endorse the Rams to cover the first half line (-2.5 in many locations, with -3s elsewhere). The Rams had gotten off to plenty of fast starts in the first half this season with Matthew Stafford at quarterback. We identified that Los Angeles had two initial edges in the game that would help them get off to a good start: home field and Super Bowl experience. Many of the players on both sides of the ball along with head coach Sean McVay were part of the Rams’ Super Bowl team three years ago. McVay admitted after that game that he attempted to accomplish too much in the lead-up to that game. Nerves were likely to be less of an issue this time around for the players who put on a Rams uniform in that game. The home crowd should energize the Los Angeles players in the opening moments of the game as well. McVay usually has his team start well. The Rams averaged 13.3 points in the first half going into the Super Bowl while allowing only 9.4 points in the first half. In their three previous playoff games, Los Angeles had averaged 16.0 points in the first half to give them an average halftime lead of 11.7 points per game against three playoff opponents who have averaged only 4.3 points in the opening 30 minutes. The only game where the Rams did not have a halftime lead was in the NFC championship game against San Francisco when the 49ers took a 10-7 halftime lead. Kyle Shanahan and his team were determined to get off to a better start than they did in the final week of the regular season when they let Los Angeles go into halftime with a 17-3 lead. The Rams blew that lead in the second half yet responded by scoring three first-half touchdowns the next week to take a 21-0 half-time lead against Arizona in the wildcard round of the playoffs. The next week in Tampa Bay, Los Angeles went into halftime with a 20-3 lead against the defending Super Bowl champions. Cincinnati had been the comeback kids with Joe Burrow as their quarterback. They rallied from a 28-17 halftime deficit in Week 17 of the regular season to upset Kansas City. They pulled off a second comeback win in four weeks in the AFC championship game against the Chiefs by overcoming a 21-10 halftime score to upset them, 27-24, in Arrowhead Stadium. Head coach Zac Taylor would probably not feel any urgency to take chances in the opening half. He knew his team is playing on the road, and his players may have nerves. The Bengals wanted to run the ball to establish the pass. Their continued commitment to run on first down to Tony Romo and many observers frustration represented a philosophy to not put Burrow in harm’s way with second-and-long and third-and-long situations. The Cincinnati offensive line was an obvious weakness, and the Bengals were fortunate to survive their game against Tennessee in the divisional round when Burrow got sacked nine times. What Taylor learned from the previous season when Burrow got sacked 32 times before his season-ending injury (with 13 sacks coming from empty backfield sets) is that he needs to do more to limit the punishment his franchise quarterback takes. Running the ball has a second advantage of putting his two big wide receivers, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, in run blocking responsibilities with an opportunity to perhaps soften up Rams’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and that could pay off in the second half. The Bengals just wanted to stay competitive going into the second half when their confidence should rise. Cincinnati averaged 12.6 points in the first half this season yet allowed 12.4 points in the opening 30 minutes. Their scoring dropped to 9.6 points in the first half when playing on the road. In their three playoff games, the Bengals averaged 13.0 points in the first half but were outscored by 0.3 points in the first half in those games. Sure enough, the Rams went into the locker room with a 13-10 lead.We then decided to endorse the Bengals plus the points for the final score. Several reasons made the Bengals' showdown with the Rams a unique Super Bowl. For starters, Los Angeles will be playing in their home SoFi Stadium for this game, yet it did not feel appropriate to assign them the full weight of the home field edge. The Rams organization did not control the ticket allocation the way they do during their other home games. Even when they do, the Los Angeles market often buys and re-sells these tickets as fans from San Francisco certainly took advantage of twice in the second half of the season. The Rams will have their share of fans in the stadium, yet Cincinnati fans will have a significant foothold in the seats as well. Neutral observers may quickly decide to have a rooting interest with the underdog. The Los Angeles players got to stay at home to prepare for this game, yet it was unclear if staying at home, in a city like Los Angeles, is as advantageous for the two weeks before the Super Bowl as it would otherwise be during the regular season. Tampa Bay took advantage of the home field last year to win the Super Bowl while being the first team to ever play the Big Game in their stadium. However, there is a sizable difference in playing in Tampa Bay during a pandemic when crowds had just been allowed back in Florida then it is playing a Super Bowl in Los Angeles a year later when travel has become normalized. It is unusual for the Super Bowl to not have at least one number one or two seed coming from the AFC or NFC representing their conference. Both the Bengals and the Rams were four seeds going into the playoffs. Neither of these teams lacks significant weaknesses. Sure enough, it was the third quarter where Cincinnati made their move as they scored ten unanswered points to take a 20-13 lead. The Rams ended their scoring drought with a field goal to make pull within four points where the score stayed until Matthew Stafford engineered the final touchdown scoring drive to give Los Angeles a 23-20 lead. The Bengals' ensuing drive stalled, yet we successfully threaded the needle by winning the Rams' first half bet before winning the Bengals plus the points final score wager.We correctly anticipated a lower-scoring game than the 49.5 point total from the oddsmakers suggested. You had to be living under a rock to have not heard someone in the national media commenting that the biggest mismatch in the Big Game will be the Bengals’ offensive line versus Aaron Donald and the Rams’ defensive line. Certainly, Zac Taylor and Sean McVay would be game-planning around this game within the game. Taylor would not want this to be a high-scoring game since that puts more pressure on his star quarterback Joe Burrow to encounter more pass rushes from Donald and company. Taylor wanted to game plan to give Burrow an opportunity to win this game in the fourth quarter, and he needs to still be standing upright for that to happen. Cincinnati won all three of their playoff games despite only averaging 24 points per game and not scoring more than 27 ppg. All three of those games finished under the number.The Bengals did a fine job in neutralizing the Rams’ pass rush in the first half. Yet defensive coordinator Raheem Morris’ halftime adjustment to put a fifth player on the defensive line was the tactical move that allowed Donald to thrive. Los Angeles would end the game with seven sacks and completing overwhelming Burrow and the Cincinnati offense in the fourth quarter. Those of us with under tickets had some nervous moments at the end of the game since a Bengals touchdown drive or even overtime could have put the final score into the 50s. Yet the Los Angeles pass rush was too much for Cincinnati to overcome, and the game finished under the number. It was a satisfying and rewarding end to the football season for the Team. Good luck - TDG.

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The Los Angeles Clippers Scoring (and Over) Surge (without Leonard and George)

Monday, Jan 31, 2022

Despite (or because of) playing without the injured Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers are playing higher-scoring games lately. Going into the last day of January, their last five games had seen 219. 2 combined points scored, with the Clippers averaging 111.6 points per game. That scoring average is almost six points above their 105.9 ppg average this season. The Clippers continue to play undermanned without Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, yet head coach Tyronn Lue is getting a surprising contribution from Amir Coffey. He is averaging 17.4 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, and 2.4 assists per game in his last five games. Los Angeles lost the Pacers in Indiana on Monday, 122-116, but don’t blame the offensive effort of the Clippers. They made 45 of their 96 shots from the field for a 47% field goal percentage. Coffey led the way with 27 points on 9 of 14 shooting including him making five of his nine shots from the 3-point line. The former Minnesota Golden Gopher added four assists and five rebounds. Leonard has been out since the playoffs last spring with his knee injury. There is some talk that he could return for a potential playoff run. George is dealing with an elbow injury that has kept him out since December 22nd. While both players offer critical scoring for the Clippers, their absence on the defensive end of the court has probably had a bigger impact on this team.This continued offensive proficiency for the Los Angeles Clippers without George and Leonard is resulting in more overs.  Defensive lapses are an area of emphasis to monitor after the Pacers made 53% of their shots, including 13 of 29 (48%) of their shots from the 3-point line. Los Angeles has played five of their last seven games over the number when playing their third game in five days on the road. The Clippers did not cover the 1-point they were laying as a road favorite on Monday, and they have still played six of the last eight games over the number after a point spread win. Los Angeles entered the game coming off a 115-90 upset victory against Charlotte getting 6.5-points from the oddsmakers on Sunday. The Clippers have played five of their last six games over the number after an upset win on the road as an underdog. They have played five of their last six games over the total after playing at least three in a row on the road. Their eight-game road trip ended with their 6-point loss at Indiana on Monday, but more road games are quickly on the horizon for this team. After a two-game homestand this week against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles will embark on a three-day road swing in the southwest against Memphis before two straight games against the Mavericks in Dallas. With George and Leonard not expected to return anytime soon, perhaps these impending road games will offer profitable betting opportunities with the over. Good luck - TDG.

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The Defensive (and Under) Juggernaut Rising at Washington State

Monday, Jan 31, 2022

In our NCAA-B Sunday Night Vegas O/U Jackpot after the NFL Conference Championship Games, we noted that the Washington State Cougars had played four straight and eight of their last nine games under the total. The Cougars went into that game holding their opponents to 39.9% shooting, ranking in the top-30 in the nation. They held the Utes to a 39.1% field goal percentage on Wednesday in a 71-54 victory. That final score finished below the 139 total installed by the oddsmakers, and they had played eight of their last ten games under the number after playing an under in their last game. Washington State had played six straight unders after a win. They were set to complete a four-game homestand where they had played seven straight unders. They were holding their opponents to 63.8 points per game on 40.6% shooting when playing at home in Pullam. Yet the Cougars were scoring only 69.6 points per game on 41.4% shooting in their previous five games, a bit below their 74.0 ppg average on 42.2% shooting. They had played eleven of their last twelve games under the number when the oddsmakers install them as the favorite. Washington’s State reliable defense made a statement against Colorado that night. They held the Buffaloes to just 18 first-half points to race out to a 21-point lead. When the final buzzer sounded, the Cougars had held Colorado to a 29% field goal percentage on 16 of 56 shooting. Washington State overachieved expectations on the offensive end of the court by shooting 49% from the field and making 12 of their 28 shots from 3-point land. Yet the combined 113 points scored in the Cougars victory fell well below the 132 point total that most oddsmakers settled on by tip-off.Head coach Kyle Smith is quietly building a defensive juggernaut with this Washington State team. His Cougars finished 24th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency last season. That was the program’s best defensive effort since 2009. Smith mixes man-to-man defenses with 2-3 matchup zone schemes. In Year 3 at Washington State, Smith has his team ranked 22nd in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. They have held their last three opponents to 57, 54, and 43 points. With a 12-7 record and a 5-3 mark in the Pac-12, the Cougars appear destined to be a bubble team for the next six weeks before the NCAA tournament. Their victory against Colorado may have been their best win for their resume. Yet they end the month of January ranked 35th in the nation according to the analytics at kenpom. They have held 11 of their 13 opponents to no more than 64 points. With upcoming games against Arizona, UCLA, and USC, Smith has the opportunity to test the defensive chops of his team against three teams with legitimate final four aspirations. Those showdowns may offer some intriguing under opportunities, pending what the oddsmakers and the market have to say about the over/under number. Good luck - TDG.

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Georgia Followed the Michigan State Blueprint to beat Michigan

Friday, Dec 31, 2021

Georgia appeared in a good position to have success running the football against Michigan in the college football semifinals. In our report recommending to lay the points with the Bulldogs (our College Football Playoff Game of the Year), we identified that the Wolverines “can be beaten by teams with strong rushing attacks that stick to that approach.” Earlier in the season, Michigan State gouged the Wolverines with a 6.7 yards per carry average led by Kenneth Walker III. The Spartans averaged 8.1 yards per play in handing Michigan their only loss of the season. Yet it was not just Michigan State that found success running the football against the Wolverines. Rutgers ran the ball 42 times against them for 196 yards and a 4.67 yards per carry average. Maryland ran the ball 44 times of 181 yards with a 4.11 yards per carry average. Led by running back Zamir White, Georgia averages 5.3 yards per carry with their ground game contributing 195 yards of the 442 yards they produce per game. They appeared to be in a great position to find success running against the Wolverines just as these three other Big Ten teams had done.Michigan had been exposed at times this season against opponents going up-tempo on offense. First-year defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald comes from the Baltimore Ravens where substitution packages on defense are common defensive tactics. Opponents going up-tempo makes it difficult to substitute players and MacDonald has been caught trying to do too much in getting favorable matchups with either penalties or players not ready to defend the play. Michigan was not used to the national stage in the playoffs. They had not even covered a bowl game point spread in their last four opportunities. In their 34-11 victory against the Wolverines in the playoff semifinals on the last day of 2021, Georgia ran the ball 35 times for 190 yards. While they were not as efficient as Michigan State was, they were not reliant on one bell-cow back as the Spartans were. The Bulldogs averaged 5.4 yards per carry led by four running backs who each carried the ball four times. White was the featured back with 12 carries for 54 yards. Georgia's ability to run the football opened things up for Stetson Bennett and the Bulldogs passing game. Bennett completed 20 of 30 passes for 310 yards with three touchdown passes and without an interception. Running the football helped take some of the pressure off the Bulldogs' defense that came into the playoffs with something to prove. Georgia gave up 536 yards in their 41-24 loss to Alabama as a 6-point favorite in the SEC championship game. The Crimson Tide averaged 7.66 yards per game against the Bulldogs, yet Georgia had covered the point spread in nineteen of their last twenty-seven games on the road after allowing at least 6.25 yards per play. The Bulldogs had only covered once in their last three games in a 45-0 win at Georgia Tech before playing Michigan, yet they have covered the point spread in seven of their last nine games after only covering the point spread once in their last three games. This is a football program that would not be satisfied by just reaching the national championship game. Kirby Smart already did that with this program four years ago when they lost to Alabama and Tua Tagovailoa's second-half comeback in an overtime thriller four years ago. This program has playoff experience, and these players have competed in many high-profile showdowns given their competition in the SEC. This Wolverines team was just 2-4 last year. Georgia has covered the point spread in six of their last eight bowl games. They have covered the point spread in ten of their last fourteen games played on a neutral field when the oddsmakers install them as the favorite. That is why we recommended taking Georgia minus the points. Now all eyes are on yet another rematch between Georgia and Alabama. Good luck - TDG.

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Betting the Bowls is About Motivation! (Easier Said than Done)

Friday, Dec 31, 2021

A common refrain from bettors during the college football bowl season is that success is “all about determining which team is more motivated.” Sure, with teams exceeding expectations or missing expectations and then coaching changes and player opt-outs, finding winners is as easy as identifying the team that has been motivated to practice and prepare for the game and then playing harder when the game starts. Easy! The problem with this approach is that determining what players and teams are more motivated than another team is easier said than done. In fact, it is quite difficult to assess motivation. Are you watching both teams in practice? Are you inside the dorm rooms logging in the number of hours the players are studying tape in their free time? Are you inside the mind of the players to assess how hard they plan on playing? Motivation is always important. Handicapping relative distinctions in motivation is commonplace. Yet teams with nothing at stake often shock teams who are motivated to win a game to clinch a playoff or achieve a milestone. It happens all the time. With motivation comes expectations, and with expectations comes pressure. Some teams do not perform well under pressure. Making the handicapping motivation game even more difficult is that the bettor has to filter their determination in relation to a point spread. What ifs the oddsmakers have already accurately accounted for the motivation distinction between the two teams? If so, then the bettor banking on motivation is venturing into a bad risk. Texas Tech was supposed to be not motivated to play in the Liberty Bowl on Tuesday. The administration fired head coach Matt Wells last month. New head coach Joey McGuire had yet to take over the program coming over from Baylor. The Red Raiders were on a two-game losing streak playing for an interim head coach in Sonny Cumbie who accepted the job to become the head coach at Louisiana Tech. It could have been easy for the coaching staff and the players to go through the motions facing an SEC team in Mississippi State. Bulldogs head coach was probably working overtime to prepare for the game, as well, since he once coached at Texas Tech for years before he was dismissed for alleged mistreatment of a player who later went to court. Yet, even with all that backstory, Texas Tech upset Mississippi State, 34-7, as a double-digit underdog. The problem with handicapping based on motivation is that pure guesswork. A bettor would be just as successful flipping a coin than guess what is the mind of the coaches and players. Here are some familiar examples of a bettor guessing at motivation but it can be refuted with a basic counter-hypothesis.Motivation: "Team X is playing in the near campus which will basically turn into their home stadium. Team X is ecstatic to be back in a bowl game and their fans will show out in massive numbers, providing a major jolt of intensity, and probably the biggest fan advantage of any bowl game this year."Counter-Motivation: "Team Y's campus is only about an hour farther away than Team X. They would love to pull the upset in Team X's home state, especially as an underdog." Motivation: "Team X is ecstatic to be in this game and I feel like Team Y are disappointed about how their season ended. Put those motivations in a blender and mix them all up and Team X wins!"Counter-Motivation: "Team Y closed out their regular season with an upset loss. Their head coach is using this game as a launching pad for next season with a quarterback competition to be played out in the game." Motivation: "Team X is ecstatic to be playing in this bowl. Team Y doesn’t care about this game at all and is dealing with a substantial number of opt outs. This would be the biggest win of Team X's head coach career and I think his team doesn’t just keep it close, I think they win this game outright. The previous game hangover is real for Team Y, take Team X to cover and win outright if you want to sprinkle some money on the money line."Counter-Motivation: "Team Y's head coach hates Team X's head coach. He will do everything possible to ensure his team does not get embarrassedopt-outs second time in a row. The opt-outs provide the opportunity for Team Y to employ the 'next-man up' mentality while giving playing time to the talented younger players."Motivational differences often become clearer with the benefit of hindsight. Given all the intangibles and circumstances involved in a postseason bowl game, banking on handicapping motivation difference in these bowl games is pure guesswork. At least when the oddsmaker guesses, they have the built-in advantage of the vig. If the bettor is guessing, they are probably losing. Good luck - TDG.

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Is Justin Herbert in a Sophomore Slump?

Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021

The Los Angeles Chargers opened the season by winning four of their first five games. Justin Herbert picked up right where he left off after his spectacular rookie season in leading the team to this hot start. In those five games, he averaged 315.2 passing yards per game. He threw 13 touchdown passes to just three interceptions in those games with three games where he tossed at least three TDs. His 139 completions in 207 pass attempts were good for a 67.1% completion percentage. He completed at least 60.5% of his passes in all five starts.Yet Herbert has since taken a step back as the Chargers have lost four of their last six games. It all started in Baltimore on October 10th in a 34-6 loss to the Ravens. Herbert completed just 22 of 39 passes for 195 yards for a 56.4% completion rate in the loss. He only threw one touchdown pass and added an interception.Los Angeles returned home the next week to lose to New England, 27-24. Herbert completed just 18 of 35 passes for 223 yards and a 51.4% completion rate. He did throw two touchdown passes but he had two passes picked off as well. Herbert rebounded by completing 33 of 38 passes for 356 yards in a 27-24 victory at Philadelphia. He had two touchdown passes and no interceptions in the victory. After getting sacked five times in the previous two weeks, he was not sacked by the Eagles. Perhaps Herbert’s success can be attributed to facing a Philadelphia defense coached by defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Coming over from Indianapolis where he was an assistant coach along with the Eagles’ rookie head coach Nick Sirianni, the zone coverage that the Colts and Eagles play was not difficult for Herbert to solve. New England’s Bill Belichick has a well-established reputation for making things difficult on young quarterbacks. Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh started as a defensive coach and has one of the best defensive coordinators in Wink Martindale who commits to pressuring the opposing quarterback. Herbert faced another well-respected defensive head coach the following week against Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings. In that 27-20 loss, he completed only 20 of 34 passes for 195 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His 58.8% completion percentage in that game was the third time in a four-game stretch when he did not complete at least 60% of his passes. Herbert played better against a Pittsburgh Steelers team missing T.J. Watt, Joe Haden, and Minkah Fitzpatrick the following week. He completed 30 of 41 passes for 382 yards in the Chargers’ 41-37 victory. However, after having success against Mike Tomlin’s depleted defense, Herbert struggled last week in a 28-13 loss in Denver. He completed 28 of 44 passes for 303 yards against head coach Vic Fangio’s defense yet he threw two more interceptions in the setback. The downward trends are clear. In his last six starts, his completion percentage has dropped to 64.9% with Herbert averaging 276 passing yards per game. He has just 11 touchdown passes in those games along with seven interceptions. The numbers become even starker when removing the games against the Eagles and injured Steelers. Against Fangio, Zimmer, Belichick, and Harbaugh-coached teams, Herbert completed only 57.9% of his passes for 224 yards per game. He has only six touchdown passes against those four defensive coaches with five interceptions. Those four coaches saw their defenses sack Herbert ten times. Herbert had a historic rookie season where he completed 66.6% of his passes for 4336 yards with 31 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. Perhaps being coached by a new offensive coordinator in Joe Lombardi and head coach Brandon Staley threw off his early opponents. Yet it appears that the better defensive coaches in the league have discovered some tendencies in the second-year quarterback. They call it a sophomore slump for a reason since it is not uncommon for rookies coming off breakout seasons to maintain that level of excellence. The competition catches up.Herbert appears to have the talent and work ethic to make adjustments. However, it may take him some time to figure out the best way to counter the defensive looks that Fangio, Zimmer, Belichick, and Harbaugh have used to frustrate him.Good luck - TDG.

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The Washington Football Team's Rushing Attack is Revitalizing their Defense

Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021

The Washington Football Team has pulled off upset victories in three straight games after their 17-15 win against Seattle for Monday Night Football on the last Monday in November. After starting the season losing six of their first eight games, head coach Ron Rivera has this team in contention once again to win the NFC East against a faltering Dallas Cowboys team that has lost three of their last four games. At 5-6, the Football Team is two games behind the Cowboys in the division standings yet they still have both their games with their NFC East rivals on deck in December. Washington won the NFC East last season despite starting the year with a 1-5 record. The foundation for success for Rivera this season has been a renewed commitment to run the football coming off their bye week.The Football Team’s first game after the two weeks off and self-audit of their own tendencies when they hosted Tampa Bay. They shocked the defending Super Bowl champions three weeks ago with a 29-19 victory. The Football Team held Tom Brady and the Buccaneers' offense to just 273 yards. Washington was able to contain Brady by being on offense for over 39 minutes in that game. They ran the ball 34 times for 94 yards. Washington then upset Carolina on the road two weeks ago with a 27-21 win as a field goal underdog. They held the Panthers to only 297 yards with them being on offense for just over 24 minutes in that game. The Football Team’s offense was on the field for 35:53 minutes. They ran the ball 40 times for 190 yards. On Monday, the Football Team ran the ball 43 times for 152 yards. They controlled the clock on offense for 41:40 minutes after keeping Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense on the field for less than ten minutes in the first half. Seattle only gained 267 yards in the game. The success in the Washington ground game has come from the spectacular play of Antonio Gibson. The second-year running back has rushed the ball 72 times in the last three games for 270 yards. He has 81 touches in those three games when including catching the ball out of the backfield. He ran the ball 29 times for 111 yards against the Seahawks. Running the football to win the time of possession battle has helped to revitalize the Football Team’s defense that struggled early in the season. They allowed 424, 391, and 481 yards in their first three games of the year. The 432 yards per game those first three opponents averaged far eclipsed their 305 yards per game defensive average last year, the second-best mark in the league. Washington has held their last three opponents to 55 combined points, similar to the defensive run they went on last season when they held their last seven opponents to 20 points or less with a 15.0 points per game opponent average from week 11 to the end of the regular season. Their opponents during their winning streak have averaged only 279 yards per game with none gaining more than 297 yards. Being on offense for about 16 more minutes per game keeps the defense fresh while frustrating quarterbacks like Brady and Wilson. With this commitment to run the football and control the time of possession, Rivera may be poised to lead the Football Team to a second-straight playoff run despite a slow start to the season.Good luck - TDG.

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A Tale of Two Improving NBA Defenses/ Sacramento and New Orleans

Sunday, Oct 31, 2021

Two of the worst defenses in the NBA last season belonged to the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans. Both have seen immediate improvements this season, although both teams had nowhere to go but up. Yet both teams may offer some intriguing betting value with either unders or as a point spread underdog early in the NBA season. The Kings posted a historically bad defensive rating of 116.5 last season. They allowed their opponents to make 48.8% of their shots. which was also the worst mark in the NBA. Opponents scored 117.4 points per game against them, ranking 28th in the league. Rookie Davion Mitchell has made an immediate impact on the play of the Kings' defense already this season. The former Baylor star is establishing himself as a clampdown ball defender. He held Damian Lillard to 1 of 7 shooting, Donovan Mitchell to 2 of 6 shooting, and Jordan Clarkson to 2 of 6 shooting in his first two games in the league after earning rave reviews with his defense in the Summer League. Sacramento had limited their three most recent opponents to no better than 45.2% shooting before playing in New Orleans on Thursday. They held the Pelicans to 42.9% shooting in a 113-109 victory. They close out the month with an improved defensive rating of 110.2, good for 25th in the league. While not great, things are moving in the right direction. Opponents are scoring 111.8 points per game, an improvement of almost 6 ppg earning them a ranking of 22nd. Their opponent’s field goal percentage of 44.4% is 16th in the NBA.New Orleans was another team that had the directive to improve their play on defense this season. The Pelicans never took to head coach Stan Van Gundy. They allowed 114.9 points per game with opponents hitting 46.9% of their shots, ranking 24th and 19th in the league. Their defensive rating of 113.3 was 23rd. Management brought in Willie Green after his successful stint as an assistant coach with Phoenix, and he has made an instant impact on the team’s play on defense. New Orleans may have lost to Atlanta on Wednesday (10/28) 102-99, yet the play of the defense was quite good as they held the Hawks to 41.7% shooting. The Pelicans had held their last three opponents to 98.7 points per game on 39% shooting with none of those three teams topping 102 points. New Orleans' defense faltered against the Kings who made 50% of their shots against them. Yet their defensive numbers to end the month show improvement from last year. While their defensive rating ranks 26th, it has improved to 110.2. Opponents are making 45.9% of their shots, 22nd in the NBA. They are allowing 110.0 points per game, 20th in the league, in an improvement of almost 4 points per game.These trends may not hold, although the additions of Mitchell and Green suggest that they just might. There may be more valuable opportunities with these teams in November before the market catches up. Good luck - Team Del Genio.

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The Impact of Weather on Football Over/Unders

Sunday, Oct 31, 2021

The role that rain and windy weather was put to the test in the last week with three games on prime time national television. A bomb cyclone in the Pacific Northwest impacted the Sunday night game in the NFL between Indianapolis and San Francisco. It also affected the Monday night game between New Orleans and Seattle. Rain and wind then played a role in the Sun Belt Conference on Thursday in the game between Troy and Coastal Carolina.Rain and winds in the 15 to 17 miles per hour range with occasional gusts were the conditions that the Colts and 49ers had to deal with in their game. Conditions like that impact the passing games and field goal attempts. Some bettors may have presumed the under was the preferred play yet the final score did not stay under the number despite the inclement weather. However, the weather played a major role in how that game played out. Only thirteen combined points were scored in the second and third quarters. Indianapolis gained only 295 yards on seventeen first downs and San Francisco managed just 280 yards on thirteen first downs. Those are offensive numbers that reliably lead to winning unders. The Colts got help from the 49ers committing two big pass interference plays on jump ball deep passes that led to two of their touchdowns. Both passing games were limited. Indianapolis passed for 147 yards and San Francisco passed for 169 yards. The Colts missed an extra point and later chose to go for a two-point conversion given the difficult wind conditions.Bad weather does not guarantee lower-scoring games but it can negatively impact some of the things that lead to higher-scoring games. There were seven fumbles between both teams. Turnovers are neutral in the long run in impacting over/unders since giving the ball up stalls drives and creates good scoring opportunities for the opposition.The rain and wind were less pronounced the next night in Seattle, yet that game was a low-scoring contest that the Saints won, 13-10. Sometimes games are destined to be low-scoring.  Weather is a factor when considering over/under plays, yet it should not replace the underlying factors in the game matchup between both teams. For Troy’s visit to Coastal Carolina later in the week, the oddsmakers opened the point spread in the -18.5 range yet the market has pushed the number down to the key number of -17 for the Chanticleers. Perhaps the weather reports persuaded bettors to take a Trojans team with a great defense? Rain and possible thunderstorms with wind gusts up to 10 miles per hour are in the forecast. Yet could Troy slow down an angry Coastal Carolina team coming off their first loss of the season? The Chanticleers averaged 46 points per game and 523 yards per game entering the contest. They averaged 8.5 yards per play. Their rushing attack was eleventh in the nation by averaging 234 yards per game which should continue to be effective in wet conditions. Slippery conditions can help the offense since it is the defensive players that have to react to the movements of the offensive players. Those words at the time proved prophetic as Coastal Carolina gained 510 total yards of offense in a 35-28 victory that went way over the 49.5 point total installed by the oddsmakers. The Chanticleers ran the ball 40 times for 216 yards. Yet the Coastal Carolina could not stop a Trojans team that appeared limited on offense at the time. Their second-leading wide receiver Reggie Todd was suspended for the game. Troy averaged only 20.3 points per game at the time. The rushing attack averaged 106 yards per game with a 3.6 yards per carry average. Yet the Trojans rush for 164 yards on 36 carries. Troy gained 389 yards overall.Of note was that both teams committed a number of turnovers. The Trojans threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball another two times, losing the ball once. The Chanticleers threw two interceptions. Of course, fumbles and interceptions take place even in the best of weather conditions. Bettors should be careful in putting too much stock in the weather having a disproportionate impact on a point spread or over/under. Bad weather can both help and hurt scoring opportunities. The sharpest bettors will take the weather report to then handicap how those conditions will impact the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams playing the game.Good luck - TDG.

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The Detroit Lions: For Those Who Bet Numbers (Not Teams)

Thursday, Sep 30, 2021

The betting public tends to want to bet for or against teams. Those looking to share the perspective of the oddsmakers look at the numbers before assessing a team’s ability to cover that point spread. These bettors may develop the habit of consistently backing the Detroit Lions this season.After 33 losses in Matt Patricia’s three seasons as the Detroit head coach, it is of little surprise that bettors are not fond of betting on the Lions. Detroit has been an underdog of more than a touchdown in each of their first three games. Dan Campbell is the new head coach after serving as the interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2015 after Joe Philbin was let go after four games. Campbell led the team to win five of their remaining twelve games while drawing national attention for doing gimmicky things like bring the Oklahoma drill to practices. After serving on Sean Payton’s coaching staff as the tight ends coach, Campbell got hired by the Lions in the offseason. His eccentric nature was ridiculed by the sports media when he talked in introductory press conferences about his team biting knee caps to demonstrate the fight and resolve he expects from his players. Yet these comments may have hit the right cord for the fans (and players) in Detroit who found Patricia aloof and a beneficiary of being a former defensive coordinator for Bill Belichick. Campbell knows the city and the mentality of the fanbase as a former player for the Lions himself.Campbell has assembled an intriguing coaching team around him. Anthony Lynn is a good offensive mind at offensive coordinator who is now being rumored as a candidate for the heading coaching job at USC. Lynn’s biggest failing as the head coach of the Chargers was his game management late in games. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is one of the hot young coaches in the game. After being a leader for many of Bill Parcel’s defenses for the New York Jets and later the Dallas Cowboys, he shined as the defensive backs coach at New Orleans, where he first worked with Campbell. Veteran defensive coach Dom Capers is a special consultant. Campbell is a Bill Parcells-disciple, as well, who is taking on the role of CEO head coach. The national media may not have bought in right away, yet the players seem to have become believers in Campbell. It would be easy for the Lions to fold after falling behind to San Francisco, 38-10, midway through the third quarter in their opening game of the season. Yet Detroit kept fighting by outscoring the 49ers 23-3 the rest of the way including making both of their 2-point conversions to put the game within one scoring possession before losing 41-33. The Lions then held a 17-14 halftime lead in Green Bay on Monday Night Football. A failed fourth-down attempt deep in Packers’ territory early in the second half changed the momentum of that game. The final score, 35-17, does not accurately reflect how competitive that game was. Detroit won the yardage battle, 344-323. Detroit then rallied from a 10-0 halftime deficit to take a 17-16 lead against Baltimore last week before the Ravens’ kicker, Justin Tucker, kicked an NFL record 66-yard field goal to win the game. Perhaps it was only a former Lions’ player who could appreciate the bad turn of events for the club when replays revealed that the referees failed to call a delay of game penalty on Baltimore that should have nullified the successful kick. Campbell acknowledged the error, dismissed any eventual apology from the league as useless, and then got his team focused for their next game. It is going to take some time to rebuild the roster that Patricia left behind. Yet what this team may lack in talent, they will make up for by being prepared and not giving up. Detroit will probably be underdogs in most of their games this season. For those who bet numbers not teams, the Lions will present some interesting possibilities as the season moves forward.Good luck - TDG.

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Dan Quinn's Immediate Impact on the Dallas Cowboys' Defense

Thursday, Sep 30, 2021

Mike McCarthy knew the Dallas defense needed all the help it could get after allowing 29.8 points per game last season. His new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has energized the unit. Even after three games this season, his impact on the defensive unit is quite apparent.After getting fired as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Quinn conducted a self-assessment of his defensive principles from his time as the defensive coordinator for Pete Carroll in Seattle to update his ideas for the ever-evolving offenses in the NFL. Quinn became the head coach for the Falcons after serving as the Seahawks defensive coordinator for two seasons culminating with their Super Bowl victory in 2014. His reputation as a defensive mastermind only strengthened with the steady improvement of the Atlanta defense in their Super run in the 2016-17 season, which ended in their epic fourth-quarter collapse to New England. Disappointing play from his defenses since that year and three straight losing seasons eventually led to owner Arthur Blank letting Quinn go in the off-season. McCarthy quickly scooped him up to replace his defensive coordinator last year, Mike Nolan.Quinn has played less cover-3 defense with the Cowboys with more single-high safety or two-zone safety looks. He is adapting to the talent he inherited, and he is simplifying schemes, so his players play fast. One of the problems that Dallas had last year was the system change to a 3-4 under new coordinator Mike Nolan. The COVID pandemic made that transition more challenging, and Nolan did not adjust well to teaching his concepts from zoom meetings. The Cowboys signed six new defensive players in free agency and drafted eight rookies to contribute to the defense, including their top-six picks. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones hit a home run in the drafting of linebacker Micah Parsons out of Penn State. After the injury to DeMarcus Lawrence, Quinn moved Parsons to defensive end, a position he had not played since high school. Parsons has thrived in that role. Quinn’s defense is making big plays. They have forced eight turnovers in their first three games, with three of them in the red zone. Dallas may be allowing over 400 yards per game, but they have played against two strong offenses in the Buccaneers and Chargers. They held those two offenses to 24.5 points per game. They only allowed 14 offensive points to Philadelphia on Monday, with the Eagles’ third touchdown being from a Dak Prescott fumble that they recovered in the end zone. The Cowboys were second-to-last in the NFL last season by allowing 159 rushing yards per game. Four opponents gashed them for over 200 yards on the ground. This year, they have not given up 100 or more rushing yards in a game while holding their three opponents to 70 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys lead the NFL with ten different players all moving at a speed of at least 19 miles per hour. Quinn deserves the credit. His schemes are helping his players play faster, with less thinking and more instinctual reacting. Good luck - TDG.

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Handicapping College Football After a Season Played During a Pandemic

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

After a 2020-21 college football season played without fans, the new ’21-22 season appears to return to looking like the game we observed in 2019-20. COVID is still here, and positive tests threaten to wreak havoc once again with the eligibility of players on game day (even if vaccinated). Yet fans will be back in stands, and each of the 130 teams representing the FBS appears poised to play full schedules. But normalcy has not yet returned for those of us who handicap college football games. After an extremely unusual college football season last year, those games remain the most recent relevant data points to use when assessing the early games for this season. Team Del Genio is a collection of handicappers that worked with and who were influenced by former oddsmaker turned sports handicapper Lenny Del Genio. We hope we analyze these early college football games the way he would, from the perspective of someone thinking about how the point spread and over/under lines were decided. Three principles will guide our early thinking.(1) Last Year’s Sample Sizes were Low. Most FBS teams play at least twelve games each season. Many Pac-12 teams played only four times. Many Big Ten teams did not play more than seven times. Non-conference schedules were abandoned. For many of these teams, there is just not much to gather from playing a third to a half of a typical season. With opt-outs and teams declining bowl games, the stakes changed for many programs. The lack of games between conferences makes the data regarding relative conference strength limited. Handicappers and gamblers making strong conclusions from last year’s results do so at their own risk.(2) Returning Starters/Production is Less Important. Perhaps this has been an overrated factor when handicapping early-season games. A team returning all five starters from an offensive line that was not very good may not be all that advantageous. Talent is probably more important than experience and chemistry. Yet with the NCAA granting all players an extra year of eligibility if they played last year, every FBS team is returning a high number of starters from last year. Returning experience is simply not as important this season since it is an area most programs have benefiting them.(3) More Than Ever, Coaching Matters. After a year impacted by COVID that precluded practice time and coaching opportunities in the spring and the fall, every FBS program got in spring and fall practice sessions. The surprises relative to point spread expectations will probably come from the better-coached programs. Good luck - TDG.

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Starting Pitcher Observations from August

Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021

The Team ended the month of August by winning their MLB National League East Total of the Month with the Philadelphia/Washington over on August 31st. The Phillies won the game, 12-6, as they scored at least seven runs for the fourth straight game. We concluded that they would continue swinging hot bats against the Nationals’ Patrick Corbin. The left-hander entered the game with a 7.59 era and a 1.41 whip in eight starts since the all-star break. He has allowed at least four earned runs in seven of his last eight starts. His strikeout rate of 18.6% of the batters he has faced is the lowest mark in his career. Sure enough, Corbin allowed two home runs and six runs overall in his six innings of work in taking his thirteenth loss of the season. Corbin gave up nine hits and walked four batters. While he struck out four batters, that represented only 14.2% of the batters he faced. Washington has allowed 33 combined runs in their last three games. The Phillies’ Matt Moore struggled in this game as well. He has been rotating back and forth between the bullpen and starting rotation. He has a 2-4 record with a 6.12 era and a 1.55 whip on the season. Since the all-star break, Moore has a 6.82 era and a 1.45 whip in six starts and eight overall appearances. His walk rate of 10.2% of the batters he has faced is the highest since 2014. He walked five batters in this game in his 3 1/3 innings for a 23.8% walk rate. He was pulled after getting one out in the bottom of the third inning after allowing five runs. Our 25* MLB Total of the Month on Monday, August 30th, was scratched when the San Francisco starting pitcher, Johnny Cueto, tested positive for COVID which forced the Giants to resort to a bullpen game. Much of the reasoning for the under in that game was the expected strong pitching performance from Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes. The Brewers won the game, 3-1, with the final score still finishing well below the number. Burnes pitched great by allowing only one run in six innings. He allowed only four hits and did not walk a batter. He struck out nine Giants. He entered that game with an 8-4 record with a 2.30 era and a 0.95 whip in twenty-two starts. The hard-throwing right-hander had a 1.67 era and a 0.85 whip in his four starts this month before that effort. Burnes had a 1.87 era and a 0.86 whip in his previous ten starts on the road. We lost our MLB ESPN Sunday Game of the Year on August 29th when the Yankees lost at Oakland, 3-1. We were surprised that New York did not generate more runs against the A’s starting pitcher Paul Blackburn. Our assessment of Yankees’ starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery was on the money. Montgomery allowed just one unearned run in his six innings where he gave up only six base hits and did not offer a free pass. The left-hander had a 5-5 record with a 3.69 era and 1.20 whip in twenty-three starts entering the game, yet that did not tell the full story. Since the beginning of June, Montgomery had a 2.98 era and a 1.16 whip with 43 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings before that start. His strong efforts were not restricted to Yankee Stadium either during this run. In his previous four starts on the road before pitching at the Coliseum on Sunday, Montgomery has a 0.87 era and a 1.11 whip. When pitching at night, Montgomery held a 2.84 era and 1.15 whip in fourteen starts before that effort.Good luck - TDG.

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Starting Pitcher Observations from July

Saturday, Jul 31, 2021

What started as a hot month for TDG in baseball carried through until the final few days of July where we have gotten stuck behind some teams that hit below our expectations. Bad days at the plate will happen. If we continue to identify starting pitchers of value opposing starting pitchers with red flags, we should see good results.Our July Game of the Month was on Saturday, the 31st, on the Milwaukee Brewers. Brandon Woodruff had only allowed one run through five innings before getting in trouble in the top of the sixth with Atlanta scoring two more runs. Yet it was the Brewers' offense that was the bigger disappointment as they managed to score only once against Braves’ rookie starting pitcher Kyle Muller. The Milwaukee bullpen then gave up another five runs in an 8-1 loss. Woodruff will remain on our radar despite the setback. Woodruff entered the game with a 7-5 record with a sparkling 2.14 era and a 0.84 whip. The right-hander was striking out 30.4% of the batters has faced due to a nasty combination of a curveball and changeup that keeps batters chasing. In his previous start against the White Sox last Sunday, he induced 22 swinging strikes with 45% of his pitches resulting in a called-strike or a swinging strike. He combines his elite strikeout skills with a ground ball rate of the balls he allows into play of 45.6% before the start against the Braves. Woodruff’s hard-hit rate of the balls allowed into play of 25% is a career-best. Woodruff had been even better when pitching on the road where he has a 1.96 era and a 0.72 whip in ten starts. Milwaukee had won eleven of their last twelve games when Woodruff is pitching in a game where the oddsmakers install the over/under at 9 or 9.5. He should be fine. We will monitor Eduardo Rodriguez closely after getting burned with him in our American League Total of the Month on Thursday. With hindsight, perhaps Rodriguez was rusty after only pitching one inning in his previous start due to a migraine headache. Reports coming out of Boston is that he felt fine. Yet he struggled in the opening frame against Toronto before leaving that game on Thursday, July 29th, after allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings. We thought the 5.23 era and 1.38 whip he had at the time was sending the wrong message to bettors. The left-hander did not pitch last year due to COVID, and he started slowly in spring training. Yet he was striking out 27.4% of the batters he faces while walking just 5.8% of the batters he had faced before that final start of the month. The hard-hit rate of the balls he was allowing into play of 27.8% is the second-lowest in his career. In his four previous starts, Rodriguez had a 2.15 era and a 1.08 whip as he appeared to have found his stride. Opponents were hitting just .209 against him this month. He had struck out 20 batters and walked five in his 17 2/3 innings in July. If his start against the Blue Jays was just one of those things after not pitching much, there could be quite a bit of value with him in the next two months (and playoffs).We looked poised to win our FS1 Game of the Month on Saturday, July 24th, in part because of the value we identified in Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. He allowed only two runs in 7 2/3 innings of work. Yet the Boston bullpen allowed four runs in the eighth inning and failed to rally in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 4-3 loss. Eovaldi began the game with a 9-5 record with a 3.57 era and a 1.20 whip in 19 starts this year. The right-hander had a 2.55 era and a 1.01 whip in his previous four starts which did not include the scoreless inning he pitched against the National League in the All-Star game. Over those 24 2/3 innings, he had struck out 28 batters and walked just two. He is combining his elite strikeout-to-walk ratios with a hard-hit rate of the balls he is allowing into play of 26.3% which is the lowest mark in his last nine seasons. Some tough luck results. Yet we begin August on a 39 of 51 (76%) MLB run. Good luck - TDG.

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The Underlying Greatness of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s NBA Title Run

Saturday, Jul 31, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo deserved to win the Most Valuable Player award of the NBA finals. He put up incredible offensive numbers. He averaged 35.2 points per game, rebounded 13.7 boards per game, and added 5.0 assists per game in their triumph against the Phoenix Suns in six games. For the entire postseason, Antetokounmpo averaged 30.2 points per game, 12.8 rebounds per game, and 5.1 assists per game. Antetokounmpo was a force on the defensive end of the court as a rim protector and defender throughout the playoffs. He took away the Suns’ Deandre Ayton in the finals as that series moved on. Yet perhaps the more impressive aspects to Antetokounmpo’s first NBA title go beyond those numbers. For starters, the fact that Antetokounmpo evened played in the NBA finals was extraordinary. When he hyperextended his knee in the Eastern Conference finals, his ability to even compete for a championship looked in doubt. He was questionable up until tip-off for Game 1 of the finals against Phoenix. But not only was he able to play, but he also seemed to have no ill effects with that knee injury. The physical and mental conditioning he went through to prepare to play through that injury was incredible. Antetokounmpo worked through a mental battle with his free-throw shooting. He lost his confidence at the free-throw line somewhere in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Brooklyn Nets. After making 67.5% of his free throws in the opening round against Miami, he made only 6 of 19 free throws in the first three games against the Nets. Then came the jeering from fans and his taking all ten seconds at the line as his battle with what the golfers call the yips was for all to see. Antetokounmpo missed more than half his free throw attempts in both the Brooklyn and Atlanta Hawks series in the Eastern Conference finals. Removing Antetokounmpo from the game in clutch situations became a topic of conversation. Yet he worked through the problem. Free throw shooting has never been the strength of his game, yet he recovered to shoot 62% from the charity stripe on his 85 free throw attempts in the NBA finals. In the Game 6 clincher, Antetokounmpo nailed 17 of his 19 free throw attempts. His success over this mental battle was critical in leading his team to a championship. Antetokounmpo led his team to a title by accepting his limitations. After struggling with his 3-point shooting despite defenses begging for him to take open 3s, he changed his game and shot fewer 3s. After going 1 of 8 from 3-point land in Game 4 of the Brooklyn series, he does not even attempt a 3-point shot two games later in a critical Game 6 when they are down 3-2 in the series. In his ten games against Atlanta and Phoenix, only once does he attempt more than three shots from 3-point land. Antetokounmpo also accepted not being the primary ball-handler in crunch time as the playoffs went on with Kris Middleton having success making key shots. Antetokounmpo’s offensive numbers and outstanding play on defense made him the obvious choice for the NBA finals MVP. Yet what may have been more impressive during this championship run was his perseverance, his success in confronting adversity, and his growth as a player by accepting his limitations. These are all qualities that will serve him quite well as his career continues to progress.Good luck - TDG.

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Starting Pitcher Observations from June

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021

Starting Pitcher Observations from JuneWe started with caution to the new Major League Baseball season amidst plenty of uncertainty in handicapping starting pitching. Most starting pitchers only had up to 12 or 13 regular season starts last year in the shortened season that starting late because of COVID. That presented a smaller sample size from which to project early season performance this year. The absence of fans continued to introduce an unusual dynamic that may have affected MLB pitchers differently. Major League Baseball threw another knuckleball into the mix with the changes they made to the baseball. As we observed last month in our article, “It’s the Year of the Pitcher. Does that Mean to Play More Unders?”: “The ball is slightly lighter after new production standards. The new ball is easier to throw but does not travel as far off the bat given the lighter mass.”MLB has since added a new wrinkle into the mix with their crackdown on foreign substances pitches uses to get a better grip on the baseball to improve spin rate. Yet amidst all these new factors to consider, some actionable data began to accumulate around the 1/3rd mark into the season. Here are some of the observations about starting pitchers that has helped our 23-3 MLB money line sides run through the end of the month.Shohei Ohtani may the story of the league with Most Valuable Year campaign with his spectacular contributions with his bat and his pitching arm, yet there are some cracks in the armor in his pitching profile. For our MLB Game of the Month report on the Yankees for Wednesday, June 30th, we made these comments on Ohtani:“Ohtani has been a surprise as to just how good he has been on the mound. The right-hander has a 3-1 record with a 2.58 era and a 1.18 whip in 11 starts. Yet it might be premature to begin pricing him as an elite starting pitcher. Command remains a challenge for Ohtani who is walking 12.5% of the batters he faces. In his last two starts on the road, he has walked six batters in 11 innings for a 4.9 bases-on-balls per nine innings average. In four starts on the road, Ohtani has a 3.91 era. Seven of his eleven starts have been at home, so this looks to be a good opportunity to fade him in this high-profile matchup where the pressure will be high.”The prospect of Ohtani pitching in fabled Yankee Stadium, not the literal “House that Ruth Built” but nearby to the baseball legend that Ohtani gets most compared to because he stars as both a hitter and a pitcher, may have put too much pressure on the young superstar. He walked the first three batters he faced in the first inning before allowing seven earned runs on four walks and two hits when he got pulled with two outs in the inning. Ohtani’s command remains the weakness in his pitching profile, and he may not be as effective when pitching away from Angels Stadium. Unfortunately, the Yankees’ bullpen let us down in that game by giving up seven runs in the top of the ninth inning to blow an 8-4 lead and lose the game. If he handicap the starting pitcher matchup accurately, we will win more than we lose even with the occasional back door loss from a bullpen blowup.Kenta Maeda had one of the most disappointing starts to the season before showing signs that he might have righted the ship this month. We were not sold, particularly with him pitching on the road against the White Sox on Tuesday, June 29th. In our report for our AL Central Game of the Month, we noted:“After a disastrous start to the season, he finally went on the disabled list last month to rest his right shoulder. He has been a shadow of the pitcher that went 6-1 last season with a 2.70 era and a 0.75 whip. His strikeouts are way down. After striking out 32.3% of the batters he faced last season, he is punching out 21.7% of batters this year. He is walking 6.5% of the batters he faces, up from 4.0% last season. His ground ball rate is down from 49.0% last year to 41.9% this year. Opposing hitters are connecting on more line drives which are up from 20.4% to 24.4% of the batted balls he is allowing into play. Maeda’s era is 5.40 in his 8 starts on the road, and his teams have won just three of their last sixteen games on the road when the oddsmakers install the over/under from 7 to 8.5.”Maeda did get out of the fifth inning in that game, giving up seven runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked five batters representing 18.5% of the batters he faced. He only struck out four batters, just 14.8% of the White Sox hitters he pitched against in a clip even lower than his declining strikeout average this season. Maeda will likely continue to be a starting pitcher we will target to play against in side and over plays. The news is not all bad, as we saw encouraging things from Adam Wainwright. We made these comments in our NL Central Game of the Month on the Cardinals versus the Pirates on Saturday, June 26th:  “They (Pittsburgh) face Adam Wainwright who has pitched better at home for most of his long career. The veteran right-hander is 5-5 with a 3.74 era and a 1.12 whip in 14 starts. When pitching at home, Wainwright has a 2.66 era and a 0.95 whip in nine starts. The 39-year-old started strong in April with a bump up in velocity. Yet his velocity dropped in May as he struggled in some starts. Wainwright has turned it around this month by not allowing more than three runs in any of his four starts while pitching at least six innings in each outing. He has a 2.67 era and an 0.89 whip in June.”Wainwright’s strong month continued as he allowed only one run in six innings work to register a 3-1 victory against the Pirates. He struck out eight batters and walked only one to continue his consistency when pitching at home at Busch Stadium. We will continue to look for opportunities where the veteran is undervalued, especially when pitching at home. Good luck - TDG.

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What Happened to the Vegas Golden Knights?

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2021

After the Vegas Golden Knights upset the Colorado Avalanche in the West Division finals, it looked like the franchise was well on their way to make their second appearance in the Stanley Cup finals in the four years of their existence. Yet despite an easy 4-1 victory in Game 1 of the NHL semifinals against Montreal, they were exposed by the Canadiens in the next five games despite being a 5-1 favorite to win that series before it started. With three straight disappointments in the postseason after their inaugural season run to the finals, the Golden Knights are suddenly a franchise at the crossroads. What happened?Management took a big chance in trading with the very same Montreal Canadiens for Max Pacioretty before their second season. At the time, the move was designed to bring superstar talent into the organization that they could not acquire in the expansion draft. They later traded for Mark Stone at the trade deadline that gave them a top forward line of Pacioretty, Stone, and Paul Stastny, another offseason acquisition, that took the pressure off the William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith line that was such a surprise from the expansion draft. But a key piece in that trade with the Canadiens was Nick Suzuki who Vegas drafted as the 13th pick in the first round in their first draft. Suzuki outperformed Pacioretty in that series with five points, tied for the most for Montreal in that series. With hindsight being 20/20, the Golden Knights are weak down the middle. The injury to Chandler Stephenson exposed this deficiency even more. When Vegas drafted Cody Glass sixth in the 2017 draft before selecting Suzuki seven picks later, management had, in theory, laid the foundation for how their team would look at center for the next decade. Instead, Glass has failed to develop yet, he was not on the postseason roster, and Suzuki starred for the team that defeated them in the playoffs. At 21-years-old, Suzuki is 11 years younger than Pacioretty. Besides holes at center, depth was a concern for the team all season. They were only able to dress 15 skaters in their final home game of the year against Colorado which determined home ice in the playoffs and the President’s Trophy. Over $12 million were invested in their goaltending duo of Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury. Having two top-notch goaltenders is a luxury that teams probably cannot afford when operating under a salary cap. But the adage in the NFL regarding the problems of having two worthy starting quarterbacks on a roster may apply to goaltenders in the NHL. Rumors were that the team tried to unload Fleury before the start of the season after they signed Lehner to a five-year, $25 million contract. After Fleury saved the team during the regular season with Lehner dealing with a host of injuries, he won the Vezina Trophy for the first time in his Hall of Fame career. That cache will likely lead to the team being able to get a better deal from him in the offseason. If it was not clear that the team committed to Lehner when they signed in the fall to that $25 million deal, when head coach Peter DeBoer chose him to start in Game 6 of their series with the Canadiens, the writing was written on the wall for all to see. Next season likely becomes a make-or-break year for DeBoer. He was hired immediately after management made the surprising move to fire Gerard Gallant midway through the 2020-21 season. Having taken the New Jersey Devils and the San Jose Sharks to the Stanley Cup finals, DeBoer’s ability to made adjustments from game to game was considered a strength that Gallant lacked. Yet DeBoer was unable to push the buttons to get Stone, Pacioretty, and the other Knights’ forwards going against Carey Price and the Montreal defense. In the meantime, Gallant has been hired to be the head coach of the New York Rangers in the biggest market in the National Hockey League. With the windows beginning to close on the prime years of Stone, Pacioretty, and Alex Pietrangelo (the team’s major offseason acquisition last year) all 29-years-old or older, the urgency for the Vegas franchise to win their first Stanley Cup only intensifies. Expect many moves in the offseason. Good luck - TDG.

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Would the Toronto Maple Leafs Beat Montreal if Mike Babcock Was Still their Head Coach?

Monday, May 31, 2021

The Toronto Maple Leafs failed to win a playoff series for the 18th straight season tonight after losing to Montreal, 3-1, in their North Division Game 7. The loss was the final nail in the coffin that will be considered an epic collapse by Toronto who seemed in control of this series with a 3-1 lead. The Maple Leafs finished in first place in the North Division with 77 points, 18 points ahead of the Canadiens. They are priced as a money line favorite at -195 at BetOnline to win Game 7.Auston Matthews registered an assist tonight, but he ended the series with just one goal and four assists. Matthews led the NHL with 41 goals in 52 games during the regular season. He centered the top line alongside right wing Mitch Marner who had 20 goals and 47 assists in 55 regular-season games. Yet Marner managed only four assists in this seven games series. When the autopsy of what happened to the Maple Leafs in the postseason, it will start with why the productivity of Matthews and Marner declined. Mike Babcock was fired as the Toronto head coach in November of 2019 after a 9-10-4 start to the season. One of the biggest criticisms of Babcock was that he was not giving his stars enough ice time. In the 2018-19 season, the last full regular season under Babcock, Matthews averaged only 18:33 minutes per game. Marner averaged 21:33 minutes per game during that regular season. When general manager Kyle Dubas promoted Sheldon Keefe from the team’s top minor league team to replace Babcock, one of the directives was to get more ice time for Matthews and Marner.Matthews saw his ice time rise to 22:27 minutes per game after the all-star break after averaging 20:20 minutes before that. These numbers are a bit muddy because the pre-all-star break numbers include both Babcock and Keefe-coached games and the second half of the season was shortened because of COVID. Yet the increased ice time under Keefe is notable. Marner saw his ice time rise to 24:39 minutes after the all-star break in 2019-20 after averaging 22:32 before that. This season, Matthews averaged 21:33 minutes per game in the regular season. His ice time increased to 23:44 minutes per game in the playoffs. Marner averaged 22:26 minutes per game in the regular season while seeing that ice time increase to 24:52 in the playoffs. Could the decline in Matthews and Marner’s production be a product of them being tired? Matthews and Marner’s playoff production under Keefe last season left much to be desired. In their upset loss to Columbus in the qualifier for the NHL playoffs in the bubble hosted at their Scotiabank Arena last year, Matthews scored two goals and had four assists in five games. Those are decent numbers. Yet in the 2019 postseason under Babcock, Matthews scored five goals with an assist in their seven-game series with a Boston Bruins team that reached the Stanley Cup finals. Marner did not score in last year’s postseason under Keefe while assisting on four goals. Yet in the 2019 playoffs under Babcock against tougher competition, Keefe scored two goals and added another two assists. Could it be that Babcock’s strategy all along was to keep his stars’ legs fresh for when it mattered most in the playoffs? The production was certainly better. But what does Babcock know? After all, he has won only one Stanley Cup title with Detroit in 2008. He has only coached three teams to the Stanley Cup finals (Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2003, Detroit in 2008 and 2009). Babcock is the only head coach to take two different teams to a Game 7 in a Stanley Cup final. Maybe he does know something about preparing for a deep playoff run?On the other hand, Sheldon Keefe did lead the minor league Toronto Marlies to the Calder Cup in 2018. But Keefe has yet to lead a team in the NHL to a playoff series win despite being favored in the last two seasons.Dubas hired Keefe to move the team in a different direction. Dubas was elevated to the general manager of the Maple Leafs to replace Lou Lamoriello. Where is Lamoriello now? He was hired by the New York Islanders in 2018. The Islanders are playing the East Division finals against Boston after they upset Pittsburgh in the opening round of the playoffs. The Islanders played in the Eastern Conference finals last season. Draw your own conclusions.Good luck — TDG.

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It’s the Year of the Pitcher. Does that Mean to Play More Unders?

Monday, May 31, 2021

Major League Baseball has already seen six no-hitters this season, and that does not even count Madison Bumgarner’s no-hitter in a seven-inning doubleheader game which MLB did not officially count as no-no since the game did not go nine innings. The MLB record for no-hitters in a season in the modern era is seven, which has previously occurred four times.Pitching numbers are up, and hitting numbers are down so far this season as we take a look at some data on Memorial Day. Entering the day, the across-the-league Earned Runs Average sits at 4.02. That is the league-wide ERA since 2015. Strike-out rates continue to rise as well. Pitchers are striking out 24% of the batters they face (as of 5/20). Pitchers struck out 23.1% of the batters they faced in 2019, and they struck out 23.4% of opposing hitters in 2020.The Year of the Pitcher is demonstrated in declining hitting statistics as well. The league-wide MLB batting average after Sunday (5/30 is .236. That is the lowest number since 1968, the most recent Year of the Pitcher. MLB lowered the height of the pitching mound after the dominance pitchers enjoyed over hitters that year. Teams are scoring 4.33 runs per game this season. That average is a decline from the 4.65 runs per game mark in 2020. In 2019, teams averaged 4.83 runs per game, so the decline in scoring is part of some larger trends. What is happening? Several reasons help explain these trends. Velocity rates from pitchers continue to rise. Starting pitchers and relievers are being asked to make fewer pitchers per appearance but to throw harder when they do. Spin rates are on the rise as well as analytics departments influence their teams to rely focus on this intangible. The rise of defensive shifts has made things even more difficult for hitters to generate base hits. With pitchers throwing more heat, batters are being instructed to attempt to hit more home runs to take advantage of the acceleration produced from the batted ball. Yet home run rates are down this season after a steady recent rise in that number. 1.2 homers are being hit per 9 innings this season, the fifth-highest mark of all-time. But there was an average of 1.34 home runs and 1.40 home runs hit per 9 innings in the previous two seasons. Changes to the baseball this season have played a role. The ball is slightly lighter after new production standards. The new ball is easier to throw but does not travel as far off the bat given the lighter mass. Given all this, should bettors be investing in more unders? The numbers do not bear this out. The under is 382-374-25 after Sunday’s games (as measured by VSIN). The oddsmakers appear to be ahead of the game when it comes to adjusting their numbers. There may be value in betting the over as the season moves on. Warmer weather tends to favor the hitter with the ball carrying farther in the warmer air.Good luck - TDG.

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Don’t Crown the Brooklyn Nets the NBA Champions Yet

Friday, Apr 30, 2021

The alliance of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to a Brooklyn Nets roster that was already a playoff team already made them a strong contender to win the NBA Eastern Conference. Yet when they traded for James Harden earlier in the season to form a “Big Three” of superstars, it was understandable when many observers thought this team was destined to win the NBA championship this season. The later additions of stars like LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin elevated their collection of players into a super team. However, any coronation of this team is premature. As the month of May begins just a few weeks away from the start of the NBA playoffs, the questions that have dogged this team remain unanswered.First, will the chemistry of this group of players work? The Los Angeles Clippers were considered the super team of destiny last season. Their former head coach Doc Rivers later revealed that the lack of cohesion that never developed between Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with each other and the rest of the team played a big role in their early exit in the Western Conference playoffs to the Denver Nuggets. Developing chemistry on the fly in the playoffs is easier said than done. Yet the Nets’ Big Three of Durant, Harden, and Irving has only played together in seven games this season. Can all three share the ball? Will Harden and Irving defer to Durant as the presumptive alpha of the group? Should Durant be considered the alpha? Will Harden be content being a ball distributing point guard? Will Irving take more personal days? These stars have all said the right things up to this point. They seem to be on the same page of all wanting to just win a championship. But the platitudes of January are not under the same weight of pressure as the urgency these players will encounter if they happen to fall behind, 2-1, in a seven-game playoff series. That is when the chemistry of this group will be tested. The regular season should be building the foundation for this group of players to prepare for the inevitable adversity coming in the playoffs. Instead, this group has dealt with injuries and load management as they await the playoffs. Second, can this team simply outscore their opponents without playing at least decent play on defense? The offense numbers are quite impressive. Brooklyn averages 118.9 points per game. They make 49.4% of their shots and 38.9% of their 3-pointers. They lead the league in offensive efficiency, scoring 118.9 points per 100 possessions. These are numbers with the Big Three playing only seven games together so the ceiling could be even higher. But the defense is an eyesore. Opponents make 46.2% of their shots which is resulting in 114.1 points per game. The Nets have the sixth-worst defensive efficiency in the NBA, with opponents scoring 113.2 points per 100 possessions. Can a defense this suspect survive in the playoffs against the very best teams? Mike D’Antoni’s coaching career has attempted to have his great offensive teams score their way past defensive liabilities, including his time in Houston with Harden. This approach never won a championship. Coincidentally or not, D’Antoni is an assistant coach with this team. Steve Nash is the head coach of this group. He was the point guard for D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns teams that never reached an NBA Finals. Nash’s strengths were never defensive basketball. He is a rookie head coach, handling a large collection of big egos. It simply does not take much to imagine these circumstances taking a bad turn. Third, will the superstars stay healthy? Proclamations of teams of destiny never take into account the prospect of injuries. Given the recent histories of Durant and Irving, and with Harden’s hamstring issues this season, it may be unrealistic to expect these three players to remain healthy throughout the postseason. On paper, Brooklyn looks formidable. They have looked spectacular at times this season. Yet the challenge of the NBA playoffs is different than the regular season. Those are untraveled waters for the 2021 Nets. Good luck - TDG.

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Will the 2022 NFL Rookie Quarterback Class be as Weak as Expected?

Friday, Apr 30, 2021

In the run-up to the 2021 NFL draft, many observers commented that teams may feel more pressure to find their quarterback of the future since the incoming rookie class for next year’s draft looks to be thin. Yet, isn’t this the same thought every year? Perhaps a draft class that finally featured Trevor Lawrence who was winning National Championships as a freshman three years ago makes the 2021 quarterback group special. At this time last year, one would be hard-pressed to find someone confidently predicting that BYU’s Zach Wilson would develop into the second player taken in the draft. As Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian commented about the potential lack of quality quarterback prospects next year: “Somebody always crops up.” A quick glance at the prospects in college shows plenty of names that observers and NFL brain trusts might fall in love with. It is challenging to accurately assess the returning college quarterbacks next fall after a shortened season with limited practices given COVID protocols. Hopefully, college football will be able to return to a normal practice regimen which will help the development of the quarterbacks looking to impress NFL scouts. Observers are more likely to be surprised than disappointed with another year of development. Below is a list of ten players who may grow into being a first-round draft pick in April of 2022.Spencer Rattler: NFL scouts have learned to trust quarterbacks groomed by Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley. If Jalen Hurts becomes the starting quarterback in Philadelphia, he will join Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray as NFL starting quarterbacks that went through Riley’s program. Rattler started slowly last year before settled down to throw 15 touchdowns to two interceptions in his final seven games. J.T. Daniels: The former five-star quarterback was in the shortlist conversations with Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields coming out of high school before injuries marred his growth at USC. With a full season as the starter at Georgia, Daniels will draw plenty of attention.Sam Howell: The North Carolina quarterback is considered the most polished passer in the class. He demonstrated his potential last year with 443 passing yards against Virginia and 550 passing yards against Wake Forest. Daniel Jones and Matt Ryan are comparables of quarterbacks with big arms who came from the ACC to find success in the NFL.Kedon Slovis: He is the quarterback who beat out J.T. Daniels for the starting job at USC, and he is the reason Daniels now plays in the SEC. Slovis has a quick release that NFL scouts covet. USC quarterbacks remain attractive to NFL brass.Tyler Shough: He was the heir apparent to Justin Herbert before a disappointing 2020 compelled him to transfer. He can put up big numbers against Big 12 defenses at Texas Tech, and then his 6’5 frame will take over to entice scouts. Matt Corral: He completed 71% of his passes in his first year at Ole Miss under head coach Lane Kiffin. He will likely put up video game numbers next season in the Rebels' offense. While just 6’1, his accuracy could make scouts think of Baker Mayfield or even Drew Brees.Bo Nix: The Auburn quarterback suffered from a sophomore slump last season after a freshman campaign that compelled quarterback coach guru Jordan Palmer to proclaim him the future top pick in the 2022 draft. A resurgent junior season in the SEC would elevate Nix once again. Desmond Ridder: The Cincinnati quarterback may be the closest comparison to a dual-threat Kyler Murray-type in the class. He completed 66.2% of his passes last season, and he has demonstrated himself as a winner with a 30-5 record with the Bearcats. Grayson McCall: The Coastal Carolina quarterback is still considered raw as he enters his redshirt junior season, but he came off a breakout campaign where he completed 69% of his passes with 26 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. The Chanticleers do not run a pro-style offense, but all it takes is one NFL offensive coordinator convinced he can lift enough of the Coastal Carolina offense to find success at the next level for McCall.Mystery Player to Come Out of Nowhere: This list above is not exhaustive of the potential quarterbacks who could make a big jump in development under a full year of coaching and competition. No one was predicting that Mac Jones would be picked by the New England Patriots in the first round at this time last year. Call it the “recency effect” or call it being a “prisoner of the moment”. It is human nature to overestimate the value of what is most recently experienced. For NFL scouts worried about finding a quarterback in the 2022 NFL draft, there are plenty of intriguing candidates. Good luck - TDG.

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UCLA's Defense Spearheads its Final Four Run

Wednesday, Mar 31, 2021

UCLA reached the Final Four on Tuesday in a 51-49 victory against Michigan. The Bruins only shot 38.9% from the field but they stymied the Wolverines to just a 39.2% field goal percentage to hold them off and grind out a low-scoring victory that only had 100 combined points scored. Probably just like their head coach Mick Cronin likes it.In our write-up for UCLA in their upset victory against Alabama on Sunday, we wrote: “(Mick Cronin) may have made a breakthrough with his team after they gave up 44 points in the first half to Michigan State in the play-in game. The Bruins allowed only 36 points in the next 25 minutes which included an overtime session with UCLA rallying from a double-digit deficit to win and advance. The Bruins defense has been suffocating ever since. In their 67-47 victory against Abilene Christian on Monday, UCLA held them to just 29.8% shooting including 15 misses of their 19 shots from the 3-point line. Since halftime against the Spartans, the Bruins have played their next 105 minutes in the NCAA tournament at a defensive rate that would translate into 55.2 points-per-game on 42.4% shooting. This is the formula for success for Cronin.” UCLA’s 88-78 final score victory against the Crimson Tide was misleading since the score was tied at 65 at the end of regulation. That was 9.5 points below the closing over/under number. The Bruins scored a surprising 23 points in the five-minute overtime period to cruise to the victory. They held Alabama to just a 43.5% field goal percentage. Even after the Tide scored 78 points on Sunday, the UCLA defensive numbers continued to look impressive. Since the start of the second half against Michigan State through their game against Alabama, the Bruins were holding their opponents to 42.3% shooting from the field and limiting their opponents to a scoring rate that would see just 59.4 points-per-game. Cronin goes into the Final Four with defensive numbers that translate into holding their opponents to 57.3 points-per-game on 42.1% shooting since that opening first half against the Spartans. This includes UCLA playing three teams that ranked in the top thirty in the nation in offensive efficiency in those 190 minutes of play including a Michigan team that was ranked seventh nationally at the time. Now the Bruins face the nation’s top offensive team in Gonzaga who are putting up historic numbers. It remains to be seen if UCLA can stay competitive in this game. If they can, it will likely be because they turn the game into a rock-fight like they successfully did against the Wolverines. Good luck - TDG.

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Short-Term Value with Portland Trail Blazers' Overs?

Wednesday, Mar 31, 2021

Portland concluded March with four straight overs amidst some recent changes in the players that Terry Stotts has been able to send on the court. C.J. McCollum and Josef Nurcic are healthy again after missing time with injuries. Nurcic is still on a minutes restriction but McCollum seems at full strength again as he was averaging 20.3 points-per-game and 4.1 assists-per-game since his return before scoring 24 points and adding six assists in the Blazers’ 124-101 to end the month on Wednesday. The Trail Blazers added Norman Powell last week in a trade deadline deal with Toronto. The guard is averaging 16.3 points-per-game in his first three games with his new team. Stotts is often playing Powell alongside McCollum and Damian Lillard in a super-charged three-guard lineup. However, what that combination offers Stotts in scoring could come at a cost on the other end of the court. Small-ball lineups can suffer on defense. Portland has won four in a row, and seven of their last nine, after their win in Detroit on Wednesday. Playing a Pistons’ team was averaging only 103.6 points-per-game may not have offered much of a challenge to their play on defense. However, their previous game against Toronto may have been a canary in the coal mine regarding the play of their defense in the coming weeks. The Blazers allowed 74 points in the first half of that game on Sunday to the Raptors. Portland went on to win by a 122-117 score. Going into their game with the Pistons on Wednesday, the Blazers had allowed their last five opponents to make 49.9% of their shots which resulted in 118.4 points-per-game. Portland’s 124-101 victory against Detroit finished above a total that closed in the 219 range. Some bettors may see the Blazers’ holding the Pistons to only 101 points as a sign of improving defense. The value on Portland overs may continue for another few weeks before the market catches up.Good luck - TDG.

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Don’t Worry About the Lakers

Sunday, Feb 28, 2021

The reigning NBA champions have hit their rock bottom earlier this week when they lost their fourth game in a row on Wednesday. Los Angeles put up little resistance in a 114-89 loss at the red-hot Utah Jazz despite being an 8.5-point underdog. That was the Lakers’ fifth loss in six games after Anthony Davis went out with an Achilles’ injury. Yet not all “rock bottoms” are the same. It is usually wise to not overreact when good teams struggle in the dog days of the NBA regular season especially when the All-Star Game is approaching. Losing Davis took away one of the Lakers’ top two players. LeBron James looks tired after playing every game averaging almost 35 minutes per contest. There is an understanding in professional sports that the defending champion always gets their opponent’s best effort. Despite losing five of six (before winning their last two games), only one of the losses would be considered “bad.” Losing at Denver as a 3-point favorite is forgivable. Losing at home to the new-look Brooklyn Nets with James Harden and Kyrie Irving (even without Kevin Durant) as a 3-point favorite is understandable. Getting beaten by Miami as a 3.5-point favorite in their first opportunity to avenge their loss in the NBA Finals might have been expected. Few observers gave the Lakers much of a chance than against the red-hot Jazz in Utah as an 8.5-point underdog. Only a loss to Washington does not look very good in the rearview mirror, yet in that game, Los Angeles took their foot off the gas pedal by blowing a 17-point lead. Sometimes that happens on a Monday night in February. Our Western Conference Game of the Month was on Friday with the Lakers hosting Portland. Help was on the way with Dennis Schroder returning from COVID quarantine. His absence in the previous four games has cost Los Angeles a reliable scorer and a second starter along with Davis. He was averaging 14.2 points-per-game before entering quarantine. Just getting Schroder back on the court made a significant difference. He scored 22 points against the Trail Blazers in helping Los Angeles win, 102-93, and cover the 5-point spread. Schroder’s efforts on defense should not be dismissed either. The Lakers held the Blazers to just 39.1% shooting. Schroder running the point on offense helped Los Angeles get to the free-throw line 28 times where they made 21 attempts. Strong defense and getting to the charity stripe was the recipe on Sunday as well in the Lakers’ 117-91 victory at home against Golden State. LA held the Warriors to 41% shooting. They got to the free-throw line 38 times resulting in 26 points. Schroder contributed 12 points while dishing out six assists. Racing out to a 73-44 lead at halftime allowed for James to only play for under 25 minutes in the game.Los Angeles may not repeat as NBA champions this spring but that is a May and perhaps June problem. Until then, don’t worry. Pick your spots when betting the Lakers in the regular season, just as they pick their spots to exert a little more effort. LeBron James is playing the long game. Good luck - TDG.

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Watch Out for Kansas during March Madness

Sunday, Feb 28, 2021

Kansas upset the number two ranked team in the nation, Baylor, on Saturday, 71-58, as a 5-point favorite. Hopefully, TDG regulars were not surprised by that result since that was our ESPN Game of the Year on the Jayhawks. We had observed at the time that Kansas was going into the month of March a much-improved team on defense. We wrote in the game report:“After a schematic change by Bill Self to play more aggressively against ball-screens, Kansas has held their last five opponents to 38.4% shooting which is resulting in 58.2 points-per-game in the rugged Big 12. Bettors need to keep their eyes on the lookout for late-season improvements from teams that get elite coaching especially in a pandemic-ridden season where practice schedules earlier in the year have been out of the ordinary. This Jayhawks’ team is evolving into a scrappy defense-first juggernaut.”Kansas came to play on defense by holding the Bears to 34.8% shooting while coaxing them to miss 17 of their 23 shots from the 3-point land for a 23.1% clip. Baylor entered that game shooting 50.3% from the field and making 43.2% of their 3-pointers. As Bears’ Scott Drew claimed that a layoff from COVID was his team’s “kryptonite,” head coaches often reach for excuses in the face of frustrating defensive play. The plight of the blue blood programs in college basketball has been of the storylines this season. Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan State are all at risk of not making the NCAA Tournament. We wrote about the trials and tribulations for these traditional powers in college football and college basketball during this year where COVID has impacted every program. As we observed in December about Duke and Kentucky:  “These are two programs that need practice and coaching.” As the calendar turns to March, both of those basketball teams along with the Spartans have seen significant improvement in play over the last few weeks.Keep your eye out for freshman taking their games to the next level in March. The Jayhawks have a talented redshirt freshman in Jalen Wilson. The four-star recruit did not see the court much last year but has stepped up this season to average 12.6 points-per-game with 8.4 rebounds-per-game. In his nine games in February, Wilson improved his scoring average to a 13.3 points-per-game clip while pulling down 11.0 rebounds-per-game. First-year players improve especially when they are getting great coaching. Kansas temporarily fell out of the top-25 in early February after losing five of seven games. All five of those losses were on the road to nationally-ranked teams. The inclusion of the Jayhawks in the plight of the blue-bloods narrative has always been a stretch. Perhaps Kansas is not a top-five team this season as they were last year when their 28-3 record had them destined to take one of the four top seeds in the NCAA tournament. Yet it would be foolhardy to dismiss Self’s ability to navigate this team to another final four appearance in the first weekend in April. Good luck - TDG.

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Our Two Favorite Super Bowl Prop Bets

Sunday, Jan 31, 2021

The long list of Super Bowl prop bets offers the betting public many avenues to increase their viewing pleasure in watching the big game. However, for savvy bettors, Super Bowl prop bets provide an avenue to hedge their primary side and totals bets for the game. There are also prop bets that can access the logic of those side and total bets while offering significant value on their own.Here are two prop bets offered by BetOnline that Team Del Genio finds intriguing.(1) Kansas City under 95.5 rushing yards for the game.Running the football against Tampa Bay is going to be difficult for the Chiefs. The Buccaneers allowed only 81.4 rushing yards-per-game this season. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ defense allows opposing rushers to average just 3.7 yards-per-carry which is also the top mark in the NFL. To make running the ball even more difficult, Kansas City will be without their top two starting tackles with left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz both out for this game with injuries. Tampa Bay allowed only five teams to rush for more than 94 yards in their 19 games this season. The Chiefs ran the ball 20 times for just 87 yards with their bookend tackles healthy in that game. Under 95.5 rushing yards in the Super Bowl for Kansas City looks good. (2) Tampa Bay over 87.5 rushing yards for the game.After not having more than 14 rushing attempts in a game in the regular season, the Buccaneers turned to their midseason acquisition, running back Leonard Fournette, in the playoffs. The former Jacksonville first-round draft pick ran the ball 19 times for 93 yards against Washington before rushing 17 times against New Orleans and then 12 times against Green Bay. He gained 93, 63, and 55 yards in those games. Head coach Bruce Arians will likely get Fournette going early against a Kansas City run defense that allows 121.9 rushing yards-per-game. That mark is 21st in the league but is perhaps a deceptive number considering teams fall behind against the potent Chiefs’ offense under quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City allows opposing rushers to average 4.6 yards-per-carry, 24th in the NFL.Arians is likely to commit to running the football early in this game. Tampa Bay’s worst game of the season was on November 8th when they lost to New Orleans, 38-3. Arians had Tom Brady throwing the ball on early downs in the first quarter of that game. When the Bucs fell behind in that game, Brady got stuck trying to throw his way back into the game. By the end of the game, Tampa Bay had run the ball only five times for eight yards. That is a mistake Arians will likely not make again. In their 27-24 loss to the Chiefs on November 23rd, the Buccaneers ran the ball only 13 times of 75 yards. Tampa Bay rushed for only 76 yards against the Packers in the NFC Conference Championship Game but did hand the ball off 24 times. That was the first time that the Buccaneers had not gained at least 94 rushing yards in their previous five games going back to December 26th which was just two games removed from their loss to the Chiefs. Arians' recipe for success likely involves gaining more than 87.5 rushing yards in this rematch. Good luck - TDG.

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Does Boston Have the Best Big Two in the NBA?

Sunday, Jan 31, 2021

The conventional wisdom from NBA observers was the Boston Celtics were likely to take a step back this season. They had an NBA Finals appearance for the taking before being upset in the bubble by a surprising Miami Heat team in the NBA Finals. Boston then lost Gordon Hayward in free agency in the offseason to Charlotte. Without replacing his role on the wing, it appeared to many that this Celtics team would take a step back this season in the Eastern Conference race to the rising Heat along with the star-studded Brooklyn Nets, and the ever-dangerous Milwaukee Bucks with Giannis Antetokounmpo inking his long-term contract with the franchise.Yet what if the loss of Hayward was a convenient money-saving move for general manager Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens for what was always their grand plan: build a team around their emerging superstar duo Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum?At first glance, Boston’s 10-8 record at the end of January offers little encouragement. But the Celtics have been impacted by COVID. Tatum has missed five games while being in quarantine. He returned on Saturday in Boston’s showdown with the reigning NBA champions. Even in defeat, his performance with Brown demonstrated the potential this team has when at full strength this season.The Celtics rallied late to put themselves in a position to win the game in the final possession but the Lakers held on for the 96-95. We were happy as Boston plus the 3.5 points was our NBA Non-Conference Game of the Month. Tatum scored 31 points in the losing effort. Brown added 28 points. Anthony Davis led the way for Los Angeles with 27 points with LeBron James adding 21 points. Their 48 combined points were 11 points shy of the Tatum and Brown combination. James and Davis are scoring 25.2 points-per-game and 22.2 points-per-game this season. Last year, the duo scored 25.2 point-per-game and 26.1 points-per-game.Tatum and Brown scored 23.4 points-per-game and 20.3 points-per-game last season. However, after last year’s playoff experience and the condensed offseason, these two have returned with a heightened level of confidence and maturity to their games. Tatum is averaging 26.8 points-per-game with Brown raising his scoring average by almost seven points to a 27.1 points-per-game mark. The 53.9 combined points-per-game they are averaging is more than the James/Davis combination both this season and last season. Brown is only 24-years old. Tatum is a mere 22-years old. The arrow would presumably still be pointing up for both young players regarding what their potential could be. Using the eye test from watching their effort against the Lakers on Saturday, these are two players that have acquired more and more ways to beat opposing defenders.If Davis’ move to Los Angeles last year changed the paradigm from a Big Three to a Big Two with good help in what was needed to win an NBA championship, Ainge and Stevens may have had the seeds growing for achieving that level of success for the salt four seasons. With the money freed up from not resigning Hayward, the Celtics may be in a better position to acquire the talent to complement the skill set of their young dynamic duo.Good luck - TDG.

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Playoff Scenarios for NFL Week 17

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

Successful handicapping of the Week 17 NFL card requires understanding what is at stake for the teams fighting for playoff positioning.In the AFC, eight teams remain alive for the seven playoff spots. Kansas City is locked as the top seed. They will host their AFC playoff games. They also get the only bye in the wildcard round of the AFC playoffs.Buffalo clinches the second seed with a victory over Miami. They also inherit the second seed with a Pittsburgh loss to Cleveland.Pittsburgh has clinched the third seed. They can overtake the Bills for the second seed with a win along with Buffalo losing to the Dolphins.The winner of the AFC South slides into the fourth seed. Tennessee wins the division with a victory at Houston. The Titans also win the AFC South if Indianapolis loses to Jacksonville. Even if they lose to the Texans, Tennessee makes the playoffs with either a Baltimore or Miami loss.Miami makes the playoffs as a wildcard with a win over Buffalo. The Dolphins also make the playoffs with a loss by either Baltimore, Cleveland, or Indianapolis. Baltimore makes the playoffs as a wildcard with a victory at Cincinnati. They also make the playoffs with either a loss by the Browns or a loss by the Colts.Cleveland makes the playoffs as a wildcard with a win against the Steelers. The Browns also make the playoffs with a loss by the Colts. Cleveland also slips into the playoffs with a Titans loss along with a win or tie by the Dolphins and a win or a tie by the Ravens.Indianapolis must beat Jacksonville to make the playoffs. The Colts can win the AFC South with a win combining with a Tennessee loss or tie. They can also win the division with a tie along with a Titans loss. Indianapolis makes the playoffs with a victory combined with either a loss/tie from Miami, Baltimore, or Cleveland. Green Bay has won the NFC North which ensures them no worse than the third seed. They clinch the top seed in the NFC with a first-round bye and home-field advantage with a win or tie against Chicago or the Seahawks losing or tying with the 49ers at San Francisco.New Orleans has clinched the NFC South. They can earn the top seed with a win at Carolina along with a Packers’ loss and a Seattle victory.Seattle is the winner of the NFC West. They clinch the top seed with a win at San Francisco and a Green Bay loss along with a Saints’ loss or tie.Tampa Bay has made the playoffs. The Buccaneers are the fifth seed if they defeat Atlanta.The Los Angeles Rams clinch a wildcard spot with a win against Arizona. They also clinch a spot in the playoffs if Chicago loses or ties with the Packers. Chicago makes the playoffs with a win against Green Bay. They also make the playoffs if Arizona loses. If both the Bears and Cardinals tie, Chicago makes the playoffs.Arizona clinches a spot in the playoffs with a victory over the Rams. The Cardinals also make the playoffs with a tie combined with a Bears’ loss.Washington wins the NFC East and inherits the fourth seed with a victory against Philadelphia or a tie combining with Dallas losing or tying against the Giants. Dallas takes the NFC East title with a win over the Giants along with Washington losing or tying against the Eagles. The Cowboys also win the division with a tie combined with a Washington loss.The Giants only win the NFC East if they defeat Dallas and Washington loses to Philadelphia.Good luck - TDG.

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2020: Why is it the Year of the Struggling Blue Bloods?

Thursday, Dec 31, 2020

What do Penn State and Michigan football have in common with Duke and Kentucky basketball? These are four collegiate programs with a rich tradition of excellence. They are also four programs that have experienced unusually disappointing seasons.The Michigan football team under head coach Jim Harbaugh finished with a 2-4 record. That was the first losing season for the Wolverines in six seasons and their second losing season in the last eleven seasons. Penn State under head coach James Franklin lost their first five games this season before winning their final four games to settle for a 4-5 record. This was the Nittany Lions’ first losing football season in sixteen years going back to 2004.Kentucky has lost six straight games in college basketball. The Wildcats begin the new year with a 1-6 record which is the worst start in the eleven seasons John Calipari has been the head coach of the program. In fact, Kentucky’s six losses are already a many as Calipari has had with his teams at Kentucky in five other full seasons. These results make Duke’s 3-2 record this season seem tame in comparison. Things may have looked direr for the Blue Devils if they had not had some games canceled due to COVID. Yet with Duke’s best win on their resume being against a 3-5 Notre Dame squad, it is fair to say that the season has been underwhelming so far for head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Another thing these four programs have in common is they all have highly regarded (and well-paid) head coaches. These veterans did not suddenly forget how to coach their sport. Of course, this year has been unique for all college football and basketball teams because of the COVID pandemic. While every team has been impacted by the virus, some programs have experienced bigger challenges. What these four blue blood programs also have in common is that they were all bringing back young teams that needed the attention of their highly paid and regarded head coaches. Michigan returned only 11 starters from last year’s team that finished 9-4. Ten of their players were drafted into the NFL last April. They then had their top returning player on offense and defense opt-out of the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. Penn State returned 13 starters from the team that finished 11-2 last season. While eight starters were back on offense, the defense experienced turnover with six starters from last year needing to be replaced. Yet when linebacker Micah Parsons then opted-out of the season to prepare for the NFL draft, the Nittany Lions lost perhaps their most important player. Harbaugh and Franklin did not have the benefit of full spring practices. Fall practices were modified because of COVID protocols. It makes sense that the best coaches are the most impacted by disruptions in the practice schedule since that is one of the areas where they excel versus their peers.Opt-outs heightened the challenge. Because it is the blue blood programs that have more future professional players, they are the ones hurt the most when those players decided to not play this season. The pandemic helped to level the talent playing field.Kentucky and Duke are experiencing similar challenges, albeit without the opt-outs. The Wildcats lost their top six players from last season with only Keon Brooks returning who played significant minutes last season. The Blue Devils lost their top three players for last year. They are two programs that need practice and coaching. What is also not fully appreciated is the loss of coaching time college programs experienced with a full March Madness from the NCAA tournament. The Kentucky and Duke supporting cast from last year that is now being asked to take larger roles would have been better served from that postseason experience. The blue blood programs are the easiest targets. However, critics should be mindful of the ways that the COVID pandemic impacted their programs in ways that other teams did not experience. As with everything, appreciating the context can help lead to a better understanding of the circumstances. Good luck - TDG.

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Early College Basketball Trends - Shooting Percentages are Up

Monday, Nov 30, 2020

The early data regarding shooting numbers for the 2020-21 college basketball season demonstrate clear trends that shooting percentages are on the rise. Using the data at kenpom.com after the first six days of the season, the numbers demonstrate these upward trends. Division I teams are making 69.4% of their free-throw attempts, which is the highest mark ever. D-I teams made 69.1% of their free throws in 2017, which is the highest shooting clip for an entire season. Teams are shooting 49.7% inside the arc, which is the second-highest shooting percentage for 2-point shots. D-I teams made 49.9% of their 2-pointers in the 2018-19 season. The data on 3-pointers is muddier, but the trends are still on the upswing this season. Teams are making 32.6% of their shots from 3-point land with is +0.6% higher than last season. However, teams are also taking 37.7% of their field goal attempts from 3-point land versus last season when 37.4% of the shots were 3-pointers, so teams are more aggressive with their 3-point shooting and still making more of them. This 37.7% clip of field goal attempts being from behind the 3-point line is the second-highest behind the 2018-19 season when 39.0% of field goal attempts were 3-pointers. What accounts for this improved shooting? The most likely reason is the lack of fans in the arenas. The quieter gyms and the lack of activity from the fans lead to fewer distractions for the shooter. This dynamic seems most apparent with the improved shooting at the charity stripe. Players have also commented that the lack of fans in the stands has improved the sightlines for the players. Scottie Pippen has commented that these games without fans bring players back to their extensive pickup game experience. These observations are consistent with the results in the NBA when they played in the Orlando bubble. Until the oddsmakers and the betting public adjust to these trends, there likely will be an increase in the situations where the totals' value is with betting the over the number. Good luck - TDG.

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Why is the NFL Seeing a Record in Double-Digit Comeback Victories?

Monday, Nov 30, 2020

There were another two double-digit comeback victories in Week 12 of the NFL season. New England trailed Arizona by a 10-0 deficit in the second quarter before rallying to defeat the Cardinals by a 20-17 score. Minnesota came back from 21-10 and 24-13 scores shock Carolina by a 28-27 margin.There have now been 35 comeback victories where a team rallied after trailing by at least 10 points. That is an NFL record through twelve weeks of a season. Through the first nine weeks of the season, at least one team had rallied from a deficit of at least 13 points to win their game. The only other time that had happened in NFL history in each of the first nine weeks of a season was in 2015.Why are these big comebacks happening more often? Certainly, some of the reason is the continued sophistication of passing offenses that can strike quickly. What team better embodies this aspect of the game than the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs? Led by Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs demonstrated no double-digit lead was safe in their championship run last season. However, Kansas City is not the reason why 35 teams have rallied from double-digit deficits to win their game.The most significant difference in this season from previous ones is the lack of large crowds in stadiums. There are two reasons why the lack of loud crowd noise helps the offense, especially in critical situations when fans may be at their most energetic. First, fan noise produces pressure. For the road team, loud noise can be rattling. For the home team, loud noise can add to the pressure they are experiencing to execute and succeed. For home and road teams, noise is a distraction. Many players and teams have learned to not find the noise distracting. Yet it is easier to concentrate in a quieter environment. Second, the lack of crowd noise helps the offense execute at the line of scrimmage. This intangible seems particularly important when operating a no-huddle quick offense where the quarterback calls out plays at the line of scrimmage. Often quarterbacks have to resort to hand signals if his voice cannot be heard over the crowd. Communicating plays at the line of scrimmage is much easier without many fans in the building. It is interesting to note that underdogs are 97-74-2 against-the-spread after twelve weeks of the season. The data might uncover a disproportionate number of backdoor covers like with Philadelphia’s late point spread cover against Seattle for Monday Night Football that was cemented after a completed Hail Mary and the subsequent two-point conversion. The success teams have in the passing attack late in games is producing comeback victories and garbage points for the trailing team. The unique circumstances without large crowds this season may add some value to the underdog. This phenomenon may also make in-game betting on some underdogs worthy of consideration.Good luck - TDG.

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Assessing Football Home Field Advantage without Fans

Saturday, Oct 31, 2020

It is generalized that oddsmakers assign a standard home-field advantage in football of three points to the host team. The coronavirus pandemic has challenged this working assumption, with many football teams playing in empty stadiums. Even with limited fans allowed in some cities, it is unlikely that their cheers and boos have the same impact on the game as a jam-packed stadium of emotionally-charged fans in a playoff game. How should oddsmakers adjust in the pandemic when taking into account less-than-full stadiums?Even asking the question illuminates that these circumstances are not so different than situations that oddsmakers commonly encounter. Assigning odds to a home team without a vocal or vibrant fan base is not unusual in football. It would be more accurate to suggest that certain home field situations offer their team more of an advantage because their fan base is consistently louder and more disruptive to the opposing team. Every oddsmaker would likely agree that the home team edge is not as strong with capacity limitations to audiences due to COVID concerns. The challenge for oddsmakers (and then bettors) is determining what, if any, home-field advantage still exists for the home team. Some observers have gone so far as to say that COVID has eliminated the home field edge in football. The current win/loss numbers of home versus road teams offer support for that position. However, these observers should be careful of the limited sample size. There are three reasons why home teams retain an edge even without a cheering crowd backing them up.(1) Familiarity. Home teams simply have more experience playing in their stadium and on their field. This familiarity breeds comfort. A lack of familiarity plants the seeds for potential discomfort. This intangible certainly applies to how the home team feels inside their building. However, the weather and climate also play a significant role that should very much be considered. Dome teams may not be as comfortable playing outdoors and on grass fields. Cold weather teams may not be as comfortable playing in hot weather. Teams used to playing in sunny conditions may struggle in the cold. (2) Situational. Teams playing at home get to stay in their own beds. They stick to their routines. Road teams are in hotels and unfamiliar environments. Sometimes the visiting team has been away from home for an extended period of time. The preparation for the road team may have already put them at a disadvantage relative to their opponent even before setting foot on the field that lacks a cheering section. (3) Territoriality. Do home teams feel a higher sense of purpose in defending their home turf? Some psychological studies suggest this is the case. It is fair to assume that there is a higher expectation for teams playing at home to perform well. There perhaps is a built-in excuse for road teams to underperform when playing away from their “home base.” Perhaps for some visiting teams, these negative expectations create a self-fulfilling prophecy.In conclusion, it is reasonable for oddsmakers do not assign full value to home teams when playing in stadiums without enough cheering fans to impact the play of the visiting team. Maybe this adjustment should have already been made in environments that are not as loud and rabid as others?However, bettors beware if they conclude that a home team no longer retains “any” edge when playing at home.Good luck - TDG. 

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Is It Over for the Early Season NFL Overs Trend?

Saturday, Oct 31, 2020

The 2020 NFL season began as the highest-scoring in league history, with the average combined scores topping the 50-point threshold after the first five weeks of the season. The oddsmakers were slow to adjust as overs had a 43-33-2 (57%) mark after these initial five weeks. Yet in Week 6, nine of the thirteen games finished under the total. Then in Week 7, the under finished 7-6-1. After the Thursday night game between Atlanta and Carolina that finished under the number, the over is now just 53-50-3 (51%) going into November. Are the trends changing? Did the oddsmakers over-adjust The answers to both these questions is probably yes. There were three main reasons that drove the early season higher scoring games. First, the lack of large crowds for these games given COVID-19 precautions and guidelines has prevented loud stadiums. Less crowd noise helps the visiting quarterbacks who no longer have to resort to silent snap counts. This dynamic has not changed even with many stadiums allowing limited crowds. Noise remains a non-factor for the opponent. Second, the referees are calling fewer holding penalties which helps the offense in several ways. Not only are offenses not being penalized ten yards but the interpretation of the rules is helping quarterbacks avoid getting sacked so they can make successful passing plays down the field. Third, the defenses have been behind the offenses when it comes to schemes and cohesion. It was thought that the offenses may start slow without a normal training camp and preseason but, in practice, the evolving offensive philosophies that give the quarterback flexibility to make adjustments on the fly seem to have given the advantage to the offenses. But as defenses get more-and-more in-synch, this factor will continue to be mitigated. With bettors continuing to push the line up by betting overs while defenses get caught up, the under will likely continue to offer value to sharper bettors. As always, maintaining a proper perspective remains essential. The recent market correction is not a reason to start only betting the under just as the early-season over trends were not a reason to only bet overs. The circumstances at hand should always be considered.Good luck - TDG.

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2020 UEFA Champions League: Betting Schedule and Preview

Sunday, Jul 19, 2020

With the Spanish La Liga concluding their 2019-20 campaign and the English Premier in their final week of play, the attention of the soccer world begins to turn to the resumption of the European Champions League in August. The opening round of sixteen elimination stage was in-progress when COVID-19 stopped sports in its tracks in March. PSG, Real Madrid, Atalanta, and RB Leipzig had already completed the two-legs of the matches to advance to the quarterfinals but the final four matches still have second-legs to complete. UEFA has decided that these second legs will take place at the empty home stadiums of the teams that were on the road for the opening leg. The quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals will then take place in a single-elimination knockout tournament on a neutral field in Lisbon, Portugal with all matches taking place as stand-alone daily events at 3 PM ET. CBS Sports Network owns the broadcasting rights in the United States.The competition returns on August 7th with two matches. Lyon travels to Juventus with the french team holding a 1-0 aggregate score lead over the Italian powers. Real Madrid also travels to Manchester City for the second-leg of their match which the newly crowned La Liga champions trailing by a 2-1 score to the recently dethroned two-time English Premier League champions. On August 8th, Chelsea travels to Bayern Munich in a big hole trailing by a 3-0 aggregate score to the Bundesliga champion. Napoli also travels to Barcelona with that aggregate score deadlocked at 1-1. If the aggregate scores after two matches are tied, the first tie-breaker is determined by which team scored the most goals on the road. The quarterfinals begin on Wednesday, August 12th with La Ligue powerhouse Paris-Saint-Germain facing a red hot Atalanta team from the Italian Serie A. The next day, the Bundesliga runner-ups in RB Leipzig will face the third-place team out of La Liga in Atletico Madrid. On Friday, the winner of the Barcelona/Napoli showdown will face the team that advances between Bayern Munich and Chelsea. Then on Saturday, August 15th, the survivor of Manchester City/Real Madrid will face the winner of Lyon/Juventus. The first semifinal match will take place on Tuesday, August 18th between the winners of the Wednesday/Thursday matches. The winners of the Friday/Saturday games will play the next day. Those two winners will precede to play for the UEFA Champions League championship on Sunday, August 23rd in the final match in Lisbon. With the reigning UEFA Champions League title-holder in Liverpool already eliminated from this competition, Europe will crown a new champion on this day.

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