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Words of warning on those NBA Win Totals

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

Should you bet Under or should you go Ovah’…why aren’t you using xFIP and wOBA…Shapovalov and Sharapova…it’s a sports betting supernova (even without football) Wednesday in VSiN City!

NBA: Sharps looking to bet Unders on newly posted Regular Season Win props
The Westgate announced its 2017-18 NBA Regular Season Win props live Tuesday on “The Edge” with Jonathan Von Tobel and Matt Youmans. If you missed the big event, you can watch the replay by clicking here, and read Matt’s instant article for the home page by clicking here. Note that our twitter account also posted graphics of the team-by-team totals by conference if you like that format. We’re going to focus today in VSiN City on teams expected to make the biggest moves forward or backward from their final records last season.

Biggest Projected Improvements
Minnesota 48.5 (up 17.5 from 31-51)
Philadelphia 42.5 (up 14.5 from 28-54)
Brooklyn 28.5 (up 8.5 from 20-62)
LA Lakers 33.5 (up 7.5 from 26-56)
Charlotte 42.5 (up 6.5 from 36-46)
Milwaukee 47.5 (up 5.5 from 42-40)
Denver 45.5 (up 5.5 from 40-42)
New Orleans 39.5 (up 5.5 from 34-48)
Oklahoma City 51.5 (up 4.5 from 47-35)
Orlando 33.5 (up 4.5 from 29-53)
Phoenix 28.5 (up 4.5 from 24-58)
Boston 56.5 (up 3.5 from 53-29)

That’s a dozen teams projected to improve by at least 3.5 games, 40% of the league. Eight teams are projected to improve by at least 5.5 games. We’ve already hit one of the key factors for handicapping this type of proposition. Sports books know that most casual bettors prefer betting Overs and rooting for success (particularly if they’re supporting their favorite team). To protect against overexposure and to create a house edge, sports books post expectations for more than the actual possible number of wins. More on that in a moment. 

As Matt Youmans mentioned in his article, Minnesota is projected as the biggest mover this season because of offseason personnel acquisitions. Philadelphia is also expected to move forward dramatically as its flock of young talent progresses past “the process” of building a team to the demands of being one. Boston and Oklahoma City are the only entries above who won 47 or more last year who are projected to take additional steps forward in 2017-18. That’s also due to talent acquisitions (Gordon Heyward and Kyrie Irving for Boston, Paul George for OKC). 

Biggest Projected Declines
Chicago 21.5 (down 19.5 from 41-41)
Atlanta 25.5 (down 17.5 from 43-39)
Utah 40.5 (down 10.5 from 51-31)
Indiana 31.5 (down 10.5 from 42-40)
LA Clippers 43.5 (down 7.5 from 51-31)
San Antonio 54.5 (down 6.5 from 61-21)
Memphis 37.5 (down 5.5 from 43-39)
Sacramento 28.5 (down 3.5 from 32-50)

Jeff Sherman of the Westgate told Matt in his article that Chicago and Atlanta are expected to be in virtual “tank” mode in hopes of great positioning in the draft lottery. That’s why you see huge drop-offs from last season. Utah and Indiana are also down double digits, from the reverse end of those Hayward and George moves. The Clippers lost Chris Paul, which puts them on the borderline of “playoff caliber” in the brutal West. 

Slight Projected Improvement
Cleveland 53.5 (up 2.5 from 51-31)
Miami 43.5 (up 2.5 from 41-41)
Dallas 35.5 (up 2.5 from 33-49)
Detroit 38.5 (up 1.5 from 37-45)
Portland 42.5 (up 1.5 from 41-41)
Golden State 67.5 (up 0.5 from 67-15)
Houston 55.5 (up 0.5 from 55-27)

When you’re already great…it’s hard to get much better in the offseason. That’s why last year’s finalists Cleveland and Golden State are in this group, along with Houston (who acquired Paul). 

Slight Projected Decline
New York 30.5 (down 0.5 from 31-51)
Toronto 48.5 (down 2.5 from 51-31)
Washington 47.5 (down 1.5 from 49-33)

Only three teams here, all from the East. Toronto and Washington take a slight hit with so many past mediocrities or doormats in the East projected to get better. 

All told, that’s 19 of 30 teams projected to improve on last year’s final record, with only 11 projected to get worse. The Westgate’s league-wide projected win total added up to 1,244 wins, versus the only 1,230 wins that are actually possible in an 82-game season. That’s 14 “extra” wins over 30 teams, almost exactly a half-win vigorish per team. Though, it’s likely some expected to draw Vegas betting support (like the Lakers) have slightly more air than that in their assessment. 

Do you agree with the projection for your favorite team? Sixers fans won’t be able to catch Las Vegas napping with their young talent. The Westgate clearly anticipated public and sharp support for that franchise. If your instincts are to look for Overs, think about those “air” wins in the mix and see if you can find some value bets on Unders. 

Oh, don’t forget that VSiN is the official broadcast home for all important information regarding the Westgate NFL handicapping SuperContest! You still have time to enter. If you’re an out-of-towner needing a proxy during the season, please contact our sponsor bettingcontest.com.

US Open Tennis: Injury-riddled men’s draw makes Fed/Nadal big favorites, wildcard Sharapova now third female favorite; and check out Shapovalov vs. Tsonga Wednesday night!
A brief respite in the football storm allows us to sneak in some US Open tennis for you here on the midweek report. Let’s start off with links you can use to monitor the Betfair Exchange “Yes/No” prices for winning the tournament. Remember to subtract one from the blue column you see at the link for the return on a 1-unit bet. Do the same for what you lay in the pink column that a player won’t win. 

Betfair market to win men’s US Open Championship
Betfair market to win women’s US Open Championship

You tennis fans can save those links to follow prices the next several days while we’re buried in football and pennant race baseball. For casual fans, here’s a quick look at the prices that were posted late Tuesday evening. 

Betfair Exchange Men’s Yes/No Prices
Roger Federer: plus 210 to win, -220 that he won’t win
Rafael Nadal: plus 310 to win, -340 that he won’t win
Alexander Zverev: plus 580 to win, -600 that he won’t win
Marin Cilic: plus 1350 to win, -1450 that he won’t win
Grigor Dmitrov: plus 1400 to win, -1600 that he won’t win

So many stars are out with injury on the men’s side, that it’s basically Federer and Nadal (from the same side of the bracket no less) vs. the field. Only those five men listed pay better than plus 2000, and exchanges are where bettors typically get the best prices.

We want to alert you to a Wednesday night prime time match in Arthur Ashe Stadium that could be well worth your while. Hey, there’s no football until Thursday…so you might as well watch! It’s been an amazing summer already for 18-year old Canadian Denis Shapovalov. He will face #8 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who’s played more than his fair share of crowd pleasers in this event over the years. The overnight line at bookmaker.eu showed:

Tsonga -250 to win, Shapovalov plus 200
Tsonga -1.5 sets -130, Shapovalov plus 1.5 sets plus 110

You never know for sure when electricity is going to light up the evening sky in Flushing Meadows. This is at least positioned to be the type of match fans remember for years. Shapovalov is coming off a great Rogers Cup event in Montreal where he defeated Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, and Adrian Mannarino in succession before losing to eventual champ Alexander Zverev in the semifinals. 

Betfair Exchange Women’s Yes/No Prices
Garbine Muguruza plus 360 to win, -390 that she won’t win
Karolina Pliskova: plus 560 to win, -600 that she won’t win
Maria Sharapova: plus 680 to win, -700 that she won’t win
Elina Svitolina: plus 950 to win, -1000 that she won’t win
Madison Keys: plus 1300 to win, -1450 that she won’t win
Carolina Wozniacki: plus 2100 to win, -2200 that she won’t win
Venus Williams: plus 2500 to win, -3300 that she won’t win

Maria Sharapova’s first round upset over #2 seed Simona Halep Monday (as a plus 200 underdog) was already a match fans will remember for years. Some observers called it a championship caliber match opening night! Unseeded wildcard Sharapova is now the third favorite on the women’s side, helped by taking over Halep’s favorable seed position. We dipped a bit lower in the odds pool on this side to include Americans Madison Keys and Venus Williams. 

Honestly, we probably won’t get to devote much more space to this event in the days ahead. If breaking stories dictate, we’ll address those on the fly. 

Wednesday Tutorial: How far “behind” the baseball market are you?
This will be the final entry in our summer series of Wednesday baseball tutorials. We appreciate that so many of you have been adding elements of analytics into your handicapping arsenal. Today, we want to outline a big picture challenge that baseball bettors must admit that they’re facing. 

The essence of the current baseball market is analytics driven. Offshore oddsmakers use models to post their openers (that are then shaded by other sport books globally based on the preferences of their clientele). Sharps with complex algorithmic models then shape those lines by betting for value. By the time most mere mortals are ready to bet, it’s tough to find meaningful edges. 

Are you trying to do that by focusing on old-school basics like ERA or traditional team batting stats?

Let’s take xFIP for example. You regulars know we like to use that as a shorthand indicator stat to help paint the picture for pitchers. We’re gratified that it’s becoming more widely accepted in the mainstream media and by casual bettors. But xFIP was invented in 2005! Here’s the article by its creator Dave Studeman that ran in Hardball Times back in May of that year

The sharpest influences in the baseball betting markets were already using prior “fielding independent pitching” stats developed in the early 2000’s by Voros McCraken and others. Studeman’s tweak became widely accepted as an improvement. TWELVE YEARS AGO. If you’re just now accepting that xFIP is more helpful to your handicapping than ERA, you’re still 12 years behind the market. Think of all the proprietary improvements those sharpest influences have been making since then that aren’t being published for public consumption. 

If you listen to our programing on SiriusXM Channel 204, you’ve probably heard the promo for “A Numbers Game” with Gill Alexander where he talks about “wOBA.” That’s weighted on-base percentage…an improvement on standard on-base percentage that properly weights the impact of doubles, triples and home runs. That very helpful stat was presented to the public in “The Book” by respected analytics author Tom Tango back in 2006.   

VSiN was started, and VSiN City subsequently launched as a newsletter, with the goal of helping sports fans and casual bettors understand what’s driving sports betting markets. We hope our baseball coverage has helped do that for you this season. Just be cognizant of the challenges ahead if you’re trying to BEAT the market with your bets. There are edges to be found, particularly if you can anticipate changes in form (like the Cubs having a long World Championship hangover, or the Mets never recovering from pitching injuries). But if you’re not analytics driven…you’re battling a lot of informed sources that are. Have fun, but respect the market! Work to understand influential stats.

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Back Thursday to preview Thursday night’s Ohio State/Indiana Big 10 opener that will help kick off the first full weekend of college football action. Between now and the weekend we’ll also crunch some key numbers in Florida State/Alabama and Florida/Michigan. We won’t spend any time with Week Four of the NFL preseason because it’s a lame-duck slate that traditionally means nothing for the regular season. NFL coverage will resume Tuesday with updated “market” Power Ratings.

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