Cokin’s Corner, Tuesday 12/27/16
College basketball conference play gets rolling tonight with a handful of league games. It’s not yet center stage time for this sport as the main focus right now remains on the NFL regular season windup plus this weekend’s college football playoff games. But if you’re a college hoop fan, tonight really signals the start of the real season.
Here’s one bit of advice for those who will be ‘capping the games and looking for an edge. Make sure to place plenty of emphasis on early season strength of schedule. I don’t think this is anything remotely close to a spectacular piece of insight, yet it gets ignored by the talking heads on TV for the most part. They’re content to look at the stats and the win-loss record and base their assessments on pretty much just that. That’s surface stuff and little else and I don’t see where there’s a net gain in knowledge when limiting the analysis to this extent.
One thing we all should know is that the mindset changes once conference play gets rolling. The intensity level gets amplified as rivalries get renewed. So I’m more into trying to zero in on teams that are entering league play battle tested, and that’s where strength of schedule comes into play.
Ideally, what I want is an underdog with equal or better data in several key categories than its opponent, but I’m really only interested if these numbers were also accrued against an overall better body of competition during the pre-conference schedule. It also means a willingness to back road teams, often when only catching a basket or two, and that can be both daunting and frustrating. Especially with the dreaded underdog in overtime syndrome more liable to come into play, I might add.
Nevertheless, this methodology generally works pretty well early in the conference season as I believe it isolates value. There are some excellent websites that will provide you with the necessary info to remove the guesswork in terms of figuring out true strength of schedule, with kenpom.com about as good as it gets on this count.
Clearly, there’s more to the game that just staring at the numbers, but the more info at hand, the better.
I’m taking the Bowl Package off the menu as we’re already well into the post-season so not much point in still offering a package. I’ve decided to extend the December Special offer with the big guarantee, and that will (shortly) be on the menu as “January Special”. It’s a really strong offer when factoring in the guarantee. Rather than turn this into a short novel with all the details, interested parties should email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the info. Note that all correspondence is confidential and I don’t share mailing lists with anyone.
The Monday free plays split as the Lions +7.5 didn’t make it (hope you also played Cowboys -6 as that was a nice middle opportunity even though it didn’t get there) while BC won its bowl game against Maryland. I’ll turn to the NBA for tonight’s comp.
505 ROCKETS at 506 MAVERICKS
Take: ROCKETS -6
Pretty simple reasoning for me on this play.
The Rockets bear little similarity to recent editions as this team has a far better work ethic than it did the past couple of seasons. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Houston is a more determined entry with Dwight Howard no longer on the roster.
One indicator of how things are now different for the Rockets is how well this team has performed on the back end of a two games in two nights segment. That’s when effort kicks in, and I’m very impressed with Houston’s 6-0 record in this scenario, which includes five spread wins.
Dallas is at the opposite end of the spectrum. The Mavericks are not good and their lack of quality depth has largely doomed them when forced to play without rest. The Mavs have dropped all five games when playing for a second straight evening, and only covered the spread once in that quintet.
The Rockets had a very easy time of it on Monday night against Phoenix and were able to spread out the minutes accordingly. So I don’t see fatigue as any kind of factor here and without some kind of advantage it’s really tough for me to make a case for the Mavericks being able to hang for 48 against a clearly superior opponent. I’m willing to spot the points in this game with the Rockets.