Monday, February 27, 2012

ISU Basketball Rankings for 2/27/12

Well, who could have envisioned this?  Iowa State knocking on the door of the NCAA tournament, a chance at single-digit losses, Scotty and Melvin stepping up, Royce exceeding expectations, Fred can coach.  It's truly incredible.  It's rare the season that satisfies everyone, but this has to be it.  I can't imagine anyone expecting a trip to the big dance when this season started.  Let's just enjoy the ride.

Ken Pomeroy rankings
Rank - 30 (6th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 22-9 (12-6 in Big XII)
Aggregate projected record - 21-10 (11-7 in Big XII)

Sagarin rankings
Rank - 33 (6th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 21-10 (11-7 in Big XII)

There's not much to point out now.  The record really speaks for itself.  Any wins from here on out should be considered icing on the cake.  The Cyclones offense always had the possibility of being explosive, what's surprising is the defense is starting to get stingy now.  Babb has advanced from being a lockdown defender to more active in forcing turnovers.  He's an important asset.  What's most impressive is Royce's improvement on the defensive end.  He's spent most of the season avoiding fouls but has been more imposing over the last few games.  He'll need to be more agressive for this team to be successful in the Big XII tournament and NCAAs.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Predictions

Everything I've seen on the field points to a Giants victory in my opinion.  I should be rooting for the NFC as a Bears fan.  The Giants look like this year's version of the Packers.  Why am I picking the Patriots to cover?  Vegas tells me too.

At one point this week 65 percent of the money was on the Giants.  I was a little shocked to see the Patriots open up as a 3.5 point favorite as well.  My first thought was to take the points with the Giants and never look back.  Then I thought back to November when Iowa State opened up as only a 1.5 point favorite at Drake in basketball.  It was a guaranteed lock.  In Vegas, if it looks to good to be true it probably is.  To me, taking the Giants looks too good to be true.  The number has now slipped down to 2.5 and I feel even better about taking the Patriots.

Las Vegas has lost money on two Super Bowls in the last 17 years.  Last year was one of those years.  They know where to set the line.  They are in the business of making money pure and simple.  Add in the fact that the Vegas favorite has won the game at an alarming percentage and I'll take the favorite, even giving the 2.5 points.  

For once, I put my bias aside and looked at the bigger picture.  Am I bound to look utterly stupid?  Of course, but taking a favorite giving 2.5 points is one of my favorite spots to bet.  I am hoping for a Patriots victory by 3-9 points.  With that I would win a friendly wager with a friends that gave me Giants +9.5 (To be fair I gave him 2-1 odds) and I would also win a playoff point spread pool.  My maximum return is 55 dollars.  My maximum loss is 5 dollars.  There is also a scenario in which I win 15 dollars.  I'll take those odds.

Now for the fun part, the prop bets.

Coin Toss- Giants are calling tails.  The coin will land on tails.  Make it 15 in a row for the NFC

First TD- Hakeem Nicks. (8 to 1)

Super Bowl MVP- Wes Welker (12 to 1)

Giselle Bundchen Appearances O/U (1/2)- OVER.  I hope its way over too.  She is easy on the eyes.

First Person/People Super Bowl MVP Thanks- I'll take teammates at 1-1 odds.

Color of Gatorade Dumped: Orange at 5/2 odds.

I'll also learned this week that the "sharps" tend to jump on the low side of O/U prop bets.  It makes sense.  The public loves betting overs, myself included.  For this reason, Vegas can still get action on both sides and there is some value to the under.  Here are three "unders" that I like.

Brandon Jacobs Longest Rush (10.5 yards) -UNDER

Hakeem Nicks Longest Reception (26.5 yards)B- UNDER

Tom Brady Total Rushing Attempts (3)- UNDER

BenJarvus Green-Ellis Rushing Attempts (12.5)- UNDER

Deion Branch Total Receiving Yards (42.5)-  UNDER

So there you go folks.  Its not about what you know, its about what Vegas tells you to do.  Sit back, grab some food, grab some drink and watch the desert smile!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

ISU Basketball Rankings for 2/4/12

Today's effort will be a little more substantial than last week.  Most NCAA Tournament prognosticators have ISU making the field at around an 11 seed.  I believe it too.  The ceiling gets raised every week for Iowa State.  

Ken Pomeroy rankings
Rank - 37 (6th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 21-10 (11-7 in Big XII)
Aggregate projected record - 21-10 (11-7 in Big XII)

Sagarin rankings
Rank - 39 (6th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 19-12 (9-9 in Big XII)

First, this is incredible.  The overall projected record was 14-17, which they've already surpassed.  Sagarin only had ISU winning 3 games in conference play.  How has Iowa State surpassed expectations?  First, predictions are all based, at least to start the year, on last year's team.  As pointed out here before, more than half of the minutes didn't return from 2010.  Secondly, 3 of this team's starters hadn't played real basketball in a year (or two).  Iowa State has improved throughout the year because the players are finding their roles.  And Fred Hoiberg has become more aggressive in his coaching.  Thirdly, the Cyclones have been able to limit their bad losses.

With tourney time coming up, the talk of bad losses and good wins have come up.  Obviously, any win should be considered good (especially for ISU!), but some are bigger than others.  But bad losses really hurt a team's stock. The only two that are bad according to the Sagarin ratings are Northern Iowa and Drake. ISU hasn't had a bad loss in conference play, which means their last one came on November 30th of last year.  When the losses happened isn't looked at by the committee, but I'd bet there aren't many teams that have gone that long without a bad loss.  The only good win so far was the Kansas victory at home.  Not very impressive, but with ISU ranked in the 30's now, they're supposed to win most of their games.

Every game is big now.  There are some opportunities for good wins (vs Baylor twice, Missouri, Kansas St on the road), perhaps more importantly, there are a couple games left that would be bad losses.  Fortunately, all three of these are at home, where Iowa State has looked really tough.  If they don't have any more bad losses and can pick up one more good win, they should be a lock for the tournament.

Finally, I've been meaning to point this out for a while now - Tyrus McGee is top 10 in the country in kenpom's offensive efficiency rating.  He's currently 6th but has been as high as 2nd.  He's certainly part of the reason the Cyclones are playing well down the stretch.  He should have the green light whenever he's on the court.