Going beyond Level 1 reasoning

Welcome to the inaugural post here at the “Anti-Chalk Blog.” The basic idea here will be to take sports-betting beyond level one thinking.

By “level one,” I mean avoiding this line of reasoning:
Team X is better than Team Y, so I will bet on Team X.

It is impossible to even hit at a 50 percent rate with level one thinking. What we need to do is understand how an oddsmaker comes up with a line, why a line moves, trends to follow, how to find the best line and much, much more. We’ll attack all these angles in due time.

For now, we’re going to isolate one of my favorite trends in college football: Betting against a team that is off of a emotional game or big win. The benefits of this trend are two-fold:

A) College teams and young players in general often have a letdown after an emotional game or big win. Everyone on campus is slapping them on the back. They don’t practice as hard. It’s hard to perform at optimal levels two weeks in a row.

B) The point-spread is often inflated. Everyone saw Team X get that huge win last week and now they are running to the window to bet on them. So even though the true difference between Team X and Team Y is Z, the posted spread is Z+3. That creates value.

OK, enough of the abstract symbols. Let’s get to this weeks’ NCAA plays based on this trend:

BOSTON COLLEGE +21 at Clemson:
This is a situation where Clemson has beaten not one, not two but three ranked teams in a row. Now they get a middling Boston College team in an afternoon game with no national spotlight. It’s a perfect spot for a letdown.

VANDERBILT +28.5 at Alabama:
Last Saturday night, Alabama went into Florida’s swamp and won a night game. That’s emotional and epic. This week, they have to play the “nerds” from Vanderbilt. It’s a spot where ’Bama will be looking ahead.

MISSOURI -3 at Kansas State: I think K-State is underrated, but the line speaks volumes here. They are ranked and undefeated yet are a home underdog to a 2-2 Missouri team. Kansas State is off wins in Miami (FL) and home against a previously 15th-ranked Baylor team.

TOLEDO -21 vs. Eastern Michigan:
One of the things we’ll talk about is getting value out of the smaller conferences. Since there is less media attention on these games, there is often more value. In this case, Toledo is coming off games in Syracuse and at Temple (a win). It’s time for them to come back to earth.


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