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9/15/05 11:49 PM
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Edited: 15-Sep-05
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Fading the Streaks

September 15, 2005
by Michael Murray

The Gold Sheet has a formula designed to uncover teams whose current form is at odds with the bookmakers and general public at large. The calculation, called 'Away From Spread' (AFS) by the Gold Sheet, simply is the difference between a team's results and the line on the game.

For example, Alabama was a -14 favorite against Southern Mississippi in week 2. Since they won 30-21, the Tide's AFS number is -5. A negative number means a team is possibly overvalued; a positive number is the opposite.

The Gold Sheet applies the AFS number for each team's last two games to indicate potential plays. AFS can, in its opinion, be used to highlight in-season trends that have not yet been uncovered by the sportsbooks.

In theory that sounds logical. It does, however, conflict with the always reliable "Fade' system, a buy-low, sell-high handicapping ideology that concentrates its plays against streaking, public teams.  Is AFS strong enough of a system to over-ride the Fade theory?

In 2004 it wasn't. The Gold Sheet listed a handful of college teams that met its criteria after the first two weeks of 2004:  Kansas +30, Purdue +30, Fresno State +28, Stanford +23, Indiana +22, Florida Atlantic +21, Arkansas +20, Boise State +19, Troy +18.50, Texas +14, Louisville +13, Virginia +12. The chart below details how well that team did its next game:

SCHOOL LINE OPPONENT  SCORE W/L
Kansas  + 2.5  Northwestern  17-20  Loss
Purdue  -22 Illinois   38-30  Loss
Fresno St. -15 La Tech  21-28  Loss
Stanford +23 Southern Cal  28-31  Win
Troy  -9.5 New Mexico St. 18-22  Loss
Indiana  +2 Kentucky  32-51  Loss
Florida Atl +2.5 Mid Tenn St.  27-20  Win
Arkansas -30 LA Monroe  49-20  Loss
Boise St. -28 UTEP   47-31  Loss
Louisville -8.5 North Carolina 34-0  Win
Virginia -31 Akron   51-0  Win
Texas  -32 Rice   35-13  Loss

The hot teams with a positive AFS number went 4-8 against the line the following week.

What about teams with a negative AFS number?  There were nine teams with a high negative number: Toledo -38, North Texas -26, Miami-Ohio -21, Akron -17, Syracuse -16, Colorado State -11, Idaho -11, Missouri -10, New Mexico State -10.25.

These schools, after getting their tail handed to them the first two weeks of the season,  went 5-4 against the line in its next game:

SCHOOL LINE OPPONENT  SCORE W/L
Toledo  -9.5 East Michigan  42-32  Win
North Texas +21 Colorado  20-49  Loss
Miami-Ohio -19 Ohio   40-20  Win
Akron  +31 Virginia  0-51  Loss
Syracuse +2.5 Cincinnati  19-7  Win
Missouri -28 Ball St.  48-0  Win
New Mex St. +9.5 Troy   22-18  Win
Idaho  +25 Washington St. 8-49  Loss
Colorado St. +4.5 Minnesota  16-34  Loss

Is it only a coincidence that all three teams that were favored covered the spread?  Probably.three games isn't much of a sample size to make any conclusions. Then again, neither is one year's worth of data regarding the AFS number.  It is another warning, however, to keep each week into perspective.  Teams can't play at their best the entire season. When a team like Notre Dame looks unbeatable, chances are they are primed for a fall. 

Teams with a high positive AFS number so far this year:
Wisconsin +22
Notre Dame +19
Minnesota +16
UCLA +15
Vanderbilt +13
UAB +13
Idaho +12
Virginia Tech +12
Boston Col +12
Cent Michigan +12.

Teams with a high negative AFS number:
Temple -24,
Oklahoma -23,
Pittsburg -22
Washington -18
Wake Forest -17
LA-Lafayette -16
Duke -15
Bowling Green -15
Miami-Ohio -14
Boise St. -13
Buffalo -13
Kansas State -13


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