Shortened seasons equal larger brackets…

The NBA Playoffs are only about two weeks away. Came quick huh? This is large in part due to the modified and shorted season. The NBA shortened its season by ten games this year due to (you guessed it) COVID. The idea behind the shortened season allows for more flexibility for rescheduling and making-up foreseeable postponed games along the way due to the virus. In conjunction with fewer games on the schedule, back in November the NBA announced that it would alter the playoff format for the 2021 NBA Playoffs. The new format grants four additional teams to enter the playoff bracket (two from the East and two from the West). Coincidentally, the 2020 MLB Postseason also shortened their season and then expanded their playoffs and its participants. Love it, hate it. More meaningfully games for we the viewers – that is a win in my book. Currently, the 76ers lead the way in the Eastern Conference and the Wizards and Pacers possess the 9th and 10th seeds for the additional playoff spots. In the Western Conference, the Jazz hold the #1 seed while the Spurs and Grizzlies own the 9th and 10th seeds. Obviously we have no presumable edge or knowledge in terms of historical trends on the outcome of these “play-in” games that will take place. However, what we do have is historically evidence from the March Madness “play-in” games and how these “play-in” winners fare in the next rounds of their tournaments. The edge that we will be searching for in the situation will come from the winners of the “play-in” round/bracket when they go up against the #1 and #2 seeds in the following round on the NBA Playoffs. Keep in mind that these “play-in” winners are always the lower seed when facing off with their next opponent; much like the new NBA playoff format. Shockingly, these teams are 18-20 since the “play-in” games were implemented into the March Madness bracket. That is good for a 47% win percentage, and I am willing to bet that the cover margin is much higher considering that they are underdogs being the lower seeded team, as stated above. From my perspective, these first round winners are not only playing with “house money” by this point, but are also riding the momentum from their previous win. I believe that the winners of these NBA first round “play-in” games will have some form of momentum on their sides that they will carry with them against the #1 and #2 seeded squads. This is not to say that the #7 and #8 seeds will win in a seven game series, but rather they will be more likely to cover in the early portion of the series. I don’t think that they will win outright at a 47% clip like college “play-in” teams do during March Madness, but they may possess some of that same “mojo” that can provide us some valuable gambler’s edge during the original first round of the NBA Playoffs. Come this NBA postseason, keep in mind that the UNDER hits 59% when/if Game 6 and 7 are required. Also, home favorites have been covering at a high rate during the playoffs in recent years. You’re welcome.

Earlier, I mentioned the MLB and how the NBA is following in its footsteps a bit as far as shortened seasons and modified playoffs/postseasons are concerned. However, this year the MLB is scheduled to have their full 162 game schedule for each franchise. By this point we are 30 games into the season (give or take). This is a solid sample side to evaluate how each club is in terms of being “good” or “bad” to the naked eye. Now what the naked eye cannot calculate is a pitcher’s xERA. No, that x there is not a typo. We all know what a pitcher’s ERA means and tells us: his earned run average and basically how “good” or “bad” a pitcher he is, right? However, xERA is the latest technology that provides an MLB pitcher’s expected ERA. A lot of this data is made up of luck, for lack of better terms. For instance, if a pitcher has recorded a lot of hard hit outs than his standard ERA may reflect positively in his favor. However, xERA might calculate that these hard hit outs would more often than not result in hits. Hence, taking the luck-factor out of the equation and determining a expected earned run average. To be honest, I just learned about xERA, and I’m glad that I did. When gambling on baseball, we the bettor make our plays based on the pitching match-up, correct? Or at least I hope so… Now, I don’t even bother looking at the starting pitcher’s ERA, but rather their xERA. I honestly believe that a pitcher’s xERA is more indicative of his future outings as opposed to his actual ERA. To give you an actual, real life example of this trendy xERA stat, the Indian’s James Karinchak has an ERA of 0.60 and an xERA of 1.15. He is leading

the league in xERA, but has the fifth best ERA. On the flip side, T.J. Zeuch owns the leagues worst xERA at 11.94… yikes! However, his actual ERA is much better at a 6.75; meaning that he must be getting fairly lucky during his pitching outings and/or facing below average hitters. To locate a pitcher’s xERA and much more click HERE. I find it extremely useful when searching out my MLB plays to utilize the xERA statistic along with any other advanced metrics that are now recorded in today’s age. Listed below are the current championship odds on both the NBA and MLB courtesy of OddShark.


NBA:

NETS +250

LAKERS +350

CLIPPERS +650

JAZZ +750

BUCKS +800

76ERS +1200

SUNS +1500

MLB:

DODGERS +300

YANKEES +750

PADRES +800

METS +1000

WHITE SOX +1100

ASTROS +1400

BRAVES +1500