Friday, September 7, 2012

Bad Beats: Rutgers at Tulane, Sep. 1, 2012

I owe Tulane football an apology. It seems I underestimated this year's team.

When the opening line for the season opener against Rutgers was listed at 17, I immediately jumped on Twitter.
Even when confronted with the one other Tulane football fan on Twitter, I refused to back down.
And it seemed Vegas agreed with me, kind of: by the week of the game, the line had moved to 20, though the over/under still suggested Tulane's score would be a natural number.

I even had history on my side. has a page of ATS trends going back to 2003. Here are the ten worst schools against the spread since that time:
ATS Record 
TeamWLTCover %
Washington 426430.396
Fla Atlantic 375210.416
Miss State425740.424
Notre Dame476320.427

That means that, if I had put $100 against my alma mater in every game they played since I set foot on campus in August 2003, I would be up over $1,500. It works out to an average return of 15.3% per game, calculated as follows:
(games Tulane lost ATS)*.909-(games Tulane won ATS)*1
since most bets against the spread are -110, i.e., you have to put down $110 to win $100.

All of which is to suggest that a bet against Tulane would be a smart move. So, naturally, when my friend Dave told me last Thursday, "I think Tulane can cover a 20-point spread against Rutgers," I jumped at the chance for some free money.

And naturally Tulane covered.

Next Friday: More on the historical record against the spread. Does this stat have any predictive value?

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