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Let's start with a few notes. I'm going to use the Sagarin Ratings and point spreads to make my picks. I'm using Sagarin's Pure Predictor ratings as the base, but I also need point spreads because Sagarin ratings are subject to a key problem: teams like Oregon (Dixon injury) are going to be vastly overrated. So the point spread helps to alert me to those things. To be clear, neither I, PFR, "Doug" nor sports-reference.com promote gambling or advise you to wager any money on any sporting event, ever.
First notes: here are the Sagarin ratings for the longshot games:
Cincinnati 85.63 Southern Miss 65.63 20.00
Florida 95.57 Michigan 80.80 14.77
Boise State 83.60 East Carolina 69.43 14.17
Southern Cal 89.44 Illinois 81.54 7.90
Georgia 85.05 Hawaii 79.91 5.14
So we get the same credit if Southern Miss upsets Cincinnati as if Hawaii upsets Georgia. But Georgia looks significantly more likely to fall. I expect Southern Miss and Michigan to get blown out. I think the other three teams probably all have small chances to win. FWIW, here's how these teams look according to the SRS:
Cincinnati 14.3 Southern Miss -2.5 16.8
Florida 19.4 Michigan 7.3 12.1
Boise State 7.9 East Carolina 0.0 7.9
Southern Cal 17.0 Illinois 10.0 7.0
Georgia 16.3 Hawaii 8.1 8.1
This confirms not to pick Southern Miss or Michigan. Carroll's record in Bowl games plus this game being in USC's backyard is a big plus, so I'm going to take the supremely talented Trojans. Their SRS is arguably deflated by an unhealthy team playing poorly in mid-season. And while I know nothing at all about East Carolina, Boise State's only losses are to Washington and Hawaii (#52 and #29 according to the SRS, respectively). East Carolina lost a close game to Va Tech (the week before the LSU thrashing), lost to Southern Miss (#73), lost by 41 to West Virginia, lost to North Carolina State (#77) and to Marshall (#101). Those are four bad losses. Their best win was at Houston, who isn't even any good. Boise State's best win was in Fresno State, and they have some history at Hawaii. It's a long travel for East Carolina fans. I know all these reasons are the reasons why East Carolina is a long shot, but I don't see a lot of upside here. So I'll grab Boise State, and even though I think Hawaii isn't any good (as I wrote here), it's good to have one longshot in there.
I'm still not sure if I'd rather join Cincinnati and Florida with one of these three teams, or if I prefer to match them both up with strong dogs. One problem with picking the longshots is you really lose out on pairing a strong dog with someone like USC.
Let's move to the other 27 bowl games, that need to be split into groups of two and three. Here's a list of all the games, with the long-shots in bold:
Southern Cal 89.44 Illinois 81.54 7.90 -13.5 Cincinnati 85.63 Southern Miss 65.63 20.00 -11.5 Boise State 83.60 East Carolina 69.43 14.17 -10.5 Florida 95.57 Michigan 80.80 14.77 -10.5 Rutgers 78.53 Ball State 71.75 6.78 -10 Purdue 76.94 Cent. Michigan 65.75 11.19 - 8 Oklahoma 96.30 West Virginia 92.73 3.57 - 7.5 Utah 80.87 Navy 66.51 14.36 - 7.5 Georgia 85.05 Hawaii 79.91 5.14 - 7 South Florida 87.23 Oregon 91.89 -4.66 - 6.5 Georgia Tech 73.20 Fresno State 69.97 3.23 - 6 Texas Tech 83.54 Virginia 75.05 8.49 - 6 Oregon State 82.01 Maryland 73.11 8.90 - 5 Penn State 80.98 Texas A&M 76.10 4.88 - 5 BYU 82.16 UCLA 79.99 2.17 - 4.5 Tulsa 62.09 Bowling Green 66.63 -4.54 - 4.5 Boston College 78.50 Michigan State 79.05 -0.55 - 4 California 78.41 Air Force 74.96 3.45 - 4 LSU 87.83 Ohio State 93.47 -5.64 - 4 Oklahoma State 77.63 Indiana 72.28 5.35 - 4 TCU 75.66 Houston 65.11 10.55 - 4 Alabama 77.94 Colorado 74.03 3.91 - 3.5 Central Florida 75.31 Mississippi St. 70.78 4.53 - 3 Kentucky 83.30 Florida State 76.25 7.05 - 3 Missouri 87.13 Arkansas 83.05 4.08 - 3 New Mexico 71.12 Nevada 65.43 5.69 - 3 Virginia Tech 86.89 Kansas 91.68 -4.79 - 3 Clemson 82.89 Auburn 81.98 0.91 - 2.5 Florida Atl. 62.06 Memphis 56.86 5.20 - 2.5 Tennessee 81.29 Wisconsin 78.47 2.82 - 2.5 Texas 81.85 Arizona State 86.16 -4.31 - 2.5 Wake Forest 76.58 Connecticut 79.08 -2.50 - 2.5
In a not-so-surprising twist, all the "favorites" in our system are also favorites when using the point spreads. However, I've italicized the ones that are favorites according to the Pool rules (and point spreads) but are underdogs according to the Sagarin ratings.
Arizona State (over Texas), Kansas (over Virginia Tech) and UCONN (over Wake Forest) are definite underdog picks. Not only are all three teams favorites according to Sagarin, but they're also the closest underdogs to even. We will match those three up with three very strong teams.
Ohio State isn't much of an underdog, and is a favorite according to Sagarin. Further, the game is the last of the season, and picking the underdog might help me stay alive the longest. So tOSU is in. Bowling Green, for the exact same three reasons, gets drawn as an underdog as well. I like Michigan State -- the SRS has them as only two point dogs and Sagarin thinks they're even better than BC. Oregon is the other underdog chosen by Sagarin, but the loss of Dixon looms too large there. I'm going to grab South Florida.
So far we've got: Arizona State, Kansas, UCONN, Ohio State, Bowling Green and Michigan State as underdogs. I'm definitely taking Florida, Cincinnati, USC and Boise State.
Utah (14.36 difference over Navy, -7.5) and Purdue 11.19 over Cent. Mich., -8) are big favorites according to both systems. Throw them down as winners. Rutgers (6.78, -10), Texas Tech (8.49, -6) and Oregon State (8.90, -5) are good sized favorites, too.
TCU is 10.55 better than Houston, but only a 4 point favorite, presumably because the game is in Houston. Houston has an interim head coach and has lost seven straight bowl games (which means nothing), so we'll take TCU here, too. Fort Worth ain't that far from Houston; I'll bank on the Horned Frogs fans traveling. Florida State is only a 3 point dog but a 7.05 underdog according to Sagarin, and who knows, they may need Bill M. to play QB by the time that game rolls around. I'll grab Kentucky there, and bank on Woodson showing me something.
Clemson and Auburn are almost even, so I'll take Auburn and get credit for taking a dog. The same goes for Wisconsin over Tennessee, and bowl history is on my side: Wisconsin beat an SEC team last year and Tennessee lost to a Big-10 team last year.
That leaves eleven games. Actually, ten -- I always grab my alma mater, Penn State. With ten games remaining, I've got: eight underdogs, thirteen favorites, and one longshot.
Oklahoma is a big favorite over West Virginia, but I'm not sure why. I think a healthy WVA team could take them. But the line has moved up by about a point with the news about Rodriguez leaving, and I don't like the lame duck Mountaineers. I'll grab the Sooners.
Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech and New Mexico are favorites that I'm moderately confident about, too. UCLA and Arkansas seem like good underdogs to grab -- neither team is a big dog and I like Arkansas to impress their new coach (who will be in the stands) over a disappointed Missouri team.
I know Florida Atlantic isn't any good, but Memphis is terrible.
That leaves me with: ten dogs, eighteen favorites, one longshot, and three undecideds. I don't have any feeling at all about those three games (Cent. Fl vs. Miss St., Cal/Air Force and Alabama/Colorado), so let's think about how to group the teams first.
One longshot means I need to take an odd number of three team sets. If I grab just one, that means I need fourteen underdogs, which I don't have. If I take three, that means I need eleven underdogs, twenty favorites and one longshot. So which dog should I take out of these three? Cal is 2.4 better than Air Force in the SRS, Central Florida is 2.3 better than MissSt, and Alabama is 5.1 better than Colorado. That leaves it between Air Force and MissSt -- well, Cal lost six of their last seven. So we'll grab Air Force.
So here are the 32 teams I'm picking:
Long Shots (1):
Alpha Dogs (5):
Strong Dogs (3):
We'll group our three strongest favorites together: Cincinnati/Florida/Southern Cal. Boise State/Utah/Purdue. TCU/Rutgers/Oregon State. We've got five alpha dogs -- and two good favorites left. We'll match up Texas Tech and Kentucky with our two strongest alpha dogs. How do we rank them?
Arizona State is a 6.2 point favorite according to the SRS -- and UCONN is a 2.5 point favorite according to the SRS, a 2.5 point favorite according to Sagarin, and only a 2.5 point dog. We'll match them with Texas Tech and Kentucky. Bowling Green is another strong dog, and USF -- the thirteenth best team according to the SRS -- is our strongest favorite yet. Lock 'em up. What do we do with Kansas and OSU, our last two alpha dogs? Penn State and Oklahoma look like our best favorites left. Let's put the teams with their conference mates.
Three more strong dogs -- Michigan State, Auburn and Wisconsin. Our best favorites at this point? Oklahoma State, New Mexico and Georgia Tech. Pair those up. That leaves Florida Atlantic, Central Florida and Alabama to pair with Missuori, BYU and Air Force. Let's put the SEC/Big-12 games together and match up the other two however.
Texas Tech/Arizona State (ASU is a dog)
Kentucky/UCONN (UCONN is a dog)
South Florida/Bowling Green (BG is a dog)
Oklahoma/Kansas (Kansas is a dog)
Penn State/Ohio State (tOSU is a dog)
Oklahoma State/Michigan State (MSU is a dog)
New Mexico/Auburn (Auburn is a dog)
Georgia Tech/Wisconsin (Wisconsin is a dog)
Alabama/Arkansas (Arkansas is a dog)
Florida Atlantic/UCLA (UCLA is a dog)
Central Florida/Air Force (AF is a dog)
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2007 at 1:38 am and is filed under BCS, College. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.