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  1. Why not?

    April 6, 2010 by nick

    Here’s a quick shout out to our friends over at – keep up the good work, guys!

  2. Crew Reassembled

    April 2, 2010 by nick

    All are returned to the same area code, and recording resumes tomorrow. Apologies for the delays, ravenous fan!

  3. EPISODE 95

    March 17, 2010 by ryan


  4. EPISODE 94

    March 14, 2010 by ryan


  5. The Internet and Morgan Ensberg

    March 12, 2010 by nick

    One of the strange things about the internet – and it has been happening exponentially more frequently in the past year or so – is the personal presence of relatively important actors, TV personalities, and athletes on the internet. This makes them directly accessible, and those people, whose personalities could previously only be guessed at, now emerge to varying degrees.

    For example, former Astros’ 3B Morgan Ensberg has a blog where he writes about various experiences as a baseball player. It’s the sort of insight that you can’t really get elsewhere, and it isn’t prettied up for The Sporting News. Ensberg seems to write fairly well too.

    You can also find lots of people having sex on the internet.

  6. An Interview With VegasWatch

    March 9, 2010 by nick

    The proprietor of VegasWatch fortunately happens to be a friend of the show. This is not through any planning of his, and to be sure if he had known that befriending me in college would lead to me publicly linking him to this website, he probably would have reconsidered.

    Then again, he responded to my email which contained questions about his website and he dutifully answered them. Here is the result of that communication.

    -Can you sum up what your site does in a few sentences and explain how you got the idea for the site?
    The site basically tries to take an intelligent, analytical look at gambling on sports. A lot of it is looking at futures odds — which team will win the NCAA tournament, the AL West, etc. — and trying to figure out ways to accurately handicap those events. I focus less on trying to find good bets on individual games, as I think those lines are a lot more efficent, and it’s just generally less interesting. There’s some other stuff on the site too, but the majority of it trues back to that.

    A few years ago, the second year that Florida won the tournament, North Carolina was (correctly) seen as one of the best teams in the country. I had no problem with this, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were “inconsistent”, and this would hurt them if they had one bad game in March. Now, “consistency” is obviously an idea about which there’s a lot of BS thrown around, but I tried to quantify it using teams’ performance against the spread. I sent this work to a few MSM writers, and’s Luke Winn ended up including it in one of his articles. After that I kind of figured that if I was going to be doing this stuff anyway I might as well have a place to post it, so I went to and that was that.

    For the record, that was the year that a horrendous 15-minute stretch ended up costing the Tar Heels a Final Four berth.

    -We’ve talked about how you didn’t really begin following college basketball seriously until earlier this decade. Why the sudden interest in that sport specifically?
    I’m still not entirely sure. I guess it started my freshman year of college, when I had an absolutely absurd amount of free time on my hands, and started watching a lot of college hoops after baseball season ended (poorly). The whole format of the sport drew me in — gathering information on teams for four months, and then factoring all that into picking the tournament.

    -You often use the Vegas lines to modify and refine projections from complex algorithms like PECOTA and the Pomeroy Ratings. I have encountered people who believe the Vegas lines are not accurate because they exploit the popularity of teams and the biases/ignorance of gamblers. What is the reasoning behind using the lines to make predictions?

    The idea that Vegas lines are shaded/not accurate is a common one, and I think it really gives people the wrong idea. Yes, a lot of dumb people bet on basketball, and this does effect the line somewhat. But a lot of smart people bet on hoops as well, and they’re betting a lot more money than the guys who don’t know what they’re doing. If the lines were way off because of the average bettor’s biases, we’d all be rich. They’re not though — the margins are very small, particularly when you’re dealing with the closing line, which has been bet to where it “should” be.

    -I hear you talk often about the lines “moving” – which, as I understand it, is how much the initial lines changed based on how people bet on them. For those who are unfamiliar, what do these movements tell us?

    At about 6pm EST every day, lines are released for the next day’s CBB games. Contrary to the closing lines, these “openers” are not always dead on, so the people generally referred to as sharps (basically professional gamblers who wager large sums of money) bet on the side they feel has value. If Ohio St. is favored by six and a very large bet is placed on them, the line may move to tOSU -6.5 or so.

    Line movements also can occur when a large volume of smaller bets, placed by more “average fan” gamblers, come in on the same team, but I’m of the opinion that that is not nearly as common.

    -As sites like yours and The Moneyline Journal and others gain in popularity, as well as the increased availability of information elsewhere online, is it going to be harder to find value? Or is the number of casual gamblers so overwhelming it won’t matter?

    The second one. Betting on sports is just such a unique situation; so many people think they know enough to make money doing it, and the vast majority are 100% wrong. You look at Villanova being a small favorite on the road against Cincinnati, and it seems SO OBVIOUS that they’re going to cover the spread, you couldn’t talk people out of that no matter how hard you tried.

    Even if someone who has the opportunity to reach a broad audience was educating people about this stuff — say, if ESPN’s Chad Millman didn’t suck at his job — I don’t think it’d make a huge difference.

    -What’s wrong with the RPI and the AP Poll?

    The issue with the RPI poll is that it doesn’t consider margin of victory at all. That’s really it. If it did, it’d be KenPom, and the correlation between NCAA tournament seed and actual skill level would be a lot higher.

    The polls have a similar issue with MOV — they don’t completely ignore it, but it’s not into account nearly as much as it should be. Then they have the added handicap of coming up with rankings at the beginning of the year, and then moving teams down a few spots every time they lose. I’m not sure how anyone could think this is an accurate way to judge anything.

    -Baseball Prospectus writers have developed a “Secret Sauce” – elements to a baseball team that become disproportionately important in the playoffs, or are the markers of teams more likely to succeed once the playoffs begin. Have you found, or do you suspect, that there is an equivalent to this in college hoops?

    Not really. I suspect that performance in road/neutral games is a better predictor or tourney performance than home games, but don’t really have any strong evidence to back that up. Recent performance is more predictive than Nov/Dec performance, but people overrate that anyway so that’s rather unhelpful.

    -How far does Purdue go without Hummel, and without him, how would you rank the Big 10’s top 4 teams?

    I’m pretty comfortable with a ranking of Ohio St., Wisconsin, Michigan St., Purdue. Since Purdue was the best team in the conference prior to Hummel’s injury, the gap between #1 and #4 still isn’t huge. Unless they win the B10 tournament, the Boilermakers are going to get screwed with their seeding because the rules in this situation are so arbitrary, and they looked crappy when everyone was paying attention in the Michigan St. game. With very little confidence I will say Purdue wins two tourney games and then loses in the Sweet 16.

    -In your opinion, which mainstream media NCAAB commentators and analysts are the best and in what capacity? And if you feel comfortable calling people out on the internet – the worst?

    I am a HUGE fan of the Musburger-Knight combo. Brent is hilarious and makes both obvious and clever reference to the spread basically every game, and I don’t think you can beat Knight’s insights on basketball strategy. I also like Gus Johnson for the same reasons everyone else does.

    Vitale is obviously unbearable, and I think Steve Lavin is pretty bad as well, which is really surprising when you consider how effective he was as UCLA’s coach.

    -PECOTA went from being reasonably reliable to having a terrible year in 2009, and as you said there are, “questions about its methodology.” Is this because of Nate Silver leaving, bad luck, or a fundamental flaw going forward? You used to rely on it pretty heavily and I am curious as to whether that will change for you.

    With all the changes they’ve made over the past year I have a hard time trusting PECOTA’s results at this point, particularly for projected standings. Nate Silver is a very, very bright individual, and he used to do all of this stuff himself — I think you probably lose a lot when going from that to having to automate it. There was almost certainly some bad luck involved last year, although the variance on their projections was so high (projecting good teams to do unreasonably well, and the opposite for bad teams) that they had some of that coming.

    -What do you look for when analyzing pre-season Over/Under win totals for MLB?

    The main thing I’ll be looking at is CHONE, although I think those O/Us have gotten a lot more efficient than when TB’s total was 72 or so in 2008. When I run a simulation of the season I’ll likely be relying on the O/Us themselves more heavily than I have in the past.

    -Your Weekly NFL Survivor feature proved to be extremely popular. Correct me if I’m wrong but generally you operated off of Vegas lines, popularity of picks, and looking at future schedules. Did you find that you underrated or overrated the importance of any of these components? What did you learn from this exercise?

    Yeah, those are the three main factors. I’m still not entirely sure how to factor in future schedule early in the season, when there’s so much uncertainty. I think I may overrate that at times. It’s also important to remember that the consensus numbers at Yahoo! and OFP and such don’t necessarily apply to your specific pool.

    From this exercise I learned that getting lucky can be a lot of fun.

    -Your bookshelf is dominated by sports literature. Are there any books in particular that you recommend?

    The one that immediately comes to mind is “The Soul of Baseball” by Joe Posnanski — he is an incredible writer, and that’s a great story.

    -What are your future plans for VegasWatch?
    I would like to eventually make enough money writing about sports — either on the blog, freelancing, for some other outlet, or a combination — that I can do it full time. I have no idea if this will ever happen (I suspect that it will require a lucky break or two), but even as a hobby it’s a lot of fun.


    Thank you, VegasWatch for allowing us to bask in your dignity, if only temporarily.

  7. EPISODE 92

    March 4, 2010 by ryan



  8. EPISODE 89

    February 25, 2010 by ryan


  9. Hey guys!

    February 22, 2010 by nick

    Listen to this!

  10. Guest Contributor: Kufta On The Dangers of Internet Dating

    February 16, 2010 by nick

    Friend of the cast has provided us with this chat transcript with an actual American college student. Names have been changed to protect the naive and the cynical. Commentary provided by our intrepid contributor, Kufta.

    The Realities of Internet Dating
    The following is a real conversation, held February 15th, 2010 over Facebook chat. The content of the conversation has not been altered in any way but the names have been changed for a host of legal and ethical reasons. The italicized text commentary after-the-fact.
    u should try
    11:32am Jack
    mmmmm, im not into the internet dating thing
    tho i probably might as well
    have you had any luck?
    11:34am Diane
    i went on a couple of dates that were ok i mean hey what do you have to lose a couple hours of your life.. I have a few dates this week and theres actually alot of quality people out there. – An interesting thesis.
    11:35am Jack
    do people go into the dates implicitly expecting sex?
    11:35am Diane
    of course not
    11:35am Jack
    thats always the feeling ive gotten from those plaaces
    that the internet is some bubbling fuck-cauldron where degenerates gather to conceive their wretched hellspawn. – My counter-thesis.
    11:36am Diane
    its actually alot of professionals
    11:36am Jack
    yeah fair enough
    11:37am Diane
    alot of doctors and lawyers not sure hyou care about that though
    11:37am Jack
    no i def dont
    11:37am Diane
    wouldnt hurt to have a sugar momma thouh
    11:37am Jack
    thats a good point
    11:37am Diane
    11:37am Jack
    she goes to work at the law firm while i sit in my room doing drugs and writing songs
    yes please
    how about you Diane? on the lookout for that jewish doctor of your dreams?
    11:38am Diane
    nah cant marry a jewish doctor because everyone already expects me too. – J.A.P Alert
    11:39am Jack
    so an indian doctor then?
    perhaps a jewish banker?
    let’s go right on down the list of stereotypes. How about a mexican wrestler?
    chico loco is out there, waiting for YOU Diane.
    no but seriously i wish you the best of luck on the whole search thing. im obviously just fucking around. – Bait.
    11:41am Diane
    hahaha i know it makes m loaugh
    i have an interesting story about this onee dude. – That didn’t take long. Perhaps this is one of those ‘quality people’ she was telling me about.
    11:42am Jack
    im listening
    11:43am Diane
    also im addicted to okcupid and
    i cant stop going on
    this guy i met on there was into some freaky stuff
    11:44am Jack
    this sounds like the intro of the story
    11:45am Diane
    he was into enlarging genitials. – Ah, there it is.
    11:45am Jack
    he must have been fucking with you
    11:45am Diane
    check out this site
    no he was dead serious
    11:46am Jack
    lol what site
    is it going to horrify me?
    11:47am Diane
    its pretty graphich should i wait to send it to you

    11:48am Jack
    nah its ok
    11:48am Diane
    dont send it
    11:48am Jack
    send away
    ill watch it
    11:49am Diane
    it wont let me send the link
    11:49am Jack
    is it too much of a pain in the ass to type it?
    11:52am Diane
    11:52am Jack
    jesus fucking christ
    hahahahhahaha you just typed that into facebook chat
    11:52am Diane
    i warned you.
    11:53am Jack
    so what did he like about it?
    was it him trying to tell you he had a big dick or something?
    he said it makes girls more sensitive and he thinks it looks prettier – Remember what I said about degenerates?
    i think its scary
    11:53am Jack
    ‘normal vaginas are too small, i need an enlarged one or i cant fit hurr hurr’
    yeah its fucking horrifying
    so needless to say you pumped that shit up for him right
    got out the old basketball inflator and went to town?
    this pussypump thing is a comedy gold mine. i bet Andrea has like 5 of them already. There’s a much, much better story involving the girl mentioned here but it is for another time.
    11:55am Diane
    eww gross
    i couldnt go through with it
    11:55am Jack
    holy shit it sounds like you considered it ahhahahaha
    11:56am Diane
    say it got stuck?
    he also had a cock pump
    he was a freak
    11:57am Jack
    say it didnt. say it went totally fine. you still inflated your pussy for the sexual gratification of some dude you met over the internet. That’s what would have happened
    ahahhahaha im cracking up so hard right now
    im at work too i gotta shut up this is bad
    11:57am Diane
    indeed gotta have some self respect right
    ok ill talk to you later
    11:58am Jack
    hahaha no its ok, ill just stop laughing so hard
    tho i am outta here in the next 5 minutes or so to get lunch
    cock pump
    man. did he bring it to your first date?
    11:58am Diane
    ok talk to you later
    no lol
    11:59am Jack
    thats amazing. thats a great ‘tales from the internet dating service’ story right there Diane.

    The Moral of the Story: Internet Dating – Precisely as fucked up as dictated by conventional wisdom.