Murray/Ferrer matchup in cycles, stats

Today in 30 minutes is the David Ferrer/Andy Murray final at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, 3 sets on the hard stuff.

Murray has a 6-5 match edge, and 5-1 on hardcourt surface (losing only 2 sets in the process)
Here are the key stats:
Ferrer has consistently scored, even in losses in first serve %
2nd serve return points won %
break points converted %

As for Murray, his best stats against Ferrer are:
1st serve points won
1st serve return points won

So that first service success by Ferrer will be a vital stat for both players.

Average length of match: 2 hours, 19 minutes
Favorite Toy extrapolation method (thank you, Bill James): 2 hours, 33 minutes
(low: 70 minutes. high: 3 hours, 52 minutes)

Now to biorhythms. Here are Andy’s cycles:

 

Middle ground of two mini-highs and lows. May feel somewhat out of sorts today, feeling more negative than usual. Rather average cycles.

Here’s David Ferrer:

Triple high! Can’t be in any better shape than this.

Ferrer in 4 sets. 

Gulfstream Park/Fair Grounds handicapping contest selections

Busy day already, not a profiting one tho as I’m wagering the Dubai World Cup racecard. Just did score a win in the Dubai Golden Shaheen with Sajjhaa. Again, I wish I had proper pace numbers to make it easier.  I feel that my selections all ran early in most races, not so much later. 

There is a free handicapping contest by Equibase up now, closing at 144pm ET. They’re having me select one horse per.  Here are my selections from 10 races:
Gulfstream:
Rampart Stakes: Ciao Bella
Gulfstream Oaks: Live Lively
Orchid Stakes: Starformer
Skip Away Stakes: Cigar Street
Appleton Stakes: Omayad (Chile), longshot
Florida Derby: Itsmyluckyday

Fair Grounds:
Fair Grounds Oaks: Unlimited Budget (one of my KY Derby future wager picks)
New Orleans Handicap: Cool Street
Louisiana Derby: Very close between Code West, Titletown Five, and Proud Strike. Going with Titletown Five, a bit of a price.
Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap: Amira’s Prince (Ireland)

Note that I’m not wagering on these races. That would be a bit much. Many of my overall selections are morning-line faves

Dubai World Cup racecard analysis (of sorts)

Dubai is the site of my greatest ever handicapping score, a $300 + exacta from a $1 wager.

Think I’ll spare you the deep analysis because,…well…I can’t even attempt to! Even with Brisnet past performances, the real issue is that, with international horses, there’s no way to figure out the lengths behind at different points of call nor standard pace ratings. So, here’s what I did. I took 5 variables and judged based on who gathered the edge, plus ties, in the most variables. Class: Who won at the Grade 1 (US) level. Track: Best average time per furlong at Meydan Racecourse in a win there. Pace: Took the Favorite Toy method out and measured average time per furlong in the last 3 races. (this took a fair amount of time). Distance: Longest winning distance of a horse in the field, splitting ties by best speed per furlong from that race. Average Winning Distance of pedigree, taking the average of the sire and dam’s sire numbers.
With that here are my top contenders in no particular order per race:
Godolphin Mile: Alpha, Master Of Hounds, Zazou
Dubai Gold Cup: Imperial Monarch

UAE Derby: Law Enforcement, Shuruq
Al Quoz Sprint: Shea Shea, Medicean Man
Dubai Golden Shaheen: Mental, Tamaathul, Private Zone
Dubai Duty Free: Sajjhaa, Igugu
Dubai Sheema Classic: Dunaden
Dubai World Cup: Animal Kingdom, Red Cadeaux

Weekend boxing action analysis via biorhythms

The 2 major fights on the card at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona NY on 3/29 are these:

Brian Vera (22-6-0, 13 KOs) vs Donatas Bondorovas (17-3-1, 6 KOs)  12 rounds, middleweights.
Here are Vera’s cycles:

Poor decision-making on Vera’s part will keep him from cashing in on his punching power, which is at its peak.  Cycles seem about average tho in good athletic shape and improving.

Now for Bondorovas:

Triple high with the physical cycle being the guiding force. Excellent cycles for a boxing match. He seems very strong, will make some pretty good decisions on when to strike and when to hold back.
Middle-round KO for Bondorovas

Undercard bout is Jackson Junior Dos Santos vs. Umbertos Savigne,
10 rounds, light heavyweights.
Dos Santos: (14-0-0, 12 KOs)

Just days before a triple critical period, his cycles are hurdling toward mediocrity.  Brainpower will not nearly be as strong as in prior days.  Physically is plodding along but slowly getting better.

Savigne: (10-1-0, 7 KOs)

Triple low cycles tell the story.  Might show improvement in landing punches but lacks power.

Ugly fight to be sure, yet  Junior should win this via decision.

***********
Bonus Saturday title fight analyis..
3/30, Las Vegas: Brandon Rios vs Mike Alvarado, 12 rounds, for the vacant WBO interim junior welterweight title:

Rios: (31-0-1, 23 KOs)

Average cycles for Rios, tho appears to be in generally physical makeup. Problem is, the fight falls upon a physical critical day, and he’s just not going to know his own strength, and is likely to bleed more than normal. He will be fighting with a lot of heart.

Alvarado: (33-1-0, 23 KOs)

Difficult cycles with hardly any power, hardly any focus. He too will be fighting with adrenalin, might do better decision-wise.

Tough fight to call, but I do see it as Rios winning via late-round TKO.

***************
Echo Arena, Liverpool England:  Tony Bellew vs. Isaac Chilemba, 12 rounds, WBC light heavyweight eliminator:

Bellew: (19-1-0, 12 KOs)

All low cycles and falling. Can’t be in any worse shape.

Chilemba: (20-1-1, 9 KOs)


Decent cycles at best, weak power, but much better in decision making,

May be a boring, sloppy fight, with Chilemba winning via decision.

Sports recap

Apologies for radio silence. The weekend I spent at the Cape May Singer-Songwriter (Conference) took the wind out of my sails. Feels like I had a 5-day weekend. With that, here’s your sports update:

HORSES
Unfortunately I arrived home too late to put in the Kentucky Derby future wager ticket, so that means I only have one series of win and exacta bets, which came out of Pool 2. To refresh your memory, here’s how it looks:
Win bets on Code West (28-1), Orb (12-1), Overanalyze (37-1)

Exacta bets between these, and also put ‘field’ (3-1) on top of these. Those horses are (deep breath): Abraham, Afonso de Sousa, Balance The Books, Capo Bastone, Charming Kitten, Clawback, Clearly Now, Crop Report, Curly Top, Declan’s Warrior, Demonic, Dewey Square, Doherty, Dry Summer, Dynamic Strike, Elnaawi, Escapefromreality, Fear The Kitten, Fortify, Forty Tales, Frac Daddy, Fury Kapcori, Golden Soul, Gombey Dancer, Govenor Charlie, Ground Transport, Hear The Ghost, He’s Had Enough, Honorable Dillon, Integrity, Mac The Man, Majestic Hussar, My Name Is Michael, Noble Tune, Northern Lion, Now And Then, Omega Star, Ore Pass, Park City, Power Broker, Purple Egg, Rydilluc, Saint Prado, Saint Vigeur, Siete de Oros, Sky Captain, Speak Logistics, Title Contender, Tiz a Minister, Tiz The Truth, Transparent, War Academy, and West Hills Giant.
For the Kentucky Oaks, my wagers are:
Win bets on Fiftyshadesofhay (20-1), Pure Fun (10-1), Unlimited Budget (9-1). Exactas between these, and also field on top of these. Field horses at a healthy 7-1 rate are (deep breath #2): Broken Spell, Cor Cor, Cue The Moon, Every Way, Evolutionary, Finding More, Highestmaintenance, Kauai Katie, Kelli Got Frosty, Lady Banks, Lignite, My Happy Face, Spring Venture, Walkwithapurpose.

For either race, if my selections are actually going off at worse odds near post time, I’d put an extra win bet on those, including any field horses.

 
In 7 of the 14 future wagers for the Derby, the eventually paid the most out beforehand in eithe r of the 3 pools instead of on Derby Day itself (this scenario occurred 3 times) Pool 3 has provided some part of the best early payoff of the eventually winner 10 of 14 times. Now you see why I wanted to get into Pool 3 badly enough. But 1 and 2 aren’t far behind at all.

Dubai World Cup card is in my sights. I will provide my selections for each race and analysis of top pick.
Also there’s Gulfstream Park and FairGrounds joint handicapping challenge on Saturday. This is a free challenge which I’m definitely taking part in.

GOLF

Shell Houston Open started today. Here are my foursome to pick for this tournament, using the synthesis of the Ball Striking and Scrambling rankings :
Brandt Snedeker
Keegan Bradley
Cameron Tringale
Bill Haas
 
BOXING:
Will give you my take on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights via biorhythms early tomorrow:
TENNIS:
More biorhythms once we get to the finals of the men’s and women’s tournament of the Sony Tennis Open
AUTO: Lots this weekend in this area also, with report on Satutrday, time permitting
BASEBALL:
I will return to the batter/pitcher 2012 experiments when I find more time.

Preliminary Kentucky Derby future wager Pool 3 insight

2nd time out of 3 in the future wager pool for me this year. To recap, I missed the window for wagering Pool 1 but was able to get to both the 2nd pool and the Kentucky Oaks.   I wagered to win and exactas between Orb (12-1), Revolutionary (28-1) and Code West (37-1) along with the field (3-1). In the sole Oaks pool, I have win and exacta bets on Fiftyshadesofhay (love that name, and the 20-1 odds), Pure Fun (10-1), and Unlimited Budget (9-1), all with the field (7-1)

Going into Pool 3, there are a number of few faces (er, manes?) among the 66.  There is also the matter of 2 races this weekend impacting the wagering by the time betting is done.    There is the 9-furlong Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on Saturday, then the Sunland Derby the day after at Sunland Park. 
In the Spiral, Pool contenders include Balance The Books, Channel Isle, Uncaptured, My Name Is Michael, Mac The Man, and Capo Bastone.

Pace is definitely one key component I use to determine wagers and this will be a huge challenge working against unknowns. The burning question is this: How do I, as a handicapper, appropriate distance to Brisnet speed figures if a horse has never run that distance before? What can be learned from the horse’s time, beaten length and the final time of the race to suggest a possible speed figure? If you know the answer, please let me know at once.

The challenging thing is this: I’d have to make a flat guess about the Brisnet speed times, possibly borrowing from each horse’s own past performances to see if similar distances were run slower or quicker.  Uncaptured, lone horse of Pool 3’s standard wager choices, ran 8.5 furlongs last time out in last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club stakes. He stretches out to 9 furlongs in the Spiral.

Also, the Sunland Derby runs at 840pm ET Sunday, so I’m at the mercy of those results but not to the degree as the Spiral. 

A lot to work with, and a lot to assimilate at the last minute! I’m temporarily ignoring those 2 races ahead and just working with what I know, and will give you insight on the top choices per variable used.

CLASS: 23 horses have won at the Graded level. 1 or 2 more will be added to that list. These horses all get greater consideration than those without victories at this level.
Churchill Downs PACE: Any horse with a run here scores better, and 12 have done just that.
PACE: This is the great unknown. What is known is that I did rank horses, per run-style by how they ran in their most recent races. I took the top 13 scores out of the 66. Obviously with 11 running this weekend, the rankings surely will change. Of those not running this weekend, top pace scores (using Brisnet speed ratings) belong to these: Tiz A Minister, Super Ninety Nine, Verrazano, Palace Malice, Normandy Invasion, Mr Palmer, Itsmyluckyday, Goldencents, Flashback, and Code West. 

Distance: This will certainly change after the 2 Derby preps. I do give edge to those who have won at 9 furlongs thus far. Those are: Mr Palmer,Orb, Overanalyze, Abraham, Channel Isle, Freedom Child, Gunderman, and Rydilluc.
DOSAGE: Eight horses produced outstanding dosage numbers, comparing chef-de-race numbers to the typical winner at Churchill Downs.  These horses are: Flashback, Orb, Revolutionary, Will Take Charge, Dry Summer, Ground Transport, He’s Had Enough, and Speak Logistics.
2YO PROGRESSION: A slight majority of horses in the field either were unraced or had poor running at age 2 before Labor Day weekend, then ran quicker races since that weekend until age 3. I chose the top 13 for serious consideration. 
Average winning distance of sire/dam: I took the average of the two numbers, and kept the top 13 scores.

At my peril, I will wager based on what happens after Saturday.  For the moment, here are my top 4:

1: MR PALMER. broke maiden after 6 tries, then won the 100k Private Terms at Laurel two weeks ago at 9 furlongs.  He’s an absolute closer who already has a run at Churchill good AWD numbers (sire, Pulpit, and dam, In Truth, both at 7.5).  Possibility of bouncing in next race after last race, with a 97 score.  Pace is very competitive overall.  Next race should be the Wood Memorial on April 6. This is my top choice.

Below him I have these 3 to consider:
2: OVERANALYZE has run in nothing but Graded efforts since breaking maiden in first race at Saratoga. Ended 2YO campaign with a 104 in the Remsen at 9 furlongs.  Put up a 94 finishing 5th in the Gotham 3 weeks ago; I suspect a bounce back. 3rd in the Iriquois at Churchill. Will run in the Arkansas Derby on April 13.

3: REVOLUTIONARY had raced in 4 maidens and then narrowly won the Withers ending his 2YO campaign. This horse is on a 6 week layoff currently and should run in the Louisiana Derby on 3/30. Great pedigree in comparison: AWD for sire War Pass is 7.0, dam Runup The Colors is 8.0.  The Withers earned him a 96 after breaking maiden going 103. Possible bounce back in progress.

4: Out of the field wager choices, I like BALANCE THE BOOKS. He’s running in the Spiral so my stance re pace for him will depend on his run. Good 2YO campaign for him:  3 races at 8.5 furlongs with best time 1:42.1 (89 Brisnet), then 1 mile (BC Juvenile Turf), finishing 3rd, 1:33.3.  Put up 91 and 96 scores in last two races, on layoff since the Breeders Cup races in November.  Pace for the moment gives him an advantage. Sire Lemon Drop Kid’s AWD is 7.9. 

When I return to this computer on Sunday I will recalibrate and give you a sense as to my top choices.  This much I do know: I plan to do win and exacta bets between my top 3, along with the field.  Should Overanalyze be one of the top horses, I will skip him because I have a win wager on him for 37-1. If his odds are worse for this pool, I’ll take another swing. Otherwise I’ll take the next contender on the list.

NCAA bracket predictions, with explanation (and feeling)

I’ve completed work on 3 different men’s brackets for the NCAA Big Dance, plus a composite, taking whatever trend seemed to fit between the 3.

I used several extant systems to determine who to slot where. In Bracket 1, I learned toward info from USA TODAY and sports-reference.com info about the schools, putting the accent on coach and team experience within the Big Dance itself, along with average seniority (team with more junior and seniors outranking those with less).  

Top coach experience per bracket: East: Butler.  West: Ohio State. Midwest: Duke. South: North Carolina.

Most team experience per bracket: East: UNLV (2.68 games per tourney). West: Ohio State (2.78). Midwest: Duke (3.55). South: North Carolina (3.46)

Most seniority: East: Pacific. West: Southern. Midwest: Valparaiso. South: South Dakota State.

Upsets within Bracket 1: St. Mary’s, Cincinnati, California, Wichita State.  Yes, I do call for the upset over #6 Memphis, as the Gaels have a more experienced coach, and greater seniority. Randy Bennett took them to the regional semifinal in 2010 and lost in the 2nd round in the last Big Dance.  Beyond the first round, the better seeds will have their way.

Here’s Bracket 1, which I posted on ESPN:
 

In Bracket 2 I relied more on standard ratings and the use of home court advantage. If one team had a decidedly closer venue to travel to from their home school than their opponent, that team got the edge. This, of course, is a very fluid stat, but I worked on it as I went through the process.  I also looked at Jeff Sagarin’s ratings on USA TODAY, and also borrowed an idea from this website, which suggests looking at non-conference wins against teams in better conferences.
 

With the ACC as the best ranked conference, this variable would be moot for those participants, but a mid-major with enough games scheduled against both their contemporaries and the bigger dogs would gain an advantage.
Best W/L record vs Top 50 per bracket: East: Miami. West: Gonzaga. Midwest: Saint Louis. South: Kansas. 
Most wins vs better non-conference schools relative to that school: East: Bucknell (11!). West: Gonzaga (7). Midwest: Creighton (7). South: Florida Gulf Coast (5).

Upset wins in this bracket include Missouri, Oregon, St. Mary’s, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Villanova,all in the 1st round. Normalcy will prevail tho beyond this.

Bracket 2, as posted on Fox Sports:
 

The aforementioned website from Maddux Sports, oriented in gambling (NO I am not gambling on my picks here), made further suggestions about particular stats to watch. One was the margin of defense % vs the 2-point and 3-point shots. The reasoning behind it has to do with the discipline of a team, whether or not they specialize in one system or can actually cover the floor effectively.  I took this measure, averaging the high and low scores of both variables against each quadrant in the brackets, and noticed who was closest to the average. Those who were most divergent were those I took a negative view on.   The site goes on to point out these variables as ideal to watch: assist/turnover ratio, turnover %, effective FG% and defense of same.  I took the team with the majority edge in the 5 variables. 
2-point/3-point margin lowest differential: East: Butler.  West: Pittsburgh.  Midwest: Louisville. South: North Carolina, Akron, UCLA, San Diego St, and Georgetown all share this mark.
Lowest turnover %: East: Bucknell. West: Wisconsin.  Midwest: Duke & Colorado State. South: Michigan.
Assist-Turnover ratio: East: Bucknell. West: Notre Dame. Midwest: Duke. South: Michigan.
Efficiency FG % (offense): East: Indiana. West: Belmont. Midwest: Creighton. South: Florida.
Efficiency FG % (defense): East: Bucknell.  West: Southern.  Midwest: Cincinnati. South: Kansas.

2 upsets in sight for round 1: Middle Tennesse State, and Bucknell. You’ll see that Bucknell scored very high in this group of stats. I do have the Patriot League champions going all the way to the Final 4.
If you need more convincing about the Bisons, USA TODAY’s Patrick Stevens has more: 

Here’s the picks for Bracket 3 as posted on The Score:

 
The composite chart takes the majority picks of all 3. When there is a tie split between all 3, I used every single variable mentioned above to break the tie.

Here’s the composite bracket as posted to Yahoo! Sports:

 

St. Mary’s prevails as the big upset within round 1, as does Cincinnati and Oklahoma. I have #6 Butler as the lowest of the 4 making the Final 4.

The toughest ties to break were:
West:
Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.
Ohio State, Pittsburgh, New Mexico in the Final 4.

South: VCU, Kansas, Michigan in the Elite Eight.

East: Butler, Marquette, Bucknell in the Elite Eight. This was the absolute most difficult tie to separate.
Butler, Indiana, Bucknell in the Final 4 was nearly as tough.
Stat sources and insights into same include:
www.teamrankings.com
www.sports-reference.com
www.usatoday.com
http://www.madduxsports.com/library/cbb/important-stats-handicappers-need-to-know.html