Friday, 6 March 2020

The Third Win Adage

One of the innumerable adages in sports is the above - that "it's hard to beat a team three times".

March is the time of year when college basketball has its March Madness and teams in the Conference tournaments often play teams that they have played, and sometimes beaten, twice before in 'league' play.

About two years ago, I read this article by college basketball coach Bob Walsh on this topic. The statistics used to disprove the adage were:
According to STATS LLC., there have been 981 similar matchups across Division I college basketball over the past 10 seasons. The teams entering the third game 2-0 are a combined 710-271 (.724 winning percentage) in the third meeting.
Which led the author to conclude that "it clearly doesn’t follow that it is hard to beat a team 3 times. In fact, it’s actually kind of easy."

As always, it's good practice to do your own research and at the time, the record in such matches going back to the 2006 season showed a 72.5% winning record when a team is going for its third win of the season over the same opponent. Unfortunately with an average line of -6.6, this isn't a profitable strategy on the ML with the market clearly not buying in to the adage.

Most tournament games are on a neutral court, but often one of the teams hosts the tournament so some games are considered Home / Away games.

In these games, when the team going for three in a row was an Away team, they had a poor record ATS of just 40.4%. Since the article, the Away team has a 100% losing record, something to look for as the conference tournaments take place. 

In the NCAA tournament, which starts on St Patrick's Day this year, the record ATS for teams who beat their opponent on the last two outings (not in the same season as such match-ups are extremely rare) underdogs have a 76.9% record. 

In the NHL, the system selection last night was the Toronto Maple Leafs who lost after a shootout at the Los Angeles Kings, but the story of the night was the five goal performance, including the winner in overtime, of the New York Rangers' Mika Zibanejad, the first five goal performance in the NHL since I told you about this one in November 2018.  

Meanwhile the gyrations in the stock market this week saw a new record set for an up day on Monday, only for it to be well beaten on Wednesday although losses on Tuesday and Thursday rather spoiled those successes. Fridays have been down days all but twice this year, and futures indicate that trend will continue today. 

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