2011 Round 25: Cats v Birds Again; This Time We Wisely Pass

As expected, it's a full board of home team favourites this week, which limits the upside available to Investors from head-to-head wagering, leaving line wagering as the only pathway to significant profit.

Two games have captured the attention of the Head-to-Head Fund, though not in any significant way, resulting in two wagers of a tick over 3% on the Saints and the Blues, both at $1.33. Each of these teams is giving 18.5 points start on line betting, sufficiently few (little?) to have attracted wagers from the Line Fund for both of them, in Carlton's case for almost 10% of the Fund.

Collingwood, giving the Eagles 30.5 start, has also piqued the Line Fund's interest, though only a little. Its wager of just over 1% doesn't exactly scream confidence.

Collectively, these five bets offer a reasonable balance between upside and downside, though a significant proportion of the upside is attached to a comfortable Blues victory and much of the downside attaches to a Blues loss.

With the retirement of the Heuristic-Based Tipsters for the season, the head-to-head tipping table looks a little sparse this week. The four tipsters that are still active are unanimously behind the favourites in every game except the first where ProPred has opted for an upset Hawks victory.

The Margin Predictors are also unaninimous in selecting the Pies, Saints and Blues as victors, with Combo_NN_2 the outlier in these games based on its predicted victory margins. In the remaining game, three of the 13 Predictors have tipped narrow wins for the underdog Hawks.

On head-to-head probability prediction we see a similar pattern, with broad agreement about the last 3 games of the round and a lone dissenter, ProPred, in the Cats v Hawks game. 

The Line Fund algorithm rates the Blues as 76% chances of covering the spread in their game against the Dons, and it was this confidence that directly precipitated the near-10% Line Fund wager on Carlton.

This week I'll finish with a review of the records of each of the finalists - and two of the near-finalists - when playing the other finalists this year.

(Remember, you can click on an image to access a larger version of it.)

During the home-and-away season there were 40 games that involved two of the teams from the final 8 and, such are the vagaries of an unbalanced draw, Collingwood or Geelong were involved in half of them and, between them, won 17 of them. That doesn't leave many wins for the remaining 6 teams in the top 8, which explains why most of them have such poor overall records against fellow-finalists.

In fact, only the 3rd-placed Hawks have a better than 50% record, having won all 5 games against teams below them in the final 8 and having lost the 3 games against teams above them.

St Kilda have the worst record of any team in the finals, having won just 2 of their 10 contests against fellow-finalists, one against the Eagles in Round 17 and one against the Blues in Round 24. West Coast have the next-worst record having won just 37.5% of their ludicrously sparse 8 contests against other teams in the 8.

The Blues' and Dons' records are not much better at 4.5 from 11 for them both, in the Dons' case without the redeeming feature of a percentage in excess of 100. Indeed, the Dons' record would have been even worse if not for their 1 point win against the Swans and 4 point victory over the Cats.

In short, no team from positions 4 through 8 on the ladder has a better than 50% record against other teams in the 8.

Still, even these teams' records are far better than those of the Roos in 9th and the Dogs in 10th, who each managed just 1 victory against teams in the 8 across the entire season, each of these wins coming in the second half of the season. The Roos' sole victory came from their clash with the 8th-place finishing Dons in Round 13, and the Dogs' lone win - a more impressive one - came against the Blues in Round 16.

Despite this, the Roos and the Dogs finished the season with higher MARS Ratings than the Dons. This is partly because three of the Roos' losses against teams in the top 8 were by less than 2 goals, and two more were by 3 goals or less, and because two of the Dogs' losses were by 2 goals or less.

As well, both the Roos and the Dogs made hay from playing teams (yes, like the Suns) from outside the top 8, as the following table demonstrates.

In the Roos' case, almost 27 Ratings Points (RP) came at the expense of teams from outside the top 8 and, in the Dogs' case, almost 23 RP were similarly acquired.

This puts the Roos behind only West Coast (33 RP), Collingwood (31 RP) and Carlton (27 RP) in wrenching Ratings Points from weaker teams, and puts the Dogs behind only Hawthorn (26 RP) and Geelong (25 RP), in addition to these teams.

It's interesting to note how poorly the Dons performed against the teams from outside the 8. They netted fewer than 10 RP from these contests, and it's on this basis that claims about their unworthiness to participate in the finals might be founded.

Sydney also made little of their opportunities when playing weaker teams, netting just over 11 RP themselves.

On a per game basis, the teams that performed best against finalists were, in order, Hawthorn, West Coast, Collingwood and Geelong (the competition's top 4 teams), and the teams that performed worst were, again in order, the Dogs, Melbourne, Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast.

Best performed against the non-finalists were Collingwood, Carlton, West Coast and Geelong, and worst performed were Gold Coast, Adelaide, Port Adelaide and Fremantle.