Texas Tech, and Maximizing Value by Utilizing the Open Parlay
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Over the past couple of days, I’ve told you why Kentucky is overvalued, how Duke should be part of any complex futures positions you’re taking and I talked a lot about different ways of playing the market.
So now, I’m going to do something really simple. I’m going to tell you the one team I’m going to bet on to win the title, and how I will be doing it in an unconventional way.
I’m selecting this team for a combination of factors. Its metrics are really strong, top 50 in adjusted offensive efficiency and top five in adjusted defensive efficiency. In a lot of ways, this team fits the profile of what a champion looks like historically. It is the equal of many teams being priced much lower in the market on paper.
It has a star player, but also other options in crunch time who are trustworthy. This team is athletic and it doesn’t turn the ball over. It is very well-coached.
The team is Texas Tech, and it is currently about 27-1 to win the title.
But we can get so much more than 27-1, and that’s the best part.
Yes, Texas Tech’s path is much more difficult than that of, say, Kentucky, but this Red Raiders team may have just survived the biggest test of any team left in the tournament.
You see, Florida (Tech’s opponent last round) is very unpredictable. When the Gators are great, they are truly great. They had made the Sweet 16 every year since 2011. Then, when they’re not great, they get swept by a team such as Georgia over the span of 15 days, which happened this season.
Well, Florida was great for a lot of last Saturday’s game (just not the final 10 seconds). The Gators played with incredible defensive pressure. They had incredible energy. In many ways, this was the Florida team that beat Gonzaga, and gave Duke fits at the start of the season.
So how did Texas Tech handle that type of test?
The Red Raiders played phenomenal 3-point defense, contesting as many shots as possible (Florida shot 6-of-22 from beyond the arc). Despite a level of defending on both sides that was better than any other tournament game this year, the Red Raiders turned the ball over only eight times. And on the key sequence of the game, Texas Tech perfectly ran a play to get Zhaire Smith an alley-oop from Keenan Evans for the game’s most critical basket.
Villanova and Duke won by much greater margins, but this win was the most impressive victory over the weekend. Most teams don’t survive that Florida game.
The road doesn’t get easier. The Red Raiders will play Purdue and most likely Villanova and then Duke to get to the final (which, hilariously, will be against a much easier opponent than maybe all of those aforementioned ones). Maybe it’s me, but I don’t see that wide of a chasm between Purdue/Villanova and Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were also helped slightly by the injury to Purdue stud big man Isaac Haas.
But let’s get back to the 27-1. And how much better it can really be.
One thing to consider in any futures price is the value of that price vs. the value of an open parlay, where you would add Texas Tech’s ML at each step along the way. This is an instrument offered at a variety of offshore books.
At most, Texas Tech has four games remaining, and a four-team parlay at -110 odds pays about 12-1 at an offshore book. Tech will obviously be a significant dog at certain stages along the way, so we need to make sure the math adds up enough here that our open parlay exceeds the 27-1 we can grab in the futures market right now.
The Red Raiders are +105-ish against Purdue. We know that. Their likely Elite Eight opponent is Villanova, and the Red Raiders would be +285 against them (if West Virginia won, Tech would be in the +105 neighborhood again, not a deal-breaker).
Then, a little guesswork. Against Duke (Texas Tech’s most likely Final Four opponent), you’re looking at probably +250 to +285 again. Then, in the final, the Red Raiders get a break, because they’d be very close or even a small favorite over a lot of the teams that can advance out of that side.
So for now, let’s go with +105, +285, +250, and -110.
And you get 51-1. Boom.
Now, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying the path could get much easier due to upsets and injuries. You’re right. Let’s change it around a little.
+105 (vs. Purdue), +105 (vs. West Virginia), +250 (vs. Duke again), and -110 (vs. TBD Finalist). That’s at least equaling the 27-1 you can get in the futures market, and it’s less likely to happen than Villanova winning. Let’s try again.
+105 (vs. Purdue), +285 (vs. Villanova), +150 (vs. Kansas), and -110 (vs. TBD Finalist). 36/1. Open parlay still better.
Only when you assume West Virginia, and then Kansas in the Final Four (or worse, Clemson or Syracuse) do you see the value negated. To me, that is an unlikely enough combination to warrant an open parlay over a future. You might disagree — and that’s fine — but the point remains: Know why you’re picking one tool over the other, and feel confident about your choice before placing the bet.
Having said all this, Texas Tech could go out and get thumped by Purdue, because it’s the tournament, and so many outcomes and permutations are possible.
But if the Red Raiders are nearly the equal of the other teams — and I think they are — I’ll take their price over anyone else’s.
Top Photo: Texas Tech Red Raiders players celebrate a victory against the Florida Gators in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament); credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports