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And So It Goes....

Overall: 7-1-0 (0.875)
Basis Function: Daubechies4

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Monday, May 4, 2009

May 4th, 2009 Picks

1-2-1 today and I’ll consider myself lucky to get that. My first pick was Cagliari to win or draw. Palermo came out the aggressors and after a goal directly from a free kick by Fabrizio Miccoli at 38’ allowed the pink-blacks to take a 2-0 lead into the half. Jeda pulled Cagliari back to within one shortly after halftime but Palermo responded with 3 straight goals. Palermo collected three points and won the match 5 to 1.

My second pick was Sporting Gijon. After Cagliari was deicmated it was certainly a “Ah hell, Gijon it is” moment. Gijon took the lead at 61’ and appeared to be headed to victory, but Etxeberría headed a pass on over to Amorebieta who headed it on in for the equalizer in injury time. The final score was Sporting Gijon 1, Athletic Bilbao 1 for the push.

My third pick was the Houston Astros. Both Wandy Rodriguez and Jo-Jo Reyes gave up three runs before being relieved in the 6th inning with Reyes being credited for a fourth earned run after a batter he had walked was batted in by a sacrifice fly. Houston did a great job advancing and scoring runners with 4 of their 7 runs coming from sacrifices. Atlanta’s bullpen gave up a couple of extra runs to decide the game, Houston 7, Atlanta 5. LaTroy Hawkins got the save for the Astros.

My final pick was the Chicago White Sox. I really should stop being so stubborn as the absences of Dye, Thome, Pierzynski, and Getz were certainly felt. The Sox were able to get hits off of Harrison, but with runners in scoring position Harrison did a great job of avoiding walks and preventing hits. The infielders for the Rangers also did a terrific job. Ian Kinsler started the game with a solo home run for the second time in this series and the Rangers combined for 10 hits and 5 runs in 51/3 innings off of Danks. So on to the picks.

1) Deccan Chargers vs. Chennai Super Kings – Chennai
2) Empoli @ Bari – Empoli win or draw
3) Pittsburgh Penguins @ Washington Capitals – Washington
4) Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees – New York
5) Orlando Magic @ Boston Celtics – Boston
6) Philadelphia Phillies @ St. Louis Cardinals – St. Louis
7) Los Angeles Angels @ Oakland Athletics – Oakland
8) Yao Ming vs. Kobe Bryant – Ming pts. and reb.

1) For this match cricinfo.com has one of the most informative previews I’ve seen for any sporting event. Click here to get the scoop on lineups, stats, and recent form this season. Deccan Chargers won their first meeting with Chennai this season mainly due to a fast start by Deccan and a poor finish by the Super Kings’ batsmen. Chennai have a run rate of 9.00 per over this season compared to 8.30 per over for Deccan. Deccan have the better bowlers, so Chennai will need their fielders to prevent outs and will need more solid batting all down their order. There’s a real risk Deccan could win the game by taking wickets, but they haven’t done too well in that aspect so far this tournament. Chennai are favored 4/6 to 6/5 for Deccan in this match.


Bari are currently 1st in Serie B with a game in hand on 2nd place Parma. They are virtually guaranteed a spot in Serie A next season as they are 10 points clear of 3rd place Livorno who have 12 points possible from their remaining four matches. A win over Empoli would clinch their promotion to Serie A. Unfortunately, Bari have had difficulty collecting three points at home against opponents in the top half of the table with a loss to Parma, and draws against Ascoli and Vicenza in their 6 most recent home matches. Empoli are playing for a chance at promotion to Serie A. They are currently one point behind Grosseto for the final playoff spot. They lead Grosseto in goal differential so even a draw at Bari would give them that spot for the moment. Empoli have been quite inconsistent on the road with a draw at 3rd place Livorno and 6th place Grosseto, but a loss to 14th place Pisa in their last 5 away matches. Bari are favored to win with a 45% chance, and a draw is being given 32% odds. Bari is only favored given their chances of winning by 1, 2, 3, or more goals, however. A draw is the most likely single result, with Bari by 1 the next most likely and Empoli by 1 the third most likely result. If either team is leading at the half they will have a great advantage, as Bari have lost or drawn all 5 home matches in which they’ve trailed at the half and Empoli have lost all 5 such away matches.

5) The Boston Celtics open their second round series at home against the Orlando Magic. The Celtics will be without Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe who have both gone down with knee injuries. That leaves Kendrick Perkins, Glen 'Big Baby' Davis, and Brian Scalabrine to contain the inside presence of Dwight Howard, the outside presence of Hedo Turkoglu, and the inside-outside game of Rashard Lewis. The Celtics are wise to focus on their mismatches in the front court instead of relying on their advantages in the back court. Rajon Rondo should be able to dominate the game on both ends against Rafer Alston so look for him to have another all-star series. With Courtney Lee out the Magic will rely on J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus at shooting guard. The key for Boston will be keeping their big men out of foul trouble while still playing physical defense against Turkoglu and Howard and for Ray Allen, and Rondo, to exploit their matchups at the guard positions. Paul Pierce should do a fine job on Lewis, limiting his drives to the basket and his open three point attempts. Orlando will need to bother Pierce, Allen, and Rondo to have a chance here, but they'll have to do it without forgetting about Perkins and Davis who are quite capable of scoring upwards of 20 points. With the Celtics' bench featuring Eddie House, Stephon Marbury, Tony Allen, and Mikki Moore they are the deeper team and I expect that to make the difference should the game end up being close.

6) The St. Louis Cardinals return home, facing the Philadelphia Phillies in an attempt to keep pace with the Dodgers for best record in MLB. The Cardinals will start pitcher Kyle Lohse who is having a terrific start to the season. In 5 games started he has recorded an ERA of 1.97 to go with a WHIP of 1.03. His ground out to fly out ratio of 0.97 speaks to his control and ability to keep his pitches in the lower half of the strike zone. In 119 at bats the Phillies' current roster has a batting average of .202 and a .311 slugging average. Lohse has a sore knee, but he had that and a stomach virus when he faced the Braves last week and pitched 6 scoreless innings while giving up only 4 hits. The Phillies have struggled a bit at the plate in their last three games, batting .235 and slugging .373 while scoring only 11 runs. Every pitcher has a bad day, but Lohse's houdou figures to keep the Phillies' bats aslumber. That doesn't speak well for Joe Blanton who required a ton of run support just to garner two 'no decisions' in his first 4 starts. His 8.41 ERA is fairly bad, and his 1.97 WHIP is even worse. He stats from previous years suggest he is overdue for a solid performance, but it's unlikely he can match Lohse's game score. Philadelphia can win games by shelling the opposition's bullpen, but St. Louis can match them in that aspect. Truly, the only way I can see Philadelphia winning today is if Lohse's arm turns to rubber and the Cardinals' bullpen suddenly turns south.

8) Well, lesson learned from yesterday is that it's better to look at a players' production from the season and playoffs overall, rather than just the tiny subset of playoff games. Looking at the red line showing the distribution for Yao over the season and the yellow line showing Kobe's regular season distribution it appears Yao averages slightly more points and rebounds in away games than Kobe averages points in home games. Taking a look at the bar charts it's clear Yao has more games over 30 and that Kobe is the player who's shown he can defer on scoring and end up with under 20 points. In this Game 1 it will be interesting to see if Andrew Bynum gets his starting job back from Lamar Odom. I would not be surprised to see the offense run through Pau Gasol, and the risk with taking Ming here is that the Lakers will be trying to get Ming to commit fouls. The Rockets will rely on Shane Battier and, at times, Ron Artest to slow Bryant down. Look for Kobe to get his teammates involved on offense, and for that role to continue until the Lakers are down. Look for the Lakers to front Yao and defend him one-on-one until he turns inside to move towards the basket or take that fall away jumper. If the Lakers are quick with bringing the double team over Yao will find it difficult to score points. This should be close, but you never know when one player will be taken out of the offense.