Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Teams that choose to kickoff to start the game

Most teams in the NFL and College will decide to receive the kickoff if they win the coin toss. But there are some teams and head coaches that more often decide to defer the choice until the second half. Since most coaches decide to receive the kickoff to start the game, this means those teams where the coach decides to defer, will more often than not be kicking off. If they lose the coin toss, the other coach usually decides to receive the kickoff. If they win the coin toss, they defer and let the other coach decide who usually decides to receive.

Usually this information is not worthwhile because both teams will receive the kickoff if they win the coin toss. But every once in a while you will find a coach that defers all the time. Les Miles of LSU is one of those coaches, or so it seems from the kickoffs in the 1st Quarter during the LSU games this year. Out of the 10 games I checked, LSU kicked off in the 1st Quarter in every game. Yes, it is possible they lost the coin flip in each game, but unlikely. I do not have concrete information that they chose to defer when they won, but it is interesting probabilitistic evidence.

I took a look at the props for the Sugar Bowl where LSU plays Notre Dame. The good news is that it does look like LSU does defer their kickoffs. The bad news is that the market for props already knows this. I do not know if the linemaker of these props knew LSU likes to defer or if they got so much action that they had to move their lines.

Remember that LSU is a 8.5 point favorite. Usually this means they should be the favorite to get the first first down, the favorite to cross the midfield with the ball first, the favorite to punt last, and the favorite to convert the first 3rd down conversion. But in each of these props, it reflects Notre Dame as the favorite or a pick'em even when they are the heavy underdog. Here are some of the props I saw:

Which offense will cross the 50 yard line first:
ND -130 / LSU +100

First First Down by offense:
ND -160 / LSU +130

First Third Down Conversion into a First Down by offense:
ND -150 / LSU +120

First team to Punt:
ND -160 / LSU +130

This information may still be useful if there is a book slow to open up their props and have the old information before the line moves. But if they are uptodate, or if the lines they received were good to begin with, then it is not useful for the Sugar Bowl. It is useful to keep these things in mind just in case it happens again in the future. As in any business or money making endeavor, it is always useful to be prepared way ahead of time, so when the next similar opportunity arises, you are ready to jump on the positive EV.

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