Duke University Basketball as an Investment Opportunity

Investing in the Blue Devils

As we often do here at the ScoreMetrics lab, we test theories to see if they hold up to our rigorous standards in hopes that we can find long lasting patterns that can turn into profits. Today, we assigned Mikka the job of taking a deep dive into one of the powerhouses of NCAA basketball and finding what, if any, investment opportunities are there. The data is fascinating but is it enough to invest your capital into? Read on to find out and remember, if you are looking to get into zero correlation sports investing and learn how to build your own systems, check out John Todora’s new book Zero Correlation Investing – The ScoreMetrics Secret. You won’t regret it. – Anthony

The Duke University basketball program is one of the most acclaimed in the country. The Blue Devils have won 5 NCAA Championships and have an all-time winning record of 71%.  The program recruits and develops the best of the best with an astonishing 30 Duke alumni currently play in the NBA. Ranked number 3 in the country right now, they hold a 15-3 record at the time of writing.

In this article the ScoreMetrics lab evaluates Duke as an investment opportunity. As always, we are looking to spot long-term patterns and not just  current trends with a good ROI to support your investment decisions.

Take a look at what we discovered.

O/U (Over/Under)

Let’s start the case for investment opportunities in the Blue Devils’ basketball program by looking at Over/Under trends. Duke have hit the over 66.7% of the time so far this season in 18 games played. That’s a 27% ROI if you would have invested in the over with an equal amount in each game this season.

Impressive, but should we expect this trend to continue? Let’s look at some historical data.

Since the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, Duke have hit the over 49.2% of the time and have gone under in 50.7% of their 338 games played. Time evens things out as is to be expected. However, there are a couple of very interesting patterns to be found when we start dissecting the O/U data.

During that same period of time since 2010, the Blue Devils have gone over 59.5% of the time in 87 games when they have had a rest advantage over their opponents. With equal rest compared to their opponents, they’ve hit the under 56.8% of the time in a total of 155 games. We’re looking at a 13% and an 8% ROI respectively. The O/U becomes a coin toss when Duke have had a rest disadvantage. 

The rest advantage and equal rest patterns hold up over shorter periods of time as well. With a rest advantage over their opponents, Duke have gone over 56.8% of the time since 2015, 63.6% since 2017 and similarly 63.6% since 2018. They’ve hit the under 59% of the time since 2015, 57.7% since 2017 and 64.7% since 2018 when they’ve had equal rest compared to the opposing team.

We love patterns that hold up here at the ScoreMetrics lab and see these two as interesting investment opportunities to explore further.

ATS (Against the spread)

Duke have covered the spread in 55.6% of their games this season. That number goes down to 51.6% when we look at the data since 2010. The only longer-term statistical edge we discovered here at the ScoreMetrics labs is Duke’s ATS% of 55.8% since 2010 when they’ve had equal rest compared to their opponents. But this one hasn’t held up in recent years. That number goes down to 50.6% since 2015, 51.9% since 2017 and 44.1% since 2018. 

Other than that, there’s nothing very interesting to be spotted in home/away splits or rest data when it comes to ATS.

Moneyline

If you’re not too familiar with gambling in sports as an investment, putting some money down on Duke winning games would seem like a good move. Since 2010, they have a record of 279-68. They’ve won 91.8% of their home games during that period of time. They’re always among the top NCAA basketball teams during any given season and they rarely lose games.

But the bookmakers are well aware of this, so the market for investing in Duke’s moneyline is pretty dry. If you would have invested a hundred dollars on a Duke win in each of their regular season games since 2010, you would be looking at a whopping return of $180 (a ROI of 0.7%). 

There have been seasons with positive and negative ROI along the way, but it’s hard to find a good moneyline investment case for Duke games.

Conclusion

The ScoreMetrics labs discovered two long-term patterns with good investment opportunities for Duke basketball. Investing in the over when Duke have a rest advantage and in the under when they’ve had equal rest compared to their opponents have been good moves for the past 10 years.

One could argue that looking for patterns over longer periods of time in NCAA basketball is void in this one-and-done era where star recruits only stay for one year and a top-tier program basically fields a new team each season. The counter to that would be that a prestigious program like Duke is able to recruit top talents every season and get the best out of them under the guidance of Coach K, who is on his 40th season with the Blue Devils.

Here’s one thing to consider for the rest of this season that could have an effect on Duke’s ATS and O/U. As noted by ESPN’s Paul Sabin, Duke are converting 3-pointers at a respectable 36% rate this season. That ranks them 40th in the nation and is a major improvement from their miserable 26% conversion rate last season. However, they’re not even among the top 300 teams in the country in the number of threes taken per game. If they start jacking up more long shots, their scoring average could see a major boost. 

We’ll keep our eye out on that.

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