The Eyes of Texas are upon you,
All the livelong day.
The Eyes of Texas are upon you,
You cannot get away.
Texas Fight, Texas Fight,
For it’s Texas that we love best.
Give 'em Hell, Give 'em Hell, Go Horns go!
And it good-bye to all the rest! - Burnett 'Blondie' Pharr
The Correspondent and the Old Trench Fighter retrace Princip's journey through the back streets of Sarajevo on that fateful June day in 1914 - nineteen-ninety something: Above. Click image to enlarge.
With three quarters of the field eliminated in the frantic first hundred hours of play, the resulting Sweet 16 survivors find themselves poised for a run to Championship glory. The ACC with a dismal performance as both Virginia and Duke dismantled by aggressive attacking units and State College unable to sustain the three-ball.
The opening weekend lived up to the hype as a pair of one seeds, a two, and a number of big name programs flamed out amidst the more physical style of the Big Dance. However, the bracket structure held up relatively well as only one double digit seed, number 15 Princeton, managed two wins to keep breathing.
The Sweet 16 is where it starts to get real and is an entire form to itself; one which requires a more nuanced approach in discerning the winners, losers and -- most importantly -- the pricing value. Teams have a hundred plus hours to travel to the next site, prepare a game plan and nurse those nagging bumps and bruises from the first two rounds. In the meantime, prices are up early and will begin to shift before the first set of games go Thursday.
Our futures portfolio taking heavy hits amidships as a pair of Duke tickets, Baylor, Arizona, Iowa State and State College bit the dust for a twelve unit loss. Combined with five units lost during Championship week, and we are down 17 units in this space with a pair of gun slinging guard tandems still in the fight: San Diego State (+8000)
and Miami (+4000)
(doubled volume on the 'Canes).
With the exception of the Arizona ticket losing to number 15 Princeton, all these positions were hedged one way or the other. The Duke-Tennessee game an example of proper hedging as the Vols were +130 on the money line and closed plus three and the hook on the point spread. We would have been more than pleased to lose them all (with or without the middle) to keep our monster Duke positions alive. However the reality is, even if one of our futures tickets goes all the way and brings home the gold, by definition, at some point all the others will crash.
Alas, both San Diego State and Miami meet one seeds in the next round in the form of Alabama and Houston on the short end of long odds. Hedging these tickets out the distance will be expensive but necessary to carry the day. Should they keep winning, this insurance premium pricing burden will be even heavier barring upsets in front of them.
The challenge in reaching later rounds is trying to hedge these out on the money line. Alabama opened -240
over San Diego State (Aztecs) and quickly reached -300
. This piece being written Monday morning and a quick look reveals they are now -340
. This is expensive but with the Aztecs at 80-1
on our futures tickets we have plenty of room to work with; should you be on this we will leave it to you to calculate your hedge.
This ticket is money-good in real time. Be a bond trader and assure yourself a nice profit from the correct early analysis -- if they go all the way that is merely a huge bonus for the desk.
We are kicking ourselves again for being so late to add Texas but happily we did. The Longhorns were +1800 a couple weeks ago, +1400
last week and are now +1000. We have them for six units and for the purposes of this space will list them at the current price. We like the fact they are in the same region as Miami and Houston; if they play Phi Slamma Jamma it is Hook 'em Horns time.
But first they have to get there so we will take Xavier (+4)
for five units as a hedge. If Xavier beats Texas then we win five and lose six for a slight loss but with this set-up we have the chance for the game to land in the middle -- where Texas wins by less than four and we collect the five units while Texas stays alive or if they win by four and the Xavier ticket is a push (tie).
(The Texas -- Penn State second round battle was a classic example of the middle-hedging working to perfection. Down nine and catching five and the hook with just seconds remaining, a Penn State gunner let fly from 25 feet and landed the very rare four-ball to score the middle. Doesn't happen often, but when it does it will jolt your portfolio north a level or two.)
With our futures tickets now numbering three live bodies and the hedging dynamics well understood, we take the greatest risk of the campaign so far. Against our better judgement, we turn to Farnell for insight in terms of knocking The Man for a loop these final fifteen games...
Trying to play these games individually versus the point spread means laying -110
each time a selection is made. The math tells us we need to hit 54 percent to stay in the black if all moves are with the same volume. If you can pick these games at 57-58
percent consistently then this form of stock gambling is for you -- if you have the discipline to stick to the plan. Most don't.
Acquiring futures tickets is similar to bond trading in that there is a leveraged payout down the line that can be factored through the pipeline much as a nineteenth century real bills broker would do. Keep in mind that each weekend is a separate tournament, with futures always available for a team to reach each subsequent round (Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four). Think in terms of laddering your bond portfolio for structural analysis insight.
Quality teams never go out of style and sometimes you have to pay a premium over the original price. Texas should have been acquired before the Kansas Big 12 title game when the price was still +1800
and probably quite a few did. However when you go downtown to buy the significant other that glittering rock, you will pay much more than De Beers did to the starving quarry worker digging it out of the ground. Paying retail is sometimes necessary.
Once you have these tickets wear them and wear them hard. That means to be aggressive in terms of seeking middles and landing the big payoff. And as with any high-end diamond, carry plenty of insurance on them because if the glittering ticket is acquired early enough and properly hedged, then Billy Ray Valentine busting your vase won't kick your azz.
Never confuse fashion with style and for the sake of the widow's son don't wear a regimental rep tie unless you were in -- or seconded to -- that regiment. What do we mean by fashionable? Think Arkansas and how the whole world in love with their form right now. There is absolutely no way this team goes the distance and when they flame out it won't be close.
Should you ever bump into a true Savile Road handloom tweed (Huntsman & Sons) take a moment and be amazed by the texture of the weave and the subtle blend of the primary colours -- understated is as understated does. Creighton is about as understated as you can get, yet they have bumped off Baylor and State College and now have 15 seed Princeton on deck (grandfathered legislation passed last century will prohibit some venues from posting a price on this game.)
Creighton to reach the Final Four is currently +190. They can beat overrated Alabama once they are past Princeton. Should the Aztecs pull the upset against the Tide then this move offers some nice middle ground opportunity. This ticket is worth the effort to acquire.
Don't be meshuggeneh; price is everything, especially in the Big Dance. You want to have multiple outs as pricing differentiates per platform. When battling the line, a half a point deviation can mean the difference between winning and losing. These games are tightly officiated and by the Sweet Sixteen round the numbers are razor sharp. With the money line a price change won't beat you but it will impact the yield on a winner.
Always look for value. There is nothing more irritating than to have your money line underdog lose the game but cover the number on the line. However when you look at the payoff differential between laying -110
and taking the points, and a plus 145 -- 175
dog barking with a win, those numbers should be speaking to you. If they don't then take a walk.
Things start to get very real this week as the sharps will be looking for one or two weak lines to absolutely hammer. You cannot permit real or imaginary outside global events to distract your focus from the task at hand because by this time next week only four teams will remain. Financial-sector banking collapse, World War, political intrigue or any number of distractions are out there to send gremlins your way.
Ignore them. Stay focused on The Man's record-breaking handle on this event and figure out how to cash the big ticket and lighten his bankroll. Don't be scared to take the underdog if you make them better against the opposition -- The Man does not handicap the game with his number but instead the anticipated public mindset and subsequent scared action.
We go into battle with only three rounds left in the trusty revolver: Texas (+1000)
for six units, San Diego State (+8000)
for two units and Miami (+4000)
for four units. We just need one of them still breathing this time next week to pull this thing out. The Xavier middle would be big time indeed but if either the Aztecs or Miami knock off number one in the next round, then we are likely headed for a record win.
An American never quits or leaves their fallen behind on the battlefield. When Americans run out of ammo they fix bayonets and charge the enemy like the Legion at Camaron -- because there are plenty of things in this existence worse than dying. On the hardwood that means Nigel Pack and Isaiah Wong gotta keep shooting those threes until the final whistle, because sometimes that four-ball lands late to chopper you out of the kill-zone.
Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie approve this message.