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How to Build an NBA Betting Model in Excel

<p>AP Photos</p>

AP Photos

Sports betting is only growing as the time passes on. We are seeing more and more states start to legalize sports betting, with Maryland legalizing it late 2022 and Ohio soon to join them in early 2023. Specifically, NBA betting is growing as the industry itself grows. 

With the growing popularity betting on the NBA, we are also seeing more NBA betting strategies start to be created and analyzed as well. 

Some of these strategies are legitimately successful, such as Positive EV, while others, such as,“I gotta great feeling about the Lakers tonight”….not so profitable. 

One of these profitable betting strategies is to create your own NBA sports betting model to predict scores/outcomes/stats, and use your model to identify profitable betting opportunities.

What is a Sports Betting Model in General?

A sports betting model is a system that uses data/stats to identify profitable betting opportunities that takes out all biases. 

Essentially, if your NBA model tells you that the Celtics are going to win by 10, but the sportsbooks only have the Celtics -7, that would be a profitable betting opportunity. Of course, this assumes that your NBA model is accurate.

That last sentence is the hardest part, too. Building a sports betting model can be extremely difficult and also time consuming. 

How to Build an NBA Betting Model in Excel

As previously mentioned, the process of building a model can be difficult and also time consuming, but, if you can get it right, then it will pay dividends in the long run.

Now to get started, so let’s list out the seven steps necessary to successfully build a sports betting model:

  1. Choose Your Goal
  2. Select Metrics/Data Points
  3. Collect Said Data Points
  4. Choose Type of Model
  5. Build Your Model
  6. Test Your Model
  7. Start Cashing!

Step 1: Choose Your Goal, and Make it Specific

So you want to make money betting on the NBA, cool, got it, but your goal needs to be more specific than that. It has to be based on numbers with a more narrow focus. You should consider these questions when you are getting started:

  • What sport is this model for? (In this case, it is the NBA)
  • What edge am I looking for?
  • How long is my tracking time? (weeks, months, years, etc.)

Once you answer these simple questions and get yourself a specific focus to target, you can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Select Your Metrics/Data Points

This isn’t any more complicated than what the step says: you need to choose the metrics and data points that you are going to use in your NBA betting model. Here are examples of some:

Obviously, some metrics are going to be more helpful than others, but the general rule of thumb here is the more the merrier when it comes to data.

Step 3: Collect and Modify Stats/Data

From here, you need to actually gather the data.

You can either:

Collect The Data Yourself

Now, if you have the free time to go in and compare all the different data across all the different sportsbooks, good for you. Nothing wrong with this route, but it is the significantly more time consuming way to go.

Use Publicly Available Data Sets Online

Luckily, we live in an age where almost any type of data you are looking for is going to be available somewhere on the internet. 

Sometimes accessing the data is free, while other data is available at a cost. An example of this would be OddsJams Industry plan. This plan gives access to arbitrage bets, +EV bets, middle opportunities, AND a pre-computed perfect line to compare the book lines to. 

Step 4: Choose the Type of Model You Want to Use

This is where things can get nerdy, as there are a ton of different types of models to use. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what works for you, as long as it does actually work.

Luckily, excel has almost every necessary program required to run any of these models, here are some examples:

Regression Analysis

Regression analysis attempts to determine the important factors/metrics/data that can actually determine the future outcome of an event. Basically, it looks at historical data to predict future outcomes. 

Funny enough, the literal NFL itself used regression analysis on their own games, and came to the conclusion that passing efficiency had the highest impact on the outcome of games. 

Another popular example of regression analysis being used is with the Oakland Athletics, famously coined Moneyball, used by manager Billy Bean.

Martingale & D’alembert

This model is risky because it involves progressively betting more money if your bets lose. Martingale deals with the actual dollar amount being bet, while D’alembert deals with increasing the percentage of your bankroll that you are betting.

For example:

BetOddsW/L + PayoutTotal PayoutProfit/Loss
$120-120L $0-$120-$120
$240-120W $440$440$200

As you can see, by doubling your second bet you were able to come out positive, despite going 1-1 overall. Of course, this strategy is also extremely risky because if you go on a cold streak you are losing, and risking, a lot of money.

Insurance

This is the opposite as the above strategy, meaning that you scale back your bet size if your bet loses.

Paroli

This one is pretty easy. If your first bet wins, then go ahead and double the bet size with your next bet. If you win three times in a row then you would scale back to the original bet size that you started with.

Statistical Anomalies

This one can be tough, as sports are not played by robots, and due to that fact it is impossible to always know what is an anomaly and what is just a result of human error. 

Anomalies can include injuries, weather, scheduling advantages/disadvantages, playing at home or playing away, and much more.

Step 5: Build the Model in Excel

As mentioned, you’ll want to decide which program in excel you want to use to run your NBA model, and, most importantly, track the results. You need to know whether your model is actually working or not, and the only way to accomplish this is by tracking your results. 

Here are the three most important things to remember when it comes to building your model.

  • Track your bets and your return on investment
  • Track the metrics you are using to judge your model by
  • Understand your bet sizing strategy so you know how much money to bet

Step 6: Test the Model and Track Your Results

As mentioned before, it can be quite fun to build a model, but at the end of the day you need to know whether it actually works or not. Give yourself a large enough sample size and see the results. If you are not profitable after an adequate number of bets, then you might want to go back to the basics and re-evaluate your model. 

Step 7: Start Cashing

Having an edge in sports betting is the biggest advantage you can have. So, if you are able to build a successful, profitable model then congrats- you have given yourself that advantage. 

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