Friday, February 16, 2007

Trading the Big Ten

The guys over at PROTRADE contacted me a few weeks to talk about how the market for various Big Ten teams was looking. If you're not familiar with Protrade, it's a sports stock market that is free to play. You sign up and they give you $25,000 to spend on various individual professional athletes or NCAA basketball teams. Then you get paid based on how the athletes/teams do. Here's how the payoffs break down for basketball teams:

* $3 for each Div I regular season win
* $5 for each conference tournament win
* $5 for each NIT Tournament win
* $20 for each NCAA Tournament win
* $10 for qualifying for the NCAA Tournament
* $10 for making the Final Four
* $10 for making it to the Championship game
* $10 for winning the Championship

And here are the teams and how they're trading right now:

WISCONSIN
Trading at: $218.45
Analysis: What you're paying for when you purchase shares of Wisconsin is a national title game appearance. If you think they're going to go that far, spend away. This price is going to fluctuate based on the way the Ohio State game goes on the 25th. Think the Badgers are going to win that one? BUY now (or, wait and see if they barely squeak by Penn State or Michigan State; their stock may drop and you might be able to pick them up for less.)

OHIO STATE
Trading at: $204.55
Analysis: With games at Minnesota, against Penn State, against Wisconsin, and at Michigan, the Buckeyes will finish the season 3-1 at worst or 4-0 if they knock off the Badgers. That would give them 26 regular season wins. Even with a Big Ten Tournament win and an undefeated regular season, you're still looking at losing money unless the Buckeyes make the championship game. I don't see that happening so I'd say SELL.

INDIANA
Trading at: $108.25
Analysis: The Hoosiers have 17 wins right now and should finish the season with 21. They'll make the tournament and get a couple Big Ten tourney wins as well. That projects to $83. After last night's loss to Purdue, their stock dropped considerably (hurting my portfolio), but if this team makes the Sweet 16 you're virtually assured a profit. IU could be one of those six-seeds that nobody wants to see, and as they've shown with the Badgers they're a threat to beat anyone, any night. I'd BUY their stock.

MICHIGAN STATE
Trading at: $94.39
Analysis: This is a tough call to make. The Spartans have two shots to get marquee wins against Wisconsin before the end of the regular season. They only have one sure-thing win on the schedule, though, and I really feel they'll be in the NIT when all is said and done. However, they'd be a real threat to win that tournament. And if they do get to the Big Dance, they're a threat to win there too (although they won't be taking the whole thing.) I think the Spartans are currently a BUY, but maybe it would be best to wait on that till after the Badgers beat them.

ILLINOIS
Trading at: $81.68
Analysis: Probably a BUY as well. They could very well not realize a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament, and a first-round win might be the extra $5 they need to push their stock into profitability. Right now, the Illini have 18 wins, so a NCAA tourney bid and a single win would put them at $84 -- higher than where they are right now.

PURDUE
Trading at: $72.99
Analysis: Here's the deal: the Boilermakers have 17 wins and four games remaining. Those games are against Iowa, Northwestern, and twice against Minnesota. That smells like three wins to me. A win in the conference tournament and a NCAA Tournament bid makes them profitable. Even with the bump in price from yesterday's win over the Hoosiers, I'd say Purdue is, again, a BUY.

MICHIGAN
Trading at: $71.18
Analysis: This team is in a full-on meltdown, giving up over 80 points to Minnesota at home, and dates with Michigan State and Ohio State won't help that. They have 17 wins and are generally a good bet to win a couple NIT games, but for now I think they're very much a stock to avoid. SELL.

IOWA
Trading at: $49.00
Analysis: If the Hawkeyes can find two more wins, anywhere, they'll be profitable. I can see them winning two of at MSU, Purdue, at Penn State, and Illinois and stealing a win in the Big Ten tournament as well. Hell, they might even get a couple in the NIT. I find the Hawkeyes to be a good BUY.

PENN STATE
Trading at: $40.91
Analysis: In order to make money off the Nittany Lions, they'd have to win four more times. With away games against Wisconsin and Ohio State and three conference games after that, this is not going to happen. No chance. You'll lose money here. SELL. NOW.

NORTHWESTERN
Trading at: $35.47
Analysis: The 'Cats need to win twice more to be profitable. The secret is that they're playing Texas Pan-American, which has recorded losses to North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and Utah Valley State. That's a win. They get one more, you profit. I just bought a few shares of Northwestern. I say BUY.

MINNESOTA
Trading at: $32.42
Analysis: Do you think the Gophers have enough left in the tank to get two more wins? Maybe they beat Michigan at home, but I doubt it. The Gophers are cooked. SELL.