March Madness is upon us, and scorecards in Sports Illustrated's 2009 NCAA Tournament Preview suggest that you don't want to pick your team based on the number of players who perfected their free-throwing technique way back when in the family driveway. UCLA guard Darren Collison may have the best scorecard, making free throw shots 91.2% of the time. But Utah has the best overall average this season, at 78.4%. Still, Utah doesn't even have one of the top 10 free-throwers. No matter. The better free-throw-shooting team does not have an edge in games where free throws decide the game. In fact, the best free-throw teams only win about half the time in games decided by up to three points, according to SI's data.
Any one player can be the best free-thrower, but it's consistency across the whole team that matters most. The same is true in stock strategies: Anybody can make an outstanding pick, but it's consistency across the record that counts. My deep-in-the-money (DITM) call options trading system, which you can follow through my Nails on the Numbers newsletter, has such a record: 96-1. It's a winning streak I'm proud of. In the past week, I've gone for Microsoft ( MSFT), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and -- yesterday's pick -- Halliburton ( HAL). I expect all these picks to ring the bell for me this year. Both Microsoft and Halliburton won for me repeatedly last year. Other big bets that paid off handsomely in 2008 include picks General Electric ( GE), Archer-Daniels-Midland ( ADM) and Garmin ( GRMN).