Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A story about college basketball and the mob

The New York Times has an interesting story about how easy it is for gamblers to fix college basketball games.

Smaller favorites — teams favored by 12 or fewer points — beat the spread almost exactly 50 percent of the time, showing how good those oddsmakers are at their jobs. But heavy favorites cover in only 47 percent of their games. There is little chance that the difference is due to randomness.

This is not persuasive by itself, because there are some obvious explanations besides point shaving. Heavy favorites may remove their best players at the end of the game, for instance, or simply slack off, not caring what their winning margin is.

But here's Mr. Wolfers's smoking gun: this slacking off seems to happen only when a game is decided by something close to the point spread. Heavy favorites actually blow away the spread just as often as everyone else. But they win by barely more than the spread a lot less often than slight favorites do.

There is a strange dearth of games in which 12-point favorites win by, say, 13 or 16 points. And there are a lot of games that they win by 11 points or slightly less. There is just no good explanation for this.

Nor is there a good explanation for me not to start fixing basketball games. I just need some muscle. Anybody out there good with an icepick?


Anonymous mwr said...

I play in a basketball league and whenever we're up by about 7 buckets it seems to go even for the rest of the game.

ya, I'm pulling in big time money on the side.. the underground 3 on 3 rec league bookies love me... but really it's just coincidence

11:47 AM  

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