Basketball - An Introduction
Basketball is the "nervous" sport. The coaches and players aren't half as nervous as the bookies and bettors. Nationwide, the bookies reflect this attitude by limiting bets, leaving many games off the board, and "circling" a few games remaining. Circling generally cuts your betting limit in half. Even the posted games can be taken down on a moment's notice for any number of reasons. Unlike football, the game has too many subtle and hidden factors surrounding it. Home-court crowd and official intimidation, extensive travel, back-to-back big games on successive days, unknown matchups, and on and on, it's a hell of a sport to keep up with.
We have about 5,000 major college games and they are regional in nature. The best a bookie can do is keep up with a few popular teams in his area: Basketball is more popular in the Mid-west than all other regions. A college bookie rarely books the pro's and visa-versa. Most books won't take less than a $25 bet or more than $300 action. Some insist you bet at least three games in a parlay situation, etc.
Over the years, the game has been more scandal-ridden than any other sport with the possible exception of boxing. Players that have been exposed for point shaving generally play a hell of a game on offense and a stupid game on defence - and none are the wiser. The officials have too much control of the game. If one of them subconsciously "gets a case" on a coach, player, or team, his calls can frustrate a team into a lousy performance, a star can foul out, etc.
The last thing in the world a bookie wants to be hit with is a "hanger" (rigged game). Teams and coaches can legitimately be playing their hearts out and not know that they were victims of a gambling coup on the spread. It only takes one man to pull this off, and he has a little tin whistle in his mouth. Bookies have known by the action (especially southern colleges) that a few of the games "had the whistle going for 'em."
Like football, the teams are handicapped by point-spread. Bets similarly are 6-5 or ll-10pick 'em with your bookie depending on your action or reliability. Parlay cards are printed for the suckers and are handled the same as those we described for football.
The pointspread is the weakest or toughest part of the game whichever way you want to look at it. Because of the game's erraticness and unforeseen variables, the pointspread lacks the quality and doesn't reflect the wisdom of that employed in football. In contrast, the larger spreads are generally cove red by the hot-shot favourites than not. Large spreads in football are generally beat. But even then, powerful UCLA in an unbeaten season only beat the points about half the time. They were so powerful, that underdog teams figured a stall was the only tactic to use to give them a fighting chance, hence low scoring. Some experts in college ball maintain you should always "take" the points for teams on the road.
Pro-basketball is a tighter game than college ball, and the points are* spotted with a better degree of reliability. Still, when you examine the pro spread, it's hard for most bettors to "go either way" with any degree of confidence. While college teams may lock horns only once in a season, the pros meet each other several times. Therefore the bettor does have some criteria for selection based on previous recent matchups. But the jocks are only human, and many times they have a letdown after a big win.
Pro ball (NBA) is on the increase in interest and action. Fans are very cognizant of the spread, as attested sometimes by an exuberant roar for a mediocre layup in a runaway game. If their team isn't covering the spread and time is running out, they root for the other team to tie it up and send it into overtime, etc. Almost all action is in the NBA. Most bookies consider the ABA still too unbalanced to go to the trouble of setting up a line. However, some books will accommodate a regular, but only when the stronger ABA teams are playing one another like the Nets, Kentucky, or Denver. Bookies do provide over/under action with total points like 221, etc.
Factors to consider are points averaged on offense vs. points allowed on defence - the average margin on matchups. Also we could examine team shooting percentages, rebounds, assists, turnovers, foul proneness, etc. The home court has proven advantageous, and for some reason, underdogs beat the spread a lot on neutral courts (tournaments). The pundit should stick with reliable teams, but his biggest problem if he has figured an edge is to keep finding bookies.