Betting On Basketball
Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world. Millions of people all over the globe enjoy watching the sport in numerous leagues and tournaments year after year.
It is similarly one of the most popular sports to bet on, with bookmakers offering a broad range of betting types and markets in which you can find many value opportunities.The most popular league in the world is the National Basketball Association in the United States. The NBA began in 1946 with just 11 teams.
Over the past six decades the league has grown to 30 teams across the North American continent attracting the best talent from not only America but in recent decades players from across Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. Each team in the NBA plays an 82 game regular season, with 41 home games and 41 away games.
Such a number of games played over a seven month period provides us with many opportunities to find value, with games played daily. But if the NBA doesn't provide you with enough opportunities, then there's always college basketball, where thousands of games are played every season, with dozens of games on the schedule night after night.
Spread betting is the most popular form of betting on basketball. It also goes by the name of Line betting. But whatever you like to call it, it is essentially a form of handicap betting. If you go to your preferred bookmaker you will see NBA games listed in the following manner:
Los Angeles Lakers -5.5 VS Boston Celtics +5.5.
What this means is that if you bet on the Lakers to beat the spread, they must win by more than 5.5 points, or in other words, their winning margin must be 6 points or greater. However if you bet on the Celtics to cover the spread, they have to win the game outright or lose by a maximum of 5 points.
Like many other sports and leagues, the average punter likes to bet on favourites. This can often mean that the market is distorted in favour of underdogs, particularly underdogs receiving large handicaps. We can look at just a few simple statistics to demonstrate this in betting on basketball.
Over the last 10 NBA seasons, teams playing away as underdogs of +12 points or greater have covered the line over 53% of time. We see similar trends in college basketball where underdogs of +17 points or greater similarly have a strike rate of over 53%. Yes, this strike rate will not make you rich any time soon. However, it displays the point that a bias exists in the market in favour of lowly regarded underdogs. Always keep this in mind when assessing your bets. When a team is often regarded as having no chance of winning the game, the spread is often in their favour.
Much in the same way that the average punter likes to bet favourites in the NBA, they also like to bet on popular teams. The most popular team in the NBA is the Los Angeles Lakers. Yes they have been a successful team over the decades, but this successful history often sees average punters throwing silly money in their direction, based purely on reputation alone. However, if we look at some simple statistics, we see that such thoughtless betting on basketball has not been particularly successful.
Over the last 10 seasons, the Lakers have a strike rate against the spread of just under 47% when playing at home as favourites. When we break this down a little further we see that the Lakers have had a very poor record when highly favoured at home. When playing at home over the last 10 seasons and favourites of -10 or greater, the Lakers have a strike rate against the spread of just 37%. A fairly remarkable number.
We see similar stats when we look at another popular team, the Boston Celtics. When home favourites of more than -10 over the last 10 seasons, the Celtics have a strike rate of 45%. Likewise the Chicago Bulls, 43%. The lesson here is that there are teams the average punter will automatically assume are good. Some of these teams are historically popular, while others like the Miami Heat are popular in the current era. It pays to find situations in which to bet against these teams or where to avoid them altogether.
Betting on the total points scored in a game is a very popular form of betting on basketball. Depending on the league or tournament, the number of points scored will vary significantly. In the NBA, point totals will land in the range of 180 to 220 points game to game, with the average in the mid 190 point range. In college and European basketball, you can expect to see point totals in the range of 120 to 160 points.
So how can you succeed betting on basketball totals? The first thing is to not pay any attention to a team's short term averages. This wont help you much. What you want to be keeping a note of are occurrences. For example, games featuring the New York Knicks may have had an average of 195 in their last 10 games. But one of those games may have been an overtime result that saw 245 points scored. This result will distort the average significantly.
So rather than depend on averages, look at how often a team's game have gone over or under a given points total. For example, if the total listed for an upcoming Knicks game is 195 points, make a record of how many times recent Knicks games have gone over or under that total. If you can identify a significant trend either over or under that 195 point line, you may want to consider taking that bet.
Another thing to consider are recent meetings between the two competing teams. This will give you a good indication of what you might expect to see in the game. Likewise, take into account how teams play when they are at home and when they are away. You can often find quite a contrast between the two. Lastly, consider the situation a team is playing in. A team may normally prefer fast paced high scoring games, but they may be at the end of a long schedule of away games and be more inclined to maintain a slow pace resulting in a lower scoring game.