NCAAB Final Four

As you’ve probably noticed from the questions I ask Scott Shapiro in the BetAmerica.com video series “Beginner’s Corner,” I’m—well—a beginner!

But a beginner doesn’t mean stupid, and I thought I was on to the Rosetta stone of sports betting when the line came out for the NCAA men’s Division 1 championship game with the University of Virginia ceding 1 point to Texas Tech.

I immediately texted the aforementioned Shapper da Capper. “Scott, why would you ever take a point in basketball? It can’t help you win!”

To wit, when you receive 1 point, these are the possible outcomes:

  1. You win outright and didn’t need the point anyway
  2. You lose by 1 point and push your bet
  3. You lose

So the point is push insurance; is it worth it?

My feeling was it’s not, but thankfully in a data rich sports betting environment we don’t need to rely on “feel.” To twist the great “We’ve got that ‘B’ roll” video, “We’ve got that data!”

Well, I don’t have that data, but I knew someone who does. I messaged The Action Network’s John Ewing and told him my question. I worked with John when he helped launch Predicteform.com  as part of PredictionMachine, and thankfully he was more than willing to help now.

My bankroll will be especially thankful because my hypothesis was dead wrong.

In NCAA men’s Division 1 tournament games since 2005 there have been 64 1-point underdogs, and they are 26-38 straight up for a loss of 11.97 units. 4 of those 38 losses were by 1 point, making the against-the-spread record 26-34-4 for a loss of just 9.46 units.

“Pushes matter,” John concluded.

To quote .38 Special, “I was wrong and I admit it.”