Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Evidence of Point Shaving in College Basketball

Since the NCAA tournament starts tomorrow (I don't really count the play-in game), here is a college basketball related story:

An economist at Penn argues that point shaving occurs in 5% of games with large spreads. The interesting part is how he examines the data for clues that this is happening. It is very similar to the chapter on cheating teachers in Freakonomics.

(Source: Freakonomics Blog)


Carl Youngdale said...

Since some teams are easily a head and shoulders above the teams they play in the NCAA tournament, the opportunity for some extra income on the side arises. If player's feel confident about their team's win, but take bets on the spread, then the player might decide to throw the spread in order to win some money. It's all about how comfortable the player (or the coach influencing the player) feels about the win. Obviously they wouldn't throw an entire game, it's the NCAA tournament, no one could live with that shame.

Anonymous said...

Sports gambling like this happens all the time in basketball or baseball. It is not a question of gambling on close games, but games in general. If someone wanted to win a huge bet on a major upset, they could pay off one of the players on the team that a lot of people expect to win. That way, when the odds increase, the guy who betted against the favorable team wins all of the other gamblers' money if he can front some money to the player that would shave the points, and pay him a percentage of the bet won after the game. It almost never works the other way of a player betting for his team to win, because if he wants money, he'll bet against and have a bad night. I wouldn't doubt that 5 percent of the large wins in the NCAA contain point shaving schemes, because that probably explains some of the upsets that happen in the tournament.

David Wyant

Anonymous said...

In response to Carl's comment about no one throwing an entire game, i think you are wrong buddy! I think that if it just happened to be the correct player, he may just throw a game to make the money. It happened in baseball, why not basketball?

Thats the way the cookie crumbles...Jeff