It's Pay Attention Time In The NBA
Smart Money Just Added Insurance To Winning 50-Unit
NIT Game Of Year As Dayton Beat Ole Miss 68-63
50-Unit Play On Thursday Night's Title Game
It's Pay Attention Time In The NBA As Western
Conference Teams Work To Avoid Lakers In 1st Round
Every Team In Playoff Picture Is Incentive Driven
Detroit Pistons Dead Team Walking With 8 Straight Losses
And Refusing To Spend One Ounce of Energy On Defense
Giving Up 110 Points Per Game As Opposition Shoots 53.9%
By Kelso Sturgeon
There is little confusing about the sports betting world after one figures out what it is and then handicap and wager in the not-so-obvious reality of it all. Much of what the public believes about betting sports such as football, basketball and baseball is more fiction than fact and in most cases lays the groundwork for most to lose.
One element that drives this point home is that of "smart" money, which may or may not be that smart. The first thing I learned when I left my beloved East Coast and move to Las Vegas 16 years ago was there were a 100 or so truly sharp and feared sports bettors in Las Vegas and literally thousands of people who followed them.
Bookmakers made their money off the "followers".
As a student and observer of the game as it was/is conducted in Las Vegas and at the offshore sports books, here are some of the things I have learned.
Almost all early money bet on college basketball games is truly smart money.
Almost all early money bet in the NBA is on totals, because sharp bettors believe the numbers are weak and that they have the edges to beat them
At least 50% of all the money early money bet on NBA totals is wagered in hopes of manipulating numbers up and down in order to give sharps the opportunity to go for middles.
If you want to know where the smart money is going on Major League Baseball one has to hook up with a sports book somewhere in the world that will tell you where bettors from Asia wagered their money at the open.
In both college football and the National Football League, the smart money is right just 50.0% of the time, give or take a point or two.
The issue of "smart" money is one that deserves more comment and in the coming days I will try to address each one, especially as it concerns the NBA and Major League Baseball which begins Sunday.
Smart Money Helps In 50-Unit NIT Win
While I have struggled the past week with my March Madness basketball plays I got the money last night with my 50-unit NIT Game of the Year as the Dayton Flyers (-1) knocked off Mississippi, 68-63. Smart money figured in my decision to take a major stand on Dayton, as is explained in the comments I shared with clients. Please note that which I have underlined.
NIT Game of the Year
Played at Madison Square Garden, New York City
Dayton (23-12) -1.5 over Mississippi (24-10)
Prediction: Dayton by 8-9
Dayton 68, Mississippi 63
Comments: When this season began Dayton was a Top 20 team and a team many felt would win the Atlantic 10. The talent was there but it just did not happen-until now. Dayton arrives at the NIT semifinals on the strength of a home win over Illinois State, 63-42, and power wins on the two toughest home courts in the country-a 77-71 victory at Illinois and an 81-66 blowout win at Cincinnati. For the record the Flyers were 3.5-point underdogs in those two games. Dayton is playing its best basketball right now and can bring the heat on defense that can make any team wilt. Ole Miss has to be respected. The Rebels are a very quick and athletic team and arrived here by winning three NIT games at home but my vote remains with the Dayton defense. Also getting consideration in taking Dayton as a 50-unit play in this game is the early wiseguy betting action. Mississippi opened as a 2-point favorite but the heavy hitters have driven the number 3.5 points the other way, and this represents the powerful collective opinion of some of the sharpest bettors in the world. All early money is smart money.
I am very cautious about smart money, regardless of the sport, but a check with several sports books revealed the Dayton money was coming from the elite among big bettors and it served as insurance to a decision I had already made to take a stand on the Flyers in this game.
The results also supports my belief all early money and college basketball is smart money and when it shows needs to get more than a cursory glance.
For the record, I am half-way through a four-year study on the importance of early money and smart money in college basketball and saying early money is right most of the time on anecdotal evidence. It will be two more seasons before I can say this thought is backed up by facts.
As for college football, several studies have been done-one by me-and it is an absolute fact smart money is right but 50% of the time, which means it is wrong 50% half the time. This certainly is food for thought for those who tend to be followers.
It's Pay Attention Time In NBA
NBA teams all have eight or nine games left to play and even this late in the season have much for which to play.
In the NBA Eastern Conference, four teams-Cleveland, Orlando, Atlanta and Boston-have all qualified for the playoffs. Milwaukee, Miami and Charlotte are close but Toronto and Chicago are still locked in a battle for the eighth and final sport.
With many NBA teams, the issue of incentive is a non-factor, since many teams simply show up when they are in the mood, but if two teams in the East have a reason to keep winning it is the Toronto Raptors (36-37 and 21 ½ games in back of top-seeded Cleveland) and the Chicago Bulls (35-39 and 23 games back).
In the NBA Western Conference, where the true power lies, the eight playoff teams has all but been decided, since ninth place Memphis is 15 ½ games in back of the Los Angeles Lakers and four games behind eighth-place San Antonio, with just nine games to go.
The fact the eight playoff teams has been decided does not mean the seven teams behind the Lakers are resting on their success. Nobody wants to meet Los Angeles in the opening round and will play their guts out right now to avoid that series. If the playoffs began today, San Antonio would have to open in Los Angeles.
NBA Handicapping Thoughts And Hints
Phoenix Suns wrapped up their spot in the playoffs with last night's 111-105 win at Chicago. The Suns are 17-4 since the All-Star break, are 9-1 in their last 10 and have won eight straight. They are 7.0-point favorites at New Jersey tonight.
Portland Trail Blazers are playing their best basketball of the season right now and are 11.0 home favorites tonight over the New York Knicks. Portland comes into this game off three straight wins, getting the job done at Oklahoma City, 92-87, at New Orleans, 112-101 and at home against Dallas, 101-89. Portland is 11-2 in its last 13 games and needs to win two of its last eight games to insure its spot in the playoffs.
Miami Heat are a 6.5 or 7.0-point favorite (depending on where you bet) tonight at the Detroit Pistons, Miami has won its last five games and is 11-3 in its last 14 and is playing excellent basketball right now. Detroit shows all the signs of a team that has given up on the season. The Pistons are 1-9 in their last 10 games, have lost eight straight and in those eight losses have shown no interest in spending any energy playing defense, giving up an average of 110.0 points per game as their opponents have hit an average of 53.9% per game.
Cleveland Cavaliers are 9.5-point home favorites over the Milwaukee Bucks and are 15-2 in their last 17 games, with their last loss coming at Milwaukee, 92-85, March 6. Of note is the fact Cleveland has the best home court record in the NBA this season, standing 32-4 there this season.
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