Spurs-Suns Series Shoots Down Another Betting Urban Legend

Joe Duffy (www.OffshoreInsiders.com)

Over the years I’ve heard a common faulty theory
regurgitated when either a game has a large pointspread or even more
commonplace when a contest involves two teams that play opposite tempos. It entails
an if-then-else statement in which both the side and total are essentially handicapped

“If you like the big favorite you have to like the over,
but if you like the big dog, you have to like the under,” the myth goes. Even more humdrum is “If you like the up-tempo
team to cover, you have to like the over,” and I’m sure you can figure out what

In a classic illustration, I saw this drivel rear its ugly
head on gambling posting boards before the Spurs-Suns series. Phoenix
of course plays the chaotic full-court style where the shot clock is almost
irrelevant. The Spurs play a classic
half-court style where shots are generally taken with the shot clock at single
digits. Even the newspaper hacks and
talking heads on television recited the groupthink that a fast-paced game would
benefit the Suns and a slow-paced game would be to the advantage of the Spurs.

Game 5 between San Antonio
and Phoenix ended with the side
being a push. For our purpose, that’s convenient because that was the now
infamous game in which the Suns Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended,
hence from a handicapping standpoint, the results should be thrown out.

Of the remaining five games, San
won and covered three of them. All three went over the total. Phoenix
won and covered two, both of which went under the total. All five results, of
course, went against the conventional so-called logic.

This is consistent with my observations over the
years. Unless there is a push, there are
four possible combinations of a side and total: Team A and
the under, Team A and the over, Team B and the under and Team B and the over.
Random chance suggests the if-then-else fairy tale has a 50 percent chance of
being right because it says of the possible four combinations it will likely be
one of two possibilities. My educated observations says every time I hear this
theory espoused, one of the two alleged to be likely combinations hits less
than 50 percent of the time.

I always handicap sides and totals as separate entities. If anything, based on experience, I feel more
comfortable if I pick the ball control team to cover and the over, or the fast-paced
team and the under.

The domino effect of course is not going to be as
overwhelming as the Suns-Spurs series illustrates, but that example is closer
to the rule than the exception.

A big believer in contrarian handicapping, as explained in
previous articles, I can’t say there is necessarily such an angle here. But the invaluable lesson is to not inhibit
handicapping by subscribing to the popular fallacy.

Here is the if-then-else truth for sports bettors. If you
rid of the aforesaid robotic fairy tale, then your chances of winning are much

Joe Duffy is CEO of OffshoreInsiders.com
which now has the best free sports gambling match-ups, free picks,
databases and more.


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