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Against the Spread Trends for NBA Handicapping
by - 2/8/2013

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New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony

Betting on the NBA can be a difficult proposition for a sports bettor. There are well over 1,000 games to wager on each season and multiple games to bet on each night. The overwhelming number of games can be enough to intimidate even the most experienced bettor. If you, as a gambler, do not sit down and do some serious pre-wager analysis, betting the NBA can, at times, be a shot in the dark. The best way to get a grip on the specific ATS trends that matter at the moment would be to analyze each and every team in the NBA — which would be extremely time consuming. And who has the time for that? However, another great place to start your analysis is at the top and begin by analyzing general ATS trends and their impact on the current NBA season.

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Here is a quick look at some general NBA trends such as home and away favorites, home and away underdogs, and the impact they are currently having on the NBA season.

General NBA ATS trends

If an oddsmaker is doing his job well, then he should be setting lines that are covering exactly 50 percent of the time. It should not matter what category that we look at, because if odds are spot on everything should break-even. Large spreads should be covered half the time, and so should small spreads, home favorites, away favorites, and teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back. But, of course, that is not always the case, as it is rare that gambling lines will break exactly even. For gamblers, we can take advantage of any lines that are off by a large margin and make a profit betting them.

Let’s take a quick look at a few ATS categories and their win/loss percentage to see if anything stands out that we can take advantage of.

Away Teams: 353-363-16; 49.30 percent
Home Teams: 363-353-16; 50.70 percent

Favorites: 366-350-16; 51.12 percent
Underdogs: 350-366-16; 48.88 percent

Away Favorites: 111-108-3; 50.68 percent
Away Dogs: 242-255-13; 48.69 percent

Home Favorites: 255-242-13; 51.31 percent
Home Dogs: 108-111-3; 49.32 percent

Just by taking a quick glance at the ATS trends, we see that the oddsmakers are releasing spot-on lines, which are close to breaking-even in every category — none of the categories are more than 2 percent apart. But the one area that has the biggest gap is home favorites and away dogs. The home favorite is winning at 51.31 percent rate, which, depending on the type of juice, or vig, that you get, is already a positive expected value bet and would bring a profit of $0.19 for every $100 you bet on them. Sure, 19 cents for every $100 is not a spectacular amount to win, but, the point is, home favorites are a winning bet this season. Here is a quick look at the same ATS categories and their current expected values for every $100 bet.

(Note: the expected value on these bets is calculated using a -105 vig, which you can get at 5Dimes)

Away Teams: -$3.93 for every $100 bet
Home Teams: -$1.06 for every $100 bet   

Favorites: -$0.20
Underdogs: -$4.79

Away Favorites: -$0.44
Away Dogs: -$4.52

Home Favorites: +$.019
Home Dogs: -$3.89

So what exactly do these numbers mean? First, they mean that betting on the NBA is difficult because sportsbooks are releasing very solid odds. Second, they mean that home teams, favorites, away favorites, and home favorites are currently offering you the best chance at winning.

Sure, with excellent analysis and a little bit of luck, a bettor can make any of those categories a winning proposition. However, gamblers may want to start looking for teams to bet in those categories that are offering the best expected value odds. Most of them are currently negative, but overcoming something as small as 44 cents should not be too difficult for a smart gambler. Remember to bet wisely, and may the spread be with you.

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