NBA Handicapping: Referees
by Aaron Smith - 3/4/2010
Betting on the NBA is quite a bit different than betting on college basketball. In the NBA, there is a lot more data to work with because of all the information that is available about the referees. Since you can go to your computer and find the referee crew for each game before it begins, this data is extremely valuable to knowing what might be the best bet based on their tendencies. Today, I want to take a look at referees who tend to call a large amount of fouls versus those who call very few. What effect does it have on the game? How can you profit from this information?
First, let’s take a look at the referees who tend to call the most fouls per game. For this study, I have looked at data from every game they officiated last year and the games they have officiated through March 2 of this season as well. Keep in mind; the fouls per game statistics are how many fouls were called total in a game, not just by that single official.
- Scott Foster- Foster has called 44.3 fouls per game this season. He whistled 44.0 fouls per game last season. This year the points per game are at 201.3 and last year it was 201.7. The ‘over’ is 24-24 this season and was 48-30 last season in his games. In the last two years combined, the away team is 69-55 against the spread.
- Leon Wood- Wood has whistled 44.3 fouls per game this season. He called 43.9 fouls per game last season. The points per game are at an astounding 206.9 this year, and they were 204.3 last year. The ‘over’ is 32-15 this year, and it was 35-32 last year. The away team is 62-48 ATS in the last two seasons combined.
- Eric Lewis- Lewis has had 43.5 fouls per game this year and also had 43.1 last year. The points per game are at 199.2 this year, and they were 200.6 last season. The ‘under’ is 29-23 this year in his games, but the ‘over’ was 34-25 last year. The away team is 65-48 ATS in the last two seasons.
- Joe Crawford- Crawford is at 42.3 fouls called per game this season. He called 44.2 fouls per game last year. The points per game are at 201.0 this year, and they were 203.1 last year. The ‘under’ is 24-19 in his games this season, but last year the ‘over’ was a very strong 45-25. The away team has a slight edge at 56-54 ATS.
- Sean Corbin- Corbin has called 44.4 fouls per game this season. He whistled 41.9 per game last year. The points per game are at 203.6 this year, and they were 201.0 last season. The ‘over’ is 25-19 this year so far, and it was 38-30 last year as well. The away team is 59-52 ATS over the last couple seasons.
In general, what we find is probably what most people would expect. Referees who call more fouls tend to have more points per game scored, and the ‘over’ is the better side to be on. Leon Wood has been one of the strongest ‘over’ referees in the business last year and this one, while Eric Lewis has stayed fairly neutral despite calling a large amount of fouls. Obviously, this could definitely be dependent on the games they are calling. In some cases, it might actually hurt the scoring if too many fouls are called when the teams are looking to run and gun every single time down the court. As a general rule, the more free throws a game has the better the chances are of the ‘over’ being the winning side.
For comparisons sake, let’s take a look at a couple referees who tend to let the players play and avoid the whistles.
- Ken Mauer- Mauer has called 39.4 fouls per game this year. Last season he whistled just 39 fouls per game. The points per game are at 198.6 this year, and they were 195.1 last season. The ‘under’ is 23-21 so far this year, and it was 41-29 last year. The away team has a tiny edge ATS at 59-55.
- Derrick Collins- Collins has been as consistent as they come, whistling 41.1 fouls per game this year and 41.1 fouls per game last season as well. The points per game are at 197.0 this year, and they were just 195.5 last year. The ‘under’ is 29-20 on the year so far, and it was 32-25 last season as well. The home team is 60-50 ATS in these two seasons.
As you would expect, the referees who have blown the whistle less tend to have more games stay low scoring. They also have more games stay ‘under’ the posted total.
What should you make of all of this information? The bottom line here is that it appears the oddsmakers are not accounting nearly enough for which referees are assigned to particular games each day. As a bettor, make sure you look for these referee schedules and take advantage of this factor, especially when considering a bet on the posted total. Every little edge you can get on the books is extremely important, and this is just another to add to your arsenal!
Most Recent NBA Handicapping
- LA Lakers Could be in Real Trouble with LeBron and AD Injuries
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 1/20/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 1/15/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 1/13/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 1/8/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 1/6/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 1/1/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 12/30/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 12/25/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 12/23/2020 and Opening Line Report