The long All-Star Break is finally over. The NBA is back.
As we enter the unofficial second half of the season, bettors should be mindful of one late season game-changer: Tanking. Although they won't admit it, the teams that are well out of the playoff race will look to lose games down the stretch in order to earn a higher draft pick.
Most teams have played 54 games. In Game 55 and beyond, when a tanking team (win percentage less than 35%) faces a team fighting for the playoffs or in the playoffs and fighting for a better seed (win percentage 47% or more), the team fighting for the playoffs is 690-611 ATS (53%) since 2005 according to Bet Labs Sports. Remember, to break even betting on sports, you need to win 52.38% of your plays assuming standard -110 juice. So blindly betting this tanking spot has been profitable for going on 15 years.
If the team fighting for the playoffs is also a road favorite, they improve to 353-264 ATS (57.2%) against tanking teams.
As you handicap your games down the stretch, remember to ask yourself these questions: Who wants it more? Who is motivated to win and play well? Which teams are packing it in and counting down for the season to end?
As it stands now, these are the tanking teams to bet against
1. Golden State Warriors .218
2. Cleveland Cavaliers .259
3. Atlanta Hawks .268
4. Minnesota Timberwolves .302
5. New York Knicks .309
6. Charlotte Hornets .333
7. Detroit Pistons .333
8. Chicago Bulls .345
Also, remember to tune into Gill Alexander on A Numbers Game (10 a.m.-noon ET) because this was an especially profitable topic ("Tankapalooza") for him two years ago. In fact, VSiN even created a shirt to pay homage to this betting angle.
Thursday's action features 55 College Basketball games, 6 NBA games and 8 NHL games. For an updated breakdown of sharp action across the marketplace be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Now let's turn our attention to several Thursday College Hoops matchups garnering big sharp action from professional bettors.
7 p.m. ET: Ohio State (17-8, ranked 25th) at Iowa (18-8, ranked 20th)
This Big Ten showdown is the marquee game of the night and features two ranked teams with Big Dance aspirations. Ohio State is riding a two-game win streak, most recently crushing Purdue 68-52 as 5.5-point favorites. However, the public sees a short spread and is leaning with the higher-ranked team at home. Iowa opened as a 2.5-point favorite. More than two-thirds of bets are laying the points, yet we've seen this line remain at 2.5. Some books are also juicing up Ohio State at + 2.5 (-115), signaling liability on the road dog and a possible drop down to 2. The Buckeyes have value as a road conference dog and are also a top contrarian play in the day's most heavily bet game. Ohio State also enjoys an extra day of rest having last played on February 15 while Iowa last played February 16. Ken Prom projects Iowa winning by 1 point. We've also seen smart money target the under, dropping the total from 145 to 144.5. Ohio State is 16-9 to the under and Iowa is 15-10-1 to the under.
8:30 p.m. ET: Michigan State (17-9) at Nebraska (7-18)
Perennial powerhouse Michigan State has fallen on hard times. The Spartans are unranked and just 1-4 their last five games, most recently falling to Maryland 67-60 as 6.5-point favorites. However, the public is still on Sparty's side and thinks a date with lowly Nebraska is just what the doctor ordered to get back on track. This Big Ten matchup opened with Michigan State listed as a big 11.5-point road favorites (some books opened even higher at MSU -12). Despite two-thirds of bets laying the big points this line hasn't budged, indicating some liability on the home dog. The Cornhuskers have value as a double-digit home conference dog. Nebraska is also in a buy-low value spot having lost ten in a row. Michigan State is just 10-15 ATS, including 1-7 ATS on the road. Ken Pom has MSU winning by 10 points (80-70).
9 p.m. ET: USC (19-7) at Colorado (20-6, ranked 18th)
Recreational bettors are having a hard time deciding which team to take in this Pac-12 grudge match. On the one hand, they love betting ranked teams at home. However, this line opened with Colorado listed as an 8.5-point favorite and the public sees USC with an impressive record and thinks the line might be a little too high. However, pros have taken a clear side. After opening at -8.5 the line has quickly jumped to -9.5, signaling wiseguys laying the points with the Buffaloes and banking on a double-digit win. These two teams met three weeks ago and Colorado rolled 78-57. This is also a fade the trendy dog and bad ATS vs good ATS play. USC is 16-10 ATS while Colorado is 12-13-1 ATS, providing buy-low value on the Buffs.