Sports Betting 101: How to Make Advantage Bets Based on Team Schedule

April 20, 2020 11:26 PM

In yesterday's newsletter, we discussed how weather and officials can impact betting outcomes. In case you missed it, the key is to look for extreme situations like super-heavy winds or scorching hot (or freezing cold) temperatures. Wind speeds of 10 mph or more provide a big edge to betting unders in both pro and college football. In baseball, strong winds blowing in can aid an under while strong winds blowing out can help an over. 

In terms of referees, officials are humans and all humans have tendencies. Knowing the specific style of a head umpire or official, whether it be calling a lot of penalties, a fewer amount of penalties or a favoritism toward home or road teams, can provide a cherry on top to an already smart bet. 

Today we turn our attention to another variable that all bettors should be aware of: Scheduling.

Betting a game without knowing the scheduling situations can be just as bad as ignoring the weather and officials. Throughout the course of a season, there are countless situations where a unique scheduling spot can provide huge value to a favorite, an underdog or an over or under. When you're breaking down a matchup and looking to bet a game, always ask yourself: when was the last time both teams played? 

One of the most obvious examples of why scheduling is important is looking at bye weeks in the NFL. Every team gets one week off during the season, which means extra rest and more time to rehab and game-plan for the next opponent. This provides a huge edge to the better, more talents and more well coached teams. Since 2003, favorites coming off a bye are 59% ATS according to Bet Labs Sports. Road favorites are even better at 69% ATS. Dogs, on the other hand, are just 47% ATS. 

NFL Thursday Night Football also provides an edge to favorites (57.7% ATS). Home favorites are even better at 59%. Why is this the case? Because short weeks disproportionately benefit the better team, especially if they don't have to travel. 

The same trend applies in college football. All teams off a bye are 49.9% ATS. But home favorites off a bye are 54.7% ATS. If the home favorite is ranked, they improve to 60.2% ATS.

In the NHL, rested vs tired teams hold a distinct advantage. Hockey is such a grueling, physical sport so when one team gets a few days off and the other played the night before, the rested team has a massive edge. Teams with three days off against teams on the second leg of a back-to-back are 59% since 2005. 

In MLB, favorites in the second game of a doubleheader win 62% of the time since 2005. A big reason is that both teams rest several players in Game 2, so the team favored to win is usually a stronger than usual favorite and a good bet to come out on top (maybe their lineup is missing fewer key players than the opponent).

In basketball, tired legs can greatly benefit unders. In Games 6 and 7 of the NBA playoffs, the under is 57.6%. Why? Because teams are facing elimination, which leads to a greater emphasis on defense and using up the shot clock to get a good shot. Plus, they know how to defend the other team after a long series. This leads to lower scoring games.

In college hoops, postseason neutral court games in which both teams played the day before have led to unders hitting 54.7% of the time. This is due to both teams having tired legs, which leads to more shots hitting the front rim which would have otherwise gone in.

College teams can also fall victim to "lookahead" traps. For example, if Duke has a huge matchup against North Carolina on Saturday night but first must play lowly Virginia Tech tonight, they might be distracted and not play their best. On the flip side, if a team just secured a huge upset victory, they might experience a natural let down spot their next time out. 

There are also situations where extra days off in a city with "fun" nightlife can provide an edge for the home team. In the NBA, Atlanta is considered one of the top partying cities with the best clubs. As a result, visiting teams can have a little too much when they visit, which benefits the home town Hawks. Similarly, the Vegas Golden Knights have a big advantage over their NHL visiting opponents because the visitors tend to enjoy Sin City a little too much the night before, leading to the "Vegas Flu" which helps the Knights. 

Scheduling is also critical when it comes to preseason betting. In the NFL, preseason dogs that see line movement in their favor at least a half point (this + 3 to + 2.5) have gone 54.6% ATS since 2003. Dogs perform well because the games don't matter so the team getting points is more valuable than the team laying points. The line movement in their favor would indicate sharp action as well. 

Preseason MLB road dogs who missed the playoffs the previous year have gone 67% on the run-line (+ 1.5) since 2005 against teams who made the playoffs the previous year. The favorites who made the playoffs are less motivated while the dogs who missed the playoffs have more to prove and play for. Plus there is no home-field advantage in spring training due to the laid back atmosphere and smaller crowds. It doesn't hurt that there are also ties in spring training, which would cash a + 1.5 spread bet.

There are countless examples like this where unique scheduling spots provide an actionable edge for savvy sports bettors. The key is doing your homework, being aware of the scheduling situation for both teams and then using that knowledge to your advantage. It may not be the sole reason for betting a game. But it can be another box to check off in the process.

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