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Hoops Betting: Sideline Stability and Scheduling
by Jim Feist - 01/12/2016
The talent on the court determines how many wins and losses a team is going to ultimately end up with. But there are important adjustments taking place on the sidelines that can significantly influence how a team performs, both straight up and against the number.
There have been several changes on the sideline lately with college basketball coaches. A coach leaving a program in mid-season can tell a lot about what is going on with a team. A team could be unhappy and unmotivated, they could tune out what the coach is saying, or a coach could have difficulties off the court that are straining his ability to do his job properly. The NCAA is investigating the Pacific basketball program this season, with allegations of academic misconduct committed by former assistant Joe Ford. The team is off a bad season and something like that can be a major distraction trying to improve. Things have been dismal this season, too, losing most games while on a 2-8 spread run.
When Quin Snyder stepped down at Missouri it was in mid-season, creating enormous problems on and off the court. The Tigers were in a tailspin, losing six straight games (going 0-6 ATS, as well). That's a red flag to sports bettors that something, or a combination of things, is clearly lacking. When a team has problems like that, they often pack it in, especially so on the road. You can understand why, as assistant coaches are worried about job security and players have the extra burden of practicing and playing for one team while wondering if they need to transfer to another program in the offseason.
A similar thing happened when former Indiana Mike Davis announced he was stepping down. Sports bettors thought the Hoosiers, with their proud tradition and great home court edge, might be one to rally around their head man, as Indiana was a favorite in two straight games over Iowa and at Penn State. Alas, the problems ran deep with the Hoosiers, losing both games, even 71-68 at Penn State as a -4.5 favorite.
The second leading scorer on the team remarked, "He's my coach. He's the only reason I'm here. Hopefully, I can be with him wherever he goes." It's easy to put the pieces together and see basketball teams that might be fractured on and off the court when changes are being made and dirty laundry is aired publicly.
Have you seen what's been happening with the slumping Phoenix Suns? Owner Robert Sarver said last week the blame for his Suns' struggles extends throughout the organization. Then he pointed fingers at a "millennial culture," with forward Markieff Morris serving as a prime example! They've been a team in turmoil for a while, on a recent nine-game skid (0-7 against the spread). Do you think it's fun to come to work everyday in that environment?
The NBA schedule-maker can factor into this, as well, making matters worse for the players. That is, the schedule can be grueling over 82 games, with many road trips and back-to-back potholes along the way. Understand that all games aren't created equal. Some games are more difficult than other simply because of the schedule.
The NBA schedule is set up to never play three games in three nights. The players' union has seen to this. And that's the good news. The bad news is that teams can get stuck playing three games in four nights several times during the season. Most significant from a handicapping perspective is when Games 3 and 4 of that situation are back-to-back. It some cases teams can play 4 games in 5 nights.
A good example just occurred with hose same Phoenix Suns. When the Suns headed to the Lakers two weeks ago it was their fourth game in five nights, in a addition to the end of a four-game road trip -- talk about a bad situational spot! The Suns lost 97-77 to the Lakers as a favorite, one night after losing 142-119 at the Kings. It was not only a team on a losing skid, it was one with major motivational concerns off the court, in addition to an atrocious scheduling spot to begin the new year.
Remember that basketball is such a physically grueling sport. Players have to run up and down the court all night. There are far more chances for an athlete to catch his breath in baseball, football and hockey. Throw in the fact that it's more difficult to play on the road, and it all adds up to potential betting spots where the schedule can play an important role. Understanding how to look for sports betting edges is the first step toward identifying winners, both straight up and against the Las Vegas line.