By Mark Strotman | | 5 mins
2 Huge NBA Underdog Betting Trends You Should Pounce On
This NBA season has been all about parity. It has been touted as such since the preseason, when the title odds for the top six contenders were the lowest they had been since 2012. We’re about 65% of the way through the regular season, and that parity has remained.
Contenders like the Bucks (+275), Lakers (+300), and Clippers (+320) have certainly distanced themselves, but just six games separate second and fifth in the East, and just five games separate second and seventh place in the West. Seven teams have title odds between +1400 and +2000 after the three leaders.
But there are two other trends forming, one that proves the league’s parity and doesn’t involve contenders: Bad teams are covering double-digit spreads at an incredible rate. The second trend: Games involving big home underdogs are going over.
Savvy NBA betting fans can capitalize on this and boost their profits the rest of the way.
What The Numbers Say
Through the All-Star break, there have been 791 NBA games. Of those, 132 — about one in every six games — have closed with a double-digit point spread. Those spreads have ranged from 10 points to 18, when the 45-8 Bucks played the 16-36 Karl Towns-less Timberwolves at home.
The Bucks won that game, but just barely. And the Wolves’ 106-104 loss was a part of a larger trend: Double-digit underdogs are 76-54-2 ATS this season, a 58.4% success rate.
ATS Record As Double-Digit Favorite
Big Underdog Covers Picking Up Steam
Let’s break it down. In those 132 games, the average spread has been 12.1 points. The average final score is Favorite 119.4, Underdog 107.3, a winning margin of … 12.1 points. So why the poor cover rate? Blowouts have skewed some of the numbers. In the 132-game sample, the favorites’ 54 covers have included wins of 29, 29, 30, 35, 41, 42, 44, 47, 47 and 48 points, an average winning margin of 39.2 points.
More common are games we’ve seen the last few weeks that prompted this analysis. Cavaliers cover 13.5-point spread in six-point loss to Thunder. Blazers cover 10.5-point spread in three-point loss to Jazz. Bulls cover 11-point spread in seven-point loss to Sixers. In fact, double-digit underdogs are 7-0 ATS since Feb. 5.
Another trend — albeit with a small sample size — is double-digit home underdogs. There have been just 17 instances of it this season, but those teams have covered in 13 of 17 games. When double-digit underdogs hit the road, they’re still covering at a solid rate of 54.8%, or 63-50-2.
ATS Record As Double Digit Underdog
Big NBA Underdogs Going Over — In a Big Way
There’s another layer to all of this. Double-digit underdogs and their favorite counterparts are putting up serious point totals. Remember that average final score of 119.4 to 107.3, a total of 226.7 points? The average over-under point total set by oddsmakers in those games is 222.2 points.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the over is hitting 60.7% of the time (79-51-2). Perhaps oddsmakers are expecting blowouts with these higher point totals, meaning small point totals from the underdogs. Double-digit spreads include dominant teams, and dominant teams have excellent defenses. But that hasn’t meant unders. These games are flying by the over.
Are Bookies Tightening Up Lines?
Perhaps top sportsbooks are sensing that there simply aren’t as many blowouts. Remember that 1 in every 6 games has a double-digit spread this season?
That 16.68% mark is the second lowest percentage in the NBA since 2013, when 14.1% of games had double-digit spreads. The average mark between 2014 and 2019? It's 17.9%, or 221 games per year. The pace for 2020 is just 205 games.