Fascinating story in The New York Times this morning; an economist postulates that, in college basketball, point shaving takes place in about 5 percent of all games with big spreads. The economist, Justin Wolfers from the University of Pennsylvania, has collected results from nearly 16 years of college basketball games and claims "in a surprisingly large number of them, it turns out that heavy favorites just miss covering the spread."
There is a strange dearth of games in which 12-point favorites win by, say, 13 or 16 points. And there are a lot of games that they win by 11 points or slightly less. There is just no good explanation for this.
We know this story, just on the tip of the NCAA tournament, is a bit of a poo in the punch bowl. But when you go to the bar next Thursday, and that guy next to you is saying things like, "Watch this, they're gonna end up just under the 13," well, try not to think too much about it.
Sad Suspicions About Scores In Basketball [NY Times]
(By the way, that picture, of course, is of the late Carmine Lupertazzi, who, according to "The Sopranos," invented point shaving.)