Friday, March 22, 2019

Do They Know

One question I have wondered about regularly as I've watched the games over the years relates to whether or not the coaches are affected, on any level, by the spreads of the games.

While watching the end of contests, I look for something to indicate that they might be.  And almost never, in close to twenty years of observing the games, have I seen any evidence that coaches coach to the spreads.

Today provided another example. Virginia was down in the first half and looked, for the second consecutive year to be upset by a 16 seed.  The team, however, roared back in the second half and won the game easily.  The spread was 21 1/2.  Towards the end of the game with over a minute to play Virginia had the ball up by 21.  All they needed was another basket to cover the spread and "win" the game for their betting supporters. The old saw goes, "Good coaches win. Great coaches cover."

But Virginia players and coaches seemed completely oblivious to the betting line. The game was in essence over so the offense just dribbled out the clock and took a shot when the shot clock was about to expire. When they missed the shot, I saw no signs of exasperation from anyone (though I could hear the wailing from Las  Vegas from 2000 miles away from where I was watching).

When the opponent made a couple of baskets in the last seconds it did not mean anything except to bettors and nobody on the court seemed to care one way or another.

If coaches knew and players knew, there would be more intensity at the end of the game. I don't think it is on the radar screen except in those, rare--but sad, incidents--when players were on the take.

In another amusing situation which, no doubt, had people yanking out their hair in Nevada, Texas Tech was a 13.5 point favorite and was by 15 in the last seconds when a player from Northern Kentucky dribbled up court indifferently and took an uncontested three at the buzzer.  It meant nothing in terms of the actual outcome, but I guarantee you at the Venetian Sports Book well oiled bettors held their breath when that shot went up.  He missed the shot preserving the victory for those who wagered on Texas Tech, but if that shot goes in, a good deal of dough would have changed hands.

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