Of our 33 wagers on NBA totals so far this season, only four have favored the over. We would like to think that this bias is reflective of behavioral psychology, or the human element, that drives betting markets. To illustrate this thesis, consider the study of totals betting markets by Borghesi, Paul and Weinbach (2010), which concluded that gamblers are predisposed toward siding with overs (and favorites). These researchers suggest that humans' innate optimism explains this sometimes irrational partiality: people like to root for more action (i.e. higher scores).
A separate paper by Weinbach and Paul (2002) reviewed all NFL games between 1979 and 2000 and likewise uncovered an edge for under backers. In this case the authors proposed a strategy of playing the under when the totals lines are especially inflated.
Betting philosophy aside, our totally objective, by-the-numbers, multi-factor quant model has identified two totals plays for Wednesday -- both unders (surprise, surprise!).
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Orlando Magic u203.5 (-105)
Our work has us anticipating about 198 combined from the Wolves and Magic this evening, with individual factors calling for between 193-203 points in aggregate. Probabilistically, we give the under about a 60 % chance of cashing in tonight (assuming Ricky Rubio will suit up for Minnesota).
Additionally though, we note that while the under has had only a modest advantage so far in games featuring the Magic (6-5), Orlando's scoring tends to dissappoint following a loss -- the under is 4-1 from this position.
Further, at 3-3 in games where Minnesota is traveling, the under has not demonstrated a discernable edge. However, tonight's contest represents the sixth game the Wolves will have played in the last eight days -- including a matchup just last night at the Miami Heat. As such, we see scope for fatigue to exert a downward bias on this evening's total.
According to OddsShark, a slight majority (52%) of bets on the total like the over. This public interest has apparently dirven the line two points higher than the 201.5 open.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Oklahoma CIty Thunder u212.0 (-108)
Similarly, our quantitative assessment calls for about 207 from the Pelicans at the Thunder tonight, well below the threshold for the under.
As validation for this play beyond our simulation and computer prediction models, note that the score has been light in each of New Orleans' six road games, as well as in each of the three instances when the Pelicans played without a night off. Add to this that the under is 4-2 in Oklahoma City home games.
Oh yeah, and scoring machine, Kevin Durant is a no-go tonight.
Per OddsShark, the totals line opened at 209 but now sits three points higher, at 212. Also, the public is all over the under, as 60% of totals wagers are banking on a low-scoring affair.