nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2010‒09‒03
one paper chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
University of Beira Interior and Technical University of Lisbon

  1. Point Shaving in NCAA Basketball: Corrupt Behavior or Statistical Artifact? By George Diemer; Mike Leeds

  1. By: George Diemer (Department of Economics, Temple University); Mike Leeds (Department of Economics, Temple University)
    Abstract: The possibility that college basketball teams shave points – win games by less than the point spread established in gambling markets – has generated heated controversy among researchers. Some claim to find clear evidence of point shaving, while others assert that the evidence is a statistical artifact. We use data from college basketball NCAA games from 1995-1996 through 2008-2009 to support the existence of point shaving. We identify two incentives to shave points and find as these incentives increase so too does the statistical evidence of point shaving. First we show that the distribution of the outcomes of games in which there is a heavy favorite differs from the distribution of outcomes of games that do not have a heavy favorite. Second we show that point shaving is not a significant factor in post-season games when the incentive to shave decreases.
    Keywords: College basketball, Sports gambling, Corruption, Economics, Probabilities.
    JEL: G14
    Date: 2010–08

This nep-spo issue is ©2010 by Joao Carlos Correia Leitao. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.