The Jeremy Lin Effect: Finding Value Betting Against the Public

Betting against the public is one of the easiest ways to find value on the sports betting marketplace. The public loves to bet favorites and over’s, and simply taking the less popular side has proven to be historically profitable. By allowing the public to pound the high profile teams, you are able to gain that extra 1-2 points which can help increase your winning percentage up to 4%.

In fact, we detail this bias in our 2011-12 Betting Against the Public article which shows that betting on teams who receive fewer than 30% of spread wagers have won at 50.9% over the past eight seasons – and that number jumps to 54.4% when focusing solely at visitors. With the hype behind Jeremy Lin quickly turning the Knicks into a media darling, there looks to be potential value tomorrow (2/17) when they host the 6-23 Hornets.

The public has developed a love/hate relationship with the Knickerbockers this season. After adding Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony last season, New York made a huge splash in the off-season adding former Mavericks center Tyson Chandler. The acquisition of an elite post defender like Chandler seemed like the perfect addition to a team with no shortage of offensive fire power. Because of that, the Knicks received an average of 63% of spread wagers over their first eleven games – even as the team struggled to the tune of a 3-8 record against the spread.

In their fourteenth game of the season – a January 14th game against the Thunder – it was clear the public sentiment had changed. With Carmelo out of the lineup, the Knicks were 11-point road dogs and still received a scant 46% of spread wagers. Between that date and February 6th, the Knicks averaged just 50.1% of spread wagers – even with games against perennially overlooked teams like Milwaukee, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit and New Jersey. That Nets game was the catalyst for this Linderalla story as the Harvard alum came off of bench to score 25 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists in a 99-92 victory.

Two days later in Lin’s first start, the Knicks received just 52% of public bets as 3-point favorites against the Jazz. The 6’3” guard set game and career highs with 28 points in 45 minutes as New York cruised to a 99-88 victory.

Their next game, Linsanity began to transform into full blown hysteria with NY (+1.5 at Washington) receiving 67% of public bets. In fact, in Lin’s six starts the Knicks have received 63% of spread wagers including an average of 73% in their three games since shocking the Lakers. The following chart shows the betting percentages for all six of Lin’s starts (note: Games highlighted in red indicate Carmelo did not play. Games highlighted in green indicate Amare did not play. Games highlighted in yellow indicate that neither played).

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this story is that this renaissance for the Knicks has come with Carmelo Anthony on the bench for the past 5 games with a groin injury and Amare Stoudmire out three games after due to personal reasons. Somehow the Knicks have managed to win their past seven games — including a 6-1 mark against the spread (ATS) – after covering the spread just eight times in their other 23 games. The line chart below displays the rise and fall of public sentiment following the Thunder game on 1/14.

Regardless of whether or not you believe Lin is the real deal, there is value to be had based on public perception. The historical trends we have studied for betting against the public have allowed us to consistently win 55-57% of games, so make sure to check back tomorrow to see if the Hornets are a best bet.

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