Varez Ward and the Auburn Point Shaving Scandal

Yesterday afternoon Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports reported that suspended Auburn guard Varez Ward is under investigation by federal authorities for an alleged point-shaving scandal. Ward — who was suspended prior to a February 25th game against Arkansas — was a transfer guard from Texas averaging 8.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists on just 34.6% shooting. Reportedly, the investigation will focus on two games: a 68-50 loss to Alabama on February 7th and a 56-53 loss to Arkansas on January 25th.

The tables below shows the opening lines, closing lines and College Basketball Betting Trends from these matchups.

Game #1 – 1/25/12 at Arkansas

Team Spread % Opening Line Closing Line
Auburn 31% +9.5 +9.5
Arkansas 69% -9.5 -9.5

Game #2 – 2/7/12 vs. Alabama

Team Spread % Closing Line Opening Line
Alabama 46% -5 -5
Auburn 54% +5 +5

It is interesting to note that Auburn actually covered the spread in the January 25th game in Arkansas. In that game, Ward was “injured” after just 19 seconds on the court after taking a knee to the right leg, however over the following three games Ward had arguably his best stretch of the season with a combined 53 points.

In Auburn’s February 7th game against Alabama, the Tigers failed to cover the spread in an 18-point loss and Ward’s performance played a large role. The point guard scored just 3 points on 1 of 5 shooting while committing 6 turnovers in 17 minutes. Still, a 1-1 record in two games with relatively even betting percentages and no line movement is not the most concrete evidence of foul play.

Also worth noting is that Auburn (15-16,  5-11 SEC) went 14-10 against the spread including a 12-4 record (ATS) in the conference. The one statistic that may be re-visited is the total in Auburn’s games. It is much easier to shave points off the under than it is to add to the over, and the Tigers went under the total in 15 of 23 (65.2%) games this year.

Obviously this is a story our staff as SportsInsights will continue to track, so make sure to check in with our blog for the latest updates.

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