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Point Shaving in NCAA Basketball: Corrupt Behavior or Statistical Artifact?


  • George Diemer

    () (Department of Economics, Temple University)

  • Mike Leeds

    () (Department of Economics, Temple University)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • George Diemer & Mike Leeds, 2010. "Point Shaving in NCAA Basketball: Corrupt Behavior or Statistical Artifact?," DETU Working Papers 1009, Department of Economics, Temple University.
  • Handle: RePEc:tem:wpaper:1009

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    More about this item


    College basketball; Sports gambling; Corruption; Economics; Probabilities.;

    JEL classification:

    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading

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