Basketball at the Olympics – Semi Finals

Both semi-finals are on this evening. The quarterfinals weren’t a great spectacle as the 3 games that were on at a reasonable hour here in the UK were all blowouts. But at least the bet that I recommended here last time won. I backed under 190.5 in the USA v Argentina game, which landed despite another fast paced game and some good outside shooting.

Even early in the game before it got out of hand, Argentina didn’t play slow enough. Team USA have far, far superior talent to your team. Do you want to maximise possessions, or minimize them? But that’s one of the first rules of prediction; thinking about what teams will do, instead of what they should do. When team’s play a certain way it’s not easy to change it drastically v USA, and coaches generally prefer to build their players up and don’t want to say something like “look guys, it’s a near certainty that we’re going to lose this game. In fact, we’ll probably going to get destroyed. But to improve our tiny chances I want you play a different style that the audience isn’t going to like…”

Anyway Spain don’t play fast and it will be a lot more competitive than Argentina and so under 187.5 is worth a look. On the money line USA opened up at 1.14, came in to 1.09 and are back out to 1.11. Interestingly the odds of them winning gold before the tournament started was 1.10, so it shows how bad they have been defensively so far.

In the other semi I like Australia to get past Serbia. They opened up at 1.72 and have come into 1.51, I wouldn’t be backing them at those odds now though. Australia were competitive against the US, and were actually leading at one point in the 4th quarter, and they’ve handily won every other game.

So it looks like it’s going to be Australia v USA for the gold on Sunday.

Basketball at the Olympics – Quarterfinals


The group stage has been fun and profitable. Hopefully you put the small amount of information I provided last time around to good use:

  • Underrated – Croatia & Lithuania
  • Overrated – Brazil

It was clear after the first day that Australia were another underrated team. Their starters are all NBA players, in fact they’ve got 4 NBA champions! Their bench isn’t good though, but I think they can get pass Lithuania. They’ve opened up at -3.5.

Serbia v Croatia should be interesting. Serbia should come through. Croatia’s big problem is they don’t have any centers, but do have relatively good wings.

Spain should beat France. There’s often some bad blood between these two sides, highlighted by Batum getting medieval on Navarro’s nuts in 2012 and Rudy Fernandez’s high tackle on Tony Parker in 2011:

The last quarterfinal is Team USA v Argentina, for which I’ll recommend a bet. The team with the fastest pace in the group stage is Argentina (!), and the team with the 2nd fastest pace in the group stage is the USA. The total has opened up at 190.5, which is the highest of the games so far and I’ll be taking the under.

Argentina surely won’t be stupid enough to be jacking up shots early in the clock v USA like they have so far. Their only chance is to minimise possessions, drastically slow the pace and make it a halfcourt game. Three of their four best players are old and slow anyway, so they won’t be scoring any fast break points. I expect them to struggle to score anyway. They don’t have any decent centers let alone anyone to match up against Boogie and DAJ.

The USA haven’t played well so far, but as it’s the knock out stages I’d at least hope they would give better effort on D. They’ve opened up a 24 point favourite and given the matchups I wouldn’t be surprised to see them cover that and the under to land.

Update: Australia, Serbia , Spain & USA all won. Team USA covered the spread and the under landed.


The Athletics has started in Rio. The big PEDs related news story surrounds Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana who won gold in the women’s 10,000m, and smashed the world record by 14 seconds.

The previous world record was set in 1993 and is a confirmed dirty record. She beat that by 14 seconds and didn’t exactly collapse at the finishing line. Oh and the 2nd half of her run would have been an Olympic record at 5,000m. So she ran 5,000m quicker than anyone else… after already running 5,000m!

Come on now. You’re taking the piss!

 Ok people move along now, nothing to see here…

Meanwhile Usain Bolt got a usual bad start and then coasted to victory, running 10:07 in his 100m heat. So now’s a good time to post a link to a previous post where I casted aspersions over the the golden boy of Athletics.

Basketball at the Olympics

Basketball at the Olympics

The Olympics starts this weekend. I’ll be honest that I could not care less about the majority of the events here, but I do care about the basketball competitions. As you well know if you frequent this tiny part of the interwebz.

Anyway here are a few notes on the Men’s tournament. I’m not going to detail a number of bets for you to follow, but will mention a few things for you to consider.


All teams are going to play 5 games in 9 days in the group stage. If you get to either the Final or the Bronze medal game then you’ll play 8 games in 16 days (or 8 games in 15 days for Group B). Therefore it’s a big advantage for teams that are deep, like USA, Spain and France. Also, NBA players are used to playing this number of games, and at 48 minute per game. But in Europe teams only play twice a week, and that’s at 40 minutes per game.

So check out which teams are heavily reliant on a handful of players and are playing them heavy minutes every other day, and which teams spread the minutes around their squad.

Also keep an eye on the Under as we get deeper into the competition, when accumulated fatigue will set in.

Team USA

At the risk of stated the painfully obvious; Team USA are winning this competition. I know, that’s a bold prediction and the sort of hot take you can expect to find here at Winners Win. But no one else can guard their best wings or their centers. Think of the threats they have from 3 point range, and remember that there’s a shortened 3 point line in FIBA competitions. On the other side of the ball, every other team will struggle to score points against them.

The US are going to be massive favourites in every game. They’re favoured over China by 47 points. Of course they could beat China by 60 points+ if they lives depended on it. I usually stay away from massive handicaps like this when you have to consider whether they’re going to ease off their opponent once they’re already 20, 30 points etc up.

One thing to think about relating to Team USA is that other teams may just throw the towel in early against them. At the start of the game you’re extremely unlikely to beat them, soon you’re 20 points down and you might as well give up and rest your starters for the next game. A game you have a chance of winning.

Looking ahead to the knock out stage and smart teams may intentionally lose games to avoid being drawn in the same half of the draw as USA. They’re getting the gold, everyone else can hope for silver.

Team USA are in group A, they’ll win that and play the 4th placed team in group B. After they thrash whoever that is (probably Argentina) then they’ll play the winner of A3 v B2. Therefore teams won’t want to finish in those spots.

Under/overrated teams:

Lithuania are usually underrated in international competitions and Croatia may also be here. Looking at the odds available so far I think Brazil are overrated.

SA Point of Consumption Tax – My 2p

I only have a few sites on my Blogroll, one of them is Daily25. I always look forward to what Steve has to say and recently he wrote about the prospective point of consumption tax in South Australia. At the end of his post he asked for the thoughts of people who were “much smarter, more informed and generally better looking than him”. Ignoring those criteria Well I definitely fill that bill so I thought I’d offer my two pennies’ worth.

In every country there are individuals/companies that take money out of the country, but there are also individuals/companies that bring money into the country. You could say that Sportsbet is taking hundreds of millions out of your economy each year, but I’m guessing that they’re also employing plenty of people in Australia, paying them a wage which they will certainly spend most of within Australia.

You could say “look at Apple & Microsoft taking money out of our country”! But I don’t think that protectionist policies ever favour the consumer, as the fact is that these companies are providing a product/service that people want. So too are Sportsbet. Competition is good, and I’m assuming there’s nothing stopping Australian bookmakers from succeeding to the same extent. I agree that all bookies just care about profit. But that is the case with every private company. And to make a profit you have to provide a product/service that people want to part with their money for.

Retail bookmakers exist because their business model relies on losing punters. If you’re a winner, then you’ll end up getting restricted or banned. I know that it’s frustrating when this happens. I was whinging on Twitter about this the other day when William Hill were restricting me to a tiny inplay bet on Rugby. But if we’re all honest then we would all do the same thing in their position. If we had our own bookies, which relied on losing punters, then we wouldn’t want sharp bettors taking our money. If someone was making money from us, then we would ban them too. One of the ways around this would be government intervention, which is rarely ever a recipe for success, and I don’t think that a company should be forced to do business with a customer.

Ok and on to the South Australian Place of Consumption Tax. I’ll write this as someone who has never visited Australia but knows firsthand about their insatiable appetite for a bet. We had an Aussie at work whose eyes lit up whenever there was a possibility for a wager and was always talking about putting the departmental budget on a horse.

Anyway, yes this is clearly a cash grab by the government; it’s one of the very few things governments are good at. It’s very long odds that much money will be directed into problem gamblers and longer odds still that that money would be spent effectively. So what may happen:

  • Odds will stay the same. Although a lot of square bettors just bet with one company and aren’t sensitive to the odds.
  • Same promotions. If promotions are so effective, then bookies would already be maxed out on the promotions-front, so to speak. Right?
  • Unintended consequences. This is key when considering government intervention. I don’t think that a company is just going to accept reduced profits. So I’m just going to speculate that they may:
    • Cut some staff
    • Restrict or ban even more unprofitable punters
    • Engage in some ways in which to reduce the appearance of their profit or to otherwise reduce this tax liability.