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5 Factors That Affect the Outcome of a Sporting Event

May 24, 2014

When handicapping a game, it is essential to take all major factors into consideration. You should never place a wager by throwing darts to select a winner or by taking a random guess. Even when you find a line that looks tempting and you know the teams fairly well, you should still consider the following factors before placing your bet:

Officiating

This is especially important in baseball. Officiating impacts the game and the point spread. If a home plate umpire, for example, is known to have a tight strike zone and one of the pitcher’s is a finesse guy, that isn’t a good match for the pitcher. A few more examples of how officiating can impact the game:

  • Ref/ump has a known grudge against a certain player/coach
  • Big market teams generally receive more favorable calls
  • Superstars generally receive more favorable calls

Weather and Time/Date of Game

Weather and time of day also affects a game because some teams play better/worse at night than they do during the day, and others aren’t built for adverse weather conditions. For example, a pass-happy football team with a weak running game could struggle in rain. A few more examples of how weather and time of day can impact a game:

  • Wind can impact the game in any outdoor sport
  • Offensive baseball teams often get off to slow starts due to difficulty in hitting when temps are below the 70’s
  • Teams playing a long stretch without a day off may be tired

Game Location

Home field advantage isn’t just a saying. It’s a probability. In every sport, almost every team plays better at home than on the road. Even teams with small, quiet crowds. That’s because they are more familiar with the surroundings. Home field advantage is usually worth 3-4 points in football games. A few more examples of how location can impact a game:

  • Certain teams struggle on neutral courts/fields
  • Certain baseball/football teams struggle indoors/outdoors
  • Teams that travel to a 2-3 time zone difference city often underperform

Injuries

One way an inferior team can defeat a superior team is if the superior team is banged up and/or without key players. You should pay attention to the injury report prior to placing a wager. Don’t just look at players that are ruled out for the game. Also take a look at which players are banged up, even if they are expected to play. A few more examples of how injuries can impact a game:

  • Injuries to backups leaves a team short on depth, which means they could wear down late in the game
  • Injuries to any starter – even a seemingly mediocre role player – changes the complexity of the game almost every time
  • Minor injuries have very little impact on the game

Match-Ups

This is the most important factor. Match-ups usually determine the outcome of a game. It isn’t about which team is better. It is about which team can use their strength(s) to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses. Prior to wagering on a game, make sure you’ve analyzed the match-ups. Here are a few examples of how match-ups can impact a game:

  • A team that relies heavily on the passing game going up against a team with solid corners and a fierce pass rush could be in trouble
  • A power pitcher that struggles with control going up against a patient, power hitting lineup could be in trouble
  • A great defensive team with an average offense usually beats a great offensive team with an average defense 7 out of 10
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