Thursday, May 7, 2009

Toledo Point-Shaving Indictments Shed New Light on 2006-07 MBB Season

According to the Tennessean and the FBI, University of Toledo basketball players were involved in a point-shaving scheme from 2005 to 2006, and have been indicted for conspiring with gamblers to influence the outcome of games. One of those games -- allegedly (let me hear you, Rome fans) -- was the 2006 contest at Vandy, when we skated by with a 98-93 win in overtime.

What makes this interesting to me are the questions it raises about the 2006-07 basketball season. You will of course recall that Derrick Byars put the team on his shoulders for much of conference play, ultimately leading the team to a first-round blowout of GW in the NCAA Tournament, a triple-OT thriller win against Wazzu, and that (CHEATER JEFF GREEN YOU CHEATER) heartbreaking loss to Georgetown in the Sweet Sixteen. But, assuming for a moment that Toledo players threw the Vanderbilt game, how might that season have shaken out differently?

1) The record: After losing to Arkansas in the first round of the SEC Tournament, Vanderbilt finished with a 20-11 record. If we lose to Toledo, we're 19-12.

2) The Dance: On Selection Sunday, even with a 10-6 conference record, I cannot imagine we get a 6-seed with a 19-12 overall record including losses to Toledo, Furman, and Appalachian State. Maybe we're a 12 or 13 and maybe we don't even get past the first round. 19-12 might have put us on the bubble, who knows. In another season (e.g., 2008-09), that one game may be the difference between going dancing and being left on the doorstep, particularly given those bad losses on the resume.

3) Morale: We lost our first two games of '06 pretty handily to Georgetown and Wake Forest. We then beat Elon and lost to Furman. So we were 1-3 heading into the Toledo game, which turned out to be a pivotal righting of the ship. I'm wondering what it does to the mindset of the team if we don't eek out that win in OT and wind up with a 1-4 record to start the season. Do we lose another pre-conference game, maybe to Georgia Tech?

I realize this is a strange parlor game to try to play at this point, and I certainly don't mean to diminish the glory that was the '06-'07 Commies. But when you look back and realize that Toledo was winning 92-87 with 2:27 to play in OT before absolutely choking on the lead and falling 98-93 (that's an 11-1 run for those keeping score at home), and you check the line and see that Vandy was a 4.5 point favorite, and you're hearing about indictments for point-shaving after a federal investigation that lasted four years, it's hard not to wonder "what if..."


Anonymous said...

You clearly don't understand how point shaving works. Vanderbilt would have been favored in that game, so tanking would have not been in Toledo's favor. The games that are rigged, largely, are the games in which Toledo would have been favored by 10+. Then, knowing it should be easy to win, the shavers would miss a few shots here and there and keep the lead under ten. Rarely, if ever does points shaving affect a team when the shavers aren't favored by a lot. In the Vandy game, Toledo conceivably would have been 10+ underdogs. What would the shavers have done to beat that spread? Played harder?

You have just been owned. Go cry now.

Unknown said...

Patterson returns... a big uhoh for the SEC east. Damn it.

Sol Blake said...

let's not forget all the victories over ranked teams. that team was rewarded for their hot finish to the season after a rocky start. I don't think having a record at 1-4 is any more demoralizing than 1-3. That team CHOSE to turn it's season around and didn't let anyone stop them. In any case, I think putting them at a 12 or 13 seed with all those wins over ranked teams is a little crazy of a drop from a 6 seed.

too many intangibles in all that anyway, who says they don't play a more desperate game against Arkansas knowing they need to win to make the tourney.

Seamus O'Toole said...

Anonymous --

Because you chose to be an impolite jackass, allow me to be the first to call you an idiot. You clearly don't understand that point-shaving schemes don't necessarily ONLY involve shaving when you're favored. That's the usual formula of course. But they can also -- and here apparently DID -- involve tanking when you're a slight underdog. Toledo was a 4.5 point dog. There IS such a thing (believe it or not!) as being paid to lose on purpose, and to make sure that you do it by at least 5 points. The whole idea is that if it's an out-of-conference opponent and you don't have much of a tournament chance anyway, why not lose to Vanderbilt by 10 (or 5 or whatever) and make some money rather than bust your ass to win a game that won't really matter to your team anyway? (Or so the thinking goes.)

Last but not least, if you're trying to say that only games when Toledo was favored by 10+ would have been investigated and not any games when they were picked to lose, then why don't you ask the FBI why they chose the Vandy game as one of only a handful on which to base a federal criminal indictment.

So now you know what getting owned actually is. I'm shedding a single tear for you.