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Point Spread

point spread

What Is The Definition Of Point Spread In Sports Betting?

1. A point spread is the type of betting in which one can bet on the margin of victory in a sporting event, usually high-scoring sports like football and basketball. 

A runline, goal line and puckline are similar to the point spread but in baseball, soccer and hockey, respectively. Due to the low-scoring nature of these sporting events, this form of betting lowers the risk involved in a traditional point spread or moneyline.

How Does The Point Spread Work?

Oddsmakers tailor point spread so that bettors will split close to evenly amongst the two options. Generally, bettors will bet on whether or not the favorite will cover the spread in their projected win.

For example, in the 2021 Orange Bowl semifinal matchup between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Michigan Wolverines, Georgia was the -7.5 favorite on (-110) odds.

This means that when the final whistle blows, Georgia would need to win by eight in order to cover the spread and the bet on Georgia to hit.

On the contrary, Michigan would win against the spread if Georgia does not win by eight. Even if Georgia wins by seven, bets against the spread will hit. 

Another way to think about the point spread is to take literally the way that the point spread is noted in the odds: Georgia -7.5, Michigan +7.5. If Georgia subtracted 7.5 points from their final scores, would the Bulldogs still come out on top? If so, Georgia has covered the spread. If not, Michigan won against the spread.

Alternatively, and to the same outcome, could adding 7.5 to Michigan’s final score change the outcome of the game? If not, Georgia covered the spread; if so, Michigan beat the spread.

What Happens When The Point Spread Is Exact?

When the point spread is exact, the bet is called a push. This means that the original wager is returned to the bettor and no winnings are doled out. 

The sportsbooks lose on this outcome, so point spreads usually occur in half-point increments to prevent pushes.

Does A Point Spread Include Overtime?

Yes, the point spread includes overtime. 

A football game thought to go to overtime might have a lower spread due to the fact that most overtimes are sudden death once both teams have a chance to score. 

Basketball, on the other hand, may not encounter this issue as overtime is time-delineated and not bound by score.

How Do You Read A Point Spread?

Reading a point spread is simple when taking the points literally.

In reading the point spread for the 2021 Orange Bowl above, Georgia is favored at -7.5 while Michigan’s the underdog at +7.5. This calls into question whether the outcome would change if those numbers were added or subtracted from the final score.

If Georgia wins by eight points, subtracting 7.5 from their final score would not change the outcome and Georgia would cover the spread. 

If the Bulldogs only win by a field goal (three points), subtracting 7.5 would give Michigan the win, and thus, Michigan wins against the spread. The positive notation for Michigan (+7.5) presents the same question but if Michigan’s score were altered. 

Often, both forms of notation are not used as they are two sides of the same coin. Normally, the favorite would be indicated by the point spread, such as, “Georgia is the 7.5 point favorite.”

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