Temple men’s basketball team played several games with unusual betting patterns

The Temple men’s basketball team, which drew attention from betting regulators for unusual wagering activity ahead of its game on Thursday against Alabama-Birmingham, played at least three other games this season that also generated irregular betting patterns, according to an examination of the team’s season by The Athletic.



Temple-UAB basketball game flagged after unusual point spread jump

The betting patterns around the three additional games are not evidence of illicit behavior by anyone involved with the games, and no one has been publicly accused of wrongdoing. But they are the types of patterns that regulators look for when attempting to identify suspicious behavior.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board confirmed on Friday that a gambling monitoring service called U.S. Integrity had flagged Thursday’s game between Temple and UAB.

Fanatics Sportsbook and FanDuel, two major betting operations, said Saturday that they would not offer wagering on Temple’s final regular-season game, on Sunday at UT-San Antonio.

The Owls (11-19) are scheduled to play in the American Athletic Conference tournament on Wednesday.

The three other games that drew unusual betting patterns were:

On Feb. 8, Temple hosted Memphis. About four hours before the game, Memphis was favored by 6.5 points, according to BetQL, which tracks point spreads. By game time, so much money had been bet against Temple that the line had expanded to 10.5. Memphis won 84-77.

On Feb. 28, Temple hosted Rice. The game’s point total opened at 144 before being bet up to 145. Then, in the hours before the game, the total was bet down from 145 to 140.5 — an indication that bettors suddenly had reason to believe one or both teams would not score as much as oddsmakers expected. Additionally, after opening at 68, the first-half point total steadily dropped to 66.5 throughout the day — and over the two hours before game time, the total dropped quickly from 66.5 to 64. The score at halftime was 28-19 (47 points), and Temple won the game 65-43 (108 total points).

Then, on March 2, Temple hosted Tulsa. In a two-hour period before tip-off, the game’s betting line for total points dropped drastically from 144 to 136.5, again suggesting that bettors had reason to believe one or both teams would score less than expected. Additionally, the team’s first-half point total betting line dropped from 68.5 to 62.5 in that time period, including a precipitous fall from 66.5 to 62.5 in about a one-hour period. Tulsa led at halftime 32-23 (55 points) and won the game 72-67 (139 points).

When the betting line jumped considerably in the hours leading up to Thursday’s game against UAB, U.S. Integrity, a service that works with many major sports leagues and sportsbooks, notified its customers. In an email to The Athletic, U.S. Integrity said it could not comment on an “ongoing investigation.”

According to BetQL, UAB was a 2.5-point favorite Thursday morning. On Thursday afternoon, the line changed quickly, with UAB being favored by as many as 8 points before beginning the game as a 7-point favorite. Once again, bettors apparently had reason to doubt Temple in the hours before a game. The Blazers won the game 100-72.

Sometimes a player injury or suspension can trigger late movement in a betting line. But in the three other games for which The Athletic found abnormal, rapid line movement in the hours before tip-off, there was no such information that would have caused the shifts.

Richard Schuetz, a gambling expert and former casino executive, said a large swing in the point spread for an in-conference game this late in the season with no visible explanation is too unusual to ignore.

“It’s like a stock price,” Schuetz said, referring to the wagering on the Temple-UAB game. “You have buyers and sellers, and you settle on an equilibrium price. There’s nothing going, no earnings call, no disaster, no adverse legal ruling. And all of a sudden it went up 38 percent. Well, what would you think? Somebody’s got some information that the market doesn’t have.”

Temple said Friday it was aware of social media posts regarding the game and would “review the reports thoroughly in accordance with university and NCAA policies.”

“While we can’t comment any further at this time, we take this matter very seriously,” the university said in a statement.

Tom Fenstermaker, a spokesman for the AAC, confirmed to Sports Illustrated on Thursday that the conference was aware of questions about the betting patterns that had been flagged.

When reached by The Athletic on Friday, Fenstermaker said only: “We can confirm that we are clients of U.S. Integrity. That is all the comment we will have at this time.”

The AAC and U.S. Integrity both declined comment when reached on Saturday.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is “reviewing the matter in regards to any impact in Pennsylvania,” Doug Harbach, the board’s director of communications, said. The American Athletic Conference is looking into other Temple games.

(Photo: Mitchell Leff / Getty)

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