The proliferation of the internet has created a veritable legion of sports experts: Maybe millions have a take on this week’s games, next month’s standings, the eventual tournament champion … so, assuming you have no access to top-secret insider information, who should you trust in attempting to brazenly predict tomorrow’s outcome?
Easy: The oddsmakers.
Why? Because more than anyone in the sporting industry, the given event’s outcome affects their income. When any sports event goes down, it’s the bookmaker’s money out there – more than the players who get paid win or lose, more than the owners who can easily squeeze the cash from a fanbase without necessarily assembling a winning team. It is up to the oddsmakers to get it right intellectually with potentially millions of euros of the line.
Without further ado, then, a take on the odds for EuroBasket 2009 Group A, as currently posted BallinEurope.com and Euroleague partner SportingBet.com. The table for the bet “EuroBasket 2009 — Group A — Outright Winner” runs as so:
While none of these numbers should appear too surprising, also important is the trending of these lines. The odds on Team Greece are getting notably shorter here, going from 1/2 to 2/5 (therefore getting a winner punter €40 on a €100 bet today, as opposed to a €50 payout on a bet made two weeks ago); the line is meanwhile lengthening on Croatia, which has gone from 8/5 to today’s 2/1 odds.
Greece is also rising on the “EuroBasket 2009 outright winner” table, having gone from 1/1 to 2/5 at Sporting Bet even before news that Berni Rodriguez would sit out the tournament broke.
Now, there are two ways to consider trending in the odds. A lot of professional gamblers and gambling enthusiasts would use the populist surge as an excuse to bet against Greece, reasoning that the odds are being pushed down based mostly on hype rather than actual special knowledge on the games.
On the other hand, a better take might be to simply ignore popular opinion altogether; in this case, the question would be “Does Croatia have a chance to take out Greece?”
Well? Do they?
Unfortunately, Croatia will mostly likely be forced to play through EuroBasket 2009 without team captain Nikola Prkacin, who has an elbow injury that will keep him sidelined until at least mid-August – and thus deep into the second round of group play. On the plus side is the welcome return of 29-year-old Nikola Vujcic, a veteran of EuroBasket play beyond his years: Vujcic has played with Team Croatia in this tournament four times previously, all before 2005.
These days it always seems a bad idea to bet against Greece in any international basketball tournament, but a case could be made for this team’s vulnerability. On the face of it, Team Greece looks huge. The preliminary roster read: Panagiotis Vassilopoulos, Andreas Glyniadakis, Dimitris Diamantidis, Nikos Zisis, Kostas Kaimakoglou, Nick Calathes, Kostas Koufos, Yannis Bouroussis, Georgios Printezis, Theo Papaloukas, Stratos Perperoglou, Antonis Fotsis, Yannis Kalampokis, Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Dimitris Tsaldaris, Loukas Mavrokefalidis, and Vassilis Spanoulis.
Diamantidis and Papaloukas are both out, the former having undergone laparoscopic surgery of which Panathinaikos officials stated in June would require a recovery time through July at very least, and latter citing fatigue after a loooooooooooooooooong season with Olympiacos. And no recent word on Vassilopoulos’ back injury, which kept him out of the 2009 Euroleague Final Four, has been released.
While Greece may still be considered the favorite in this group, there’s no way you should rule out an “upset” by Croatia in that third Group A game. The real litmus test? Croatia’s opener against Israel. A nice win by the checkerboard bunch in that game would be serious cause to put some money on the 2/1 (or more) underdog.