Have You Checked Line On Game?

Unless you count my own personal golf game where I play a dogfight each week with a little Nassau inside that, and tinkles, birdies, sandies, and blue plate specials sprinkled in, I do not gamble on sports. (And that may not be gambling as it seems to me I have no chance to win.)

In my group of Alabama followers, there are gamblers. One of the more interesting has his "alumni bet" on each Crimson Tide football game, a bet against Bama. His philosophy is that if he bets against Alabama, the Tide will probably win.

That makes about as much sense as any other sports gambling system.

I know that many people win. I also know that the same people have been booking games in Tuscaloosa for decades, and none of them have gone broke. I have seen the casinos of Las Vegas, where there is legal sports gambling. They are fine.

Because I follow Alabama athletics closely, I am sometimes asked for my advice. That advice is to not bet.

Once a friend wanted my opinion on a football game in the Mountain West. I asked him if he knew the name of the head coach of either team. He did not, and understood my point. Why would you bet on a game when you didn't know anything about either team?

I have one friend who asks what I think about various games and then, unabashedly, bets the opposite of what I think. I don't consider that a bad plan, if one feels compelled to gamble.

What had me thinking about gambling this morning was seeing that Alabama is a 16 1/2 favorite over Mississippi State in tonight's basketball game against Mississippi State in Coleman Coliseum. A little over a month ago, Bama defeated the Buldogs by 32 points, 75-43, in Starkville. Bama didn't have its leading scorer -- Trevor Releford -- in that game. State will be down to just five scholarshipped players for tonight's contest.

So that looks like a sure thing, doesn't it?

I wouldn't bet on either side, but I have noticed that it's usually wise to avoid the "sure thing."

Last Saturday, Alabama was an 11-point favorite over South Carolina.

With the clock running down, Alabama had a 10-point lead and a two-on-zero break. If Releford had simply taken the ball in for a layup, Bama would have won by 12. Instead, he tossed it up for an alley-oop for teammate Retin Obasohan. Obasohan jammed it in, but a fraction of a second too late. The basket was waved off. Game over, 68-58.

For gamblers, that was the margin of winning or losing. And it was yet another demonstration of how well the people who make the gambling line know the games. It is amazing how many times a basketball game comes to an end with the ball in the air to determine the winning team against the line.

Alabama and Mississippi State tip off at 7 p.m. The SEC Network will televise the game.

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