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ARE COLLEGE BASKETBALL GAMES FIXED?

In 2006 Wharton professor Justin Wolfers created a stir by claiming that around 5% of all college basketball games are fixed by players who intentionally slacken their effort (often called point shaving). Wolfers argued that for games in which the favorite is favored by S points, we should find that the probability of the favorite winning by between 1 and S – 1 points should equal the probability of the favorite winning by between S + 1 and 2S – 1 points. This follows because statisticians usually find that forecast errors about an unbiased prediction (like a point spread) should be symmetrically distributed, like a normal or Bell curve. For strong favorites (defined as teams favored by more than 12 points), ...

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