WNBA Betting: A Profitable Contrarian Strategy for Sparks-Fever

Credit:

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker

  • The public doesn't like to bet on bad teams on losing streaks, even in the WNBA.
  • But Friday's Fever-Sparks game provides a strong contrarian opportunity for the brave bettors.

What does it take to be a contrarian sports bettor? Usually it requires thinking outside the box by adopting unpopular viewpoints and going against mainstream narratives. Bettors willing to zig while the public zags can capitalize on market inefficiencies.


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For example, casual bettors love betting favorites and overs. So, sportsbooks will shade their opening lines to account for this public action, which has historically created value on underdogs and unders.

Using Bet Labs, I’ve found a profitable contrarian strategy for the WNBA. This system, which has covered more than 60% of the time against the spread, has a match for Sparks-Fever (Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET).

What is more contrarian than betting a team on a losing streak? Recreational gamblers are influenced by recent results and are less likely to back a squad on a losing streak, which could lead to inflated lines.

The data supports the theory that those teams are undervalued. Since 2005, WNBA teams that have lost three or more games in a row have covered the spread 53% of the time (397-351-16 ATS) in their next game.

Teams that have lost multiple games in a row are even more undervalued when on a road trip. In other sports, we’ve found home-field advantage is overrated by squares, and the same is true in the WNBA. Teams that have lost three or more games in a row and are on a road trip (two or more consecutive games away from home) have gone 124-79-5 (61%) ATS in their next game.

The Indiana Fever are playing the second of three consecutive road games and have lost five straight. The longer the losing the streak, the more profitable it has been to bet teams matching this system:

Some bettors like the idea of taking contrarian stances, although wagering on Indiana could scare off even the bravest. The Fever are a WNBA-worst 2-21 and 8-15 against the spread. But we don’t care if Indy wins — we only need them to cover.

Motivation could be another issue. As if losing five straight wasn’t bad enough, the Fever were embarrassed in their last outing by 24 points. That isn’t a concern for us, since teams matching this system have covered at a higher rate if the previous defeat was lopsided. Teams that lost by 10 or more points in their most recent game have gone 73-37-4 (66%) ATS.

Early this season, when the Sparks and Fever played, L.A. received 70% of spread tickets. Look for similar lopsided action to be on the Sparks on Friday and for contrarian bettors to take the Fever.

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