The 2021 WNBA All-Star Game brought a different format than we are used to, as the WNBA All-Stars went up against Team USA in their first exhibition game before they head off to Tokyo. It’s an exciting format if for no other reason than it allows some players who felt they should’ve made the USA squad to show why USA Basketball made a mistake not taking them to Tokyo, and the early results of the first half have been a highly competitive game with a bit more juice than most All-Star Games have.
However, oddsmakers didn’t really account for that when they initially posted the point total for the game, and the result was historic line movement the likes of which Vegas rarely, if ever, sees. When Circa posted the total on Wednesday morning it sat at 248.5. When the game tipped, that total had plummeted 53 points to 195.5. That isn’t the type of movement you see just from steam or sharps going after an inflated number, and Circa’s oddsmaker, Matt Metcalf, took the blame for what became a Vegas-wide issue, as he told ESPN’s David Purdum.
Rushing, Metcalf said he looked at the total points scored in the previous all-star games and landed on 248.5 as the opening number for this year’s game.
“At worst, I don’t think this was more than 15 points off. That’s as bad as I think it could be,” Metcalf said. “I didn’t think it would be the worst number ever.”
Metcalf said he didn’t take into account that WNBA all-stars were facing the U.S. women’s national team, which is tuning up for the Olympics and expected to take the game more seriously than traditional high-scoring all-star games that are often played with reduced intensity and lackadaisical defense.
Other books quickly matched Circa’s number — which got as high as 252 after a bet on the Over shortly after posting — and from there the line moved significantly over the course of the day, finally settling under 200. It is as wild a sportsbook story as you’ll ever see, and the books are lucky that it didn’t attract attention earlier than it did, as the book director at the Westgate SuperBook said they actually had more money on the Over, even considering they missed the opening number by 54 points.
It is a reminder that, even for the pros, there are sports where they simply aren’t quite as dialed in on because the handle doesn’t dictate that they need to be. That is one of the reasons the WNBA is a favorite for some pro sports bettors, who often find significant edges on lines and totals with systems that are more in tuned with what’s going on in the league than the books, where the WNBA can be an afterthought — as evidenced by a hurried together total for the All-Star Game.
Given that the halftime score was 44-43, it’s safe to say the line movement was more than worthy.