Basketball Halftime Middling

Even the most seasoned sports bettor knows that they’re fighting an uphill battle. The house is out to get you. Oddsmakers are setting lines that are designed to put the sportsbook in the best position possible going into a game. 

But every now and then, the opportunity arises to not only hedge your bet, but actually make another bet on the opposing side that gives you a chance to win both bets!

The concept of middling a bet at halftime can be applied to many sports. It works best in an NBA or college basketball game because of the large swings in momentum common in most basketball matchups. With sportsbooks now offering wagers at halftime and even live throughout games, you can learn this concept and take advantage when the time presents itself.

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Table of Contents

  1. Hedging a Bet
  2. Halftime Middling
  3. How to place a middling bet
  4. Middling Example
  5. College Basketball Middling Spreadsheet
  6. When to Middle at Halftime
  7. Halftime Middling Case Study
  8. Case Study Lessons
  9. NBA Basketball Middling Spreadsheet
  10. Conclusion
  11. NBA Odds
  12. College Basketball Odds

What is Hedging a Bet?

Hedging a bet is defined as placing a second bet against an initial wager to either reduce the original wager’s risk, or to guarantee a profit that’s less than 100% of the original wager. 

It’s common to hedge bets when you’re not confident in the outcome of the game. Or, if you’re just risk averse and willing to book a smaller profit in exchange for a more likely result.

What Is Halftime Middling?

Middling is a form of hedging. With halftime middling, you’re hedging your original bet to prevent yourself from taking a loss, but there is a “middle” option where you can win both bets. The outcomes are winning your initial bet only, winning your hedge only, or winning both wagers.

You might employ middling to bet against your pregame wager after a major change in the point spread. 

The downside of middling is that it will take away the high likelihood of winning your initial wager. However, many bettors find it worth it for a risk-free shot at doubling their money in the same game. 

How to Place a Halftime Middling Bet

In basketball, a few things need to occur in order to execute a successful halftime middling bet. We provide steps for middling on an poor performing favorite at the half. The same could be applied to a high performing underdog, switching your bets where appropriate.

Time needed: 5 minutes

Steps to place a halftime middling bet when a basketball favorite underachieves at the half.

  1. Place a pregame bet against the point spread on the underdog.

    Pick the underdog and place a bet against the spread. Note the game line for future reference.

  2. The favorite needs to underachieve at halftime.

    The favorite needs to underachieve and be losing by a considerable amount at halftime. This result sets up a middle bet opportunity.

  3. Bet the opposite side on a favorable 2nd half line.

    Since the favorite is considered the better team, they will likely be favored on the second-half line. You would then bet on that team to cover in the second half.

  4. Review the final score difference against the spread.

    You will be left with a margin of points between the spread of your second-half line on the favored team and the original pregame spread on the underdog where you can win both bets.

This strategy typically works when betting on an underdog, especially on the road. However, it can be used in all instances.

Halftime Middling Example

A halftime middling bet could’ve been a winner in the 2022 NCAA men’s national championship game between North Carolina and Kansas.

Kansas came into the game at -4, so let’s say you bet on North Carolina at +4.

At halftime, the Tar Heels were winning 40-25. Kansas shot poorly in the first half, and they were well behind their 78.2 points-per-game pace. Figuring the Jayhawks would play up to their potential in the second half, oddsmakers set the second-half line at -7 in favor of Kansas.

To middle this game, you would bet on Kansas at -7 in the second half. A second-half bet only takes that half into account. So the Jayhawks would’ve needed to win the second half by eight points to win both bets. A seven point win would push on the second bet. 

Since the halftime lead for North Carolina was 15, any game result from the Tar Heels winning by seven points to the Jayhawks winning by three points would make both bets a winner. 

A North Carolina win by eight or a Kansas win by four would give one bet a win and another a push. Any result outside of those figures would result in one win and one loss. 

If you recall, Kansas made the largest comeback in the history of the NCAA championship game and won 72-69, so in this instance, the halftime middling strategy would pay off.

College Basketball Halftime Middling Spreadsheet Download

Download our college basketball middling Excel spreadsheet to see how this strategy works. Enter your own teams, lines, odds, and bets. Experiment with different game and 2nd half results to see which ones produce a middling opportunity. The spreadsheet will also calculate your win and loss on each bet, with a final win and loss amount at the bottom.

When To Use Halftime Middling

Always determine the range at which both bets will win before implementing a halftime middling bet.

In the above example, North Carolina was a 4-point underdog but up 15 at halftime. Kansas was then a 7-point favorite in the second half. The range to win at least one or both bets went from UNC winning by seven to KU winning by four. That means the final score could fall within an 11-point range to allow you to win both bets. 

Depending on personal preference, you can set a rule for when to middle the sportsbook. For example: when there’s a range of at least 10 points to win both bets, you will place a halftime middling bet on the game.

A range of 10 gives you a good margin to win both bets. If you get to 7-9 points, the odds of winning both bets shrink, but there’s still a good opportunity to middle if you feel confident in the way the second half will play out. Once you get to a scenario where you’ll win a middling bet with a range of five or fewer points, you’re better off riding the initial bet and avoiding the second-half wager.

Know When to Middle

As we mentioned above, there are only a few scenarios when this bet makes sense. One is when you bet the underdog and the favorite underperforms during the first half.  

Sometimes middling isn’t a good idea. Suppose a favorite takes a big lead against the spread into the half. Chances are they’ll continue to play well in the second half too. The oddsmakers will post a second half line that doesn’t offer a good chance to middle. 

There are some instances, however, where an over performing favorite could give you a good chance to middle. For an example of that, let’s take a look at a case study.

Halftime Middling Case Study

Our halftime middling case study starts with a bet we placed on the favorite and then are presented with an opportunity to middle on the underdog at halftime. 

The game was an NBA matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets on January 26, 2023. The Rockets, 11-36 going into the contest, were one of the worst teams in the NBA playing at home against the 28-20 Cavs. 

Oddsmakers set Cleveland as an 8-point favorite at -110. The Rockets had lost 12 of their last 13 games going into this one. So, we took Cleveland -8 for $110. 

At halftime, Cleveland led 74-48. Our -8 bet looked great with the Cavaliers up by 18 against the spread.

Big Second Half Opportunity

The second-half line was set at Houston -2 at -110.

Looking at the season-long stats, Cleveland was averaging 111.5 points per game and had already scored 74 on this night. Houston’s average was 109.4, so they had underperformed against their typical scoring output. 

The Cavs were comfortably ahead and had a game the next night in Oklahoma City, so they’d  likely rest their starters with the comfortable lead in this game.

This is all research that you can do during any halftime break. So let’s say you were comfortable in Houston being more competitive in the second half. You decide to middle with Houston -2 for $100. 

Middling Bet Results

Here were the potential results of your halftime middling bet:

  • If the Cavaliers won the second half, tied, or lost by 1 point, you’d win your initial bet but lose the second one. You’d break even on the night with the vig taken into account:

    +$100 Cleveland won game – $100 Houston lost second half = $0
  • If Houston dominated the second half to win the game or lose by seven or fewer points, your second bet would win but the original bet loses.

    -$110 Cleveland lost game + $91 Houston won second half = $19
  • You could have also pushed one bet and won the other. That result would give you an overall win for the game. Here are the outcomes:
    • Cleveland wins the game by 8: push initial bet, win halftime bet.

      +$0 Cleveland pushed game + $91 Houston won second half = $91
    • Cleveland wins the game by 24: win initial bet, push halftime bet.

      +$100 Cleveland won game – $0 Houston pushed second half = $100
  • If Houston covered the second-half line but didn’t cover the -8 for the whole game, you’d win both bets. Conversely, if Cleveland won the game by 9-23 points you’d win both bets.

    +$100 Cleveland lost game + $91 Houston won second half = $191

How the Case Study Worked Out

In this case, the second half played the way we thought it would. Houston won the third quarter 26-23. They also won the fourth quarter 21-16, making the second half score 47-39 in favor of the Rockets. 

The game’s final score was 113-95; Cleveland won by 18 points. Looking at the last bullet point above, we won both bets because the Cavs won by anywhere from 9-23 points. 

Result: Both bets win for a total of $191.

NBA Case Study Spreadsheet Download

Download our NBA middling case study Excel spreadsheet to see how this strategy works. Enter your own teams, lines, odds, and bets. Experiment with different game and 2nd half results to see which ones produce a middling opportunity. The spreadsheet will also calculate your win and loss on each bet, with a final win and loss amount at the bottom.

What to Learn from the Case Study

The key to halftime middling is knowing when to pull the trigger versus just sticking with your original bet that already has a strong likelihood of winning. You’ll want to do the math to see what point range will lead you to winning both bets.

In the case study, if the Cavaliers won this game by anywhere from 9 to 23 points, you’d win both bets. A range of 14 points is quite favorable for a halftime middle bet. Remember above where we discussed that a range of 10 or better is when it’s time to pull the trigger on the halftime middling strategy. Having the range here be 14 means halftime middling is a no-brainer.

Bet Less at Halftime to Push on the Game Bet

You’ll also notice that we bet slightly less on the halftime middle. This was done to ensure that the first bet would result in a push for us when taking the vig into account. 

Since Cleveland was ahead by so many points, we felt more confident in our initial bet covering than Houston winning the second-half line. We wanted to ensure that we didn’t lose money if the Cavs covered the -8. 

This part, however, is up to you. If you’d prefer to bet the same amount or even less on the second-half bet, you can certainly do that.

Conclusion

Halftime middling requires you to follow your bet closely because you will only have a limited amount of time to implement it. Halftime in the NBA is 15 minutes, whereas college basketball takes a 20-minute break at halftime. 

Overall, halftime middling is a tactic that is good to have in your back pocket. The key is to know when to pull the trigger on it. It’s an opportunistic play given the right circumstances unfold during the first half.

Basketball Halftime Middling FAQs

What is hedging a bet?

Hedging a bet is defined as placing a second bet against an initial wager to either reduce the original wager’s risk, or to guarantee a profit that’s less than 100% of the original wager. 

What Is Halftime Middling?

Middling is a form of hedging. With halftime middling, you’re hedging your original bet to prevent yourself from taking a loss, but there is a “middle” option where you can win both bets. The outcomes are winning your initial bet only, winning your hedge only, or winning both wagers.

Which sports are best for halftime middling?

NBA basketball, college basketball, NFL football and college football are best for halftime middling depending on the sportsbook’s second half lines.

When To Use Halftime Middling?

Always determine the range at which both bets will win before implementing a halftime middling bet.

How much can I win Halftime Middling?

You can potentially win both your game bet and halftime bet if the final score falls within the middling bet range.

How much can I lose Halftime Middling?

Depending on how much you bet, the worst case scenario is breaking even. If one bet pushes, you end up collecting on the other.

NBA Betting Resources

  • NBA Betting Guide – Learn how to bet on the NBA with point spreads, totals, moneylines, and exotic bets like parlays, teasers, prop bets and futures.
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  • Eastern Conference Win Totals – Season win totals for every NBA Eastern Conference team.
  • Western Conference Win Totals – Win totals for every Western Conference NBA team.
  • Halftime Middling – Learn how to make a bet a halftime that can’t lose. We explain how halftime middling can work for NBA and college basketball games.
  • Five-Game Rolling Average – Use a team’s five game rolling average stats to sharpen up your handicap analyses and making winning NBA bets.
  • NBA Team Betting Odds – Latest odds for each NBA team, including upcoming matchups, futures, and season specials.