- The first day of March Madness action is in the books.
- Thursday didn’t see any huge upsets, but there was still plenty of wild endings for those betting on individual games in Las Vegas.
- Below we break down the worst bad beats of the first day of March Madness – five games that were decided by two points or less for those betting the spread.
While that estimate is obviously a rough one – it’s extremely difficult to judge for all the bracket pools happening in offices, schools, and bars across the country – it’s indicative of something we know to be true: we are betting a ton on college basketball this year.
For those betting on brackets, the first day of the tournament was a rather calm one.
No. 12 Murray State was the lowest-seeded team to win an opening game, and the Racers were one of the most popular upset picks. Other than them, just three teams – No. 10 Florida, No. 10 Minnesota, and No. 9 Baylor – defeated a team with a higher seed.
But for those betting individual games against the spread, Thursday was full of nail-biting action, with five games coming down to the wire and ultimately being decided by two points for those playing by Las Vegas’ numbers.
Below we break down the five bad beats of the first day of March Madness action.
No. 14 Yale rallies late to cover against No. 3 LSU
Closing line: LSU -7
Final score: LSU 79, Yale 74
How the ending played out: LSU had taken a 16-point lead into halftime, which had Tigers bettors feeling comfortable, but Yale fought back through the second half to make things close once again.
Yale cut the deficit to 5 points with just two minutes remaining, and soon began playing the foul game. LSU was hitting their free throws, but Yale drained two three-pointers in the final 15 seconds that proved good enough for the cover.
No. 4 Florida State passes on easy basket that would have covered in final seconds against No. 13 Vermont
Closing line: Florida State -8.5
Final score: Florida State 76, Vermont 69
How the ending played out: Vermont had kept things close all game, but Florida State began to pull away late in the game, building up an 8-point lead that made Seminoles backers think they might be able to cover once Vermont started fouling.
Instead, with the win wrapped up, Florida State gave up an easy basket in the closing seconds, then passed up a wide open bucket on the final possession to let the clock expire. A fine win for Florida State fans, but a heartbreaking bad beat for their bettors.
No. 11 Belmont pushes No. 6 Maryland to the brink
Closing line: Maryland -3
Final score: Maryland 79, Belmont 77
How the ending played out: Maryland took the lead with three minutes left and never gave it back to Belmont, but Belmont kept things close enough to cover in the end. Maryland’s Darryl Morsell had the chance to make the bet a push with a final free throw with two seconds left in the game, but missed.
No. 11 Saint Mary’s falls just short against No. 6 Villanova
Closing line: Villanova -3.5
Final score: Villanova 61, Saint Mary’s 57
How the ending played out: Saint Mary’s almost was able to claw back against the Wildcats, hitting two jumpers in the final 35 seconds to cut the Nova lead to four. But their last two possessions would end with a miss and a turnover, spoiling the day for Gaels fans and bettors alike, and leaving Villanova backers victorious.
No. 3 Purdue ices the cover with a few late free throws against No. 14 Old Dominion
Closing line: Purdue -12.5
Final score: Purdue 61, Old Dominion 48
How the ending played out: While the game was never in doubt for Purdue, those betting on the Boilermakers had to sweat until the final seconds before their bet was won. Old Dominion scored a layup with 12 seconds left to cut the Purdue lead to 13, but couldn’t find one more point to cover the spread.
More March Madness 2019:
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