TCU’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of its loss to Gonzaga won’t make this year’s “One Shining Moment” video montage, but it may be one of the most memorable moments of March Madness for bettors.
Trailing by six points with 0.7 seconds left, TCU (+4 and +4.5 at various mobile sportsbooks) rolled the ball inbounds. Gonzaga didn’t pressure the ball, with the victory secured. The lack of ball pressure allowed Damion Baugh to hoist a 3-point jumper from just inside half court while some of his teammates started exchanging postgame pleasantries with Gonzaga players.
Baugh’s shot splashed through the net, sending Gonzaga bettors to bed with a loss.
BAD BEAT ALL-TIMER! GONZAGA WAS -4.5 VS TCU! 🏀💸 #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/vr7Uniel6C
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 20, 2023
Both TCU and Gonzaga bettors had moments over the final 20 seconds of action during which they felt like they’d win their bets. Gonzaga led by seven points with nine seconds left, but TCU trimmed the deficit to four with a 3-pointer in the final five seconds.
TCU could’ve opted to let the clock run out, which would’ve resulted in a push for those who took TCU +4 and a win for those with +4.5. Instead the Horned Frogs fouled with 0.7 seconds left. Gonzaga made both free throws to stretch its lead to six points.
Seemingly, Gonzaga bettors were in the clear. Any level of pressure on the inbounds pass would’ve forced TCU into a shot from beyond half court.
Instead, Baugh drained the long, uncontested 3-point jumper to give TCU a cover. Gonzaga backers argued Baugh’s motion of picking the ball off the ground and throwing it toward the rim likely took more than 0.7 seconds, and the basket should’ve been waved off. The officials, somewhat understandably with the game decided, didn’t check the monitor to see if the shot was released before the buzzer.
Did you have Gonzaga -4.5 or TCU +4.5?
A brutal #MarchMadness beat or amazing final-second win.
Here was the crowd's reaction at @CircaSports in Las Vegas pic.twitter.com/8fpVSHMDPh
— VSiN (@VSiNLive) March 20, 2023
Unfortunately, Baugh tweeted postgame that some frustrated bettors shared their displeasure with him via social media channels.
It was an unexpected finish to an entertaining game, which saw the underdog Horned Frogs take a halftime lead before Gonzaga pulled away midway through the second half. The Bulldogs are headed to the Sweet 16 for the eighth consecutive tournament.
Other ‘bad beats’
While Alabama looked the part of the national title favorite through the first two rounds of the Big Dance, the Crimson Tide failed to cover a 23.5-point spread in their opening game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Alabama looked poised to win 96-72 in the final seconds, but Ross Williams had other ideas.
Williams ran over to a teammate dribbling out the clock and received the ball with just under 15 seconds left. He danced around for about 10 seconds, and it wasn’t clear if the guard was going to shoot or if he just wanted to end his season by flashing his handles on national TV.
If you had Alabama -23.5… look away pic.twitter.com/b97DJZTEjp
— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) March 16, 2023
As the clock ticked down, Williams created space for a step-back 3-pointer. The shot was pure, and Texas A&M Corpus-Christi covered the spread against the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed with a buzzer-beating jumper.
Elsewhere in the first round, Charleston fought hard against Sweet-16-bound San Diego State. The Cougars were in good position to cover a 5.5-point spread, but they were whistled for a foul down four with 0.7 seconds left, and the Aztecs converted both free throws. Charleston didn’t pull off a TCU-style heave with 0.7 seconds left, so it failed to cover the spread.
A VERY IMPORTANT FOUL 👀
San Diego St. (-5.5) would go on to make both free throws and cover 😅 ✅pic.twitter.com/kQHAlFHCSn
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) March 16, 2023
Take your ‘L’
As Eric Raskin pointed out during the NFL season, not every lost bet is a bad beat. Don’t tell that to bettors, though, as it’s much easier to call a lost bet a bad beat than to admit your wager simply came up short.
Plenty of bets fall in the “take your loss” category during the opening round of the men’s NCAA Tournament. Alabama, Charleston, and Gonzaga “bad beats” arguably fall into this category, as none of the three teams necessarily “deserved” to cover, and Drake +3 against Miami definitely falls into this category.
The Bulldogs are one of the best mid-major teams in the country, and they had the Hurricanes on the ropes in the opening round. Leading 55-47 with five minutes left, Drake’s offense went ice cold. The Bulldogs were outscored 16-1 the rest of the game, failing to cover the spread.
Drake +3.5…. Now that’s a bad beat pic.twitter.com/65QttN9Wo9
— Matt (@MattAFalk) March 20, 2023
Plenty of fans called their lost wager a bad beat. That’s a stretch.
Drake was dominated late by a Miami team that just cruised past Indiana to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16. Sure, the bet seemed poised to win, but it wasn’t a bad beat. Drake was simply outplayed late by the ACC’s regular-season champion!
Futures odds update
Arizona losing to Princeton in the first round wasn’t a bad beat, but it certainly sent some brackets into the trash. The same can be said for Purdue’s historic loss against No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson. Fellow No. 1 seed Kansas is also out of the bracket, albeit in a less embarrassing 72-71 loss to Arkansas.
With several title contenders out of the event, futures odds look much different than they did a few weeks ago.
Alabama remains the favorite on FanDuel at +300, while Houston is +450. UCLA is +800, UConn is +850, and Creighton’s odds are listed at +950. Princeton has the longest odds on FanDuel at +15000. Caesars Sportsbook lists Princeton, this year’s best remaining Cinderella story, at +20000.
BetMGM has similar futures odds to FanDuel, although Texas sits at +900 as one of the top contenders remaining. Gonzaga is hovering just above +1000 at most mobile sportsbooks.