Last week, my colleague, Eric Raskin, wrote a story about bettors complaining insufferably about bad beats that weren’t actually bad beats.
He’s right. Some bettors complain every time bets go against them at the end of a game, assuming every close loss constitutes a bad beat. That cheapens the meaning of bad beat.
But Wednesday night inside LionTree Arena in La Jolla, California, a men’s college basketball game between UC Riverside and UC San Diego ended in a way so disastrous for UC San Diego backers that every sports bettor on the planet would likely agree that it was a devastatingly bad beat.
Some savvy college basketball bettors jumped on the early UC San Diego line, and they were in an ideal position entering the second half. UC San Diego led 40-27 at halftime, and the Tritons extended their lead to 18(!) points with 11:27 left in the game. Surely, they would hold on for the outright victory at home.
The Highlanders had other ideas.
UC Riverside closed the game on a tear, erasing a 10-point deficit with five minutes remaining. UC Riverside led 69-68 with about 10 seconds left and possession of the ball. UC San Diego moneyline bettors were still likely to be heartbroken at this point, but those who grabbed the Tritons at +3.5 were in a good spot with little time left on the clock. UC San Diego fouled, and UC Riverside made two free throws with 1.8 seconds left to extend its lead to 71-68.
It became a sweat, but UC San Diego +3.5 bettors seemed to be in the clear. And then, the unthinkable happened.
A banked-in three?!
UC Riverside stole the ensuing inbounds pass, and instead of just dribbling out the clock and letting the time expire, Flynn Cameron jacked up a 3-point shot — which banked in.
The absurd ending left bettors wondering, “Why in the world did Cameron shoot??”
🚨 Nominee for bad beat of the CBB season
UC San Diego +3.5 🤮 🤮pic.twitter.com/V2m0LWnRSK
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) January 12, 2023
With his team leading, it was a fair question.
For those who didn’t watch the game, it doesn’t seem like the worst move from Cameron. By shooting the ball with just over a second left, he essentially guaranteed that his team would win the game.
If he was fouled and missed both free throws, UC San Diego could have a chance for a full-court heave to tie the game. His jump shot was going to take more than a second to get to the basket, which meant taking the 3-pointer ensured time would expire.
But that argument doesn’t quite hold up.
Cameron, one of the better outside shooters in the Big West, was uncovered when he stole the pass! He took an uncontested 3-pointer from the top of the key with nobody near him and banked it in for his side to cover. Cameron could have easily dribbled twice and the game would have ended.
The 3-pointer didn’t change the outcome of the game, but it resulted in a brutal beat for UC San Diego backers.
I promise you will never, ever, ever find a worse beat than UC San Diego +3.5
-Up 18 with 11 minutes left
-Down 1 with 2 seconds left
-Foul, Riverside makes 2 FTs, 3-point game
-Inbound pass w/ 1.8 left, Riverside catches it, bafflingly launches a 3, banks it in. What?
— Jim Root (@2ndChancePoints) January 12, 2023