Think Last Second Shots Don't Matter In Basketball? The Cost Is Millions Of Dollars For Bettors And Sportsbooks

Zinger Key Points
  • To win a spread bet in college basketball, the bet on team has to win by that many points or not lose by more than the number of points.
  • One of the second round games in the 2023 National Tournament had a bad beat for bettors, who lost by a last second three.

More states have legalized sports betting in recent years, leading to an increased number of people who could bet on games in the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Tournament. Some may have found out quickly that bad beats and backdoor covers can crush bets.

What Happened: The 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Tournament kicked off last week and is expected to have more than $15.5 billion in wagers from 68 million Americans.

One of the most popular wagers in college basketball is on the spread. Each game has a team that is favored and a number of points that they are favored by. In order for a bet on the favorite and the spread to cash out, the favored team has to win by that many points or more.

Having a spread helps create two equal sides to the equation and provides better payouts for the favorites. Teams that are heavy favorites pay out less on betting on them to win as they do if bet along the spread or bet on underdogs such as number 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson to win.

On Sunday, one of the worst “bad beats” on the spread of the college basketball season happened.

Gonzaga was winning against TCU in the round of 32 game with a score of 84 to 78 with 0.7 seconds left. The game ending at that time would have cashed bets for those who bet on the Gonzaga moneyline and with a spread of -4.5 points.

Instead, a TCU player rolled the ball past halfcourt to not start the clock until Damion Baugh picked up the ball and shot a meaningless three from between half court and the three-point line to make the final score 84 to 81.

A Twitter account that is said to belong to Baugh shared its thoughts on getting called out for attempting the last second three.

“I don’t get how y’all mad because I played until the last buzzer. Proud of my team and we taught to fight until the end……Nobody told y’all to bet,” Baugh tweeted.

Related Link: March Madness Perfect Bracket Odds: Hold My Beer, Mega Millions And Powerball

Why It’s Important: Sports betting reporter Darren Rovell shared the video and said the basket likely shifted “tens of millions of dollars.”


The 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball has had several other bad beats in the first two rounds. Among them was a three-point shot by Texas A&M-CC in the final seconds to lose to 1-seed Alabama by 21 instead of 24, negating the -23.5 point spread that many had bet on.

Charleston lost to San Diego State by six points, after getting called for a meaningless foul with 0.7 seconds left and the two ensuing free throws made.

Another bad beat happened in the NIT Tournament between Oklahoma State and Eastern Washington, a game that Oklahoma State was favored by 11.5 points in.

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy shared footage of the game of Oklahoma State up 14 points dribbling and having a shot clock violation with 8.4 seconds left. Eastern Washington’s coach appears to tell his team to hold the ball and not shoot, down 14 points. A player on Eastern Washington fakes a shot several times before shooting and making a 3 with no time left.

The last-second shot, which happened while the team’s coaches were shaking hands, helped Portnoy win his bet of Eastern Washington +11.5.

The bad beats have been bad for bettors but in many cases good for sportsbooks.

Vegas Insider reporter Patrick Everson said an oddsmaker said the bad beat in the Gonzaga game swung $200,000 at one sportsbook to the positive.

BetMGM, a joint venture between MGM Resorts International MGM and Entain, had the majority of the tickets and money on Gonzaga at more than a 2/1 rate.

At PointsBet, 61% of the bets with the spread were on Gonzaga -4.5.

Wynn Resorts, Limited WYNN had 57.8% of the spread bets on Gonzaga -4.5.

The swing in the Gonzaga game along with the losses by heavily bet on teams such as Kansas, Purdue, Arizona and Duke have helped many sportsbooks.

“This has been the best start ever to the NCAA Tournament in terms of action and results for the book,” BetMGM has said, according to VSiNLive’s Ben Fawkes.

The NCAA Tournament resumes Thursday, March 23 with games on TBS and CBS from Warner Bros. Discovery WBD and Paramount Global PARAPARAA respectively.

Three-seed Gonzaga will take on 2-seed UCLA in a game Thursday night as two-point underdogs.

Read Next: Barack Obama March Madness Bracket: Former President Bets On History Happening 

Photo: Unsplash

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Posted In: Sports BettingSportsGeneralBetMGMDave PortnoyEntainMarch MadnessNCAA Men's Basketball National Tournament
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