NCAA March Madness betting: $451K on Alabama among 5 huge Sweet 16 losing bets

Sam Cooper
·5 min read

It was a great weekend for the sportsbook.

BetMGM received five six-figure bets on the weekend’s Sweet 16 action in the NCAA men's tournament. All five were winners for the sportsbook. And none of them was particularly close, either.

Well, one provided at least some drama. And it happened to have been the biggest bet BetMGM has received on the entire tournament: $451,000 on Alabama -6 vs. UCLA.

Most of the way, things were looking very dicey for this bettor. UCLA took a 40-29 lead into halftime and did its best to hold on for dear life in the game’s final 20 minutes. But within five minutes of the second half, the score was tied.

From there, it was a high-wire act all the way until the end. Alabama struggled mightily from the free-throw line, especially down the stretch, and trailed 65-62 with four seconds to go. Overtime was needed for this bettor to have any chance.

Alabama’s Alex Reese then stepped up and drilled a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send the game to an extra session tied 65-65. Alabama seemed to have all the momentum. All of a sudden, the Crimson Tide covering the six-point spread did not seem like a stretch.

UCLA had other ideas, though.

The Bruins scored the first seven points of overtime and never looked back, advancing to the Elite Eight with an 88-78 victory.

The Alabama bet would have yielded $410,000 for the bettor. Instead it went to the sportsbook.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 28: Head coach Nate Oats of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts to a call during the second half against the UCLA Bruins in the Sweet Sixteen round game of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 28, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Alabama head coach Nate Oats reacts to a call during the second half against UCLA in the Sweet 16 at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Trendy underdogs Florida State, Oregon lose

Florida State was a trendy upset pick on Sunday against Michigan. Michigan was favored, but the point spread moved all the way down to just 1.5 before tip-off. One BetMGM customer appeared to have great value on the Seminoles, nabbing them at +3 with a $222,000 bet that would have won $202,000.

Instead, Michigan ran away with the game and turned it into a blowout. The Wolverines were dominant inside, out-scoring the Seminoles 50-28 in the paint. Michigan turned up the heat defensively, too, allowing FSU to score just 21 first-half points. The final result was a 76-58 victory.

Florida State cut the deficit down to five, 41-36, early in the second half, but that was as close as FSU would get.

Oregon was an even more popular upset pick than Florida State on Sunday. The Ducks, fresh off a big upset over Iowa, squared off with Pac-12 foe USC and were short underdogs.

One bettor at BetMGM wagered $367,200 on Oregon +3 with the chance to win $306,000. As of Sunday morning, 46% of the bets and 47% of the money was on Oregon to pull off the upset, so this bettor certainly wasn’t alone.

USC, though, was able to keep its hot-shooting ways going. The Trojans drilled Kansas 85-51 in the Round of 32, shooting 57.1% from the field in the process. USC was even better in Sunday night’s win over Oregon, shooting 57.4% in the 82-68 victory.

USC is now a perfect 7-0 against the spread in its NCAA men's tournament games under coach Andy Enfield. Personally, Enfield is 10-0 ATS in NCAA men's tournament play when you include his run at Florida Gulf Coast in 2013.

Oregon State spoils big Loyola Chicago bet

After Loyola Chicago upset No. 1 seed Illinois in the Round of 32, a bettor put down $306,000 on the Ramblers to cover in the Sweet 16 against Oregon State on Saturday.

The Ramblers were favored by either 6.5 or 7 throughout the week, and this bettor decided to buy half a point and take Loyola at -120 odds. The bet would have won $255,000, but it ended up not being close.

Loyola Chicago struggled mightily from the field, shooting just 33% from the field while hitting just five of its 23 attempts from 3-point territory. The result was a 65-58 upset by the Beavers and another big win for the sportsbook.

Oregon State has now covered the spread in 13 of its last 14 games, and it was an underdog in all but one of those games.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 27: Cameron Krutwig #25 of the Loyola Ramblers reacts in the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Tournament against the Oregon State Beavers held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 27, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Loyola Chicago's NCAA men's tournament dreams were dashed by Oregon State in the Sweet 16. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Gonzaga continues to roll

In Sunday’s early game, No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga was a 13.5-point favorite against Creighton. Gonzaga received 72% of the bets and 80% of the money at BetMGM, but there was one significant backer of Creighton.

One bettor wagered $112,200 on Creighton +13.5. The bet would have won $102,000, but Gonzaga ended up winning 83-65.

Creighton was in striking distance of covering the spread for much of the game, but Gonzaga began to really pull away with about 10 minutes remaining. The Bulldogs’ lead grew as large as 27 points, 80-53, at the 4:42 mark. It was too much to overcome, and Gonzaga ended up winning by 18.

With the win, Gonzaga has covered the spread in all three of its NCAA men's tournament games. The average point spread in those three games was 20.3 points.

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