When referees ruled Brandon Taylor had committed a last-second foul before the end of Friday's Utah-Duke game, their decision to put seven-tenths of a second back on the clock and send Quinn Cook to the foul line wasn't as meaningless as it may have seemed.
A lot of money changed hands because Cook sank one of two free throws to increase the Blue Devils' final margin of victory to 63-57.
Most sports books listed top-seeded Duke as either a five-point favorite or a 5.5-point favorite entering its Sweet 16 matchup with fifth-seeded Utah. A bet on the Utes to cover would have either won or pushed based on those lines until Cook's otherwise innocuous free throw changed that.
Reaction from gamblers was immediate and wide-ranging on social media simply because of the unusual circumstances in the game's final seconds. Both teams were so sure the game was over that Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Utah's Larry Krystkowiak had already shaken hands and the players were already going through the handshake line as well before referees sent them back onto the floor.
The decision to extend the game helped gamblers and hurt sports books for the most part. According to the web site Top Bet, 83 percent of those who wagered on the game bet that Duke would cover the 5.5-point spread.
Referees were technically correct that Taylor committed a needless reach-in foul with time still left on the clock, though reviewing the play and forcing the teams to return to the floor served no real purpose. Furthermore, if the refs were that interested in making calls right up to the final buzzer, they certainly could have ruled a jump ball seconds earlier when Delon Wright appeared to cleanly tie up Cook.
Among those gamblers who had the most reason to be furious was a Twitter user named @Tanesurf, whose six-team parlay included the Utah-Duke game. Instead of winning $1,000 for hitting on five of those bets and pushing on the Utes, he gets nothing.
Of course, he's not the only gambler affected by the last-second foul. A sampling of reaction from others who either caught a lucky break or endured the bad beat of the NCAA tournament:
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