To the casual observer, there wasn’t a whole lot of drama with Baylor’s 78-59 victory over Houston in the Final Four on Saturday evening.
With the win, Baylor punched its ticket to the national championship game for the first time since 1948. And it did so with a dominant effort. The Bears built a big lead — 45-20 at halftime — and never looked back.
But if you bet on the total, the game came all the way down to the wire. And it came down to a jumper from a seldom-used walk-on to deliver one of the worst beats of the NCAA tournament. Unless you were on the over.
One bettor at BetMGM put down a whopping $110,000 on over 135. When barely 100 total points had been scored with under seven minutes remaining in regulation, things were not looking good for over bettors.
All of a sudden, though, shots started falling left and right. In three minutes — from the 6:48 mark to the 3:48 mark — the teams combined for 18 points. At that point, the score was 70-51, a total of 121 points, and the over was in striking distance. And once some of the deep reserves on both sides were in the game, shots were going up without much thought.
The shot that eventually pushed the game past the total came from a Baylor senior named Mark Paterson. With the score sitting at 76-58 (134 points), Paterson, at the :28 mark, corralled an offensive rebound and surveyed his options for a few seconds.
Paterson could have dribbled the ball out and let some most of the remaining time come off the clock. But why would he do that? This is a guy who is a first-year walk-on with the program who previously played two seasons at St. Edward’s University. That’s a Division II school in Austin. During his time there, he averaged 2.3 points per game.
He was playing in the Final Four. Of course he was going to shoot. He had to shoot.
This was the guy who was going to ruin your night if you had the under.
Paterson took his time and fired up an awkward baseline fadeaway jumper from about 12 feet out and cashed it. Of course he did.
Paterson’s jumper put the game over the total and won $100,000 for that big bettor at BetMGM. If you had the under, though, it was a brutal turn of events.
Entering Saturday’s game, Paterson had played 22 minutes and scored a total of 12 points in a Baylor uniform. Now it’s 23 minutes and 14 points.
Baylor covers the spread again
Other than failing to cover as a 25.5-point favorite in the first round, Baylor has been very reliable for bettors during the NCAA tournament. That continued on Saturday in the Final Four.
In this one, the Bears were five-point favorites at BetMGM and covered the spread easily.
With the win, Baylor covered the spread for the fourth consecutive game. Previously, Baylor covered as 6.5-point favorites against Wisconsin, 7.5-point favorites against Villanova and 7.5-point favorites against Arkansas.
As of Saturday morning, Baylor had received 65% of the bets and 70% of the money at BetMGM. And one BetMGM customer showed a ton of confidence in Baylor, putting down $308,000 on the Bears to cover the spread. The bet won $280,000.
Next for the Bears is either a showdown with undefeated Gonzaga or UCLA, which began its NCAA tournament run in the First Four and managed to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2008.
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