NCAA March Madness betting: Flagrant foul on Oklahoma allows Gonzaga bettors to barely cover

For a while, Gonzaga didn't look absolutely dominant. And the Bulldogs still covered the only double-digit spread of the second-round games in the NCAA tournament.

Gonzaga needed help to get over the finish line for bettors, but it did win, 87-71. They can thank a flagrant foul in the final minute on Oklahoma.

The line had a big shift before tipoff. Gonzaga was a 14-point favorite, then it jumped to 15.5 shortly before the game started. That indicates a lot of money came in on Gonzaga late. Even before that line move, 77% of the money bet on the game at BetMGM was on Gonzaga.

Up 84-70 with 55.9 seconds left, Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs was pushed in the back on a breakaway by Oklahoma's Elijah Harkless. It was a flagrant foul at the end of a hard-fought game, and it had a huge effect on the point spread.

Suggs made one of two free throws, Gonzaga got the ball back and Oklahoma fouled even though it was down 15 points with less than a minute to go. Gonzaga made two free throws to take a 17-point lead, Oklahoma missed one free throw with 37.3 seconds left and that was the difference in a half-point Gonzaga cover. Oklahoma had a shot at a backdoor cover but Gonzaga rebounded a miss with seconds to go.

The flagrant foul also helped over bettors. The over/under was 155.5 and the extra points at the end helped the over bets win. Of all the bets on the total, 73% of the money was on the over at BetMGM as of Monday morning.

Gonzaga looked like it was on its way to a huge win when it took a 19-point lead with a little more than 12 minutes left. But the Sooners hung around and a 3-pointer in the final 3 minutes — after a Gonzaga turnover on an inbounds pass — cut the Bulldogs' lead to 9.

Bulldogs bettors had to sweat it out. Other than the first half of the WCC championship game against BYU, when the Cougars' offense went ballistic and scored 53 points, that stretch in the second half against Oklahoma was one of the few times in weeks Gonzaga has looked remotely beatable.

In the first round Gonzaga was the first favorite of 30 points or more in the NCAA tournament since 2015, and it covered easily. Gonzaga had a bit of trouble covering a 15.5-point closing spread Monday, but ended up winning against the spread. Gonzaga is looking great, and has covered both games against the spread. The Bulldogs' odds to win the championship were down to +175 at BetMGM before their game tipped off Monday.

The only question might not be if anyone can beat Gonzaga, but if anyone even covers a spread against them this tournament.

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme (2) shoots under Oklahoma guard Elijah Harkless (24) during Monday's NCAA tournament game. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Gonzaga forward Drew Timme (2) shoots under Oklahoma guard Elijah Harkless (24) during Monday's NCAA tournament game. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

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