Anyone watching the Final Four erupted when Jalen Suggs put an incredible 3-pointer on the buzzer to get Gonzaga to the championship game. Well, everyone was thrilled, except for UCLA fans. And BetMGM
BetMGM was really not happy.
In Gonzaga’s quest for an undefeated season, gamblers continued to support the Bulldogs to beat games and win everything. Regardless of how the sportsbook shifted the odds of making bettors pay taxes to take Gonzaga, bets on Gonzaga didn’t slow down.
Gonzaga didn’t get close to coverage against UCLA on Saturday night, but their dramatic classic win at UCLA sustained the many, many bets on the Bulldogs to win the NCAA Championship.
Those Gonzaga gamblers had a lot of sweat on Saturday and not many people expected that. Many people holding tickets went crazy when Suggs hit one of the most famous shots in NCAA tournament history.
Gonzaga was the choice of many gamblers
UCLA was a 14-point underdog, the biggest spread in a Final Four game in at least 25 years. UCLA was usually a +700 or +750 underdog on the moneyline, although the Bruins briefly moved to +800 on Saturday before closing at +750 at BetMGM.
And Saturday it looked like UCLA would win for a long time.
BetMGM was rooting hard for UCLA. As of Saturday afternoon, 79 percent of the money bet on the game was on Gonzaga. More so, BetMGM had enormous liability to Gonzage in the futures market. More than a third of all money bet on the NCAA champions was on Gonzaga. Gonzaga opened the season at +800 to win the championship and the number went all the way back to -225 for Saturday.
During the first four rounds, Gonzaga covered four times and easily covered three of the four games. Only Oklahoma, which kept the match near the spread for most of the second half, got close to Gonzaga against the spread.
UCLA gave Gonzaga a better game than anyone thought.
UCLA scares Gonzaga
Gonzaga hit a shot in the last seconds of the first half and led 45-44 at half time. According to CBS, it was the highest scoring first half in a Final Four since 2009. The first half among gamblers never had a chance.
Gonzaga got off to a strong second half and Bulldogs bettors must have thought they had a chance to beat the big number, but UCLA didn’t want to leave. The Bruins fought back to make it a game, and the drama shifted to whether UCLA could win on the money line. Its distribution was really not in doubt.
In the last two minutes, an incredible streak for Suggs, in which he had a phenomenal block on the edge and passed it on to Drew Timme for a dunk, was a phenomenal highlight and nowhere near his most memorable play of the night. UCLA had a chance of winning in the closing seconds of regulation, but they were called to charge. The game went into extra time, the first national semi-final game to be extended since Stanford vs. Kentucky in 1998.
When Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard hit a 3 with just over a minute to go, Gonzaga took a 90-85 lead, and it seemed that would end UCLA’s distorted bid. But UCLA tied it with just over 3 seconds to go. It looked like the game would double the extra time. Suggs ended it.
If Gonzaga finalizes their championship bid Monday night, many punters across the country will happily remember Suggs’s shot forever.
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