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March Madness: Lucky Finish or a Bad Beat?

Anxious Moments Aplenty as NCAA Field Cut to Sweet 16

This was expected to be one of the more unpredictable NCAA Tournaments in recent memory and it is safe to say that so far it is living up to those college basketball predictions.

No. 15 seed Princeton is in the South Regional semifinals while the East Region features the No. 3, 4, 7 and 9 seeds with Kansas State, Tennessee, Michigan State and Florida Atlantic moving on as the March Madness expert picks left something to be desired.

Damion Baugh #10 of the TCU Horned Frogs dribbles the ball during the first half - Justin edmonds/getty Images/afp
Damion Baugh #10 of the TCU Horned Frogs dribbles the ball during the first half - Justin edmonds/getty Images/afp

Kansas, the top seed in the West, East No. 1 seed Purdue and Arizona, the No. 2 seed in the South, are among the title contenders who failed to make it to the regionals.

Alabama (+375) and Houston (+400) lead the way in the best odds to be cutting down the nets next month according to the March Madness odds. UCLA (+750), Texas (+850), Creighton (+1000), Gonzaga (+1000), UConn (+1000) and Tennessee (+1100) are other top contenders.

Here is a breakdown of the games that kept the attention of those making college basketball picks. More people are likely talking about Damion Baugh giving Texas Christian one of the most stunning back-door covers during March Madness than the fact that Gonzaga was heading to the Sweet 16 for the eighth season in a row.


San Diego State was favored by 4½ points against Charleston according to the college basketball lines, and with time running out, the Aztecs were leading 61-57. Micah Parrish was fouled with one second left and hit both free throws to give San Diego State the first of the most noteworthy back-door covers in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Another game on Thursday that had those who bet online tuning in until the bitter end was the Texas A&M-Penn State matchup.

The total opened at 134 but moved to 136½. It was a 76-59 game with 53 seconds left. The teams combined to miss the final three shots as the game finished just under the total.

Alabama was favored by 24½ points in the first round against Texas A&M Corpus Christi and it was a 24-point lead with less than one minute to play. Jordyn Grandberry’s jumper with 26 seconds left was answered by Alabama’s Nick Pringle’s dunk put it at 24 with less than 10 seconds to play.

Even if Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s Ross Williams hadn’t hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to make it a 96-75 final, it is unlikely Alabama would have taken another shot so the Crimson Tide weren’t going to cover.


Kansas State had already wrapped up a win in its tournament opener against Montana State. However, with the total at 139 according to the college basketball picks, there were some anxious moments when it was a 75-63 game with less than a minute to play.

Kansas State’s Ismael Massoud hit a pair of free throws to put the game over the total, and 11 seconds later, Montana State’s Jed Miller added a late jumper for good measure.

When Gonzaga’s Rasir Bolton missed one of the two free throws with 1:16 to play, it appeared that would have little impact when it came to reaching the total. However, when seven points were scored in the final 62 seconds, that resulted in Gonzaga’s game against Grand Canyon finishing one point under the 152-point total.

The Saint Mary’s-Virginia Commonwealth lived up to the predictions as one of the lowest-scoring games in the first round.

With 30 seconds to play, Saint Mary’s led 61-51 and that would have finished under the total of 122½. That ended when Logan Johnson hit a pair of foul shots with 27 seconds to go.


Texas was up by seven points on Penn State with 21 seconds to play and things were getting interesting with the second-seeded Longhorns favored by five points per the sportsbook.

Penn State’s Seth Lundy converted a four-point play with five seconds to play and it looked like the Nittany Lions would finish with the back-door cover.

However, Lundy fouled with Penn State down three. Marcus Carr hit both free throws as the game finished with Texas winning 71-66.

It was looking like another push when UCLA, an eight-point favorite, led Northwestern 68-60 with less than 10 seconds to play.

Boo Buie was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer and he made all three free throws as the underdog Wildcats did cover even as the season came to an end.


There wasn’t as much late-game drama as the regional fields were finalized until the final game of the Round of 32.

Gonzaga, the last team to punch its ticket into the Sweet 16, was favored by 4½ points against Texas Christian. After a 3-pointer by TCU’s Rondell Walker with five seconds left, it was a four-point game. The Horned Frogs committed a foul with one second left to play.

The two foul shots by Hunter Sallis seemed to seal the deal with Gonzaga covering. Baugh had other ideas as his buzzer-beating 3-pointer made it an 84-81 win by Gonzaga and a most improbable cover by Texas Christian.

The Kansas State-Kentucky game opened with a total of 142 but moved to 145½. With a 67-62 game with 40 seconds to play, it looked for certain that those who went with the under would be cashing in. However, the teams combined for 15 points in the final 37 seconds and Kansas State’s 75-69 win finished under, but not by much.

When Saint Mary’s Logan Johnson was going in for a layup against UConn with 19 seconds remaining, that play was garnering plenty of attention. If the final shot of the game was good, it would have sent the contest over the 126½-point total. However, Johnson did not convert and the game finished under (70-55).

There was a similar scenario late in Florida Atlantic’s 78-70 win over Fairleigh Dickinson. It was a 74-67 game with less than a minute to play.

The game opened at 149 and finished as a 78-70 win by FAU. By the time the game tipped off, the total moved to 145 and that number was surpassed on FDU’s 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining.

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