The Bad Beat Bracket: Elite Eight
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Marshall
Warning. This post contains lots of heartbreak.
We’re now down to the Elite Eight after you voted on each matchup on Twitter.
We acknowledge there’s some recency bias in the selections; fresh wounds still sting, and the Twitter Era has made it easier for these beats to surface.
You can check out the full bracket here.
What’s a bad beat? They come in many shapes and sizes, but it’s generally a bet that looked like a winner and ended up a loser thanks to some wild series of events.
Over the next few weeks, you can cast your votes on Twitter to determine the worst beat of all-time.
Some of these atrocities will look familiar, and some you probably haven’t heard of. So we explained all remaining eight below with videos. Here are explanations of all 64 originally in the bracket.
1. Falcons vs. Patriots, Super Bowl 51
- The Line: Falcons +4.5
- The Final: Patriots 34, Falcons 28
- The Heartbreak: Everything
This game needs little introduction.
If you’re a Falcons fan, you still can’t believe they blew a 28-3 lead and lost Super Bowl 51. If you bet the Falcons that day, you still can’t believe they didn’t cover as 4.5-point underdogs in overtime.
3. The Fail Mary
- The Line: Packers -3
- The Final: Seahawks 14, Packers 12
- The Heartbreak: Replacement Refs
One replacement ref ruled the play a touchdown. The other ruled the play an interception. After review … I still don’t think they know yet.
Trailing 12-7 with no time left, Russell Wilson chucked up a Hail Mary that appeared to be intercepted, but the replacement refs ruled simultaneous possession and awarded it to Seattle, so the Seahawks won and covered.
9. St. Bonaventure vs. VCU, 2017
- The Line: Bonnies +1.5
- The Final: VCU 83, St. Bonaventure 77
- The Heartbreak: The Court Storm
If you’re going to storm the court, make sure you wait until the clock hits zero.
St. Bonaventure ended up losing this game in overtime after a go-ahead 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left. The Bonnies received a technical foul, and VCU converted the foul shot to send the game to overtime, where the Rams won by six.
3. Iona vs. Manhattan, 2013 MAAC Title
- The Line: Iona -4
- The Final: Iona 60, Manhattan 57
- The Heartbreak: 5 Points, 1 Second
Iona (-4) was cruising to a win and cover in the 2012 MAAC Championship Game. The Gaels led by eight points with six seconds left. Then disaster struck.
Manhattan hit a three as time expired, but officials ruled there was still time on the clock, so Iona received a technical foul when its bench rushed the court.
The Jaspers hit both free throws and covered +4.
College Football Region
1. Belk Bowl, 2012
- The Line: Cincinnati -9
- The Final: Cincy 48, Duke 34
- The Heartbreak: Goal line fumble, 83-yard TD, Pick-Six
Belk is no longer sponsoring this bowl after the 2019 edition, which will be a welcome change for anyone who was on Duke in the 2012 game. You never have to hear the words “Belk Bowl” again. After this.
Tied 34-34, Duke (+9) was inside Cincy’s 5-yard line with less than two minutes to play. There’s not even a chance Duke doesn’t cover in bettors minds. But the Blue Devils fumbled. Still, you feel great about +9.
Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay then threw an 83-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce to go up 41-34 with 44 seconds left. Still, at +9, you feel good.
But then, Duke quarterback Sean Renfree got hit as he threw with less than 20 seconds left, and Cincy picked it off and returned it for a touchdown.
11. Prayer at Jordan Hare, 2013
- The Line: Georgia +3.5
- The Final: Auburn 43, Georgia 38
- The Heartbreak: The Tipped Pass TD
Auburn’s run to the 2013 national title game should have ended right here. But instead, two Georgia safeties collided, allowing Nick Marshall’s pass on fourth-and-18 to fall into the hands of Ricardo Lewis, giving the Tigers a win and cover as 3.5-point favorites.
Other Sports Region
12. British Open 1999
- The Line: Jean Van de Velde 200-1
- The Final: Paul Lawrie wins
- The Heartbreak: Socks and Shoes
Longshot Jean Van de Velde took a three-shot lead into the final hole of the 1999 British Open. Then disaster struck.
He pushed his drive, then tried to reach the green with a 2-iron, and his ball hit a railing on the grandstand and landed in deep rough. He again tried to reach the green and instead ended up in the water.
He removed his shoes and socks, rolled up his pant legs, then decided against the effort and took a drop. He then hit into a greenside bunker and splashed out to 6 feet. After that debacle, he holed the ensuing putt for a triple bogey to get to a playoff.
But with his nerves shattered, he lost the playoff to Paul Lawrie.
2. Mets vs. Braves, 1999 NLCS
- The Line: Over/Under 7.5
- The Final: Mets 4, Braves 3
- The Heartbreak: The Grand Slam Single
Robin Ventura smoked a grand slam to right field to give the Mets a 7-3 win in Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS.
But Todd Pratt, the runner on second, mobbed Ventura before he could finish rounding the bases. So the home run was officially ruled a single, and only one runner had crossed the plate.
That meant the game finished with seven runs, falling just short of the total.