Don’t think for one second that it is a coincidence that the moose population is dwindling as March Madness comes to an end. Considering we only watched 12 tournament games between Thursday and Sunday, how many bad beats could there have really been? Surprisingly, a lot. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the moose in March when the lines get tight.

For those of you not familiar with the term “Moose,” it has been used for years within the sports betting world to reference a bad beat. It originated within the old-school gambling forums more than 15 years ago and has stuck ever since.

Let’s jump into the five worst beats from this weekend of the tourney.

 

5. Loyola-Chicago 2H +2.5 (vs. Nevada)

Bad beats usually happen in college basketball when a team fouls in the final seconds with the game already decided. (Yes, I’m still salty about North Carolina A&T fouling down 11 with three seconds left in the CIT against Liberty.) However, this weekend was more about bettors unexpectedly not getting a late foul (or free throws) for various reasons.

In this particular game, Loyola led by four at the half, which meant those who decided to wager on the Ramblers +2.5 for the second half needed an outright win by at least two points.

Well, those who bet Loyola were sitting pretty after the Ramblers hit a three with six seconds left to take a four-point lead, essentially locking up a spot in the Elite Eight.

 

But then Nevada hit a 3 with two seconds left to cut the deficit to one. Now, 2H backers needed a foul. Nevada would indeed foul twice in the final seconds, but even Sister Jean couldn’t save Loyola 2H backers, as the Wolf Pack had two fouls to give! Time ran out on the third inbounds, which meant no free throws and a one-point Loyola-Chicago win and non-2H cover.

4. Duke-Syracuse Under 133

It seemed like the whole world bet this under, so I’m sure a lot of you will appreciate this being on the list.

Duke led 63-60 with 55 seconds left in regulation, which meant under backers had a 10-point cushion in a one-possession game with under a minute left.

 

However, seven points over the final 21 seconds eventually pushed the game over the total by a single point. Three of the four Duke totals this tourney have been roller-coaster rides to bet on, as the Iona-Duke over and one I will mention later both had brutal finishes

3. Michigan -4.5 (vs. Florida State)

This game gave us the interview of the tournament, as Leonard Hamilton trying to explain his way out of not fouling in the Elite Eight down by only four points with 12 seconds left was mesmerizing.

 

If only Dana Jacobson had brought this up. That interview couldn’t have made Michigan bettors any happier, as they suffered through a miserable last few minutes. The Wolverines took a 10-point lead with 2:26 left before Michigan missed a number of free throws (and even fouled Florida State on a 3-point attempt). Ultimately, Michigan held on for a four-point win after Florida State inexplicably quit with 12 seconds left in its season.  I mean, Virginia won a game at Louisville earlier this season in which it trailed by four points with under a second left!

2. Kansas 1H +2 (vs. Duke)

Duke had the ball up one with under 20 seconds left, but the shot clock was not turned off. A KU stop or a score on its final possession should do the job for 1H backers. The first part didn’t work out, as Duke guard Trevon Duval hit a floater with eight seconds left.

The first half would come down to the last Kansas shot. A beautiful outlet pass led to a wide-open layup for Silvio De Sousa. Kansas backers jumped out of their seats only to see it rim out as time expired, with Duke taking a one-point lead (and one-point 1H cover) into the half.

 

Given how many times Grant Hill said “Kansas is in control” in the first half, you’d think Kansas 1H backers would’ve cashed their tickets. It’s also never fun to see your underdog win outright after losing a bet on them for the first half.

1. Kansas -4.5 (vs. Clemson)

Kansas was in control of this entire game. The Jayhawks took a 13-point lead into the half and built the margin to as many as 20 (with 12 minutes left). They even led by double digits with 2:30 to go before Clemson made an improbable run to close the game. The Tigers eventually cut the lead to four in the final seconds (the closest they were since midway through the first half), but weren’t able to foul over the final five seconds.

 

Betting on Kansas games in the tournament has been ulcer-inducing, especially as 4.5-point favorites. Last week, Kansas also came in at No. 1 on the bad beat rankings after Seton Hall hit a meaningless 3-pointer as time expired to cover +4.5 by the hook. That game featured three separate bad beats. Even in the Duke-Kansas game above, I didn’t mention the Under 156 moose.

Top photo: Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton

Credit:

© Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports