BYU beats buzzer, handicapper

As the final seconds ticked off in Texas A&M’s 67-62 victory over Brigham Young on Thursday, it was clear the Aggies were going to win and cover the point spread.

But the total of 129 was undecided, and so were professional handicapper Paul Stone’s biggest bets of the NCAA Tournament’s opening day — a combined $1,100 on the under.

After two missed 3-point attempts on BYU’s final possession, the Cougars’ Sam Burgess got his second straight offensive rebound and sank an otherwise meaningless jump shot with three seconds left.

But the basket certainly meant something to Stone — a losing day. Instead of turning a small profit, he wound up $855 down. On the BYU game, he lost $110 on a late under-127 wager and pushed on his $990 bet at under-129.

Stone went 3-3-1 against the spread, losing $880 on Southern California, $440 on Temple and $275 on Baylor while winning $350 apiece on A&M and Arizona-West Virginia over 137, and $150 on the UNLV-Kent State second-half over 681/2.

A former avid ultramarathoner who finished the grueling Badwater Marathon in Death Valley three times, Stone knows more than most that the tournament is "a marathon, not a sprint."

"Obviously it’s quite disappointing, but if you’ve been at this as long as I have, you know there will be days like this," said Stone, 46, a pro handicapper for over 20 years. "But I certainly don’t want to have another day like this. I don’t want to start out in a rut right off the bat."

Stone, a native Texan who joked he majored in "Sixth Street entertainment and sports betting" at the University of Texas, hopes to rebound today with six more plays.

His top pick is the Saint Joseph’s-Oklahoma game under 127, which he played for $1,100, and he also likes 1-point underdog Saint Joseph’s for $660.

"Saint Joseph’s is a great defensive team and Oklahoma is a strong defensive team that is very challenged offensively, so I like the under there," he said. "St. Joseph’s played well down the stretch."

Stone also is high on Miami, a 1-point favorite over Saint Mary’s (Calif.). He took the Hurricanes for $990, citing Saint Mary’s 2-12-2 mark against the spread at neutral sites and 0-8 record as an underdog in its last eight at neutral sites.

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