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Fairleigh Dickinson’s historic upset painful for sportsbooks

Chants of “FDU” reverberated through sportsbooks Friday night after Fairleigh Dickinson produced the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history.

The Knights stunned No. 1 seed Purdue as 23-point underdogs to become the second No. 16 seed to win a game in the round of 64 in their 63-58 win over the Boilermakers.

Bettors dealt books a loss on the game as they cashed tickets on Fairleigh Dickinson at up to 25-1 on the money line.

A bettor at the South Point wagered $2,100 on Fairleigh Dickinson at 25-1 and won $52,500.

Caesars Sportsbook took 629 tickets in Nevada alone at 20-1 odds, including a $1,000 wager to win $20,000 and a $500 bet that paid $10,000.

“It was not a good result for Caesars Sportsbook, but it was a great result for college basketball,” Caesars assistant director of trading Adam Pullen said. “This is precisely why this is the best sporting event there is, in my opinion. Anything can happen, and that’s why I love it.

“It was a decent loss just because of the money line. Getting 20-1 during the regular season, not a lot of people will bet those. But obviously in the NCAA Tournament, more people are going to be betting that big underdog.”

The Knights held Purdue scoreless for more than 5½ minutes down the stretch and went ahead by five on a 3-pointer by Sean Moore with 1:03 left.

“FDU seemed to want it more than Purdue did,” Pullen said. “They were battling for every ball.”

Fairleigh Dickinson was the third straight double-digit seed to eliminate the Boilermakers, who lost to No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s in the Sweet 16 last year and fell to 13th-seeded North Texas in 2021.

“I would say this is definitely the worst two-year stretch in the history of the tournament,” Westgate SuperBook director John Murray said of Purdue. “It’s probably the worst loss I can remember. It was such bad basketball down the stretch.

“Purdue got as good a draw as you could possibly get. For them to lose in the first round is inexcusable.”

No. 1 seeds went 1-3 against the spread in the round of 64, with only Kansas covering.

“Of all the No. 1 seeds, Purdue was the weakest in a region that’s kind of wide open,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “It almost sets the stage for Duke to move on.”

Duke is a 3½-point favorite over Tennessee on Saturday, and Kansas is -3½ over Arkansas. No. 1 seed Houston is -5½ over Auburn, and No. 1 seed Alabama is -9 over Maryland.

Murray said the SuperBook took sharp action on the Crimson Tide -8.

Biggest winners

Favorites rewarded bettors Friday, finishing 11-5 ATS after underdogs went 8-8 ATS on Thursday with five outright wins.

Bettors won big on Miami and Kentucky. The Hurricanes (-2½) trailed Drake by eight before closing the game on a 16-1 run en route to a 63-56 win and cover as the four No. 12 seeds failed to win a game.

“That game really hurt,” Esposito said. “We needed Drake. The bettors did really well on that game.”

Kentucky (-4½) beat Providence 61-53 in what was the biggest loss for Caesars.

Other favorites that cashed included Marquette (-10½, beat Vermont 78-61; Baylor (-10½, beat UC Santa Barbara 74-56); Connecticut (-9½, beat Iona 87-63); Creighton (-5½, beat North Carolina State 72-63); Saint Mary’s (-4½, beat Virginia Commonwealth 63-51) and Michigan State (-2½, beat USC 72-62).

“Michigan State was one of our biggest winners of the tournament,” Murray said. “We also did well on Saint Mary’s. We took a lot of big bets on the VCU money line.”

Biggest losers

The biggest loss for bettors at Caesars was Memphis (-1½), which lost 66-65 to Florida Atlantic in a thrilling back-and-forth game when Nicholas Boyd drove for the decisive layup with two seconds left.

Xavier erased a 13-point deficit to No. 14 seed Kennesaw State but failed to cover as an 11½-point favorite in a 72-67 loss.

Unders

Unders went a sizzling 14-2 on Friday and were 24-8 overall in the round of 64.

Under bettors had to sweat out Texas Christian’s 72-70 win over Arizona State. The total was 142½, and the under was in jeopardy when the Sun Devils tied the game at 70 on DJ Horne’s 3-pointer with 18 seconds left.

In what was an unfortunate ending for bettors who had the Horned Frogs (-4½) and over and who were hoping for overtime, JaKobe Coles drove for the winning basket with three seconds left.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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