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Oakland brings madness to bettors with Kentucky upset; UNR collapses

There wasn’t much madness at Las Vegas sportsbooks midway through the first day of the NCAA Tournament.

One of the most anticipated days on the sports betting calendar picked up Thursday night, when No. 14 seed Oakland, a 13½-point underdog, eliminated Kentucky in an 80-76 upset behind Jack Gohlke, who made 10 3-pointers and led all scorers with 32 points.

“That was a fun game. I thought today was a little quiet prior to that,” Westgate SuperBook director John Murray said. “We haven’t had the magic March moments yet. The buzzer-beaters. But we did get the big upset.”

Oakland, which was +750 on the money line, busted countless brackets and killed plenty of parlays on Kentucky.

“Kentucky losing is going to knock out a lot of futures and a lot of money-line parlays,” Murray said. “We had Kentucky 30-1 (Wednesday to win it all). We were trying to write money on them (Wednesday) and we did, so knocking them out was good for us.”

Kentucky is 1-4 in its last five NCAA Tournament games under coach John Calipari.

“I would have to think that Calipari is a little on the hot seat,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they make a change.”

No. 11 Duquesne delivered the second-biggest upset of the day, beating Brigham Young 71-67 as a 9½-point underdog and +375 on the money line.

“We won like a peanut on that game,” Murray said. “It knocked out a lot of money-line parlays. But there were a lot of straight bets on Duquesne on the money line.”

UNR collapse

Bettors at Station Casinos lost big on UNR, which suffered an epic collapse in the final seven minutes of its 63-60 loss to Dayton. The No. 10 Wolf Pack, who closed as 1½-point favorites despite being the lower seed, led 56-39 before the Flyers closed the game on a 24-4 run.

“The biggest game for the first half of the day was clearly Dayton coming back to beat (UNR). That really was kind of a game-saver for our side of the counter,” Esposito said. “I wasn’t surprised they bet them, with the local bias, but I’m really surprised with how they collapsed at the end. I thought (UNR) was the better team coming into it.”

The betting public cashed in on Oregon, which was steamed from a 1-point underdog to South Carolina to a 2½-point favorite before cruising to an 87-73 victory behind 40 points from Jermaine Couisnard.

“We did very poorly on the Oregon game,” Murray said. “Everybody bet Oregon. That was one-way traffic.”

First-half buzzer-beaters

There were two buzzer-beaters that decided first-half totals and dealt bad beats to some bettors and miracle covers to others.

The first took place in the Oregon-South Carolina game, when Ta’Lon Cooper sank a 3-pointer from well beyond half court to cut the Gamecocks’ halftime deficit to 34-29 and push the first-half total over 62½.

“I don’t think that swung much money for us. But it was crazy,” Murray said. “It was the only shot South Carolina made for like 10 minutes.”

The second shot was in the North Carolina State-Texas Tech game. Darrion Williams drained a 3-pointer as time expired to cut the Red Raiders’ deficit to 37-33 and push the total over 68.

Hate the Drake

Long Beach State coach Dan Monson was fired last week. But, like “Seinfeld” character George Costanza, he kept showing up to work every day and led the Beach to the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m a ‘Seinfield’ episode going on right now in real life,” Monson said.

Monson’s run came to an end in an 85-65 loss to Arizona. But Long Beach State covered as a 20½-point underdog for some and pushed for those who bet the closing line of 20.

Another episode of “Seinfeld” featured The Drake, a mutual friend of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer, who often referred to him with phrases like “Love the Drake” or “Hate the Drake.”

Drake was a popular 1-point favorite over Washington State. Bettors loved the Drake when it led by 8 with 7:47 left. But they hated the Drake after it made just two field goals the rest of the way in a 66-61 loss.

Favorites went 9-7 against the spread, and totals split 8-8.

Iowa State escaped with a cover as a 15½-point favorite in an 82-65 win over South Dakota State when the Jackrabbits turned it over in the final seconds.

Last Man Standing

Station Casinos’ Last Man Standing elimination NCAA Tournament contest exceeded its $50,000 prize guarantee and will award an aggregate $59,975 to the winner.

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

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