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NCAA March Madness betting: Did Gonzaga's close call against UCLA affect the spread vs. Baylor?

Frank Schwab
·3-min read

On Saturday night, Baylor looked like the best team in college basketball. Gonzaga needed one of the greatest shots in NCAA tournament history to survive against a No. 11 seed. 

The spread might have gone down a tick based on what we saw Saturday. 

Shortly after Saturday's games, Gonzaga was -4.5 against Baylor at BetMGM. BetMGM data analyst John Ewing said the opening line was Gonzaga -5, but it quickly moved. The over/under is 159.5. Other sites, before Saturday's games started, had put out look-ahead lines for Monday's game based on the three possible matchups. Gonzaga was -5 or even -6 on those sites. 

Having UCLA push Gonzaga to the limit seemed to have brought the line down, just a little bit. 

Will bettors back Gonzaga again? 

BetMGM has had a hard time getting anyone to bet against Gonzaga in this tournament, We'll see how bettors react after an absolute classic Final Four win for the Bulldogs over the Bruins. Gonzaga, a 14-point favorite, won on a buzzer-beating overtime 3 by Jalen Suggs to advance. 

Baylor and Gonzaga were co-favorites to win it all in early February. Baylor had a COVID-19 related pause to its season, came back rusty and lost its first game to Kansas. Narratives are hard to ignore, even in.the gambling world, and the story of Gonzaga's march toward a perfect season became the focus of the college basketball world. Gonzaga's odds to win the title dove down, and were as low as -225 before the Final Four. 

While Gonzaga has had a great tournament, Baylor has been very good too. The Bears were fantastic in blowing out Houston in the first national semifinal game on Saturday. They looked like the team that was chasing perfection alongside Gonzaga for the first half of the season. 

And after an absolute fight against UCLA, how will Gonzaga bounce back in 48 hours? 

Baylor guard Jared Butler (12) gets a hug from head coach Scott Drew during the Bears' Final Four win over Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Baylor guard Jared Butler (12) gets a hug from head coach Scott Drew during the Bears' Final Four win over Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

There are a lot of open Gonzaga future bets

BetMGM still has a big liability on Gonzaga to win the NCAA tournament. Of all the money bet on who will win the NCAA tournament, more than 33 percent was on Gonzaga before Saturday's games tipped off. Gonzaga opened the season at +800 odds to win it all and went to -225 before the Final Four started. In the final game of the year, Gonzaga is -200 on the moneyline. 

Had Gonzaga blown out UCLA, either the line would have been -5 or more or BetMGM might have taken the highest percentage of bets it has had on the Bulldogs all tournament. Gonzaga got 79 percent of the money bet on its semifinal game against UCLA. Bettors have been backing Gonzaga without slowing down. 

Maybe Saturday night's results gives bettors some pause before taking Gonzaga -4.5. At very least, they might need to catch their breath after Suggs' shot for the ages. 

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