Duke was one of the few favorites that failed to cover the point spread in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils were fortunate to escape with a victory, as UCF was this close to pulling off March’s biggest upset against Duke.
Top-seeded Duke was a 13.5-point favorite over No. 9 Central Florida. After surviving 77-76, No. 1 Duke goes to Washington, DC, for the Sweet 16 and plays fellow ACC-foe Virginia Tech. The winner plays the winner of the Michigan State vs. LSU game and earns a trip to the Final Four next weekend.
All four No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds advanced to the Sweet 16. Every favorite won during the weekend, going 16-0 SU and 11-5 ATS off the closing lines at FanDuel Sportsbook. Tennessee and Virginia Tech both covered the opening numbers in games that landed right near the number but bettors that bet late lost on those favorites.
Favorites go 16-0 in the round of 32
It’s hard to believe not a single upset occurred in the round of 32. Since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, this is the first time all 16 favorites won in the round of 32 and advanced to the Sweet 16. On three previous occasions, 15 of 16 favorites won and advanced out of the round of 32.
Duke was the closest to being eliminated, and it was ever so close after trailing UCF by 4 points in the final two minutes and by 3 points with less than 30 seconds left. Duke’s Zion Williamson made a layup and was fouled with 14 seconds remaining. When Williamson missed the free throw to tie the game, fellow freshman star R.J. Barrett got the offensive rebound and put it back in to give Duke the lead, 77-76.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 24, 2019
Following a timeout, that set up the two missed close-in shots by UCF with a layup and tip-in just rolling off the rim to let Duke escape.
Both Duke’s Zion Williamson and UCF’s Aubrey Dawkins scored 32 points.
But most bettors lost on Duke (-13.5), as the Blue Devils took 72 percent of the spread bets at FanDuel Sportsbook. Moneyline bettors may not try that again on a big favorite, as Duke also had 81 percent of the moneyline bets.
Millions of brackets also avoided being busted at Duke is the heavy favorite and most selected team in the brackets to win the National Championship.
Sweet 16 spreads and totals
Top seeds Duke and Virginia are both sizeable favorites over Virginia Tech and Oregon, respectively, while No. 1 North Carolina is -5.5 over Auburn. In a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 contest won by underdog Florida State, Gonzaga is -7 over FSU in their West Region matchup in Anaheim, CA.
If the preseason rankings of the top 25 teams, 12 of them have advanced to the Sweet 16. Kansas was the highest-ranked team that did not advance, while Duke has been the favorite from the start of the season and was a prohibitive favorite at 2-1 odds prior to the NCAA Tournament.
|#1 Duke vs #4 Virginia Tech||East||Duke -7||144.5||Duke -335
Virginia Tech +265
|#2 Michigan St. vs #3 LSU||East||MSU -6||149||MSU -265
|#1 Gonzaga vs. #4 FSU||West||Gonzaga -7.5||146.5||Gonzaga -345
|#2 Michigan vs. #3 Texas Tech||West||Michigan -1.5||126.5||Michigan -124
Texas Tech +105
|#1 Virginia vs. #12 Oregon||South||Virginia -8.5||118.5||Virginia -455
|#2 Tennessee vs. #3 Purdue||South||Tennessee -1.5||146.5||Tennessee -120
|#1 UNC vs. #5 Auburn||Midwest||UNC -5||163.5||UNC -220
|#2 Kentucky vs. #3 Houston||Midwest||Kentucky -2.5||134.5||Kentucky -148