Duke bettors lost a deal with the devil Friday night when Coach K’s team abandoned the defensive paint with the game already in the bag, allowing a last-second dunk to Cal State Fullerton’s Dante Maddox Jr.
It may have seemed like just another meaningless thing to originate from California, but the free jam had serious betting implications. Duke was an 18.5-point favorite on BetMGM. The dunk cut its 19-point lead down to 17 to end the game.
A wild finish
Bettors definitely got their money’s worth in the final two minutes of the contest. With Duke leading 73-55 at the 1:40 mark, both teams pulled their starters and let their benches finish up. The Titans rebounded a missed layup by the Blue Devils, then scored courtesy of a Grayson Carper jumper to make it a 16-point game. A dozen seconds later, Duke’s Joey Baker hit a 3-pointer to put his team back up by 19, covering the spread by half a point. Maddox tried to answer with a tree of his own, but bricked it. Teammate Lado Laku grabbed the offensive board, though, and was crowded by Baker. Laku sank both free throws to drop the deficit to 17 with 36 seconds left. Jeremy Roach’s layup attempt fell short for the Blue Devils with 10 seconds remaining, but Theo John tipped it in for a 78-59 lead and temporary cover.
That was the end of Duke’s efforts. Celebrating a hard-fought 39 minutes and 50 seconds of basketball, the Blue Devils abdicated their defensive duties as Maddox drove to the basket for a wide-open dunk with four seconds left. That final bucket made the final score 78-61 and snatched a cover away from Duke bettors, of which there were many. Sixty-nine percent of the handle at BetMGM was riding on the Blue Devils.