Purdue shocked by FDU, biggest sports betting upset in tournament history

In 1985, the NCAA Men’s Tournament expanded to 64 teams. From that point through the 2017 NCAA Tournament, a No. 16 seed never beat a No. 1 seed. 

Now, it’s happened twice in the past five tournaments. Maryland-Baltimore County pulled the original shocker against No. 1 Virginia in 2018. On Friday night, UMBC got company in the form of Fairleigh Dickinson. 

The Bulldogs, who were +2000 or more on the moneyline and 23.5-point underdogs on the spread, shocked No. 1 Purdue 63-58. 

There was both celebration and commiseration in the March Madness odds world. And for one Vegas bettor, it was a tremendous result. 

Taking a Flier 

Half the fun of March Madness – heck, perhaps all the fun for recreational bettors – is just firing on a few long shots in the first round. It worked out great Thursday for backers of No. 15 seed Princeton, which sent No. 2 seed Arizona packing in a hurry, 59-55. 

But the Tigers were much shorter moneyline ‘dogs than Fairleigh Dickinson. FOX Bet had Princeton at +900 going into Thursday’s contest. By comparison, most books, including FOX Bet had FDU in the range of a +2000 ‘dog. On the flip side, the Boilermakers were as high as -10000 on the moneyline.

South Point in Las Vegas had the Bulldogs even longer and took a significant hit. 

“One guy had $2,100 at 25/1. We didn’t do so good,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said. 

The bettor, however, did just fine, cashing out for a profit of $52,500. Plenty more oddsmakers provided examples of Fairleigh Dickinson fliers, but most of those bets were in the $20/$50/$100 range. At PointsBet USA, the largest play was $300 at 20/1. 

Still, a $6,000 winner is not a bad day’s work, if you can call it work. 

By The Numbers 

FOX Sports Research dove into some of the statistics surrounding Fairleigh Dickinson’s upset. The information was pretty interesting: 

  • With FDU a 23.5-point pup, it was the largest NCAA Tournament upset since as far as the database goes back (1985)
  • First March Madness win by a Northeast Conference team in the Round of 64 (previously 0-31)
  • A $100 first-round moneyline parlay of Fairleigh Dickinson/Princeton/Furman would have profited $52,700
  • 16 seeds now 2-150 all-time against No. 1 seeds

Parlay Buster 

Lots of public/recreational bettors love to put together moneyline parlays during March Madness, piling on favorites. And favorites had a good day Friday, winning seven of the first eight games. 

So make no mistake, heading into Friday evening on the East Coast and late Friday afternoon in Vegas, there were boatloads of moneyline parlays live. BetMGM vice president of trading Jason Scott was preparing for big loser of a day. 

Until Fairleigh Dickinson turned the day on its head. 

“It was better than fairly good. It was a moneyline parlay demolition,” Scott said. 

Indeed, on a moneyline parlay, the Boilermakers, as a No. 1 seed and 23.5-point favorite, seemed like a free space on a Bingo card. Until they weren’t. 

And to think, the only reason FDU was in the Big Dance is because Northeast Conference Tournament winner Merrimack isn’t yet eligible for NCAA Tournament play. Merrimack is in the final year of a four-year transition from Division II to Division I play. 

“Crazy! A 16 seed that didn’t win its conference tournament,” Station Sports’ Chuck Esposito said. “Cinderella is alive and well.” 

Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He’s based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.

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