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March Madness betting: Total sweats the story of tourney's 2nd week

Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos / NCAA Photos / Getty

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For the 12 NCAA Tournament games from Thursday to Sunday night, the point spread didn't matter. Favorites that won also covered, regardless of how inflated the line, and underdogs won outright. It exemplified a tournament where teams favored by 8-plus points have gone 18-5 against the spread, and either the prohibitive favorite won its region - 1-seeds UConn (+105) and Purdue (+160) - or a 4-seed surprise in Alabama (+650) and long-shot NC State (+5000) earned a ticket to the Final Four.

Best bets

Unsurprisingly, the four teams that will be flying into Sky Harbor Airport this week went 8-0 against the spread. Purdue and UConn did so by covering as favorites. Alabama beat North Carolina as an underdog and then beat Clemson and the betting line thanks to 44% 3-point shooting. Meanwhile, NC State pulled off two more upsets.

Bad beats

While most often compelling, if not downright fun, the tournament's second weekend largely lacked last-minute dramatics - outright or against the spread. However, things got dicey at times for those betting the total.

San Diego State vs. UConn: Over 137

The first-half total sailed over while San Diego State was still hanging around Thursday versus the Huskies. UConn's 30-0 run over Illinois on Saturday may live on in legend, but over bettors won't forget how the Huskies pulled away from the Aztecs in the second half: The blowout led to just four points in the final two minutes for a final score three points shy of the total. Don't cry for those blindly betting on points, though, since that loss would be more than made up throughout the rest of the weekend.

Alabama vs. North Carolina: Under 175

The game total stood at 174 with seven seconds left, and North Carolina, down 89-85, needed to go the length of the court. A desperation three should have been on the menu, and a likely miss would have made that score final. Instead, the Tar Heels settled for an Armando Bacot layup with one second left: useless for their chances of winning, but exactly what the doctor ordered for over bettors.

Creighton vs. Tennessee: Under 147

Since the game ended with 157 points scored, this doesn't seem like a bad beat, but with 1:17 left, Creighton and Tennessee had combined for 135 points. After eight straight free throws, the Bluejays were down 11 with 19 seconds left, and Trey Alexander hit a deep three to make it 77-69. A miss would have likely ended the game. Instead, Creighton refused to let its season go, sending the game total over with more futile fouling.

Clemson vs. Alabama: Under 163

Having combined for 3.5 points per minute, Clemson and Alabama were 52 points short of the total during a TV timeout with 7:59 left. Something must have happened during that break, because both teams found their range. Four threes from 7:44 to 7:05 were just the beginning as the Tigers and Crimson Tide combined for 11 threes and 60 points, more than doubling the game's points per minute (7.5) down the stretch.

Not everything was a disaster for under bettors, though NC State-Duke came close. After a sloppy first half with just 48 total points, the weekend's finale still nearly managed to go over 142 when the Blue Devils kept fouling down 12 with 31 seconds remaining. Had there been one more bucket during the run of play, Jared McCain's foul, down 74-64 with one second left, would have lived on in infamy.

Final Four early lines

(11) NC State vs. (1) Purdue Purdue -9 145.5
(4) Alabama vs. (1) UConn UConn -11.5 161.5

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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