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 until the 2017 NCAA Tournament, a No. 16 seed never beat a No. 1 seed.

Now, it has happened twice in the last five tournaments. Maryland-Baltimore County pulled off the original upset against No. 1 Virginia in 2018. On Friday night, UMBC had company in the form of Fairleigh Dickinson.

The Bulldogs, who were +2000 or more on the money line and 23.5 points under the spread, stunned No. 1 Purdue 63-58.

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

Taking a wheel

Half the fun of March Madness, heck, maybe all the fun for recreational bettors, is just hitting a few long shots in the first round. Thursday worked out nicely for the backers of No. 15 seed Princeton, which dispatched No. 2 seed Arizona in a hurry, 59-55.

But the Tigers were much shorter money line dogs than Fairleigh Dickinson. FOX Bet had Princeton at +900 for Thursday’s contest. In comparison, most books, including FOX Bet, had FDU in the range of a dog of +2000′. On the other hand, the Boilermakers were up to -10,000 on the money line.

South Point in Las Vegas had the Bulldogs even longer and had significant success.

“One guy had $2,100 on 1/25. It didn’t go so well for us,” said South Point Sportsbook Director Chris Andrews.

The bet paid off, however, netting a profit of $52,500. Many more oddsmakers provided examples of Fairleigh Dickinson flyers, but most of these bets were in the $20/$50/$100 range. At PointsBet USA, the biggest play was $300 at 20/1 .

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

With The Numbers

FOX Sports Research dug into some of the stats surrounding Fairleigh Dickinson’s upset. The information was quite interesting:

  • With FDU a 23.5 point Cub, it was the biggest NCAA tournament since database (1985)
  • First March Madness win by a Northeastern Conference team in the Round of 16 (previously 0-31)
  • A $100 first-round money line from Fairleigh Dickinson/Princeton/Furman would have fetched $52,700.
  • 16 seeds now 2-150 all-time against #1 seeds

Parlay Buster

Many public/recreational bettors like to raise money during March Madness by stacking the favorites. And the favorites had a good day on Friday, winning seven of their first eight games.

So make no mistake, by Friday evening on the East Coast and Friday afternoon in Vegas, there were a boatload of live parlays. BetMGM VP of Trading Jason Scott was preparing for the big loser of a day.

Until Fairleigh Dickinson turned the day around.

“It was better than pretty good. It was a waste of money,” Scott said.

In fact, on a money line, the Boilermakers, as the No. 1 favorite and 23.5-point favorites, looked like a blank 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 is not yet eligible to play in the NCAA Tournament. Merrimack is in the final year of a four-year transition from Division II to Division I.

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

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

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