March 11, 2008
By Stephen Nover
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So, which team is going to win the NCAA Tournament? I’d take UCLA with one condition - if Pac-10 officials do all its games.
It has been four days and I’m still not over my funk of having lost with Stanford +8 ½ against the Bruins this past Thursday.
The worst thing about the Cardinal losing by 10 in overtime wasn’t the brutal wrong call by the official at the end of regulation that forced overtime. But what shameful shenanigans took place in the final seconds of overtime.
After Stanford hit a basket with four seconds left to make the score, 75-67, UCLA threw a length of the court pass to Darren Collison, who scored a layup at the buzzer.
Why would the Bruins throw a length of the floor pass like that with the game won when 99.9 percent of the time the winning team just flips the ball into play? And why would the classless Collison streak to the other end of the court when he was just on defense with the game effectively over?
The two conclusions I come up with are the Bruins may be a classy program with a classy coach, but they still have a couple of punks on their teams that don’t know a thing about sportsmanship. The second scenario is that some of the Bruins, particularly Collison, were well aware of the pointspread.
This wasn’t an isolated instance of the Bruins doing something fishy to cover a margin. They defeated Washington State at home on Jan. 12 as a six-point favorite, 81-74. The Bruins were up five with seconds left. The game was won, but that didn’t stop Josh Shipp from frantically racing down court to score a layup at the buzzer to give UCLA the cover.
Unnatural money didn’t show up at the Las Vegas hotels on Stanford-UCLA, according to Las Vegas Sports Consultants president Ken White. More money actually came on the Cardinal. But White smelled a rat, too, the way the Cardinal-Bruins game finished. His antenna is up now in regards to the Bruins.
College basketball has become much harder to handicap without the whiff of bad Pac-10 officials and the strong belief some UCLA players are intentionally trying to cover spreads.
More and more sportsbooks are moving on air, especially in Nevada. If there’s movement at one property, it’s not long before the other sportsbooks are aware. It’s a close fraternity of bookmakers in Nevada, many of whom are friends with one another.
This obviously makes it difficult to shop. I found college basketball much easier during December and January. Many sharp gamblers had a bad February. The lines had become rock solid and there was a lot of randomness.
There were multiple instances for me when I had a 5-6 ½-point ‘dog lose in overtime by seven or more points. The games are hard enough to handicap correctly without those kinds of bad beats.
It would be nice if bookmakers adjusted to today’s technology and graded games by how they turned out in regulation. The days of hand-written tickets have long since disappeared.
If you had an underdog or ‘under’ that covered during regulation it should be a winner. Period. Fair is fair. What UCLA did was wrong.
Those suffering the worst from the Bruins’ bush antics weren’t Stanford. It makes no difference to the Cardinal if they lost by eight or 10. No, those suffering the most – financially and mentally – were bettors sharp enough to play Stanford. It’s a shame, a damn unfair shame, they don’t get to cash.