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NCAA March Madness betting: UCLA, a huge underdog to make the Final Four, stuns Michigan

Frank Schwab
·3-min read

Before the tournament, betting on UCLA to make the Final Four seemed to be a waste. At least the odds were enticing. UCLA was 50-to-1 at BetMGM to make the Final Four before the tournament started, behind long-forgotten teams like Georgetown and St. Bonaventure. 

Anyone who was bold enough to take that action was thrilled on Tuesday night. 

UCLA came all the way from the First Four and made the Final Four as a No. 11 seed, upsetting top-seed Michigan in a low-scoring game on Tuesday night. UCLA will be the outlier in the Final Four, which has two No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed. UCLA won 51-49, dodging two late 3-point attempts by Michigan and winning outright as 6.5-point underdogs. 

UCLA's win knocked out everyone who took the prop bet of over 2.5 No. 1 seeds to make the Final Four. It was an unexpected win in many ways. 

UCLA overcomes the odds

UCLA wasn't expected to do much in this tournament and the Bruins were almost out before the first round started. UCLA had to rally to force overtime in the First Four against Michigan State, and won in the extra period. 

Even +5000 looked like bad odds when UCLA was struggling against the Spartans. But the Bruins got hot. They beat BYU and Abilene Christian convincingly. Then UCLA outlasted No. 2 seed Alabama in overtime and barely got past No. 1 seed Michigan. 

UCLA is going to be a big underdog on Saturday against Gonzaga, which has rolled through all four of its opponents this tournament. But that's OK for anyone who has been backing the Bruins since the start of the tournament. They're already playing with a lot of house money. 

Cody Riley of the UCLA Bruins battles for the ball with Mike Smith of the Michigan Wolverines during an Elite Eight game. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Cody Riley of the UCLA Bruins battles for the ball with Mike Smith of the Michigan Wolverines during an Elite Eight game. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Bruins grind out a low-scoring win

Michigan and the over were the popular bets on Tuesday night's game at BetMGM. That didn't work out well. 

Many over bettors were very disappointed. The over of 136 got the highest percentage of bets of any side or total in the Elite Eight. Of all the bets on the Michigan-UCLA total, 73 percent were on the over. There was never a moment when those bettors had hope of cashing a ticket. The game was stuck under 100 points until 6.3 seconds remained in regulation. Bettors might have needed three or four overtimes to get the over. 

It's not like UCLA is some defensive juggernaut that can slow down Gonzaga. That really hasn't been the Bruins' strength. They are a good offensive team with some clutch playmakers, but Gonzaga has those too. The Bruins will be enormous underdogs in their next game. At least they're used to being in that spot. 

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