The Furman Paladins were a popular team coming into the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 13 seed had the most bets on them to cover the 5.5-point spread against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first round on Thursday afternoon, and those bettors were gifted with the best early finishes of March Madness.
Furman Bettors Rejoice After Wild March Madness Finish
Virginia appeared to have the team game in hand late in the second half, but Furman kept hanging around. Down by two with 10 seconds remaining in the game, Virginia senior guard Kihei Clark committed a costly turnover while trapped in his near the baseline. Furman picked off his attempted pass and was able to take the lead with a go-ahead 3-pointer from J.P. Pegues with just two seconds remaining.
FURMAN STUNS VIRGINIA 😱#MarchMadness @FurmanHoops pic.twitter.com/kjsMr15Jse
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 16, 2023
While the Virginia collapse undoubtedly busted many brackets, there were a whole lot of Furman bettors out there who were loving the ending of the game. Per FanDuel Sportsbook, 69% of moneyline bets in the Virginia-Furman game were on Furman. BetMGM added that Furman (+5.5) was the most bet spread on the board Thursday.
The Furman love was clearly warranted. The Paladins have an experienced group centered around senior stars Mike Bothwell and Jalen Slawson. They cruised through the Southern Conference all season long, notching the NCAA Tournament berth with a win over Chattanooga in the Conference Championship.
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett insisted his team was not going to be sleeping on Furman as a tough draw in the first round.
“You get to this NCAA Tournament, there are so many good teams, I think, as the years go on, the teams get better, as we talked about, because of the transfer rule and even at the fifth year and all that stuff, and they do a lot of good stuff. And so, they’ll challenge you in a lot of ways. So just, respect grew watching them and knew that going into it, but you can see why they’ve been successful, not just this year, over the years,” Bennet said, per Augusta Free Press.
Despite Bothwell’s uncharacteristically low-scoring performance (11 points), the Paladins are moving on in March Madness and could wind up being this year’s Cinderella by the end of it. Furman will be playing the winner of San Diego State-College of Charleston in the second round Saturday.
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