Remember when I said Evansville’s shocking upset over then-No. 1 Kentucky would be difficult to top this college basketball season? Well, let me introduce you to Stephen F. Austin.
The Texas school named after the state’s founder visited Duke Tuesday night, and the Lumberjacks, who entered the game as 28-point underdogs, chopped down the nation’s top-ranked team. The upset came in stunning fashion, as Nathan Bain’s fast-break layup beat the buzzer by a tenth of a second and knocked off the Blue Devils 85-83 in overtime.
I looked up at the clock and saw I had 2.6 seconds, just going as fast as I can to lay it up. Like a layup drill. Prayed it would go in,” said Bain, who got the ball near Duke’s free throw line after a Blue Devils turnover, told reporters.
According to ESPN, the upset was the biggest in college basketball over the past 15 seasons, topping 26-point underdog Gardner-Webb, who upset Kentucky back in 2007. The Purple Aces upset of the Wildcats from two weeks ago is the fourth-biggest upset in that time frame.
According to oddsFire, only one US sportsbook offered moneoyline odds on Stephen F. Austin. Bet365’s odds straight-up on the Lumberjacks were +2500, which gives an implied probability of 3.8 percent.
However, to further understand just how shocking an upset it was, consider the school histories on the hardcourt. Stephen F. Austin, which joined NCAA Division I in 1986, has just five tournament appearances, and all of those have come since 2009. And while they’ve posted a couple of first-round upsets in recent years, the Lumberjacks’ history can’t compare to a Duke program that has five NCAA titles in 43 trips to the Big Dance.
Cashing In on the Spread
Stephen F. Austin found a couple of other ways to market itself off the historic win.
On Twitter, the athletic department announced a special ticket sale for the six remaining Lumberjacks Saturday games. Fans could get tickets for all six games for just $28 dollars, playing off the point spread from the game. Or, fans could donate $28 towards the school’s general scholarship fund for student-athletes and be put in drawing for an autographed team basketball.
Then, there’s the story behind the Lumberjacks’ hero.
Bain’s game-winner didn’t just lift up the Lumberjacks. It also gave the school an opportunity to highlight a GoFundMe page for Bain’s family, whose family lost nearly everything they owned when Hurricane Dorian swept through the Bahamas earlier this year. That included the church where Bain’s father serves as a minister.
Shortly after the Duke upset, the page that was started in mid-September had raised just a couple thousand dollars. However, by Wednesday afternoon, more than 2,000 donations had poured in and contributed more than $76,000 to help Bain’s family.
Oddsmakers Stll High on Duke
Even with the loss, oddsmakers aren’t backing off the Blue Devils just yet.
DraftKings still lists Duke as the favorites to win the national title next April, posting odds of +700. A pair of ACC rivals are next, as North Carolina commands +800 odds and Louisville is at +1000.
FanDuel has Duke at +800, along with Michigan State, a team already with two losses in the first month of the season. Kentucky is the third choice at +950.
William Hill has Duke as the second choice at +900, behind only Michigan State at +800. Kentucky’s the third choice at America’s largest sports betting company, with odds of +1000.
Over at Caesars, Michigan State is the favorite at +600, with Kentucky at +700 and Kansas at +900.
For the curious, the only sportsbook offering national title odds on Stephen F. Austin is FanDuel. The Lumberjacks are available at +25000, which means a $100 bet would net $25,000. Those are the highest odds on FanDuel’s board, which offers that price for 75 other teams.