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October 20, 2014

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Memphis bettors in NCAA Tournament got last-second gift to cover the spread

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Gerry Broome / AP

Memphis guard Michael Dixon Jr. (11) shoots against George Washington guard Miguel Cartagena (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball second-round tournament game Friday, March 21, 2014, in Raleigh, N.C.

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Memphis opened as a 1.5-point betting favorite in Las Vegas for its NCAA Tournament second-round game Friday against George Washington.

But when bettors wagered heavily on Memphis, oddsmakers were forced adjust the line to Memphis laying four points.

Those Memphis Tigers bettors sure got lucky.

They were one of seven favorites Friday to cover the spread in 16 second-round games, using two Michael Dixon Jr. foul shots with less than a second remaining to clear the betting number in a 71-66 victory.

Maurice Creek missed a 3-pointer for George Washington with 5 seconds to play and trailing by three points. Dixon Jr. grabbed the rebound and the game appeared over with the teams clearing their bench to shake hands.

Then came an unexpected gift for Memphis backers.

Officials got together at the scorer’s table to determine if time remained when a whistle was blown to signal a foul on Dixon Jr. They concluded 0.2 seconds remained and awarded two free throws.

The other favorites to cover include:

• Top-seed Wichita State had the most-convincing cover of the day, beating Cal-Poly 64-37.

• Tennessee, a 6-point favorite despite being a No. 11 seed against No. 6 Massachusetts, easily covered the number with a 86-67 win.

• Baylor was a 4-point favorite against Nebraska and won 74-60 to cover.

• Iowa State, favored by 8-to-9 points against NC Central, easily covered with a 93-75 win.

• Kentucky closed as a 6.5-point favorite against Kansas State, covering by a half of a point after two free throws in the final seconds for a 56-49 win.

• In the last game of the day, 8.5-point betting favorite UCLA closed on a 17-2 run against Tulsa for a 76-59 victory to comfortably cover.

Of the seven underdogs to cover Friday, four were outright winners. That includes No. 14 seed Mercer knocking off Duke 78-71 as a 13-point underdog. Mercer closed at +800 on the money line, meaning a $100 wager would have paid $800.

Stephen F. Austin, a No. 12 seed, beat VCU 77-75 in overtime as a 6-point underdog. Stanford beat New Mexico and Gonzaga outlasted Oklahoma State, each covering as small underdogs.

Eastern Kentucky (Kansas), Providence (North Carolina) and Louisiana-Lafayette (Creighton) each covered as underdogs despite being eliminated.

For the second straight day, eight games stayed under the points total, and eight games went over.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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