Update: NCAA Reviewing Rule Change with Betting Implications
Feb. 8 Update
On Friday, the NCAA released a statement clarifying the report by David Putnam, saying the prospective rule change is still under review.
A correction on our previous comments: pic.twitter.com/pfTtKjlrqx— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) February 8, 2019
The biggest take-away from the clarification is the fact that the NCAA is examining this rule change with sports betting at the forefront of reasoning, confirming a change in the NCAA's stance toward gambling as a whole.
The NCAA made an interesting rule change to basketball on Thursday, February 7: all shots made at the buzzer will be reviewed, even if the outcome of the game will not be affected.
While some casual sports fans might not see a serious implication, the new rule will have a massive impact on bets made on NCAA basketball games. The two recent games both saw betting results heavily affected by allowing buzzer beater shots to stand that probably should have been waved off.
The news was broken by ESPN’s David Purdum, who followed it up with a tweet referencing the two games that saw their results changed by the buzzer-beating baskets.
During the NCAA tournament, officials "will review all shots made at the buzzer, as necessary, in the interest of accuracy of score and team and player statistics and even if the outcome of the game isn’t riding on the officials’ call."— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) February 7, 2019
The Cause of Concern
On face-value, the NCAA seems to be responding to the two specific basketball games that the saw “meaningless” buzzer beaters counted.
First, Oklahoma hit a late three-pointer vs Iowa State at the buzzer to cut Iowa State’s victory to a 1-point win, 75-74. However, the betting line closed in favor of Iowa State at -3, so the sudden swing from a 4-point game to a single point resulted in one of the worst betting beats of the season.
Two days later, Villanova and Creighton had the same thing happen. Villanova entered the game as a 9-point favorite, and won by 7. However, as time expired, Creighton hit a 2-point jumper that caused anyone who had bet Nova to cover to lose instead of the whole bet pushing and refunding.
Both times, upon further review by TV and fans saw the ball clearly in the hands of the two shooter that made the buzzer beating shots. What it means is that both times, an incorrect call was made that heavily affected betting outcomes.
Previously, the NCAA’s rule of reviewing a buzzer beater was only in situations where the outcome of the game would be affected. Interestingly, the NCAA only applied this to the NCAA tournament, and not games where a 2 or 3 point difference might change the outcome of vital rankings.
The NCAA made no official statement about the new rule, but a game’s final score changing by 2 or 3 points would change nothing in the NCAA Tournament, as rankings don’t matter once the tournament’s bracket it set. The only thing the rule change will change is ensuring that games will have the correct score, and ensuring no bad betting beats due to bad calls.
The rule change is subtle and could easily fly under the radar, but it signals a possible, massive shift in stance towards sports betting for the NCAA, towards an acceptance that sports betting will be a thing during March Madness. For about forever and a day, the NCAA’s official stance on sports betting has been:
”The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering, which has the potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community.”
That quote can still be found on the NCAA’s website. However, the NCAA, back in July of 2018, began a study as to how sports wagering might affect the NCAA and college sports in general. It was one of the first times that the NCAA openly conceded that sports wagering might not be evil.
While the NCAA has said nothing more about the study, they did indicate they were hoping for federal regulation on sports gambling. The NCAA also submitted their ideal regulatory framework when Indiana debated how to legalize sports betting, where the NCAA rejected the idea of “integrity fees.”
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