March Madness Betting Upsets, Including Arizona’s Loss

Written By T.J. McBride on March 21, 2023 - Last Updated on March 23, 2023
March Madness Betting Upsets

The March Madness tournament – for both the men and the women – are both always full of madness, just as its name implies.

Between buzzer-beaters, single elimination tournament style of play, 64 different college programs, and an unbelievable number of upsets, there is no shortage of pure and utter chaos that is integral to the experience of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s March Madness tournaments.

This year, the first round of the March Madness Tournament, the round of 64, had no shortage of upsets. Unfortunately for fans of the University of Arizona Wildcats, they were one of those March Madness betting upsets in the first round of the storied NCAA Men’s March Madness Tournament.

Not only did that loss sting for fans all across the globe, but it hurt the pockets of many Arizona sports betting enthusiasts. That being said, there were some big winners too.

Let’s just dive in, shall we?

March Madness Betting Upsets: University of Arizona’s loss to the University of Princeton in the Round of 64

In the very first game of the NCAA Men’s March Madness Tournament for the 2nd-seeded University of Arizona Wildcats, they had to get through the 15th-seeded University of Princeton Tigers.

Everyone gave the University of Princeton essentially no chance. The betting line on Thursday morning on the day of the game had the Wildcats at massive 14.5 point favorites at FOX Bet and, to further emphasize the difference in odds, those who wanted to bet on the Tigers to win were able to get odds as high as +900.

“The Wildcats were a popular pick to win it all,” FOX Bet sports trader Henrique Tartaro said according to Fox Sports. “We saw that they were one of the ten public favorites to win at our book.”

Because of that, it seemed almost impossible that the Arizona Wildcats could fall to a University of Princeton team that had +50,000 odds of winning the NCAA Men’s March Madness Tournament.

But the madness took hold, and it ousted the Wildcats. Despite everything going against the University of Princeton, they found a way to upset the University of Arizona by taking them down by a score of 59-55. Now, the Wildcats are heading home, and the Princeton Tigers are on their way to the Round of 32.

Just how big of an upset was this? Well, it is only the 12th time since 1985 that a team that was favored by 14 points or more lost. Funny enough, all 12 of those losses came in the Round of 64. That means the University of Arizona losing despite being favored by 14.5 points makes this tied for the 10th worst loss in NCAA Men’s March Madness history.

Just to pile on, the University of Arizona is now one of two college basketball programs to lose despite being favored by 14 points or more than once since 1985. Only the University of Arizona and Iowa State University are members of that sad club.

For the University of Princeton, this is a monumental victory. The Tigers have not won a game in a March Madness Men’s Tournament since 1998. This is also the first win in March Madness for a college program coming from the Ivy League since 2016, when the University of Yale defeated Baylor University.

This upset had quite an impact on the bets placed on the game.

Wild bets that came from the University of Arizona’s loss to the University of Princeton

March Madness — both the men’s and women’s tournaments – are a massive time for sports wagering in states where it is legal. With the volatility of the NCAA March Madness Tournaments, anything is possible which attracts lifetime bettors and casual bettors alike to bet on what is one of the most exciting sports events each year.

That creates a setting where absurd and insane bets can manifest; for better or worse, depending on the perspective.

Everyone who bet on the University of Arizona despite the meager amount of winnings that would be paid out are kicking themselves after the University of Arizona fell to the University of Princeton. But where frustration exists, the opposite does as well.

There was one bettor who logged onto DraftKings Sportsbook and placed a $500 wager on the University of Princeton moneyline which was +800 at the time. Once the Princeton Tigers achieved what was thought to be the impossible, that bettor came away with a $4,500 payout on his $500 bet. Talk about incredible value.

Another bettor on DraftKings Sportsbook took a different approach. With just $5 wagered on a seven-leg parlay, this bettor was able to get +21,575 odds. His seven-leg parlay bet needed wins by the University of Maryland, Furman University, the University of Missouri, the University of Kansas, the University of Alabama, San Diego State University, and Princeton University for it to cash, and somehow, all of those seven games ended exactly as this bettor picked them. That means that bettor, who placed a $5 wager on +21,575 odds, was paid out $1,089.79 in winnings. That is one insane way to turn $5 into over $1,000.

Other massive betting upsets and wild bets across the March Madness Tournament

Of course, where one big upset resides, others usually exist as well, and that is almost always true when it comes to the NCAA Men’s March Madness Tournament. There were a couple of other big beats in the tournament and some other wacky and wild bets that came to light.

One absurd bet that did not require an unbelievable upset to take place was during the University of Kentucky game against Kansas State University. One bettor at DraftKings Sportsbook put a whopping $11 thousand on the under of the total points, which was set at 145.5. By the time the game had ended, the total points scored was just 144, which meant his $11 thousand bet was successful, which paid him out just over $21 thousand in winnings.

The last example did come true thanks to an incredible upset. Some truly crazy bettor decided to wager $33 thousand that Fairleigh Dickinson University would defeat the top-ranked University of Purdue. Somehow, that bet paid off when the Purdue Boilermakers fell, and that bettor won over half of a million dollars, $528 thousand, to be specific.

Is there any better sports event to find crazy bets like March Madness? If there is one, I certainly cannot think of it.


Photo by: José Luis Villegas/AP Photo

T.J. McBride Avatar
Written by
T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver who covers the Denver Nuggets as a beat writer. He contributes regularly to PlayTexas on issues surrounding the illegal gaming market. His byline can be found across many websites such as ESPN, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report and others.

View all posts by T.J. McBride