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In a tumultuous week related to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, perhaps the most dramatic result out of the sports world came Thursday with the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament. For bettors, that meant refunding all futures bets on a postseason that will no longer happen.
The cancellation stung more for some than others. Those who watched their long-shot bet blossom into a contender are wondering what could have been, while others who bought a lemon can pretend it never happened.
Here are the five best and worst futures bets that were refunded from this year's tournament.
Nobody should feel worse about a canceled NCAA Tournament than Dayton bettors. The Flyers were 10-1 earlier this week and could have assured themselves a top seed with a strong conference tournament. Unless Obi Toppin surprisingly returns, it could be a long time before we see a Dayton squad this good.
It doesn't get much better than this if you're a futures bettor: Baylor, which was as short as 12-1 this week, was a power conference team with an efficient offense, elite defense, and a chance at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Bears will get back to this point, but that's no consolation to those with a 100-1 ticket this year.
San Diego State (+50000)
The Aztecs suffered two discouraging losses in their final six games, but they were still one of only two teams (Kansas) with a top-11 offense and defense by KenPom's adjusted efficiency rankings. Just three weeks ago, we discussed SDSU as the best value in college basketball at 18-1 - which, of course, is worlds shorter than its 500-1 opening price.
Seton Hall (+8000)
The Pirates' summer price wasn't nearly as attractive as the other four programs here, but they cracked our list of eight teams with a clear title profile - something only Baylor can say from this group. With 25-1 odds as of Wednesday, Seton Hall was balanced, controlled the perimeter, and was long inside, which would have been a formidable combo in the tourney.
Let's be real: BYU probably wasn't winning it all. But try telling that a someone who watched the Cougars upset Gonzaga amid a nine-game win streak, shortening their price to 50-1 at theScore Bet. A top-six seed next week would have been well worth the long odds from this summer.
Last year's champions looked like a shell of themselves this year - which shouldn't be a surprise, considering the Cavaliers lost two multi-year starters and a top-five draft pick from that 2019 title team. Virginia teased some potential in recent weeks, but only enough to merit 75-1 odds from theScore Bet a few days ago.
This was a bad bet from the beginning, especially if you bought as short as 10-1. The Tar Heels were thin outside of Cole Anthony, who battled injuries early in the year and never capitalized on his five-star potential. Once UNC allowed two buzzer-beaters in one game against Duke, this ticket was hopeless - only to be wiped away a month later.
Memphis bettors can be excused for taking such a bad number, if only because top recruit James Wiseman was supposed to be leading the way. Save for three games, that never happened. But the Tigers were always long shots to win it all, and those who tailed late are fortunate to get their money back.
Bettors hopped all over the Gators after they landed star transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. in the offseason, pushing their odds from 60-1 to 16-1. Twelve losses and a Blackshear injury later, their odds were back to 60-1, which is appropriate for a team that might not have made it beyond the first round.
When East Tennessee State has a higher KenPom ranking than Tennessee, you know something has gone horribly wrong in Knoxville. With star senior Lamonte Turner shelved since December, the Volunteers needed a miracle to make the NCAA field; Thursday's cancellation was the next-closest thing for Tennessee bettors.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.