The Purple Aces went to Rupp Arena to challenge the Wildcats, the top-ranked team in the country as per both the coaches’ and writers’ polls. Evansville, coached by former UK star Walter McCarty, entered the game ranked eighth – out of 10 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll.
The host Wildcats came into the contest as a 24.5-point favorite at PointsBet and DraftKings and a 25-point favorite at other sportsbooks, like FanDuel. But it was the Aces who shocked the Wildcat faithful and the rest of the nation with their 67-64.
McCarty, who won a title with the Cats back in 1996, said, “I don’t know if anything matches this other than winning a national championship from a basketball standpoint. It’s awesome to be able to come in here and play on this type of stage and my guys. I have a good group of guys. They love each other and they’re really connected. And this group to come in here and be able to do that is just awesome. It does not get any better than that.”
A win such as this is rare. Since Long Beach State shocked Kansas on Jan. 25, 1993, we hadn’t seen a No.1 team get beaten at home to an unranked team from a mid-major conference.
Purple Champions a 40-1 Shot
Evansville’s victory is one of the most unexpected wins in recent memory according to TeamRankings.com.
The Casino.org website says, there have been 105 games featuring a 25-point spread since 2003. Underdogs have ended up winning those games only three times. Generally in games with such a large spread, oddsmakers won’t even post moneyline odds as the chances of the underdog accomplishing a stunning upset are usually slim. But the South Point sportsbook in Las Vegas, offered 40-1 odds on the Aces against the Wildcats, which is an implied win probability of 2.4 percent.
Oddsmakers Staying Firm on Wildcats
The one thing which makes college basketball different from college football is that a bad regular season loss, such as the one Kentucky faced Tuesday, won’t impact their postseason chances.
In his postgame press conference, Kentucky coach John Calipari told reporters, “I’ve done this 35 years and stuff like this happens. You want to grow from it, you want to learn from it. We may look back in a couple weeks and say, this is the greatest thing that ever happened to this team. We also may look back in a couple weeks and say what in the heck?”
Oddsmakers are picking the former for the Wildcats. Kentucky’s title odds are +700 at William Hill sportsbooks a day after the loss. That implies a winning $100 bet would net $700. Bettors would have received the same odds on the Wildcats from the sportsbook last month.
The Wildcats had +800 odds at DraftKings to win the national title last Monday, a day before Kentucky upset then-No. 1 Michigan State. UK’s odds were +700 on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after losing to Evansville. Kentucky’s odds are at +800 over at FanDuel, a bit longer than +750 odds they received a month before.