Maryland-Eastern Shore beat North Carolina A&T 75-65 Monday in the opening round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic conference tournament. Officially. Maybe.
A pair of late statistician errors caused the score to be widely misreported as 74-67. To most, it was a small, mostly meaningless discrepancy that might have gone undetected -- except that it impacted the point spread and led to gamblers contacting school and conference officials looking for clarity.
Maryland-Eastern Shore was around an 8-point favorite at Las Vegas sportsbooks.
Ryan McGinty, assistant commissioner for MEAC media relations, said in an email to ESPN that "the correct final score was 75-65," meaning Maryland-Eastern Shore covered the spread. But as of Wednesday morning, the official box score still shows 74-67. That final score, which is represented on several prominent media outlets, including ESPN.com and NCAA.com, would result in North Carolina A&T covering the spread. (Update: The MEAC has updated the official box score to reflect the correct score, 75-65.)
Las Vegas-based sports service Don Best, which supplies odds and information to bettors and sportsbooks, sent out three separate final score alerts on the game, changing the final score from 75-65 to 74-67 and eventually back to 75-65. Talk about March Madness.
With so much confusion and the point spread in play, Craig Mucklow, the Don Best chief operating officer and vice president of trading service, rewatched and rescored the entire game. Mucklow compared his account to the play-by-play data that was released from the game and found two scoring mistakes in the final minutes. According to Mucklow, a made free throw was not credited to Maryland-Eastern Shore, and a North Carolina A&T player was erroneously credited with a two-point basket at the end of regulation that did not occur.
"Because we reviewed the video, we went with the score that we believe is correct (75-65)," Mucklow told ESPN. "We're an information provider, so we try to provide the most accurate information. We believe that the most accurate information is 75-65."
North Carolina A&T associate athletics director Brian Holloway said he thought the play-by-play data was off when he was writing the game recap for the school's website. His suspicion was confirmed Tuesday morning when he woke up to an inbox full of emails from random people inquiring about the final score.
"I was kind of confused, thinking, 'Do they think I can fix this?'" Holloway said.
While the game did not attract significant betting action at Las Vegas sportsbooks, different books paid one side or the other at their discretion. CG Technology took "12-13 small bets" on the game and paid out on the favorite, based on the 75-65 score, as did Caesars. The Westgate SuperBook paid out approximately $1,500 wagered on underdog North Carolina A&T based on the 74-67 version of the score.