March Madness: North Carolina's Armando Bacot received ‘probably 100 DMs’ from bettors after Michigan State win

NCAA president Charlie Baker asked states to pass laws banning prop betting in college sports on Wednesday

LOS ANGELES — It didn’t take long for Armando Bacot’s DMs to fill up after he helped North Carolina past Michigan State last week.

You’d think that, since he led the Tar Heels into the Sweet 16, fans would have been happy with him. Instead, it was the exact opposite.

“I guess I didn’t hit the over,” Bacot said Wednesday at Arena. “I got over probably 100 DMs from people just telling me like, ‘You suck, you didn’t hit the over!’

“I get it because you come so close to something and you lose it, but at the same time, you’re gambling. Those books weren’t built on people winning.”

It’s not just threats and comments coming from burner social media accounts, either. Bacot said people come up to him every single day with something gambling-related.

“Going to a school like North Carolina, you never catch a break,” he said. “I order DoorDash and the driver is like, ‘Man, y’all messed up my parlay!’ I’m just like, whatever. It’s a lot.”

Armando Bacot and North Carolina will take on Alabama in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Armando Bacot and North Carolina will take on Alabama in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night in Los Angeles. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) (Jared C. Tilton via Getty Images)

Gambling — prop bets specifically — is becoming an issue for the NCAA. So much so, NCAA president Charlie Baker asked Wednesday morning for states to pass laws that would prohibit the availability of individual prop bets in college sports.

“The NCAA is drawing the line on sports betting to protect student-athletes and to protect the integrity of the game,” Baker said, in part. “Issues across the country these last several days show there is more work to be done.”

Though he didn’t get specific, there have been two major sports betting incidents in recent days. Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani is in the middle of a wild and complicated scandal with his former interpreter. Then on Monday, it was revealed that the NBA is investigating Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter over several betting irregularities regarding player props from two specific games. In both alleged instances, the unders on specific Porter prop bets were bet heavily. They then hit when Porter left those games after just a few minutes.

Most legal betting states either restrict or ban prop bets completely at the college level. Only four states and Washington, D.C., have no restrictions on them. In Kansas, for example, you can place a bet on who will score the first basket of the Tar Heels' Sweet 16 matchup with Arizona on Thursday night. Bacot is currently the favorite at +425 at BetMGM. You could bet on whether Bacot will score more or less than 16.5 points in the game, too. The options, depending on the sportsbook you go to, are essentially endless.

Like Bacot, Clemson head coach Brad Brownell has received plenty of harassment from upset gamblers in recent years.

“People are extremely aggressive these days,” Brownell said ahead of Clemson's Sweet 16 matchup with Arizona. “We get phone calls in our office sometimes. When things obviously don't go a bettor's way, we get some nasty calls. I know players probably get that through social media.”

While Brownell didn’t get into details about those calls, he’s far from the first person to reveal issues with gamblers. Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said last week that gamblers found his phone number and started threatening him after a loss due to betting, and Indiana Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton said he felt like nothing more than a “prop” to fans.

“To half the world, I’m just helping them make money on DraftKings or whatever,” Haliburton said.

It’s unclear if Baker’s push to ban college prop bets will get anywhere. Without national legislation, it’ll be up to individual states to make that change — which will take a lot of time and effort.

None of that, though, will be fixed by the time NCAA tournament games tip off Thursday. The hate that Bacot received last week, regardless of how the game plays out, could come his way again.

“I get the point of it, too,” Bacot said. “Like, if you bet a lot of money on something and you’re like one pick away and somebody messes it up, I understand the part of fans being mad. But it’s annoying, too."