03/28/2007 11:00PM

Bruins and Hoyas hold Final Four edge


LAS VEGAS - And then there were four. The Final Four.

This year's NCAA men's basketball tournament has been the most formful in memory. We're left with two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2's, and in many minds these are the four most consistent teams of the entire year. We're also left with two blockbuster games, and if recent history tells us anything, the semifinals on Saturday will probably be more exciting than Monday's championship game.

Georgetown (-1) vs. Ohio St.

6:05 p.m., at Atlanta

I was hoping Georgetown, a No. 2 seed in the East, would be getting a few points from the South's No. 1 seed, Ohio St., when they meet in the Final Four, but right after the Hoyas wrapped up their come-from-behind overtime victory over North Carolina on Sunday, Las Vegas Sports Consultants sent this game out pick-em to its sports book clients, and the major sports books at the Las Vegas Hilton, Caesars Palace, and Wynn followed suit. A few books - primarily the MGM Mirage family and the Palms - went with Ohio St. -1, but early bettors quickly snapped up the Georgetown +1 numbers, and the money moved several offshore books to go to Georgetown -1. Vegas books were dealing pick-em early in the week, but eventually all made the Hoyas a 1-point favorite.

That's okay, I'll lay the short price, but I'm never happy when so many people seem to be in agreement with me. I'm much more comfortable when in a contrarian position (see the Texas A&M game vs. Memphis).

I've felt all along that Georgetown is the most complete team in the country - they have a strong inside game, can fill it up from outside, can play lockdown defense, and can clear the defensive glass - and they showed it down the stretch vs. North Carolina. Roy Hibbert can bang with Greg Oden just like he did with Tyler Hansborough, and the Hoyas have enough depth on the front line even if he gets in foul trouble. Oden sometimes doesn't play a complete game, and we've seen over and over that Ohio St. has survived many scares along the way against many teams that are inferior to Georgetown.

In those games, Ohio St. is just 2-2 against the spread, and their first cover was in the opening round when the Buckeyes covered a 20 1/2-point spread by just a half-point in a 78-57 win over Central Connecticut St. before failing in their next two victories, which saw them taken to the brink of elimination by Xavier and Tennessee. Their only clear-cut cover this tournament was Saturday's 92-76 victory over Memphis as a 2-point favorite, but that was misleading as the game at one time was tied 60-60. Georgetown has been more dominant, going 3-1 against the spread with the only loss being vs. Vanderbilt. I'll take the better overall team - and the best overall player on the floor in Jeff Green - with the better recent form.

PLAY: Georgetown for 2 units.

UCLA (+3) vs. Florida

8:45 p.m., at Atlanta

If Ohio St.'s road to the Final Four has been bumpy, Florida's has been full of potholes.

The Gators are also only 2-2 against the spread. After crushing Jackson St. in the opener, Florida has struggled to put away Purdue, Butler, and Oregon. The Gators failed to cover their middle two games and just got over the number late vs. Oregon. Meanwhile, the Bruins are on a roll at 3-1 against the spread with a blowout win over Weber St., a non-cover vs. Indiana, and then very impressive performances in wins over Pittsburgh and Kansas.

And I like the personnel matchups, too. UCLA's win over Kansas was particularly impressive and facing that front line will certainly help the Bruins in their preparations for Florida. But it's not like these two teams are strangers. Let's not forget this is a rematch of last year's final, which Florida won, so give me the underdog with revenge as UCLA coach Ben Howland and his players can also draw on that experience against Joakim Noah & Co.

UCLA guards Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison can match up well with Florida's backcourt. The Bruins also play better defense than Florida has seen lately, which should help them withstand the type of great runs that the Gators have put on their recent opponents.

PLAY: UCLA for 1 unit.

Last weekend's bankroll record: 3-1, including 2-0 on 2-unit best bets, for a net profit of 3.9 units. Tourney bankroll record: 11-13, including 3-2 on 2-unit bets, for a net loss of 2.5 units. Record on all games: 32-27-1.

One more Final Four note: Both of these games have totals of 130 points. I won't make a bankroll play on the under, and I'll pass on the trend (compiled by Statfox.com) that in games with a total of 130 points or less in this year's tournament the under is 15-4.

Monday's title game

Obviously, I'm hoping for a Georgetown-UCLA title game (or at least a Georgetown-Florida title game with the Gators beating UCLA but failing to cover the spread). I think the Hoyas are the most complete team and would match up well with anyone.

After beating North Carolina, and if they get past Ohio St., they certainly wouldn't be intimidated by Florida, so I would take the Hoyas plus the short price vs. Florida as well as taking them vs. UCLA in what would probably be close to pick-em.

I would take either Florida or UCLA vs. Ohio St. if I'm wrong about Georgetown getting there. Florida would certainly have the front-line players with Noah and Al Horford to stand up to man-child Oden, as well as title-game experience, while UCLA's defense would also be the key if it faced the Buckeyes.

I'll have a more detailed look at the eventual matchup on the drf.com website by Monday morning.