11/19/2003 1:00AM

Buckeyes underdogs, and rightfully so


Something doesn't add up when you consider Ohio St. moved past Southern Cal into the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings earlier this week, yet the Buckeyes are 7-point underdogs at No. 9 Michigan this Saturday. It would be more logical if Ohio St. were the 7-point favorite, right?

But it makes perfect sense to Keith Glantz, who runs The Oddsmakers' Top 25, a poll of 10 oddsmakers, handicappers, and bettors that tries to objectively weigh the relative strengths of college football teams and who would be favored on a neutral field, regardless of record. In the oddsmakers' poll, which can be found at www.majorstats.com, USC is clearly the No. 2 team behind Oklahoma. The Trojans received nine second-place votes and one third-place vote behind LSU.

In fact, Ohio St. is ranked No. 6 in The Oddsmakers' Top 25, behind - guess who? - No. 4 Michigan. Glantz, who owns Sports at a Glantz Inc. and is probably best known as co-founder of the nationally syndicated Glantz-Culver Line, agrees with the critics of the BCS system that question why Southern Cal fell from the No. 2 spot.

"We have Michigan, even with two losses, favored over Ohio St. this weekend," Glantz said. "The Wolverines are at home, but even on a neutral field they would be a 3 1/2- to a 4-point favorite. Off the top of my head, if Michigan is around a field goal better than Ohio St. on a neutral field, I'd have to make USC a 7 1/2- or 8-point favorite over the Buckeyes.

"No disrespect to Ohio St., because they have a great defense and might very well beat Michigan this week, but USC is the better team."

Another big discrepancy in the ratings is TCU, which is No. 8 in the BCS, but No. 20 according to the oddsmakers. In fact, five teams with three losses - Kansas St., Florida, Purdue, Iowa, and Pittsburgh - are ranked ahead of the undefeated Horned Frogs.

"They haven't played anybody, and would be an underdog to any other team on our list," said Glantz, who added that he didn't include TCU in his own vote.

True to Glantz's comment, TCU is a 3-point underdog at Southern Mississippi on Thursday night.

College basketball tips off

Football isn't even over, but college basketball got off to a fast start last week with the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and this week with the start of the Preseason NIT.

Heading into the season, Las Vegas Sports Consultants had Connecticut as the 4-1 favorite to win the NCAA men's basketball title, followed by Duke (5-1), Arizona (7-1), Michigan St. (8-1), Kentucky (10-1), and Florida (10-1). This is very similar to the rankings in the writers' and coaches' polls, though defending champ Syracuse is No. 7 in polls, while LVSC has the Orangemen at 18-1, not even among the Top 10 contenders.

On a related note, Glantz said he plans to start an oddsmakers' poll for college basketball after the first of the year.

Football betting contests

David Stratton, managing editor of GamingToday, went 5-2 last week in the Stardust Invitational to defeat Kevin O'Neill (2-4-1) and advance to the semifinals of the $10,000 winner-take-all tournament. This Friday's quarterfinal match - held in the Stardust sports book at 9 p.m. and broadcast live on KDWN AM-720 and at kdwn.com - pits Reno-based handicapper Bob Donahue with Vegas-based Ted Sevransky. Donahue used to be part of Tim Trushel's "Vegas Sportswire" radio show and website but left earlier this year to join the Jim Feist operation. Sevransky, who runs whocovers.com, is now on Trushel's show, so there should be some good-natured ribbing.

* The top two contestants in the Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest went 3-2 last week to hold onto their spots. "Peter & Paul" is in the lead at 37-18 (67 percent), with "Moxie" right behind at 36-18-1, good for 36 1/2 points since a push counts for half a point in the contest. The hottest handicapper in the contest (and arguably in the whole city, which we'll get to in a few seconds) is "Jarhead," who went 5-0 last week and is 8-1-1 over the past two weeks to move into third place at 34-17-4, good for 36 points. "Leigh Raskin" and "Shock and Awe" both went 4-1 to move into a fourth-place tie at 35-19-1.

* "Jarhead" also went 5-0 in the Station Casinos Gambler's Challenge to move into first place at 35-16-4, good for 37 points. "AJ Sports" went 4-1 but slipped into second place at 35-17-3. Those two are pulling away from the field, as "Big Richie" is another three games back in third at 33-21-1.

* The selections of "Jarhead," as well as the selections of other leaders, will be available Friday afternoon in the respective sports books.

Katherine Manix dead at 62

Those going to the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook will have one less smiling face greeting them. Race and sports book supervisor Katherine Manix passed away Nov. 14 after a yearlong bout with cancer. She was 62.

Manix was a pioneer in the Nevada race and sports book industry, serving as one of the highest-ranking women in the business for the better part of the past 30 years at the Stardust, MGM/Bally's, Caesars Palace, and Binion's Horseshoe, before closing out her career at the Hilton.

Manix was always on the front line and would often ask about my family and me. That personal touch was evident in watching her deal with her other customers, too.

A viewing will be held Friday, from 8:30-11:30 a.m., at the First Henderson United Methodist Church, 609 E. Horizon Dr.. There will be a service at 11:30, followed by the burial in Boulder City.

Manix is survived by her mother, two sons, a daughter, and 13 grandchildren. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Mrs. Manix's name to the Nathan Adelson Hospice.