12/16/2002 12:00AM

Early line moves in NFL favor 'dogs


LAS VEGAS - It was reported last week that on Nov. 20 a California man hit two lotteries in the same day: one for $17 million and the other for $126,000. Big deal. About a dozen guys hit two lotteries here in Las Vegas every Monday now that the Stardust has started posting its NFL opening numbers on Mondays at 8 a.m.

After taking part in that lottery - in which professional bettors sign up and are drawn at random to determine the order they can take the first crack at the Stardust's lines - the big bettors head to the Rampart Casino on the west side of town to see what Sid Diamond is offering at his lottery at 10 a.m.

In the early line moves at the Stardust this week, four of the five NFL pointspread moves were on underdogs, the Ravens being the only exception.

Four of the five also moved toward the key number of 3, with the Seahawks going from +1 1/2 to +1 the exception (it was later bet to pick-'em).

Totals also moved predictably toward key numbers as the Eagles-Cowboys total was bet from 38 to 37 and the Giants-Colts total was bet from 41 1/2 to 41 (shortly after the lottery ended and the windows were opened to the public, the Steelers-Buccaneers under was bet from 41 to 40 1/2).

No overs were bet at the Stardust lottery.

At the Rampart, Diamond put up the Dolphins -3 (they were -4 at the Stardust, with the Vikings taking the early action), and he got Miami money, closing his lottery at -3 (-120) with the Vikings +3 (+100), just like at the Stardust.

Bettors were also taking middle or side opportunities with the Rams (bet from +2 to +1 vs. the Seahawks) and the Browns (bet from +3 to +2 1/2 vs. the Ravens).

One line that did move the same at the two properties was the Eagles-Cowboys under, which was bet from 38 to 37. Bettors also took the Bears +3 (+105) vs. the Panthers at the Rampart and bet it to -110 each side, as well as the Broncos +4 (+100) vs. the Raiders, moving that to -110 each side, and the Steelers +5 1/2 down to 4 1/2 vs. the Bucs on Monday night.

GMAC Bowl:

Louisville vs. Marshall (-2 1/2)

I'm surprised this line hasn't been bet up more. In last week's lottery (when the bowl games were posted), Marshall opened -1 1/2 and was promptly bet up to -2 1/2. It was still there as of noon Monday, but I expect it to climb to at least a field goal by kickoff Wednesday night.

Marshall won this bowl last year, 64-61, with a thrilling rally against East Carolina. The Thundering Herd is 3-0 both straight up and against the spread when returning to the same bowl they played in the previous season - so they like familiar surroundings. Byron Leftwich, who has the added incentive of not being invited to New York for the Heisman ceremonies, has carried Marshall on his back all season, and he should shine again in the spotlight.

Louisville's offense never really lived up to its preseason hype, with its most impressive game being in a driving rainstorm against Florida St. In fact, Louisville has been outgained in eight of its 12 games this year, and that is likely to be the case here as Leftwich shows no mercy.

PLAY: Marshall for 2 units.