Updated on 09/17/2011 2:18PM

March Madness: Sunday's NCAA plays


Friday's regional semifinals saw a continuation of the cream rising to the top as favorites won three of the four games for the second day in a row.

Kansas routed Alabama-Birmingham 100-74 as a 4 1/2-point favorite, Duke beat Illinois 72-62 as a 6 1/2-point choice, and Georgia Tech squeaked by Nevada 72-67 as a 4 1/2-point favorite. The only upset was Xavier beating Texas outright 79-71 as a 3 1/2-point underdog.

The results of the round of 16 - in which favorites went 6-2 against the spread - backed up what I've been writing the last two weeks about how oddsmakers have been forced to shade the point spreads lower because of all the earlier upsets and the public's willingness to bet the underdogs.

For the tournament, underdogs now only hold a 29-27 edge in all tournament games after being up 27-21 heading into this week (note: the North Carolina-Texas game in the second round closed at pick-em and is not included in these betting stats).

The over also went 3-1 on Friday and now the under is just 29-28 in all tournament games through Friday. The only under was in the Georgia Tech-Nevada game, which wasn't good for the majority of bettors because the total opened at 145 and was bet all the way up to 150 at most sports books.

Bettors didn't fare much better in the other games as the Kansas-UAB total was bet from 153 to 151, the Xavier-Texas total was bet from 144 to 140 1/2, and the Duke-Illinois total went from 146 to 148 1/2. All were losing moves.

I was very close to passing on both regional finals on Sunday as bankroll plays, but I changed my mind when I saw the line on the early game.

2:40 p.m. at St. Louis, Mo.

I'm a firm believer that despite whatever trends are in play, you have to still look at each game on its own merits and decide whether it's likely that a trend will continue or if you have to look the other way. This is a game where I not only feel that the favorite is not undervalued at all, but in fact I think Kansas is overpriced.

Trying to judge these teams rationally and not biased by recent results, a look at power ratings prior to the tournament for Georgia Tech and Kansas - plus the fact that Ga Tech is seeded No. 3 and Kansas No. 4 - dictate that this game should be around pick-em or that Georgia Tech should be a 1- or 2-point favorite.

However, we have two factors in play here. For one, Kansas is playing very close to home (an unfair fact that many observers have pointed out) and gets a few points from the oddsmakers for that. In addition, Georgia Tech's B.J. Elder, the team's leading scorer at 16.2 points per game, sprained his ankle in Friday night's win over Nevada and as of Saturday morning was listed as questionable. The number has obviously been shaded a little higher to reflect that situation.

But what I saw in Georgia Tech's win was impressive as the Yellow Jackets proved they are truly a talented "team." Everyone stepped up and contributed. I would love to predict a Willis Reed/Michael Jordan-like appearance by Elder on Sunday, but even if he's unable to play a minute, Georgia Tech has the depth to run with Kansas.

Kansas poses some matchup problems in the paint, but Georgia Tech's defense has been superb all season and will keep them in the game.

PLAY: Georgia Tech for 1 unit.

Passing other regional final

: This is a line I expected to be around 10, so when the lines went up I kind of liked the Blue Devils at the deflated number. But the more I looked at the individual matchups, I couldn't pull the trigger because Xavier certainly won't be intimidated and can hang with Duke. Besides, Xavier is a team I haven't had a handle on this postseason and I don't want to get burned by them again. So, I'll pass on a bet, but cheer for the Blue Devils for my brackets that are still alive.

Bankroll record on Friday: 1-1 for a net loss of 0.1 units (based on laying 1.1 units to win 1).

Bankroll through Friday's games: 15-9 (62.5 percent) for a net profit of 5.1 units.

Non-bankroll record on Friday: 0-2.

Record on non-bankroll plays through Thursday: 14-18-1.

Record on all tournament games: 29-27-1.

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