04/03/2006 12:00AM

NCAA: Final Four recap/title pick


LAS VEGAS - Calling last Saturday's Final Four national semifinal games anti-climactic is an understatement.

After an NCAA tournament of seemingly every game going down to the wire, Florida blew out George Mason 73-58 and UCLA routed LSU 59-45. Neither game was as competitive as the final scores indictate. They were foregone conclusions from early in the second half.

Florida won as a 6-point favorite while UCLA pulled the minor upset as a 2-point underdog. Both games went under the betting totals. For the tournament heading into Monday night's title game, underdogs hold a 34-28-1 (55 percent after tossing out the push) advantage while the under holds a bigger edge at 39-34 (62 percent).

Bankroll drops two

Yours truly was on the wrong side of both semifinals as I backed George Mason (it looked good for a half) and LSU (it never looked good). That drops my record to 13-12-1 and the title game will determine if the bankroll shows a profit or loss for the tournament.

Florida (-1) vs. UCLA

After watching Florida's victory and then seeing UCLA take control of its game vs. LSU, I started trying to predict the line for this title game. I arrived at Florida -3 and thought it might come out 3 1/2 here in town if not for all the Southern California visitors we get every weekend. I was a little surprised when the line came out only -1 1/2, and since then the public has bet it to a pretty solid 1. As much as I'd like to side with the underdog, the value is on the favorite here. Florida is the better all-around team and can push the ball up the floor or be content to play a half-court game is that's the style that UCLA dictates. A lot has been made of the fact Florida starts four sophomores, but the fact is that they have to be considered juniors by this time of the year and they've been the most consistent team in the whole tournament, winning by an average of 16 points. UCLA's program has the more prolific past, but the present looks like it belongs to Florida.

PLAY: Florida for 1 unit.