03/18/2006 12:00AM

NCAA: Friday recap/Sunday selections


LAS VEGAS - Friday's NCAA tournament action was every bit as exciting as Thursday's as the field was cut to 32 heading into Saturday and Sunday's games.

No. 14 seed Northwestern St. upset No. 3 Iowa 64-63 as a 7-point underdog and No. 9 seed Bucknell upset No. 8 Arkansas 59-55 as a 5 1/2-point underdog in the early games. Later in the day, No. 11 seed George Mason upset No. 6 Michigan St. and No. 13 Bradley knocked off No. 4 Kansas, but despite those high-profile upsets, the better seeds still won 11 of the 16 games with the favorites going 12-4 (note: for the second straight day, the discrepancy comes from a lesser seed being bet from a small underdog to a small favorite as North Carolina St. opened as a 1-point dog vs. California, got bet to a 2-point favorite and proceeded to win 58-52).

Favorites went just 7-9 against the spread on Friday but still hold a 17-15 edge for the tournament, 18-15 if you count Monmouth's rout of Hampton on Tuesday.

After a day of high-scoring shootouts and overtime sessions on Thursday, unders went 11-5 on Friday and now lead 18-14 for the tournament, 19-14 if counting the play-in game.

Bankroll bounces back

After a day of bad beats on Thursday, I had some of the bounces and crazy finishes go my way Friday as my bankroll plays went 4-2 to get back over .500 through the first two days at 6-5-1.

I split my two early picks as I won Northwestern St. plus the points vs. Iowa but lost with Arkansas -4 1/2 vs. Bucknell as the Bison won 59-55. Georgetown -4 looked like the right side most of the second half vs. Northern Iowa, but I still needed a late dunk to get the cover in the Hoyas' 54-49 victory. Michigan St. put me back to .500 on the day when the Spartans were upset 75-65 by George Mason as a 4 1/2-point favorite, but then I swept my two night plays with Bradley 77-73 over Kansas as a 7 1/2-point dog and Kentucky 69-64 over Alabama-Birmingham as a 2 1/2-point favorite.

Onto Sunday's games as the field gets trimmed to the Sweet 16:

Georgetown (+3 1/2) vs. Ohio St.

Georgetown was my darkhorse pick prior to the tournament and I give them a huge chance for an upset of No. 2 seed Ohio St. on Sunday. I just love the Hoyas' swarming pressure, which held Northern Iowa to 49 points on Friday, as well as their patience on offense of working the ball around for the best shot. I think they can frustrate the Buckeyes on both ends of the floor and they'll also win the battle for loose balls and rebounds. Terence Dial is a force inside for Ohio St., but Georgetown counters with 7-2 Roy Hibbert, who will also get help from his teammates. The early total on this game was set at 125 points, and I really think it'll even be lower-scoring than that, especially after watching each team's style of play closely on Friday, which makes the 3 1/2 points even more valuable (note: the only reason I'm not making the under a bankroll play is a very possible chance of overtime).

PLAY: Georgetown for 1 unit.

Bradley (+5) vs. Pittsburgh

If anyone thinks that Pittsburgh caught a break when No. 13 seed Bradley knocked off No. 4 Kansas, they better think again. If anything, Bradley matches up better against Pitt than Kansas would have. The Missouri Valley has emerged as one of the top mid-major conferences, and Bradley was the hottest team heading down the stretch and it was no fluke that it beat Kansas and frankly I'm a little surprised this line opened this high. Like the Georgetown-Ohio St. game, this should be a physical battle that should be fairly low-scoring and getting any points in this type of matchup is a bonus.

PLAY: Bradley for 1 unit.

Arizona has been inconsistent all year and certainly entered the tournament with lower expectations than most years as a No. 8 seed, but the Wildcats have talent and they put it all together by jumping out to a 35-11 lead and coast to a 94-75 victory over Wisconsin. Villanova is certainly better than Wisconsin, but I think Arizona can play with the Wildcats (yes, both teams have the same nickname). Hassan Adams returned from suspension to lead the Wildcats and his floor leadership was just as valuable as his 21 points. This could very well come down to Villanova's 3-point shooting, but as long as they don't shoot the lights out, Arizona should be right there at the end. While I'm sitting here Friday night writing this, I just heard ESPN analysts Digger Phelps, Steve Lavin and Doug Gottlieb all dismiss any chance of Arizona being able to stop Villanova. I hope plenty of other people were listening and maybe it'll get me a few extra points in the line by gametime Sunday.

PLAY: Arizona for 1 unit.

Selections for March 19 games

At Dayton, Ohio

Ohio St. (-3.5) vs. Georgetown Pick: GEORGETOWN

North Carolina (-5.5) vs. George Mason Pick North Carolina

At Philadelphia, Pa.

Villanova (-7) vs. Arizona Pick: ARIZONA

Connecticut (-8) vs. Kentucky Pick: Connecticut

At Auburn Hill, Mich

West Virginia (-6) vs. Northwestern St. Pick: West Virginia

Pittsburgh (-5) vs. Bradley Pick: BRADLEY

At Dallas, Texas

Memphis (-8.5) vs. Bucknell Pick: Bucknell

Texas (-7) vs. North Carolina St. Pick: Texas

Best bets in CAPS.

Friday's bankroll record: 4-2 for a net profit of 1.8 units (based on laying 1.1. units to win 1). Tournament bankroll record: 6-5-1 for a net profit of 0.5 units. Website record on all tourney games: 16-15-1 through Friday.