10/28/2002 12:00AM

Opening lines immediately jumping

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A large crowd wrapping up a huge sports weekend, coupled with the fact that professional bettors fared well over the weekend, made it no surprise that action was fast and furious in the Sunday night Stardust lottery. Twenty college games and seven NFL lines (six sides and one total) saw early action as the opening numbers were posted for the upcoming weekend.

Race and sports book director Joe Lupo said "fear the turtle" - a slogan he has used many times since predicting Maryland would win the NCAA basketball title last spring - when announcing Maryland was a 9-point favorite over North Carolina. Bettors agreed that the Terrapins are to be feared and bet them up to 9 1/2, 10, and 10 1/2. It's quite rare for a line to be moved three times on Sunday night.

Usually there are only about four double moves, but Sunday night there were seven: Duke getting bet from +13 to +12 to +11; Auburn from -1 1/2 to -2 to -2 1/2; San Diego St. from +3 1/2 to +3 to +2 1/2; Syracuse from +6 1/2 to +6 to +5 1/2; Hawaii from -23 to -24 to -25; Arkansas from -20 1/2 to -22 to -23; and New Mexico St. from -2 1/2 to -3 to -3 1/2.

There was even a double-line move in the NFL as the Lions were bet from an opening number of -1 1/2 vs. the Cowboys to -2 1/2 and finally to -3 (+100). All of the other NFL teams that took early action were underdogs: Patriots, Vikings, Bengals, Cardinals, and Dolphins.

Sunday night's lottery was the first since Lupo announced last week that he was handing over the reins to Bob Scucci as the Stardust's director of race and sports. Lupo will work with Scucci through the Super Bowl to make the transition as seamless as possible.