Updated on 09/17/2011 10:02PM

Precious little movement in prices on top seeds

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With all the talk of upsets and parity in the first two rounds of the , it's interesting to note that all four No. 1 seeds are alive heading into Thursday's action.

And when the Las Vegas Hilton adjusted its futures on the tournament, there was very little change at the top. North Carolina, which was 3-1 at the Hilton last week after the brackets were announced (and 2-1 or 5-2 at most other books in town), is now the 2-1 top choice of the Hilton oddsmakers. The odds on the other three No. 1's have not been lowered at all despite being two games closer to the title: Illinois is 3-1, Duke is 7-1 and Washington is 12-1.

Of course, that lack of movement is because they were expected to make it at least this far. The movement starts to get noticed as you move down the list. Oklahoma St. and Arizona, who meet on Thursday night in Chicago, are both 8-1 after opening at 12-1 and 15-1, respectively. Kentucky, the No. 2 seed in the Austin Regional, has dropped from 18-1 to 12-1.

The most significant move among the high seeds is Louisville, which has been impressive and is now the sixth choice overall at 10-1.

The rest of remaining teams include some whose odds have barely changed ( from 1,000-1 to 150-1).

If you think it's too much to ask for your pick to win four straight games, you can bet the adjusted regional prices.

Chicago Regional: Illinois 2-3, Arizona 11-4, Oklahoma St. 3-1, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 15-1.

Albuquerque Regional: Washington 8-5, Louisville 13-10, Texas Tech 4-1, West Virginia 5-1.

Syracuse Regional: North Carolina 10-27, Villanova 5-1, North Carolina St. 5-1, Wisconsin 7-1.

Austin Regional: Duke 1-1, Kentucky 9-5, Michigan St. 9-2, Utah 6-1.

But now let's look at Thursday's matchups.


7:10 p.m. at Albuquerque, N.M.

This line caused a stir in Las Vegas sports books on Sunday night as No. 4 seed Louisville was made the favorite over No. 1 seed Washington.

Now, I'm usually among the first to give more credit to Vegas oddsmakers over the NCAA selections committee or any national media outlet. In this case, however, I'm not convinced this isn't an overadjustment based on a lot of people getting on the Louisville bandwagon (and perhaps a smidge of Eastern bias). In addition, the Huskies are playing with a chip on their shoulder as the least-respected No. 1 seed, and the fact they are underdogs here could inspire them more.

But all of that is superficial handicapping (and could be refuted by people saying that Louisville also has something to prove, since it was given a No. 4 seed), and you have to look at the matchups. While I think Washington's matchup zone can pose problems for Louisville, this is a very even game between the starting lineups. The difference is that Washington has more depth and should be able to keep up the frenetic pace (the betting total is a whopping 160 points) with Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons scoring the bulk of the points and point guard Will Conroy making sure the other players are involved.

PLAY: Washington for 1 unit.


9:55 p.m. at Chicago

Depth is the reason I like this game, too. While Arizona relies heavily on Salim Stoudamire (18.6 points per game) and Channing Frye (15.6), Oklahoma St. counters with John Lucas (17.8) and Joey Graham (17.5) plus many other contributors from its team that made it to the Final Four last year.

That experience should come in handy, especially against an Arizona program that doesn't always play to its potential in the postseason. And, except for Frye guarding the rim, Arizona is soft in the middle and Oklahoma St. can have success going inside with its big men.

Look for the Cowboys to slow down the pace and take advantage of this. This line was wavering between Arizona -1 and Oklahoma St. -1 earlier in the week. As of Tuesday afternoon, the consensus around Vegas was Oklahoma St. -1, so that's what I'll use here. And I can't have any reservations about taking the Cowboys here, because my brackets have them making it to the title game.

PLAY: Oklahoma St. for 1 unit.

The rest of Thursday's games

: This line opened at 10 1/2, got bet to 10, but now appears to be reversing direction. I'm as undecided as other bettors. It's tempting to take the points with the popular Cinderella story, but in my gut I think Illinois will withstand UW-Milwaukee's full-court pressure and roll to victory. I'm just not willing to lay that many points.

: Two great stories clashing here. I feel Texas Tech is more legit, but can't discount what West Virginia has done. I'll pass on this one, too.

Last week's bankroll plays: 11-7-1 (61 percent) for a net profit of 3.6 units (based on laying 1.1 units to win 1). Selections on all tournament games through Sunday: 26-21-2 (55 percent).