Handicapper backs Memphis

There are no surprise teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament, but when it comes to having a storied winning tradition and championship pedigree, Memphis can't match fellow No. 1 seeds North Carolina, Kansas and UCLA.

Putting history aside, though, professional sports handicapper Paul Stone has made the Tigers his lone play today in their Final Four showdown with the Bruins.

Up $40 in the tournament with a 21-20-2 record against the spread, Stone has $660 riding on Memphis. He placed $220 on the Tigers on Sunday, when they were a 1-point favorite, and added another $440 on Memphis on Friday, when they were laying 11/2 points.

"Memphis has been knocked a little all season because of the caliber of competition in (Conference USA) and also its free-throw shooting. The Tigers have merely proceeded to pretty much dismantle all four of their tournament opponents thus far, including a Texas team that beat UCLA at Pauley Pavilion and Tennessee by 19 points at a neutral site," Stone said. "Memphis is tall, long and athletic, can score from all five positions on the court and also defends quite capably. They have had essentially the same personnel in each of their past three seasons, with the notable addition being true freshman point guard Derrick Rose, who schooled Texas' D.J. Augustin last weekend in Houston.

"The Bruins are certainly capable of beating anybody on a given night, but the Tigers just seem to be hitting on all cylinders."

Stone pretty much split the first two weekends of the tournament, dropping $1,210 the first weekend, with three of four losing days, before bouncing back to win $1,250 last weekend, with three of four winning days.

With such a strong field remaining, Stone said it was "extremely difficult to find any true value since all the teams are capable of playing at a high level and beating anyone on a given day.

"North Carolina has been favored by 3 over Kansas all week, and I don't believe any of the possible matchups among the four teams would have a higher line than that one."