Handicapper has rough day

With all three of his early plays looking good early on Day 2 of the NCAA Tournament, professional handicapper Paul Stone could joke.

"If I win these three, I might quit gambling," he said Friday. "Until the 11:30 (a.m.) games."

As it turned out, maybe Stone should have quit.

After earning $1,600 with early covers by Miami ($900), Western Kentucky ($350) and Davidson ($350), Stone turned cold and lost his next four bets for a total of $2,475, leaving him with a net loss of $875 on the day and $1,730 for the tournament.

"Starting out 3-0, I had some optimism that I might have a big day, but obviously I came back with losers on my later picks," he said. "It's not time for despair just yet, but it is disappointing."

Two games cost Stone dearly. He dropped $1,100 on his largest bet of the day, Saint Joseph's-Oklahoma under 127 points, as well as another $660 on Saint Joseph's. He lost $385 on South Alabama and another $330 on the South Alabama-Butler under of 1261/2.

Stone pushed on a late $330 play on the Clemson-Villanova over 144.

"I think I underrated the Big 12 (Conference). I played (Southern California) against Kansas State and lost ($880). I played (Saint Joseph's) against Oklahoma, and that was a loser. I haven't really had a good feel on my home conference, so to speak," said Stone, who resides in Tyler, Texas, and attended the University of Texas, a member of the Big 12. "But again, it's a long tournament, and we'll count it all up after Monday, April 7."

The even-keeled Stone is obviously hoping for a big day today, saying, "It would take a 3-1 or a 4-0 day to get the ship righted."

His biggest play is $770 on UCLA-Texas A&M under 125.

"These are two rock-'em, sock-'em defensive teams," he said. "I think they'll both slide into that physical, defensive-style game."

Stone reeled off some trends to support his pick: UCLA has gone under the total in 12 of its last 17 nonconference games and in five of its last six NCAA Tournament games, and the Aggies have gone under in five of their last seven tourney contests.

Stone also put $660 on 2-point favorite Pittsburgh, which is playing Michigan State. Stone said when point guard Levance Fields is healthy, the Panthers "have really performed as one of the country's best teams."