Stone takes 'step in right direction'

Each NCAA Tournament game is a do-or-die affair for the teams involved, but bettors always live to see another day -- unless it's their last one -- providing there is still some money left in their bankroll.

After dropping $1,210 and ending up a loser on three of the first four days of the tourney, professional sports handicapper Paul Stone bounced back with his best day yet Thursday, winning two of his three plays for a profit of $960.

Stone won $800 on the North Carolina-Washington State under 1421/2 -- the game totaled 115 points -- and took home $600 on 3-point favorite Louisville, which topped Tennessee by 19.

"The Cougars were able to slow the Tar Heels' tempo and prevent the game from turning into a track meet," he said. "I don't believe Louisville played its best game, but the Cardinals seemed more athletic and more aggressive all night."

Stone's lone loss was $440 on the UCLA-Western Kentucky under 133.

That game was on an under pace at halftime (61 points), but the teams exploded for 105 points in the second half to sail over the number.

Still, Stone, who is 5-4-2 on totals and 17-15-2 against the spread in the tournament, sliced his overall deficit to $250.

"All in all, tonight was a step in the right direction. But we move on," said Stone, who has a total of $2,310 riding on today's Texas-Stanford showdown. "Today's a big day in the tournament. By my standards, I have a fairly significant play on Texas and that outcome will probably tell the tale for me in the tournament."

Stone put his biggest bet of the tournament by far, $1,430, on 1-point favorite Texas on Sunday and has added an $880 play on the Texas-Stanford under 134.

"I certainly recognize the size advantage held by Stanford here, but the Longhorns hold an even more significant edge at the guard positions," he said. "D.J. Augustin is a creator in both the full-court and the half-court game, and he'll prove to be the difference."

As for the under, Stone said "I fully expect the Cardinal to milk the shot clock and try to prevent the Longhorns from running up and down the floor. This will be a game where the winner scores in the 60s."

Stone has two other plays today: $770 on 5-point underdog Michigan State and $440 on 111/2-point 'dog Villanova.