A fine line separates the elite teams and premier players gathered for the Final Four. But if there must be a betting favorite, the slightest edge goes to North Carolina, and that's mostly because of Tyler Hansbrough.
A muscular 6-foot-9-inch junior center, Hansbrough is not the most talented player in college basketball. He probably is the hardest worker, however.
"You can't knock that kid. Hansbrough will run through a wall for you," Cal Neva sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said.
And this is the point where many sharp bettors hit the wall. It's tough to knock any of the teams in today's national semifinal matchups. With four No. 1 seeds to size up, it can be a guessing game.
Memphis is a 2-point favorite over UCLA, and North Carolina is a 3-point favorite over Kansas. The combined record of the four teams is 143-9.
"From a betting aspect, I couldn't come up with a side in either one of these games," Bogdanovich said. "These lines are like granite, and good luck trying to find an edge in one of the two games.
"I think these are good games for the bookmaker, and they should be great games to watch."
The betting public seems to be siding with the Tar Heels, who have won their four NCAA Tournament games by a combined 101 points. The line on North Carolina has crept up to 31/2 at some books.
"Carolina has drawn a lot of money in the tournament," Bogdanovich said.
The Jayhawks are underdogs for the first time all season. The highest-seeded team they faced en route to the Final Four was No. 8 UNLV in the second round.
Jim Kruger, a handicapper for Vegassportsauthority.com, is going against the tournament's most popular team and recommending a play on Kansas at 31/2. Kruger said the Jayhawks have the interior depth to frustrate Hansbrough and the quick perimeter defenders to contain North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson.
"Lawson and Hansbrough are the reasons for North Carolina's domination in the tourney," Kruger said. "Diminishing their effectiveness is key for Kansas to win. Hansbrough faces an interchangeable army in Kansas' four bigs.
"Any one of five Jayhawks can go off to score double digits. I don't think that can be said of the Tar Heels."
Kruger is siding with both underdogs, also touting a bet on the Bruins in a struggle of contrasting styles. He expects UCLA to drag Memphis into a half-court game.
The Kansas-North Carolina total is 160. The Memphis-UCLA total is 1331/2.
Bogdanovich has posted proposition wagers on all five starters for the four teams. There are 29 Cal Neva locations in Nevada, with books at Binion's, Four Queens and Tuscany in Las Vegas. The Cal Neva props include:
• Total points and rebounds for UCLA's Kevin Love: 281/2.
• Total points and assists for Memphis' Derrick Rose: 201/2.
• Total points and rebounds for Hansbrough: 341/2.