Biggest action in tournament
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Mar 15, 2005 6:31 AM

March Madness, The Final Four, Big Dance. Many names, but only one place to appreciate the full experience.

"People come to Las Vegas from all over the country to meet and watch all the regions in the tournament," said Art Manteris, vice president of race and sports operations at Stations Casinos.

The first week of the tournament provides excitement unsurpassed in any sport. Yes, even the Super Bowl.

"If I ever moved from town, I would come back for the first week of the NCAA tournament."

Art Manteris
Station Race & Sports VP

"It’s a fabulous time of year for the sports book industry," Manteris said. "Sports bars all over the country offer the same video setup we do, but Las Vegas is the only place that can offers what Vegas can provide."

Mainly, betting.

"There is a correlation between betting handle and television ratings," Manteris said. "If a game does well ratings-wise, it will do well with the betting public."

With no one basketball team among the 65 looking invincible, expect a mammoth TV audience and thrills galore in every round.

"I think the (NCAA) selection committee did a good job," Stardust Race and Sports Book Manager Bob Scucci said when interviewed on John Kelly’s morning radio show. "I don’t have a problem with Washington getting a No. 1 seed out West."

The Huskies certainly made the most of their opportunity, knocking off Lute Olson’s Arizona Wildcats in the Pac 10 tourney final. Washington then profited from the selection committee when Wake Forest, Kentucky and Kansas all failed to win their respective tourneys.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants lists Washington at 12-1 to win it all, eighth best. Louisville, amazingly a fourth seed, is 8-1. That’s fifth best. Illinois and North Carolina share the favorite role at 2-1. Duke is 5-1, Wake Forest 6-1.

Louisville is a favorite of Ken White, the head honcho at LVSC.

"I think the Cardinals have the talent of a No. 1 seed," White said. "Arizona is another team that could do a lot of damage. I thought they could be a No. 1 in the West if they could have won their tourney."

White is also backing the Big West Conference, predicting that both Gonzaga and St. Mary’s will win their opening round games.

"I believe our polls are stronger than the ones used by the selection committee," White said. "I think you will see New Mexico (No. 12 seed) do well, while a Utah could go out early."

Noted handicapper Ted Sevransky said March Madness is "the single best betting there is."

"Just don’t be stupid," Sevransky continued. "Be smart with money management. Lines are pretty tight, just like the Super Bowl. Remember, it’s just one game in a long lifetime of bets."

Sevransky also believes Utah is vulnerable in its first round matchup with Texas El Paso.

"I think they have been overrated most of the year," he said. "Andrew Bogut is like Chris Webber, both have soft hands. I think Michigan State, Oklahoma State and Florida could go far."