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Las Vegas streets and supermarket parking lots unusually were deserted Friday night as Sin Cityites stayed home in droves or attended parties to root for their beloved Sweet 16 Rebels.

UNLV's (impossible) dream of an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight berth rudely was interrupted 76-72 by Oregon in the Midwest Regional semis at St. Louis - an accurate forecast by Las Vegan/Los Angeleno and Professional Handicappers League member Big Al McMordie.

"I don't think so, " former lawyer McMordie said Thursday when asked if he thought “our" Rebels could do it.

"That's why I gave my customers Oregon minus 2 1/2. "

McMordie, who splits his time between the two Western American cities, and fellow PHL member/buddy Scott Spreizter saw one bubble burst Thursday night when their joint “big bucks" futures play on Texas A & M at 50/1 went down the tubes.

"That's where are hearts (were), " he said.

Vegas bet shops predictably were crowded with locals, including rabid Rebel fans, who juggled their own hearts and heads; bookmakers, many of whom openly declared they were “homers" for the evening, did the same.

Sentiment always is nice consolation, but for gamblers a winning ticket and beating the house trumps it!

The Ducks, comfortably ahead during much of the second half, until the waning minutes, ended up with a cover (in many cases), thanks to a pair of last-second free throws.

The spread generally was Oregon minus 2 1/2 during the week, but the number crept to 3 by tipoff. and CalNeva had it at 4.

Also winning Friday were No. 2 seed Georgetown in East Rutherford and top seeds North Carolina in East Rutherford and defending national champion Florida in St. Louis.

The 7 1/2 to 8-point favorite Hoyas squeaked past Vanderbilt 66-65, while the Tar Heels covered 8 to 9 with a 74-64 victory over USC and the Gators got a big scare from stubborn Butler, winning 65-57 but failing to cover 10.

Thus, it's still possible for all four No. 1 seeds to advance to the Final Four. Friday night had top seed Kansas as a 2 1/2-point pick over No. 2 UCLA at San Jose in one Saturday affair, though 2s were out there.

Ditto No. 1-ranked and top seed Ohio State, which favored by 2 1/2 over Memphis in San Antonio.

Totals were 129 on the Jayhawks-Bruins and 135 on the Buckeyes-Tigers.

The March to Atlanta continues Sunday in St. Louis with Florida-Oregon and in East Rutherford with Georgetown-North Carolina.

Olympic opened the Tar Heels as 3 1/2-point choices and others followed.

McMordie says he has been “swimming" in hoops so much he's not yet up to speed on his baseball handicapping, but promises to hit the books, so to speak, when he returns from a European trip next week.

"Ask me about the Spurs, " he added.

Brian Gabrielle is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at


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