LAS VEGAS " Oddsmakers expect close games, but think North Carolina will beat Kansas and go on to win the first ever NCAA men's Division 1 basketball championship to see all the No. 1 seeds reach the Final Four.
"North Carolina is a 3-point favorite over Kansas, and would be the favorite over either UCLA or Memphis," said Michael Seba, senior oddsmaker with Las Vegas Sports Consultants. He called the Memphis-UCLA semifinal "basically a coin flip."
Other bookmakers, including John Avello, race and sports book director at the Wynn Las Vegas resort, and Jason McCormick, of the Red Rock Casino, made the Memphis Tigers a one-point favorite over UCLA in a game in which they think at least 135 points will be scored.
Oddsmakers expect a higher-scoring game between North Carolina and the Kansas Jayhawks, with point totals ranging from at least 157 to 159.
Jay Kornegay, chief of the Las Vegas Hilton Race and Sports Book, picked the Tar Heels as the favorite to win the championship at 9-5, followed by the UCLA Bruins at 2-1, Kansas at 5-2 and Memphis at 3-1.
The oddsmakers said they thought sports betting could be brisk in a tournament that started with 65 teams. For the first time since the NCAA started seeding teams in 1979, the top seeds in the East, Midwest, South and West brackets reached the semifinals.
"With four No. 1 seeds, I don't know if it will set any records," Seba said, "but the handle should be pretty heavy."
Play resumes Saturday in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.