Inquirer handicapper Vegas Vic lays down his plays for tonight.

LAS VEGAS — Double V is gonna try Houston +3 points over Kentucky.

Last time we saw Kentucky forward PJ Washington, he was in a walking boot. That’s a BIG deal. Why? P.J. is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. John Calipari’s Wildcats beat Abilene Christian and Wofford in the first two rounds. That’s NOT a big deal.

Jay Bilas, a pretty savvy hoop analyst, was asked what he thought, and if Houston would win. His answer, “With a healthy PJ Washington, probably not. Without Washington, Houston will win. It is that simple. I love this Houston team.”

Gotta agree with my guy Jay in this spot. Just make sure to check out the starting five to see if PJ is in or out.

Either way, we’ll grab the three and run to the bank.

Also grabbing Duke -7 points over Virginia Tech. Swingman Ty Outlaw will play for the Hokies after getting a summons Tuesday charging him with one misdemeanor count of marijuana possession. Outlaw, kind of an ironic name for this situation, was in San Jose when the police in Blacksburg searched his apartment. He was given a drug test Wednesday, and it came back negative.

With Outlaw (8.7 ppg, 45.6 pct. on three-pointers) on the court, Tech is better, but the Blue Devils should be able to avenge an earlier loss to the Hokies AT Blacksburg. If you watched the game against UCF, the Dookies should not even be in the Sweet 16, but here they are, and the Elite Eight is just 40 minutes away for Coach K.

Gimme $55 to win $50 on each game.

Vic is not gonna open the wallet on the North Carolina/Auburn game in Kansas City, but here are some spread stats you might enjoy. Everyone is expecting a track meet here, and thinking that the final score is gonna go WAY over the projected total, which is sitting at 164.5.

NOT so fast. Looked at the Tar Heels recent work, and they have gone UNDER in five of the last six games, and nine of the last 12. The Tigers have gone over in five of the last seven, but looking back to the beginning of February, Bruce Pearl’s guys have gone Under in 10 of the last 17.

Also note that Carolina has been phenomenal on the road, winning 12 of the last 13. In the big picture, the Heels overall spread log sits at 22-11-2, 14-5 on the road and 19-10-2 as a favorite. The Tigers overall spread mark is 19-16-1, 9-11 on the road and 3-2 as an underdog.

The Lines

Time (TV)
Friday/At Washington, D/C.
Michigan St.
7:09 p.m. (CBS)
Virginia Tech
9:39 p.m. (CBS)
Friday/At Kansas City
North Carolina
7:29 p.m. (TBS)
9:57 p.m. (TBS)
Saturday/At Anaheim
Texas Tech
6:09 p.m. (TBS)
Saturday/At Louisville, Ky.
8:49 p.m. (TBS)

Note: Friday’s winners will play a CBS doubleheader on Sunday beginning at 2 p.m. ... The Final Four will be April 6 and 8 and televised on CBS. The Saturday, April 6 national semifinals will start shortly after 6 p.m. The national championship game on Monday, April 8 will start shortly after 9 p.m.