The ball continued to bounce in the right direction last weekend as "playing Basketball" moved through the opening round of NCAA regional play.

VMI beat the spread. Wake Forest and Syracuse won as underdogs. Holy Cross should have been closer than 11 points to Michigan at the finish. Only providence disappointed against Kansas State.

That means I'm seven up, one down, with two ties after two weeks. And now the livin' gets easy.

North Carolina is favored by 4 1/2 over Notre Dame Thursday night at College park, Kentucky gets 14 over VMI.

In the West, UCLA is 15 over Idaho State, Nevada-Las Vegas is 15 1/2 over Utah.

In the Mideast Regionals, Michigan opened 7 1/2 over Detroit yesterday in Las Vegas, with Syracuse 4 over North Carolina Charlotte.

The Midwest tournament finds Marquette 6 1/2 over Kansas State, Wake Forest 2 over Southern Illinois.

Once again, because of the injuries, I must pass on Carolina. With Walter Davis and Tummy LaGarde healthy, the Tar Heels would be a cinch to beat Notre Dame, but the spread would be higher. The Irish are not that good. Not really. I love to bet against Digger Phelps in a big game. He often digs his own grave.

Kentucky is big and strong, with the best inside game of any team left in the tournament. The Wildcats should not be rated 14 points over VMI, however, I'll go with the Keydets, again, in the belief they are disciplined enough to stay reasonably close to the superior team.

Then, should Davis and LaGarde indicate against Notre Dame that they can contribute to the Carolina cause, I'll take Dean Smith's crew Saturday against Kentucky. Davis, in particular, must show he can overcome that finger injury.

I have a friend in Nevada who made a small fortune last Saturday by backing Idaho State and Utah. That's a heck of a daily double, one not likely to be duplicated for a long time. The friend says he's going to bet it all back this week on the same two teams. I wish him well. Against UCLA, he'll need it, although Nevada Las Vegas certainly is vulnerable.

Michigan has excellent quickness but lacks muscle. The Wolverines would not have gotten past Holy Cross had Ronnie Perry been ready. They should defeat Detroit. Syracuse could be another matter, if the Orangemen down NC-Charlotte. I like Syracuse against Michigan, getting the points, if that matchup materializes.

The Midwest Regional is the most wide open of the four. I slurred Kansas State last week, and paid the price for slander. Missouri, last year's Big Eight champion, was an outstanding team. Kansas State might be, too, considering the way it polished off Providence.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I'll take K-State and the points against Marquette.

Wake Forest battled back gamely against Arkansas. The The Deacons' coach knows all about tempo, which is what the game is all about. I love to back Wake when they're getting points, but I hate to give points with them. Still, they'e worth supporting again, giving two.

UCLA, at this point, is clearly the team to beat. Getting past Louisville was a big firest step. Now the Bruins have the easiest path to the round-of-four.