On a night when the NCAA men’s basketball championship game on CBS produced only so-so numbers, hot gamer “Deal or No Deal” carried NBC to a primetime ratings victory as the skein hit series highs, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen.

From 8 to 10, an expanded edition of “Deal or No Deal” averaged a sturdy 5.7 rating/14 share in adults 18-49 and 17.5 million viewers overall to win its time period. This was the best showing in the slot with series for NBC in more than two years. The stronger lead-in also lifted 10 o’clock’s “The Apprentice 5,” airing an hour later than usual, to its best scores to date (4.4/11 in 18-49, 10.5 million viewers overall).

Reliable prelim numbers weren’t available for the live basketball game between the University of Florida and UCLA, but the CBS affils averaged roughly a 5.2/14 in adults 18-49 and 14.9 million viewers overall. In Nielsen’s metered-market overnights, game netted a mere 11.7 household rating/18 share — down sharply from last year’s 16.0/23.

Fox remained solid with its Monday lineup, although both the male-skewing “Prison Break” (3.5/10 in 18-49, 8.0 million viewers overall) and “24” (5.0/12 in 18-49, 12.2 million viewers overall) were on the low end opposite the basketball action.

ABC remained in fourth on the night, paced by an original installment of “Supernanny” at 9 (3.8/9 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 5.3/13; CBS, 4.6/11; Fox, 4.2/11; ABC, 3.2/8; WB, 1.6/4; UPN, 1.1/3.

In total viewers: NBC, 15.2 million; CBS, 13.5 million; Fox, 10.1 million; ABC, 8.0 million; WB, 4.0 million; UPN, 2.8 million.