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Post Super Bowl Thoughts + College Hoops

   by Al McMordie - 02/08/2010

For the third straight year we had an exciting Super Bowl. Perhaps the most striking thing that stands out is that the Saints outscored the Colts 31-7 after falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter. New Orleans really wasn't as dominant as that may seem, as it was a close game all the way and the Colts were driving for the game trying TD in the final minutes.

Prior to Sunday only one team in Super Bowl history had overcome a 10-point deficit to win. Washington was down 10-0 before beating Denver 42-10 in Super Bowl 22. That makes the underdog 7-2 ATS the last nine Super Bowls, with four dogs winning despite being underdogs of +14, +4, +12 and +5.

Drew Brees was 27-for-30 over one stretch and finished 32-for-39 for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Peyton Manning was 31-of-45 for 333 yards and a touchdown with the one interception. That onside kick is going to stand out as the pivotal play when this one is dissected.

The Colts had a two-to-one edge in yards rushing (99-51) despite being last in the NFL in rushing, came up with a goal line stand, held New Orleans to just 3-for-9 on third down, and had 100 more total yards than the Saints (432-332). If that's all you know, you would think the favored Colts won by double digits.

It's reminiscent of a year ago, when Arizona had the edge in yards 407-292 and held Pittsburgh's running game to just 58 yards but still lost. It must have been tough to be a Minnesota Viking player or fan watching this one, knowing you dominated the Saints two weeks ago and should have been playing the Colts.

Now that football season is behind us, it's time to delve deep into both college and pro basketball as soft wagering numbers don't stop with the end of the football season. This is one of those years where no one wants to be No. 1, as the bulls' eye on the back has been too much of a burden.

Kansas held on to No. 1 over the weekend with a 75-64 victory over Nebraska. Kansas is 8-0 in conference play and extended its home win streak to 55 games. Nebraska is just a 1-7 in the Big 10 and Kansas let Nebraska make 10 of 17 threes (58 percent) and the all important rebounding battle was just 36-35 Jayhawks. Being in the spotlight means you are a public team, and Kansas has been a money-burner at 3-6-1 ATS the last 10 games. Kansas did not play very well last week during an overtime win at Colorado.

Kansas State is no threat to win the Big 12 regular season title, though they are in second place behind Kansas, but the Wildcats are playing well, on a 6-2 SU/ATS run. No. 10 Kansas State had a 79-75 victory against Iowa State on Saturday, keyed by a 19-3 Wildcats run plus some smothering defense that held K-State to its lowest first-half shooting percentage of the season (30.6) as ISU went into halftime up 35-31.

This team has an experience backcourt with junior Jacob Pullen and senior Denis Clemente leading the team in scoring. "It shows that we're a mature team," Pullen said this weekend, "that we're able to stay together and stay the course. No matter how far down we are, we can stay focused in and do what we need to do to win on the road."

"I've only got seven games left in my college basketball career," Clemente said. "That makes me sad. I just be thinking sometimes, I better put everything I got into this." Senior leadership and experience is something that can play a huge roll during tournament play.

The team they beat, Iowa State, is stumbling, on a 1-5 SU/ATS run. Offense has been a part of the problem, on a 4-2 run under the total. Illinois made the Big 10 regular season race more exciting with Saturday's win over No. 5 Michigan State, 78-73. Demetri McCamey had another great game, with 22 points and 11 assists on 8-for-12 shooting, which included a backbreaking 3-pointer that put Illinois ahead 73-68 with 39 seconds remaining.

"We played for 40 minutes, probably the first time we did this all season," McCamey said.

The Illini has a winning record on the road and tied with Wisconsin at 8-3 in the conference, one game behind the Spartans. And the Badgers and Illini play this week at Wisconsin, a team that has yet to lose at home.

A problem for the Spartans is that they are missing their best playmaker in Kalin Lucas. It's been a while since MSU lost two straight games. The 2007-08 team dropped trips to Purdue and Indiana during a four-day span in February of that season. Since Lucas' sprained right ankle still isn't healthy after he injured it during last week's loss at Wisconsin, there's reason for concern. Next up is a Tuesday home game against No. 8 Purdue.

In addition, as conference play heats up, we are approaching tournament time. Over the next few weeks you will find many teams having bad seasons that just don't care anymore. Here are some money-burners to chew on that may be packing it in: Penn State is on an 0-10 SU, 4-6 ATS run, LSU is on a 1-11 SU, 2-9 ATS run, Towson is on a 1-4 SU/ATS run, East Carolina is on a 1-7 SU, 2-6 ATS run. Remember: There's plenty of value going AGAINST bad teams as there can be when identifying motivated ones that you think might win.

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