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Wednesday, Jan 11

   by Larry Ness - 01/11/2006

Was it really just a week ago that Texas beat USC 41-38 in the Rose Bowl? Can Vince Young possibly be as good in the NFL as he was in his two Rose Bowl appearances? Is the 'monkey' finally off Mack Brown's back?

Putting to rest the CFB season, note that Texas' 83 wins the last eight years are the most of any school. The Longhorns are also the ONLY school to have finished in the final BCS standings in EACH of the last seven years. Texas is also the only BCS-affiliated school to win at least 10 games in each of the last five years.

My free play for Wednesday is the Min T-wolves over the Chi Bulls in the NBA at 8:05 ET. I've jumped to a 2-0-1 start with my CBB 15* plays in '06 and offer another 15* play tonight (rare back-to-back 15*s!). Also, I feature my 10* SEC Game of the Month and my 10* NBA Favorite of the Month. Get them ALL, right now!

Putting to rest the bowl season, 16 of the 28 games were decided by a TD or less, with EIGHT decided by three points or less (two in OT). Fifteen of the 28 winning teams came from behind to win, with EIGHT of them erasing double-digit deficits!

The average margin of victory was 10.9 PPG, the lowest in the BCS-era and the lowest since 1992. Next year sees the addition of 5th BCS bowl game but there is NO playoff plans in the near future. Speaking of which, it's BASKETBALL season!

Tonight's college hoops schedule features 46 games. Last week was a bad week for top-25 teams, as 15 ranked teams lost, including two losses by Michigan St. FOUR teams fell from the ranks of the unbeaten last week. Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio St and Villanova.

That leaves Duke (14-0), Florida (14-0) and Pittsburgh (12-0). Duke's been ranked No. 1 all season but was a unanimous No. 1 this week, for the first time all season. Florida, unranked at the beginning of the year, has to be the season's biggest surprise team, in Billy Donovan's 10th year at Gainesville. Pitt is 12-0 but ranked just 12th. Kentucky fell out of the AP poll for the first time this week, after 88 straight rankings, as did Wake Forest (60 straight appearances). The current leader in consecutive poll appearances is Duke, with a mere 176! U Conn is now second with 49.

Both Duke and Florida play tonight, while Pittsburgh plays Thursday (home versus DePaul). Duke hosts Maryland tonight on ESPN at 9:00 ET and the Blue Devils are favored by 14 points with a total of 156 1/2. Florida is home to an 11-3 Miss St team but the gators are still favored by 18 1/2 points!

ESPN2 features a triple-header tonight beginning with Syracuse at Notre Dame at 7:00 ET. That game is followed by Texas A&M at Oklahoma State (9:00 ET) and TCU at New Mexico (11:00 ET). Prior to the Maryland/Duke game, ESPN opens its coverage with Indiana at Michigan State at 7:00 ET (Spartans are favored by five with a total of 146 1/2).

NBA fans get a busy 10-game slate tonight and all eyes are in Portland, as Kobe tries to get 45 points or more for the 5th consecutive game. However, he's got a little more work to do if he plans on catching Wilt, who set an NBA record in 1964 of NINE consecutive 45-plus games!

Who ever said 13 was an unlucky number? It surely wasn't for Bruce Sutter. Sutter became just the 4th reliever to get elected to baseball's Hall of Fame, joining Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley. However, Sutter is the ONLY one of the four, to have NEVER made a major league start!

His 'election' in his 13th year of eligibility, is the latest of any player since Ralph Kiner was elected in 1975. Jim Rice fell 53 votes short in his 12th year on the ballot and Goose Gossage 54 votes shy, in his seventh year of eligibility. Sutter's election was long-overdue but I wouldn't expect 13 to be the charm for Rice next year.

First-timers on next year's HOF ballot will be Tony Gwynn (lock) and Cal Ripken Jr (lock), not to mention a member of Sports Illustrated's so-called "Liars Club", Mark McGwire. Just in case the voters have forgotten, Rice has 382 career HRs, 1,451 RBI and a .298 LT batting average. He topped .300 seven times and knocked in 100 runs eight times, while winning three HR titles, two RBI titles and the AL MVP in 1978.

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