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Tuesday, Jan 24

   by Larry Ness - 01/24/2006

As expected, Monday's NBA games couldn't match Sunday's offensive explosion. Monday's six-game card averaged 184.7 PPG, with the night's highest scoring game being Denver's 107-101 win over Toronto. That fell woefully short of Seattle's 152-149 double-overtime win over Phoenix, the NBA's highest-scoring game in 11 years.

Tracy McGrady had a 41-point game in Houston's 97-80 win over Milwaukee, the night's best scoring effort. Unfortunately, his 41 points left T-Mac a mere 40 points shy of Kobe's 81 on Sunday, the second-highest scoring outburst in NBA history!

My free play for Tuesday is in college hoops, Ohio over Akron at 7:00 ET. I'm on a 12-5-1 70.5% CBB run since Jan 14 after last night's win on Pitt. Tuesday, I feature not one but TWO 20* plays in college hoops. I also have a 15* in the NBA, looking to bounce back from Golden State's total collapse Monday!

Tuesday night's schedule sees the league's two-best teams in action. Detroit (33-5) is at Minnesota where the Pistons are a five-point choice with a total of 175. The Spurs, who are tied with the Mavericks for the league's second-best mark, are at home against the Bobcats. San Antonio is 19-3 at home but just 9-13 ATS, while the Bobcats own the league's worst overall record (11-30) and are 4-18 on the road but 14-7-1 ATS. The Spurs are favored by 15 with a total of 186 1/2.

Memphis is in Miami, a rematch of an Opening Night game (11/2) in which the Heat won in Memphis, 97-78. Miami is favored by 6 1/2 points with a total of 184. Phoenix is in Orlando and this game offers a stark contrast. Both teams are coming off OT games in their last outings. However, while Orlando beat Sacramento on Saturday in OT 83-78, Phoenix lost its OT game in double-OT, by the score of 152-149! Phoenix, 11-4 SU and ATS since Christmas, is a 5 1/2-point favorite over Orlando (total is 209 1/2), which enters on a six-game home winning streak.

The college basketball schedule is topped by two TV doubleheaders. On ESPN, it's Kentucky at Auburn at 7:00 ET (the Wildcats are favored by 3 1/2 points with a total of 127) and Indiana at Iowa at 9:00 ET (Hawkeyes are favored by 2 1/2 points with a total of 129). On ESPNU at 7:00 ET, Georgetown, which just beat Duke on Saturday and is ranked in the top-25 (21) for the first time since 12/31/01, is at Notre Dame (Irish are favored by two points with a total of 137 1/2). In the second game (9:00 ET), it's Miami-Fla at Virginia (the Cavs are a 2 1/2-point choice with a total of 129).

U Conn took over the No.1 spot from Duke (had been No. 1 since the preseason) in the latest AP poll. It's the sixth time the Huskies have been ranked No. 1 and the school's longest stay at the top was for 10 weeks back in 1998-99. Duke fell to No.2, while former No. 2 Florida dropped to No. 5. Memphis is No. 3 and Texas (which won its ninth straight last night 80-46 over Okla St) is No. 4. Pittsburgh, which joined Duke and Florida on Saturday by losing for the first time this year (but won 80-67 last night over Syracuse), dropped from No. 9 to No. 12.

Super Bowl Update: It looks as if the early money is all on Pittsburgh, as 'FOURS' are popping up in many sports books (in Las Vegas and off-shore). The Steelers are the NINTH non-division winner to make the Super Bowl. There have been seven previous wild card teams to make it this far since the 1970 merger plus there was the 1969 KC Chiefs.

The Chiefs finished second in the Western Division to the Oakland Raiders that season but because the AFL (in the final year before the merger) wanted to match the NFL's playoff structure (NFL had a four-division league while the AFL had just two divisions), the league made a one-year playoff change. The division runners-up would meet the division winners from the opposite division (East winner playing West runner-up and West winner playing East runner-up).

The Chiefs beat the Jets 13-6 in New York and then in the AFC title game, beat the Raiders (who had beaten the Chiefs BOTH times in the regular season while finishing 12-1-1- to KCs' 11-3!) in Oakland, 17-7. The Chiefs then went on to upset the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, 23-7!

FOUR of the previous eight 'wild card' Super Bowl teams (including KC in that group) have won the Super Bowl. The Raiders in 1980 became the first "official" wild card team to do it when they beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XV, with the 1997 Broncos (beat Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII) and the 2000 Ravens (beat the NY Giants in Super Bowl XXXV) joining the Chiefs and Raiders. If the 2005 Steelers are to join that group, they'll have to do it as the first-ever wild card team to be FAVORED (more NFL stuff tomorrow).

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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