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Monday, Jan 30

   by Larry Ness - 01/30/2006

Yesterday, there were no individual 81-point efforts (Kobe) or 301-point games (Seattle/Phoenix) like last Sunday in the NBA. However, LeBron (Cavs) did have 44 and Mike Bibby (Kings) 42, as players have already posted 55 40-point games in the current NBA season. In comparison, last year there were a total of just 67 40-point games for the entire year. Tonight's NBA features an eight-game schedule, highlighted by the Clippers at the Heat and the Celtics at the Timberwolves.

My free play for Monday is in college hoops. Take Villanova over Louisville at 7:00 ET. Tonight in college basketball, I'm releasing just my THIRD 22* play of the season. My 22* plays are my highest star-rated selections and represent my 22nd year in the industry. I don't often assign 22* ratings, as I featured just SIX over the entire CFB season (4-2) and as mentioned earlier, this is only my THIRD this year in CBB (2-0 start!). In the NBA, I'm following my comeback win on the Cavs yesterday, with one of my coveted 15* plays in tonight's NBA!

The Clippers have won five straight games (also 5-0 ATS) and will be trying to get their first six-game winning streak since March of 1992, when Larry Brown was the team's head coach. The Heat have lost important home games to both San Antonio and Phoenix over the last 10 days and could sure use a win over one of the West's better teams. Wade is still bothered by ankle problems but he did score 32 points in yesterday's 101-95 win over Houston. The Heat are favored by 4 1/2 points with a total of 192.

The Celtics and T-wolves completed a seven-player trade just last week and will meet tonight in Minnesota. Both teams are 1-1 since the trade, which featured Szczerbiak and Olowokandi going to Boston with Davis and Blount coming to Minnesota. Boston has won FIVE straight at the Target Center but is just 4-17 SU and 8-12-1 ATS on the road this year. The T-wolves are favored by 6 1/2 points with a total of 184.

Sunday's college basketball highlights saw Washington lose its 13th straight game at Maples Pavilion, 76-67 in OT, to Stanford. Chris Hernandez hit three FTs with two-tenths of a second remaining in regulation for the Cardinal and then they outscored the Huskies 13-4 in OT.

Minnesota got its first Big-10 win of the season after opening 0-6, by crushing No. 13 Indiana. The Gophers, who had shot less than 40% in all six of their conferences losses, made 26-of-51 shots. Indiana, the Big-10's best 3-point shooting team (46%), made just 5-of-23 three-pointers! No. 9 West Va remained the Big East's lone unbeaten in conference play, when it held on to beat St John's, 66-61. The Mountaineers made just ONE FG over the game's final 11 minutes and almost blew a 13-point lead in the game's final three minutes.

While there are no longer any undefeated teams left in college basketball, there does remain a lone WINLESS team. Morgan State of the MEAC is 0-18 heading into its game tonight. Coached by former Louisville star Butch Beard, the Golden Bears have followed last year's 14-16 season with this year's DISASTER! However, this could be the 'night'. Howard (tonight's opponent), is just 2-14 on the season and enters the contest on an eight-game losing streak, playing its fourth straight away from home!

Tonight's college basketball schedule features a 23-game card but 13 of the games are of the "added" variety. ESPN starts off the night with No. 22 Louisville at No. 6 Villanova (7:00 ET). The Cardinals are just 2-5 in conference play (averaging only 61.9 PPG), after going 12-1 in non-conference games. Villanova is 7-1 at home this year, losing only to West Va. The Wildcats are favored 10 1/2 points with a total of 139 1/2. ESPN2 carries the last two games of tonight's TV-tripleheader, with Texas Tech at Kansas (9:00 ET) and Hawaii at Utah State (midnight ET).

Texas Tech is just 11-9 this year (averaged 22.5 wins per season in Knight's first four years at Lubbock) and is just 1-7 SU and ATS away from home this season. Kansas, a very young team, is starting to come together. The Jayhawks have won 10 of their last 12, going 8-3 ATS. Kansas is favored by 13 1/2 points with a total of 140. Hawaii beat Utah State back on December 17, 69-59. However this game is in Logan, where the Aggies are 10-0, winning by an average score of 79-59. The Rainbows are 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS on the road. Utah State, in its first year of playing in the WAC, is favored by 10 points with a total of 129.

In my countdown to the Super Bowl XL, the Steelers are up to a four-point favorite (there are a few 3 1/2s still around) and the total is basically, 47 (some 47 1/2s). It hardly seems like it was 39 years ago, when Lombardi's Packers beat Stram's Chiefs in the first game. It wasn't called the Super Bowl back then, rather the NFL-AFL World Championship Game. It was played in the LA Coliseum, with CBS carrying the game to its NFL audience and NBC to its AFL audience (a first and last!).

Face-value of the tickets were just $12 and it's unlikely scalpers had much 'luck', as only 61,946 were in attendance, some 30,000 shy of capacity. More to come tomorrow.

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET. Saturday and Sunday, it's avaialble by 9:00 ET.

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