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Friday, Feb 3

   by Larry Ness - 02/03/2006

George Washington must like its lofty ranking (No. 10) as the Colonials made a nice second-half comeback last night to win at Xavier for the first time in a decade (89-86). The Colonials are now 17-1 and ranked in the top-10 for this first time in 50 years. They are also one of 10 Division I schools (they are 7-0 in they A-10), still unbeaten in conference play. Heading into last night's action there were 11 unbeatens but Cal-Irvine (now 8-1) lost 64-52 at Pacific, the two-time defending Big West champs. Northern Arizona of the Big Sky stayed unbeaten at 8-0, by edging Portland State 65-63.

My free play for Friday is the LA Clippers over the Boston Celtics at 7:35 ET. I have just one play for Friday, my 10* Western Conference Game of the Month in the NBA. Get it NOW!

At the other end of the 'food chain', James Madison dropped to 0-11 in the CAA by losing at home to Georgia St 77-53, Idaho fell to 0-8 in the WAC by losing at Hawaii 81-61 and Texas St to 0-7 in the Southland Conference by losing at home 68-60 to SE Louisiana. Tonight's eight-game college basketball card features Penn (2-0 in the Ivy league) hosting Brown and 0-4 Dartmouth visiting Cornell.

The Heat ended the Cavaliers' seven-game winning streak with a 101-73 romp in Thursday's NBA. The Heat had a 22-0 run in the first half and a 19-1 run in the 4th quarter. The Spurs edged the Warriors in Oakland 89-86, moving San Antonio (37-10) a half-game ahead of the Mavericks for the league's second-best record. Friday night's NBA schedule features eight games, including an ESPN doubleheader. The 76ers host the Pistons at 8:05 ET and the T-wolves visit the Blazers at 10:35 ET.

The Pistons own the league's best record at 38-6 and are 17-4 SU (13-8 ATS) on the road. The 76ers will be playing without A.I. for the 4th straight game. Philly beat Orlando and New York without Iverson but lost to Phoenix, 123-99. Detroit is favored by 10 with a total of 182 1/2.

Minnesota is 2-2 since its seven-player trade with Boston and while newcomers Davis (16.5), Banks (14.5) and Blount (11.5) are all averaging in double-digits, the T-wolves' 91.3 PPG average is better than just FOUR other teams. However, Portland is one of those teams, as the Blazers are averaging a league-low 89.1 PPG. That being said, Portland is 6-4 SU (7-2-1 ATS) over its last 10 games, with just one of the four losses coming by more than six points. Minnesota is a three-point favorite with a total of 182 1/2.

Super Bowl XL is FINALLY here! The Steelers will try and become the FIFTH wild card team (that includes the 1969 KC Chiefs) to win a Super Bowl in nine tries. However, the Steelers are the FIRST wild card team to be favored, as Pittsburgh enters the weekend as a solid four-point choice, with a total of 47.

Seattle, will be trying to win its first-ever Super Bowl in the franchise's first-ever appearance. Seattle head coach, Mike Holmgren, can become the first to win Super Bowl titles with two different teams. He's already joined Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Don Shula and Dick Vermeil as the only head coaches to have led two different teams to the big game.

Should Pittsburgh, the AFC's No. 6 seed, really be favored over Seattle, the NFC's No. 1 seed? Sure it should. The AFC was the much stronger conference and while Pittsburgh won road games at Cincinnati (No. 3 seed), Indy (No. 1 seed) and Denver (No. 2 seed) in the postseason, Seattle was able to play at home versus Washington (No. 6 seed) and then Carolina (No. 5 seed). On top of that, Seattle caught Washington playing its third straight on the road and Carolina playing its fourth straight on the road. Pittsburgh's the correct favorite, now let's see who wins?

This year's postseason has seen all 10 SU winners also win their games ATS. Is that trend is likely to continue in the Super Bowl? Taking a look at past Super Bowls, the favorite has gone 27-11 SU with the 49ers beating the Bengals in SB XVI, in the only game listed as a 'pick'.

The 38 previous Super Bowl favorites are 19-16-2 ATS, not counting Super Bowl XIII. Of course that was the "infamous" Pittsburgh win over Dallas, in which the line was anywhere from Pittsburgh 3 1/2-to-4 1/2, with the Steelers winning 35-31! The two 'pushes' were SB XXXI (GB minus-14 over NE 35-21) and SB XXXIV (StL minus- 7 over Tenn 23-16).

Of the 16 underdogs that have covered, 11 have won the game outright! Underdogs have gone 6-2-2 ATS over the last 10 Super Bowls, including covering the last four! Of those six underdog pointspread winners, THREE have won outright.

Super Bowls tend NOT to be close games, as 30 of the 39 previous games have been decided by seven points or more. Looking deeper, 25 have been decided by margins of at least 10 points and 21 by margins of 14 points or more. Checking out the Super Bowl total, we find this. Super Bowl I had no posted total but the 38 games since have seen 19 games 'over', 18 games go 'under' and one game end in a 'push' (that was SB XXXIII).

Super Bowl totals began very low in the early years with only Super Bowls II and III (43 and 40), having totals as high as 40 over the first 15 years. From Super Bowl IV through Super Bowl XV, all 12 totals were in the 30s with EIGHT of the games going under. The first posted total of higher than 50 was in Super Bowl XIX, at 53 1/2. That game ended with San Francisco beating Miami, 38-16. There have been six Super Bowl totals of more than 50 points, with those games going 2-3-1 against the 'over'.

Sunday's total is 47 and it should be noted that of the last 24 Super Bowl games with a posted total of less than 50, 16 have gone 'over'!

Ness Notes is available by 1:00 ET on Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday, by 9:00 ET.

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