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Saturday, Feb 4

   by Larry Ness - 02/04/2006

It was a relatively quiet night in college basketball on Friday. South Florida (0-8 in Big East) lost at home to DePaul 80-66, the school's 10th straight loss. In the Ivy League, Penn remained unbeaten in league play (3-0) with a 68-51 home win over Brown and Dartmouth fell to 2-16 (0-5 in Ivy) with a 63-47 loss at Cornell.

I mention these scores because Penn is one of 10 remaining Division I schools still unbeaten in conference play entering this weekend's action, while Dartmouth and South Florida are two of EIGHT schools which are still winless in league games!

My free play for Saturday is Michigan over Iowa in college basketball (5:00 ET). After a couple of hard-luck losses on Wednesday, I've bounced back to win THREE of four packages Thursday and Friday. In Saturday's CBB action, I'm featuring two 20* GOY plays plus an exclusive Las Vegas Insider Play on an early Saturday tip. Check back after 10:00 ET for more possible BKB in both college and the NBA.

The family of ESPN networks will televise nine CBB games on Saturday, with CBS giving us one of just two matchups between top-25 opponents, when No. 1 U Conn visits No. 22 Indiana (1:00 ET). The Huskies are 19-1 and have won eight straight games. They are 6-0 versus top-25 opponents this year and under Calhoun, are 32-5 in games while ranked No. 1.

For the Hoosiers, this will be the second time this year they've hosted the nation's No. 1-ranked team. In the Big-10/ACC Challenge, Indiana lost at home (11/30) to then-No. 1 Duke, 75-67. U Conn is favored by four points with a total of 137.

The only other game on Saturday involving top-25 opponents is No. 21 Michigan (ranked for the first time since 1998) at No. 23 Iowa (5:00 ET). The Wolverines and Hawkeyes join Illinois (6-2) in a three-way tie for first place in the Big-10. Iowa is 13-0 at home this year, winning by an average of just over 16 PPG and has already beaten four ranked opponents in Iowa City this season. The Hawkeyes are favored by 3 1/2 points with a total of 130.

Speaking of Illinois, the sixth-ranked Illini, who became the first school to reach 20 wins this year by winning at Wisconsin on Tuesday, hosts Penn State at 9:00 ET. Penn State has lost four straight games (all to ranked opponents) and enters the game having lost 18 consecutive games to top-25 foes. Illinois has won 33 straight games at home and is favored by 20 points with a total of 131.

Joining Illinois at 33 straight home wins (longest current streak in the nation), is No. 5 Gonzaga. The Bulldogs host Santa Clara at 11:00 ET and can match a school record by winning their 34th straight home game tonight (set from 1992-95). Gonzaga, a 20 1/2 point favorite (total is 147 1/2), has beaten Santa Clara 11 straight times, including an 81-69 win back on January 9.

ESPN will keep us busy with games throughout the day but ESPN2's 9:00 ET game with Kentucky visiting No. 8 Florida, might be the most interesting of all the day's televised games. Florida has been one of the year's major surprises, while Kentucky has been one of its biggest disappointments.

However, the Gators are struggling with some key injuries to Brewer and Humphrey, while the Wildcats have suddenly caught 'fire', winning five straight. During the winning streak, Kentucky has shot 51 percent, including 40 percent from the three-point arc. Florida is 13-0 at home this year and enters the game on a 19-game home winning streak. Florida beat Kentucky in last year's SEC title game, just the Gators' 26th win over the Wildcats, in 110 all-time meetings. Florida is favored by seven points with a total of 138 1/2.

Friday night's NBA highlights saw the Charlotte Bobcats end their franchise-high 13-game losing streak by beating the Lakers, 112-102. The Pistons won (87-80) but did not cover at Philadelphia, which again played without Iverson. Detroit is now 39-6 on the season, easily the league's best mark. However, before handing the Pistons the championship, note this fact.

Teams owning the league's best record on Groundhog's Day since the 1976 merger with the ABA (including teams tied for the best record), have advanced to the NBA Finals only 14 of 29 times (just 48 percent). Think that's low? Only NINE (just 31 percent), have won the title!

Saturday's NBA games of interest start with Miami at New Jersey at 1:05 ET. The Nets enter this game on a nine-game home winning streak, yet find themselves 3 1/2-point underdogs to the Heat (192 1/2). Detroit tries to win its 40th game of the year tonight at Indiana (8:00 ET). Due to numerous Pacer injuries, no line has yet been posted.

Finally, the Mavericks host the Sonics at 8:35 ET. Dallas is 36-10 on the year (half-game behind SA for the league's 2nd-best record) and enters on a 10-game winning streak (8-2 ATS). Seattle is off a 100-77 loss last night in Houston but can solace in the fact that while the Mavs are 17-4 SU at home, they are just 10-10-1 ATS!

I'm told there is a football game being played tomorrow and I'll check into that for tomorrows notes, available by 9:00 ET.

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