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Thursday, Feb 16

   by Larry Ness - 02/16/2006

There were 11 top-25 teams in action on Wednesday night, all facing unranked opponents. NINE came away winners with only No. 12 Ohio State losing at Wisconsin (78-73) and No. 19 Oklahoma losing at Colorado (84-75). The Badgers have quietly moved into second place in the Big-10 (one game behind Iowa) while for the 17-5 Buffs, their win over the Sooners was their first victory this season over a ranked opponent.

My free play on Thursday is Washington State over Oregon State at 10:00 ET. I had a TERRIBLE Wednesday in college hoops, going 0-3. However, it's BOUNCE-BACK time on Thursday, as I feature a game tonight with my highest star rating (22*)! Get it along with my 10* ACC Game of the Month on Miami/BC. I surely haven't cooled off in the NBA, going 1-0-1 last night and now stand 12-2-1 since Feb 3! Don't miss my final play before the break, one of my coveted 15-stars!

No. 7 George Washington forced 29 turnovers against U Mass last night but won just 69-66. The win ended a six-year home losing streak against the Minutemen and was GW's 13th consecutive, giving them the longest current winning streak in the nation. No. 8 Tennessee beat Auburn 105-89 while making a school-record 16 three-pointers, No. 9 Pitt beat Providence 85-77 giving the Panthers their 20th win of the season (Pitt has now won at least 20 games five straight years, a school record) and No. 10 Florida won 73-68 at Vanderbilt.

Two other games of note saw No. 23 North Carolina come back from a 20-point deficit to beat Ga Tech 82-75 and No. 24 Bucknell win 69-49 at Lafayette, as the Bison were playing as a ranked team for the first time in school history. Freshman Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina scored 40 points in the Tar Heels' win, setting a new freshman one-game scoring mark in the ACC and becoming just the eighth Tar Heel to score at least 40 points in a game.

As for Bucknell, the Bison won their 12th straight game and moved to 21-3 overall. Bucknell, which beat Pitt and St Joe's during last year's regular season plus Kansas in the NCAA's first round, has lost to only No. 2 Duke, No. 4 Villanova and at Santa Clara this year. The Bison play at Northern Iowa on Saturday, in one ESPN's BracketBuster games.

South Florida dropped its 13th straight game last night, losing at Notre Dame 62-55. The Bulls fell to 0-11 in the Big East, joining only The Citadel (0-12 in the Southern Conference) and Texas State (0-11 in the Southland Conference), as schools yet to win a league game among Division I teams. The Citadel will try to get that first league win tonight when the Bulldogs host the College of Charleston at 7:15 ET. Charleston won 77-65 back on January 14 and the Cougars are favored by 11 1/2 points in this one.

Tonight's college basketball schedule features 19 'board' games, three involving top-25 schools. No. 13 Boston College hosts Miami-Florida at 7:00 ET, ESPN televises No. 17 Georgetown at Marquette (9:00 ET) and No. 20 Washington is at Oregon (8:30 ET). ESPN2 has San Diego State visiting UNLV at 10:00 ET and FSN airs Arizona at California at 10:30 ET.

No. 13 Boston College is favored by 7 1/2 points over Miami (total is 134) but BC is 0-4 as a home favorite in ACC games this year, while Miami has won three of its last four ACC games on the road. No. 17 Georgetown had its seven-game winning streak snapped by West Va last Sunday and tonight's game at Marquette is listed at a 'pick' with a total of 134. Marquette, just 6-5 in its first year as a member of the Big East but is 16-8 overall, including 12-2 at home.

No. 20 Washington tries to snap a three-game road losing streak tonight at Oregon. The Huskies beat the Ducks in Seattle 78-59 earlier this year and Oregon just ended a six-game slide last Saturday, with a 98-87 win over Arizona State. Washington is favored by 3 1/2 points with a total of 148. San Diego State is at UNLV and despite wins in 12 of its last 15 games and a 9-2 MWC mark (1st place), the Aztecs are 3 1/2-point underdogs to the Rebels (total is 141) tonight on ESPN2.

On FSN, 15-9 Arizona (just 2-10 ATS its last 12) is at Cal, which has won five straight. The Bears lost earlier this year at Arizona (60-55 on Jan 14) but enter this game on a five-game winning streak and at 9-3 in conference play, find themselves in 2nd place in the Pac-10 (UCLA is 10-3). Cal is favored by three points with a total of 139.

Wednesday night's busy 13-game NBA schedule saw the two teams chasing the Pistons for the league's best record, the Spurs and Mavericks, both in action. San Antonio blew a five-point lead with 20 seconds left in regulation at Philadelphia and then lost in OT to the 76ers, 103-100. Iverson had 42 points for Philly and the Spurs will now head into the All Star break on a two-game losing streak and more importantly, one game behind the Mavericks in the Southwest Division.

The Mavericks beat the Wizards 103-97, for the teams' 11th straight home win. Dallas has won 15 of its last 16 games overall, holding all 15 opponents to less than 100 points in those wins. The Mavs are a league-best 19-3 since January 1 and head to the break with a 41-11 record to San Antonio's 40-12. The team that finishes second in that division will likely own the Western Conference's second-best record come year's end but will be regulated to the No. 4 seed!

Paul Pierce scored 50 points last night for Boston, becoming the first Celtic to reach the 50-point plateau since Larry Bird scored 50 points back on November 10, 1989, but the Celtics lost in double-overtime to the Cavs (113-109). Speaking of doubles or rather, triple-doubles, LeBron scored 43 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and handed out 11 assists for his EIGHTH career triple-double. In New York, Jamal Crawford hit the game-winning shot with just three seconds left, as the Knicks ended their 10-game losing streak with a 98-96 win over the Raptors in Madison Square Garden.

There are just two games in the NBA tonight, both televised by TNT. The 76ers are in Chicago at 7:35 to meet the Bulls and the Rockets are in Phoenix to play the Suns at 10:05 ET. Chicago is favored by five points with a total of 196 and the Suns are also favored by five points with a total of 203 1/2.

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

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