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Wednesday, Feb 22

   by Larry Ness - 02/22/2006

Four ranked teams were in action last night in college basketball with two winning and two losing but all four failing to 'cover'! No. 3 U Conn blew a 19-point lead in the second half and Notre Dame, aided by a 25-2 run, forced OT. There, the two teams combined to score just seven points, as the Huskies won 75-74. No. 16 Kansas won its 10th straight game 76-61 over Baylor but like U Conn, failed to cover.The Jayhawks have now won 17 of 19 and have moved a half-game ahead of Texas in the Big-12.

My free play for Wednesday is on Ohio State over Michigan State at 8:00 ET. Continuing my 14-3-1 NBA run, I feature my 20* Eastern Conference Total of the Year plus a coveted 15* play in tonight's NBA play. In college hoops, I'm offering a rare Triple 10* Report. Get them all right now!

No. 8 Illinois lost at Michigan 72-64, as Daniel Horton scored a career-high 39 points for the Wolverines, who snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Illini. No. 11 Boston College, which had won 10 of its past 11 (losing only 83-81 to Duke), lost 72-58 at Virginia. Speaking of losing, South Florida lost its 15th straight game last night, 77-56 at Providence. The Bulls, now 0-13 in the Big East, join The Citadel (0-13 in the Southern Conference) as the only two schools still winless in conference play.

Tonight's college hoops 'board' consists of 44 games. Three contests feature games between ranked teams and six games are being covered by the ESPN family of networks.

No. 10 Tennessee visits No. 12 Florida at 8:00 ET. The Vols handed the Gators their first loss of the year back on Jan 21, 80-76 in Knoxville. Florida is 15-1 at home and is favored by seven points (160). No. 13 Ohio State visits No. 18 Michigan State also at 8:00 ET and the Buckeyes will be trying to end a 14-year drought in East Lansing. The Spartans won earlier this year in Columbus (62-59 in 2 OTs) and are 11-0 at home this year, bringing their home winning streak to 15 games. MSU is favored by 4 1/2 points (146).

No. 21 North Carolina visits No. 15 North Carolina State at 9:00 ET. The Tar Heels won the first meeting this year in Chapel Hill 82-69. NC St is favored by 4 1/2 points ((157) and is the higher ranked team for just the fourth time in the last 74 meetings between these Tobacco Road rivals.

No. 1 Duke visits Ga Tech at 7:00 ET on ESPN. Ga Tech comes in having lost 10 of its last 11 and has lost 19 of its last 20 meetings with Duke. Duke's won those 19 games by an average of 19.2 PPG! The Blue Devils are favored by 11 1/2 points (157). ESPN2 has a doubleheader with No. 7 Texas at Kansas State (8:00 ET) and No. 4 Memphis hosting UTEP at 10:00 ET.

Texas is off an embarrassing 80-61 at Oklahoma State. The Longhorns have lost just four games this year but all have come by at least 10 points. Kansas St is just 14-9 this season but the Wildcats are 13-2 at home. Texas is favored by 8 1/2 points (130). UTEP has won 10 of 11 games and owns C-USA's best defense, allowing 58.5 PPG. However, Memphis owns a 13-game winning streak and is C-USA's highest-scoring team at 84 PPG. Memphis is favored by 15 points over UTEP, a team playing its first ranked opponent this year (138 1/2).

ESPN Classic airs No. 23 Georgetown hosting Rutgers at 7:30 ET. The 17-7 Hoyas have lost three straight and meet a Rutgers team which features the league's leading scorer, Quincy Douby (24.6 PPG). Douby is averaging 30.7 PPG in February but Georgetown is favored by 10 1/2 points (128 1/2). ESPNU has Va Tech at Miami-Florida (7:00 ET) and DePaul at Louisville (9:00 ET). Miami is favored by six points (130) and Louisville is favored by nine (129).

Two other games of note are No. 6 George Washington hosting LaSalle at 7:30 ET and Bucknell hosting Lehigh at 7:15 ET. GW is tied with Gonzaga for the nation's longest winning streak (14) and 17-7 LaSalle comes in on a seven-game winning streak. The Colonials are favored by 11 points (145). Bucknell, which lost at North Iowa on Saturday (non-conference game), remains one of the nation's five schools still unbeaten in conference play (12-0 in the Patriot League). However, the Bison could be tested tonight, as 18-9 Lehigh enters on a six-game winning streak (no line).

The NBA's "Big Three" all won Tuesday, in the league's first night of action since the All Star break. Detroit beat Atlanta 97-87 to move to 43-9, including 24-2 at home, but failed to cover. The Mavericks won their 12th straight home game (and 16th of 17 overall), 93-91 over the Clippers and like the Pistons failed to cover. The Spurs had no such problems, as they routed the Sonics, 103-78.

Tonight's NBA schedule features a nine-game card, with the Milwaukee Bucks visiting the Chicago Bulls at 9:05 ET on ESPN. The Bucks have lost six straight on the road and 12 of their last 15. The Bulls are playing their best ball of the season, led by Ben Gordon, who has averaged 24.3 PPG over his last seven games. Chicago is favored by 5 1/2 points with a total of 186 1/2.

Seattle is in Atlanta at 7:05 ET and the Sonics have lost eight of their last nine. Actually, they are 1-10 ATS their last 11, with that lone cover coming against the Hawks, in a 99-91 win at Seattle. Atlanta is favored by 3 1/2 points (208). Orlando takes a seven-game losing streak (have lost 11 of 12 going 3-9 ATS) into the Meadowlands tonight, where the Nets have won 13 of their last 14 games (10-4 ATS). New Jersey is favored by 10 1/2 points (179 1/2).

The New York Knicks have lost 16 of their last 18 (5-13 ATS) and host the Heat tonight, with Miami listed as a 8 1/2-point favorite (198 1/2). The Clippers almost beat the Mavs Tuesday (lost 93-91) and tonight will try to avenge a recent 129-97 home loss to the Rockets in Houston. The Rockets own the league's worst home record at 8-16 but are favored by five points (182 1/2).

Ness Notes is available by 1:00 ET Monday through Friday. A feature story runs Saturday and Sunday.

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