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Friday, Feb 24

   by Larry Ness - 02/24/2006

All three of the ranked teams in action last night won, although No. 2 Villanova and No. 19 UCLA didn't make it easy on themselves. Villanova led 66-54 but needed a layup with 3.2 seconds remaining to edge Cincinnati, 74-72. The 'Cats have now matched their best-ever start at 22-2 (tying the 1937-38 team) and own a school record 11-game winng streak in the Big East.

My free play for Friday is the Phi 76ers over the Mil Bucks at 8:35 ET. The Pistons let one slip away on me last night but I did cash an important LEGEND Play in CBB on New Mex St. No CBB tonight but I'm looking to improve on my current 15-5-1 run in the NBA (since Feb 3) with two HUGE 10* plays. Get my Favorite of the Month and my Bailout of the Month (on the Lakers/Clippers), right now!

No. 19 UCLA trailed by six points at the half but used a 20-0 second-half run to beat Oregon State 78-60 and remain tied with Cal, at 11-4, atop the Pac-10 (Cal beat Wash St 43-41). No. 17 Washington beat Stanford 75-57, making sure this game featured no last-second heriocs from the Cardinal.

It's a typically light Friday night in college hoops, with just four Ivy League games and two "added" games on the board. ESPNU will televise 7-18 Canisius at 13-13 St Peter's at 7:00 ET and it's unlikely tonight's game will be as good as the game it covered last night, when Tenn Tech stopped Murray State's 10-game winning streak with a 70-66 win. St Peter's is favored by 7 1/2 points (152).

We're coming down the stretch in college basketball and it's another big Saturday of games, with at least 17 games being aired by one of the broadcast or cable networks. Sunday's 14-game schedule features four games on CBS and two on FSN.

The biggest game of the weekend is Sunday's matchup of No. 2 Villanova at No.3 U Conn on CBS (2:00 ET). Sunday night, No. 17 Washington will host unranked Cal at 8:00 ET on FSN. Cal is tied with UCLA for first place in the Pac-10 at 11-4 (UCLA hosts Oregon on Sunday at 4:00 ET), while the Huskies are just one game behind both schools at 10-5.

Pacific (18-0) of the Big West was the only school to go through its conference schedule unbeaten last year but five schools still remain unbeaten in conference play entering this weekend.

Bucknell can complete the Patriot League's first-ever unbeaten season by winning on Saturday versus Army. While there will be no line on this game, the Bison are big favorites to complete a 14-0 season, as Army is just 3-20 overall (1-12) and lost to Bucknell earlier this year at West Point, 67-54.

No. 1 Duke is 14-0 in the ACC but steps outside its conference on Saturday for a game with Temple at the Wachovia Center (ESPN at 2:30 ET). Duke will try to complete a perfect ACC season next week, with games at Fla St and home to North Carolina.

No. 4 Memphis (11-0 in C-USA) hosts Tulsa on Saturday, as the Tigers look to extend the nation's second-longest current winning streak (have won 14 straight). Tulsa is just 10-14 on the year and lost at home to Tigers back on Feb 1, 84-61.

No. 5 Gonzaga hosts San Diego on Saturday and the Bulldogs have all sorts of streaks on the line. They are 11-0 this year in the WCC and have won 21 straight conference games going back to last year. They are tied with Memphis with 14 staright overall wins and own the nation's longest current home winning streak at 36 straight! Gonzaga edged San Diego back on Jan 21, just 64-63.

No. 6 George Washington owns the nation's longest current winning streak at 15 straight wins and will be at 12-14 Fordham on Saturday. The Colonials, 13-0 in the A-10, are the last of the five conference unbeatens.

Campbell went 0-20 last year in the Atlantic Sun, the only school to go winless in conference play last year. The Citadel, 0-14 this year in the Southern Conference, has one final chance to avoid a winless conference season on Saturday, when the Bulldogs visit Wofford. It's not looking good though, as Wofford won at Charleston back on Jan 16, 67-52.

South Florida, 0-13 in is first season as a member of the Big East, still has three more chances to avoid a winless conference slate. The first chance comes Sunday at Rutgers. However, just last Saturday, the Scarlet Knights easily handled the Bulls down in Tampa, 65-51.

The Mavericks are starting to make people belive that they, not the Pistons, are the NBA's best team. Dallas, down by 19 points early, rallied for their club-record 13th straight home win and the team's 17th win in 18 games overall, by beating Memphis last night, 97-87. Dallas held Memphis to 31 points in the second half on 27.5 percent shooting.

Meanwhile, the Pistons beat the Pacers 88-83, to keep them at 44-9 overall, compared to the Mavericks' 43-11 mark. In the late game on TNT, the Lakers outscored the Kings 29-13 in the 4th quarter, on their way to a 106-85 win. The Kings are 6-0 SU and ATS at home since acquring Artest but just 1-6 on the raod (2-4-1 ATS).

Tonight's NBA action features 11 games, including an ESPN doubleheader. The Nets are at the Knicks at 8:05 ET, where they are favored by 5 1/2 points (189). The Knicks will start Francis and Marbury as their guards, despite the fact they both play virtually the same position. It can't get much worse for New York, as the Knicks have lost 17 of their last 19 (5-14 ATS).

The Lakers and Clippers share the Staples Center and meet there tonight at 10:35 ET. The first two times these teams met this year, the designated "visitor" has been the winner. The Clippers, who have followed a 9-1 stretch from Jan 22 through Feb 7 with losses in six of their last seven games (five straight), are favored by 2 1/2 points (196).

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

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