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Wednesday, Mar 1

   by Larry Ness - 03/01/2006

Three top-25 teams were in action last night with all three winning. No. 10 Illinois kept its hopes of a third straight Big-10 title alive with a 71-65 win at Minnesota, No. 12 Boston College guaranteed itself a first-round bye in next week's ACC tourney with an 80-65 home win over Wake and No. 21 LSU clinched at least a share of the SEC title by winning 64-61 at South Carolina.

Three of the 15 conference tournaments beginning this week got underway last night. The Big South is not on the 'board' but the Horizon League and OVC are. In the seven tourney games contested last night, the home teams went a perfect 7-0 SU and 5-1-1 ATS.

My free play is on BYU over Colorado St at 9:00 ET. Tonight in college hoops, I'm following my 20* OVC Tourney GOY winner on Jackson St (86-59) with my 20* ACC Game of theYear. I'm also releasing 15* plays in both the NBA and CBB plus a rare Double-10* Side and Total Combo in the NBA. Get in on all the action!

There are no conference tournament games on tonight's schedule (MVC and Southern Conference begin on Thursday) but there are 39 games on tonight's college board. There are 11 top-25 teams in action, including No. 1 Duke (14-0 in the ACC) and No. 7 George Washington (14-0 in the A-10).

Bucknell (Patriot) and Gonzaga (WCC) have already completed perfect regular seasons in their respective conferences and along with No. 4 Memphis (12-0 in C-USA), which plays Thursday night, Duke and GW will be trying to keep their perfect seasons intact as well.

No. 1 Duke visits Florida State at 7:00 ET tonight on ESPN. The first time these teams met this year the game was marred by some questionable officiating and in a contest that included 26 ties and 17 lead changes, Duke won 97-96 in OT. FSU is 0-5 this year vs ranked opponents and since joining the ACC, is just 4-24 vs Duke (all wins have come at home). Duke is favored by 6 1/2 points (156).

GW is tied with Gonzaga for the nation's longest current winning streak (16) and along with Duke represent the nation's only two remaining one-loss teams. The 24-1 Colonials can break the school record for victories in a single year by winning at St Bonaventure (Bonnies have lost 13 of 15) tonight at 7:00 ET. GW is favored by 14 points (151).

No. 2 U Conn will try and keep pace with No. 4 Villanova in the Big East (both are 12-2) when the Huskies visit Tampa tonight to face South Florida. The Bulls have lost 16 straight games since opening 6-5 and at 0-14 in the Big East, are the lone remaining school still winless in conference play. The Huskies are favored by 18 1/2 points (131). Villanova hosts St John's at 7:30 ET, where the Wildcats are favored by 16 points (125 1/2).

ESPN2 carries a double-header tonight, starting with No. 6 Texas in College Station versus Texas A&M at 8:00 ET. The Aggies own just two wins in their last 24 meetings with the 'Horns but one of those wins came last year at this venue, when they upset the 10th-ranked Longhorns. Texas is off Saturday's rout of Kansas (80-55) but A&M is 15-2 at home this year. Texas is favored by 6 1/2 points (128).

The late game is at 10:00 ET, as Utah visits TCU. The Utes are favored by four points with a total of 122 1/2. ESPNU carries No. 18 Kansas hosting Colorado at 8:00 ET. The Jayhawks are favored by nine points with a total of 146 1/2.

After a light three-game card last night, the NBA is back with a 13-game schedule on Wednesday night. ESPN carries the Philadelphia 76ers at the Houston Rockets (9:05 ET). With Ming and T-Mac both back in the lineup, the Rockets went 10-3 in February but the fact remains that the Rockets have won just 10 home games (10-17), tying them with the Bobcats and Raptors for the fewest home wins of any team in the league. However, the Rockets do take a seven-game winning streak over the 76ers into this game. Houston is favored by 5 1/2 points (189).

Other games of note include Sacramento at Cleveland (7:05 ET), the New York Knicks at Memphis (8:05 ET), Detroit at Denver (9:05 ET) and Milwaukee at Phoenix (9:05 ET). The Kings are 7-0 SU and ATS at home since acquiring Artest but just 1-6 SU (2-4-1 ATS) on the road. The Cavs come in on a four-game slide both SU and ATS but are favored by 3 1/2 points (192). The Knicks have lost 11 straight road games (by an average of nearly 17 PPG) and 20 of their last 22 overall (6-16 ATS), as they visit the Grizzlies tonight. Memphis is favored by 12 points (185).

The Pistons (Central) and the Nuggets (Northwest) are both division-leaders but that's where the similarities end. Detroit owns an NBA-best 47-9 mark and leads second-place Cleveland by 15 1/2 games, while Denver is just 30-27, 2 1/2 games ahead of Utah. Detroit is favored by 4 1/2 points with a total of 189. The Suns are doing just fine without Amare Stoudemire, as they take a seven-game winning streak and the league's fourth-best record (38-17) into their game tonight with the Bucks. Phoenix has topped 100 points in its last 18 games and is once again the league's highest scoring team (107.6 PPG). The suns are favored by 10 points (211).

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

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