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Thursday, Mar 2

   by Larry Ness - 03/02/2006

The first AP poll appeared back on January 20, 1949. Since that time, a No. 1 team has been defeated 229 times including Florida State's 79-74 overtime win last night over No. 1 Duke. It's the 117th time an unranked opponent has upset the nation's No.1-ranked team and the second time this year it's happened to Duke (Georgetown was unranked when it beat Duke back on January 21).

In all, 11 ranked teams were in action last night and besides Duke, only No. 6 Texas and No. 11 Tennessee lost. Texas lost at Texas A&M 46-43, when Acie Law canned a three-pointer at the buzzer. It was the second straight year in which the Aggies have beaten the Longhorns in College Station but just their third win over Texas in the last 25 meetings. Tennessee lost at home to Kentucky, 80-78. The 20-6 Vols have now suddenly lost three of four games, including two straight in Knoxville.

My free play for Thursday is on Memphis over UAB at 9:30 ET. Tonight in college hoops I'm going for my third consecutive 20* winner (won OVC Tourney GOY and ACC GOY the last two nights) with my MVC Tourney GOY. It's a big day in college hoops, as I also feature a 15* CBB Mismatch and one of my exclsuive Las Vegas Insider Plays. Get in on all the action right now!

Getting back to Duke's loss, it was the school's first in the ACC this year and leaves just four schools still unbeaten this season in conference play. Bucknell (Patriot) and Gonzaga (WCC) have already completed their regular seasons, while No. 7 George Washington stayed unbeaten in the A-10 last night, winning at St Bonaventure, 89-78.

GW now owns the nation's longest current winning streak (17) and the school's 25-1 record sets a new school single-season record for wins. With Duke's loss, GW is the nation's lone one-loss team. No. 3 Memphis (C-USA) is the nation's only other conference unbeaten and will play tonight at UAB.

No. 2 U Conn, which is the favorite to be the nation's new No. 1 team come Monday if the Huskies can win at home over Louisville on Saturday, won at South Florida 66-53 on Wednesday. For the Bulls, it was their 17th straight loss and drops them to 0-15 in the Big East, making them the only Division I school still winless in conference play. South Florida's last chance at redemption comes at home on Saturday versus No. 20 Georgetown.

There are 31 conferences in Division I and all but the Ivy League have season-ending tournaments. Fifteen conferences will or already have begun play this week, with the Atlantic Sun, the MVC, the Northeast Conference and the Southern Conference beginning tonight. While the Atlantic Sun and Northeast schools are not 'board' teams, the MVC (two games) and the Southern Conference (three games) are part of tonight's 18-game college basketball card.

No. 3 Memphis visits UAB on ESPN2 at 9:30 ET. UAB (20-5/10-2) has won 20 games for the fourth straight season and played well at Memphis back on Jan 26, losing 73-66. Memphis not only owns a 15-game winning streak (3rd-longest) and is one of four conference unbeatens but the Tigers are also the nation's lone unbeaten road team, going 10-0 this year in "true" road games. Memphis is favored by 3 1/2 points (159 1/2).

ESPN features a doubleheader, with No. 25 Michigan State hosting Wisconsin at 7:00 ET and Syracuse visiting DePaul at 9:00 ET. MSU has been a huge disappointment this year going just 7-7 in the Big-10 and faces a Wisconsin team that's beaten them seven of the last eight meetings, including 82-63 back on Jan 8 in Madison. However, the Spartans are favored by seven points (142). Disappointing Syracuse is favored by 2 1/2 points at DePaul (130 1/2).

FSN carries No. 15 UCLA at Cal (10:30 ET). The Bruins lead the Pac-10 race by one game over Cal and Washington. Cal beat UCLA back on December 31 (68-61) and is trying to win its first Pac-10 crown since 1960! The Bears are favored by 1 1/2 points with a total of 123. No. 14 Washington is trying to stay alive in the Pac-10 race when the Huskies visit Arizona State at 9:00 ET. Washington is favored by eight points with a total of 150 1/2.

The final ranked team in action tonight is No. 24 Nevada. The Wolf Pack can clinch the WAC title outright with a win tonight over San Jose State (10:00 ET). One would think that's pretty likely, as San Jose State is just 6-22 overall and 2-12 in the WAC. Nevada, which has won nine straight, is favored by 17 1/2 points (136 1/2).

Last night's busy 13-game card is replaced by tonight's two-game schedule with both games being aired on TNT. The Pistons were upset at Denver last night 98-87, just the team's 10th loss this year.

Speaking of losing, the Cavs lost their fifth straight game 97-90 to Sacramento, the Knicks lost 101-99 at Memphis for their 12th straight road loss (21 of 23 overall), the Magic lost at Oakland to the Warriors 98-94 for their 15th loss in 17 games and the Rockets lost at home to the 76ers 106-101, as the team's 10-18 home mark matches Charlotte's for the worst in the league.

The New Orleans Hornets lost in LA to the Clippers last night, 89-67. The Hornets scored exactly eight points in the both the third and fourth quarters, setting a new NBA-low for points scored in a second-half (16). The previous record of 19 was held by three teams, one of which was the Hornets themselves. New Orleans made just one FG over the game's final 20 minutes, was outscored at one stretch by 25-0 and at one point missed 21 consecutive FG attempts. Other than that, the Hornets played well.

The Cavs will try to stop their 0-5 SU and ATS slide tonight in Chicago against the Bulls (8:05 ET). The Cavs collapsed down the stretch last year, missing the playoffs on a tie-breaker, and are again hearing those 'whispers'. Chicago is favored by four points (194). It doesn't get much better than Dallas/San Antonio in the nightcap at 10:35 ET. The Mavs are 45-11 and have won 19 of their last 20, while the Spurs (44-12) are 17-3 over their last 20 games.

Check out these numbers! Since Avery Johnson took over the Mavs' job as head coach (March 17, 2005), he's led them to a 62-13 regular season mark (.827). The team has played 36 road games during that stretch and have been underdogs just five times! Three times at Memphis where they won SU each time, once at Detroit (last year) where they also won SU and once at Sacramento (last year) where they lost and failed to cover. Not bad! The Spurs, who are 24-3 at home, are favored by 4 1/2 points tonight (183).

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

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