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Wednesday, Mar 15

   by Larry Ness - 03/15/2006

Monmouth is making its fourth NCAA appearance this year and has lost its three previous first round games by 23, 43 and 33 points. However, Monmouth appeared in last night's play-in game and beat Hampton, 71-49. It marked the NEC's first NCAA tournament win since 1983.

The 16th-seeded Hawks now move on to face the Minneapolis Regional's top-seed, Villanova. As everyone knows, no 16-seed has ever beaten a top-seed in 84 previous tries. Only four No. 15 seeds have beaten a No. 2 seed, with all four of those upset winners losing in their second round games.

My free play for Wednesday is BYU over Houston in the NIT at 8:30 ET. In tonight's NIT tonight, I'm releasing one of my exclusive LEGEND Plays, a game you WON'T want to miss! In the NBA, I'm looking to continue my consistent winning (64% since Feb 3) with not one but two, 15* plays. My NBA 15* plays are on an 8-3 run, that's 73% ATS, after last night's win on the Suns.

Monmouth's first-ever NCAA win leaves four schools in this year's tourney without an NCAA win. Air Force is 0-3 in three previous appearances, George Mason is also 0-3, San Diego State is 0-4 and Winthrop is 0-5. Prior to Monmouth's win, 10 schools in this year's tourney have won just one NCAA game.

The school with the most tries and just one win, is Murray State. The Racers are 1-12 in 13 previous NCAA appearances. Also of note are Iona and Montana (both 1-7) plus Southern and South Alabama (both 1-6).

In 19 of the last 21 years, at least one No. 12 seed has beaten a No. 5 in the first round. Since 1985, 14 No. 12 seeds have made the Sweet 16, including Wisconsin-Milwaukee last year. However, just one No. 12 seed has ever won a game in the Sweet 16.

LSU was an 11-seed when it reached the Final 4 in 1982 (lowest-seed to ever get there) and Villanova was an eight-seed when it upset Georgetown to win the 1985 national championship. Villanova's win still stands as the lowest seed to ever capture an NCAA title.

Five schools accounting for six of the last 10 national championships are seeded fifth or lower this year, or in Maryland's case, not even here. Maryland is a No. 1 seed in the NIT (I bet that make's them feel good!), while Arizona and Kentucky are eight-seeds, Syracuse a five-seed and Michigan State just a six-seed.

Louisville, a member of last year's Final 4, is like Maryland a No. 1 seed this year but in the wrong tournament (NIT). The Cardinals join Marquette, as the only two schools in the last nine years to have made the Final 4 one year and not even get invited back the next.

The AP's final poll of the year was released on Monday, with Duke finishing as the nation's No. 1 team for the fifth time since 1999 and for the seventh time in school history. UCLA and Kentucky have both been ranked No.1 in the AP's final regular season poll a record eight times. However, being ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll has not been a good thing for quite a long time.

Over the last 26 years (from 1979-2005), only four schools, ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll, have gone on to capture the national title in that same season. The list includes, North Carolina (1982), Duke (1992), UCLA (1995) and Duke (2001). Six times, the nation's No. 1 team made it to the championship game but lost (Illinois did it just last season) and four other times made it to the Final Four, only to lose in the semifinals. Much more NCAA 'dope' tomorrow!

John Chaney skipped Temple's game last night (his wife is sick) and he didn't get to see his Owls lose at home in OT to Akron, in one of eight opening round NIT games. Home teams went just 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS Tuesday night. The 40-team field has now been trimmed to 32 and seven first round games are on tonight's schedule. Six 20-win teams are in action tonight, including 20-8 BYU at 20-9 Houston and 21-9 Old Dominion at 20-9 Colorado.

Also, 20-12 La Tech is at Clemson and 23-7 Western Kentucky is at South Carolina, the defending champs. ESPN will air Vanderbilt at Notre Dame (7:00 ET) and the Irish are favored by 5 1/2 points (142 1/2). ESPN2 carries Wake Forest at Minnesota (7:00 ET), where the Gophers are 3 1/2 point favorites (134). The tourney's four No. 1 seeds all get late starts. Michigan plays tomorrow, Cincinnati and Louisville don't play until Friday and Maryland doesn't play until Saturday.

Dallas and San Antonio both won last night and remain tied at the top of the Southwest Division and the Western Conference at 50-14. Dallas beat Cleveland 91-87 and the Cavs have now lost three straight and are only two games up on Indiana for the East's fourth seed. The Spurs beat the Hornets (96-81) and New Orleans has now lost a season-high seven straight games. New Orleans finds itself a game back of the Lakers for the West's final playoff spot.

Speaking of the Lakers, they lost in Sacramento last night (114-98) and fell behind the Kings (who have won 13 straight at home, including 10-0 SU and ATS with Artest) by a half-game. The 33-31 Kings are now in the 7th playoff spot in the West, just two games behind Memphis. The 33-32 Lakers are 8th, one game up on New Orleans and two games up on Utah. In a rematch of the league's highest-scoring game since 1995 (Seattle beat Phoenix on Jan 22, 152-149 in 2-OTs), the Suns beat the Sonics in Seattle last night, 129-120.

The Suns host the Clippers tonight on ESPN at 9:05 ET, leading a 10-game NBA schedule. The Suns are favored by 5 1/2 points and the total is 216 1/2. Detroit still owns the league's best record (50-12) but the Pistons are just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 road games. Tonight, they are in Toronto (7:05 ET), where they are favored by seven points (194). The Mavs can move a half-game ahead of the Spurs tonight, with a win in Houston (9:05 ET). The Rockets are 1-15 without McGrady in the lineup (he's out) and are four-point home underdogs (174 1/2).

The Lakers are 0-3 this year vs the T-wolves but Minnesota enters its game tonight in LA (10:35 ET), losers of 19 of their last 22 road games. LA is favored by five points (201). The Magic have lost 19 of their last 23 and the Knicks have lost 24 of their last 28, yet both are favored tonight! Orlando hosts Utah at 7:05 ET and is favored by 3 1/2 points (181 1/2), while the Knicks host the Hawks at 7:35 ET, as three-point favorites (205).

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

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