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Tuesday, Mar 28

   by Larry Ness - 03/28/2006

The Nets have sent some shockwaves through the NBA the last two nights. They beat the Pistons in Detroit on Sunday night (79-74) and last night routed the Suns in the Meadowlands, 110-72! It was New Jersey's ninth straight win (7-1-1 ATS), the NBA's longest active streak.

For the Suns, the league's highest-scoring team, it was their lowest output of the season (previous low was 85) and the team's 26.8 percent from the floor was a single-game franchise-low!

My free play tonight is on the SA Spurs over the LA Clippers at 10:35 ET. In tonight's college hoops I'm looking to continue my red-hot tournament run (7-1 Thursday-Sunday) with my 20* NIT Game of the Year and another exclusive Las Vegas Insider Play (5-0 run and 80% in the tourneys to-date). In the NBA, it's a rare 22* play (my 2nd in 60 days!), as I look to continue my 4-1 mark with 20* NBA plays or higher!

In other games, Miami beat Indiana, Utah beat New Orleans and Washington won at Golden State. In the East, Washington (5) is 36-33, Indiana (6) is 35-34 and Milwaukee (7) is 35-35. Out West, the Jazz (33-37) are now a half-game ahead of the Hornets (32-37), who have lost 12 of 13 SU and ATS, but still two games back of the Kings (35-35) for the final playoff spot.

Tonight's NBA features a seven-game schedule with all three of the league's top teams in action. The Mavs (54-16) are in Detroit to take on the Pistons (55-14) at 7:35 ET and the Spurs (54-16) are in LA to take on the Clippers at 10:35 ET.

Detroit is in a pointspread slump over its last 13 games (2-9-2 ATS), while the Mavs, 32-8 since Jan 1, are struggling with some injury problems (both Howard and Harris remain out) and have had trouble against the league's best teams since Mar 1 (1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS). Detroit is favored by 5 1/2 points (179).

In LA, the Spurs will try to keep pace with (or pass) the Mavs with a win over the Clippers, who are looking for their 42nd win of the year, a victory that would guarantee to team the franchise's first winning season since 1991-92. Parker is questionable for SA with a foot injury and Bowen could be suspended for kicking Ray Allen in the back last night. SA is favored by 1 /12 points (187).

In other action, the Suns will try to bounce back from last night's disaster (Stoudemire played 15 minutes and didn't score!) in Milwaukee against the Bucks. The Grizzlies put their seven-game winning streak (2nd-longest behind the Nets) on the line at home vs the Sonics and the Wizards are in Sacramento to take on the Kings, who saw their 14-game home winning streak end on Sunday to the Warriors (had been 11-0 SU and 10-1 ATS at home with Artest!).

The NCAA's Final 4 is still four days away but the NIT plays its version tonight. Old Dominion takes on Michigan in the first game (7:00 ET) and South Carolina meets Louisville in the second game (tip expected around 9:20 ET). Both games will be televised by ESPN2. The ODU/Michigan game is listed as a 'pick' with a total of 136 and South Carolina is a two-point favorite over Louisville (124 1/2).

Of course Old Dominion represents the CAA, giving that mid-major conference Final 4 teams in both the NIT and NCAA! Michigan won the NIT title in 2004 and takes an eight-game postseason winning streak in tonight's contest. South Carolina is the defending NIT champ and is also on an eight-game postseason winning streak, while Louisville finds itself in its second straight Final 4 (was part of last year's NCAA Final 4), although not the one it had hoped to be in.

Speaking of Final Fours, it's worth noting that this year's NCAA Final 4 will be without schools from the ACC, Big East, Big-10 and Big-12 (includes Big-8 and SWC) for the first time since 1975! If you combine the eight teams still playing (NIT and NCAA), you find that the SEC has three representatives and the CAA has two.

The Big East, the Big-10 and the Pac-10 have one each, with the Big East and Big-10 representatives appearing in the NIT Final 4, not the NCAA! The Big East had a record eight teams invited to the Big Dance this year, including two No. 1 seeds (U Conn and Villanova). While four of its schools made the Sweet 16, not one made it to the Final 4. As for the Big-10's six NCAA tournament teams, none made it past the tournament's opening weekend, for the first time since 1996.

So much for the polls

UCLA is the only school from this year's preseason AP top-25 poll to make it to the Final 4. Here's something else to consider. The final AP poll had Duke No. 1, U Conn No. 2 and Villanova No. 3. You think those writers' don't know their stuff! Well those three teams combined to go 1-10 ATS in their tournament games. Remember this the next time you hear complaints about the "computer geeks" having too much influence when it comes to the RPI (college hoops) or the BCS (college football)!

Just one last thing. Don't think it was just the top-three teams that did poorly ATS in the tournament. The nation's top-15 teams in the final AP poll have combined to go just 18-24 ATS in the tournament so far. Taking a closer look shows four top-15 schools (BC, Florida, Gonzaga and Memphis) going a combined 12-2 with the remaining 11 schools going a pathetic 6-22!

UCLA (tied for No.7) and Florida (No. 11) are the only top-15 members to make the Final 4. LSU finished 17th in the final poll and George Mason was unranked.

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

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