Ness Notes: Monday, Dec 14

by Larry Ness

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."

MNF: We're back to just one MNF game to conclude Week 14. The Cleveland Browns are looking to end a 17-season playoff drought after taking a big step in the right direction with last Sunday's 41-35 win at the Tennessee Titans, a team that played in last season's AFC title game. The 9-3 Browns welcome the hated-Baltimore Ravens to Cleveland on Monday night, a team that got a much-needed 34-17 win last Tuesday at home over the Cowboys. Baltimore opened the season 5-1 but had lost FOUR of its last five prior to the win over Dallas, dealing with inconsistent play and severe COVID-19 issues. Cleveland currently owns the No. 5 seed in the AFC, while Baltimore is 7-5 and out of the playoffs at the moment. However, a Baltimore win moves them into a tie with 8-5 Miami for the No. 7 seed (final playoff spot) plus would put them just ONE game back of the 9-4 Browns and Titans. The game kicks off at 8:15 ET on ESPN with the Ravens favored by three points (over/under is 45 1/2). Full NFL week 14 recap featured in Tuesday's Notes.

CBB: Recapping the Friday through Sunday games, there was just one game between ranked opponents, with No. 15 West Va winning 87-71 at home over No. 19 Richmond. That leaves the higher ranked team at 9-5 SU but 6-8 ATS in games between ranked opponents. There were 13 games between ranked and unranked opponents from Friday to Sunday and only ONE lost, No. 6 Illinois at Missouri (Tigers are now 5-0!) on Saturday, in what's called the Braggin' Rights series. After a 12-1 SU and but just a 7-6 ATS one from Fri-Sun, the Y-T-D record stands at 83-10 (.894) SU but a much more modest 51-40-2 (56.0%) ATS for ranked teams vs unranked opponents. Monday's card does not feature any ranked vs ranked games but there are two games in which a ranked team meets an unranked opponent. No. 8 Creighton (-7) will host Marquette and No. 21 Rutgers (4-0) will open Big Ten play with a game at 4-1 Maryland. The Terps are favored by 2 1/2-points. The new AP poll will be out Monday and I'll recap it as part of my Tuesday Notes.

CFB recap: There were two top-25 matchups on Saturday, as No. 10 Miami was CRUSHED at home by North Carolina 62-26 and No. 19 Iowa handed No. 25 Wisconsin a THIRD straight loss 28-7 in Iowa City. The once-proud Miami defense allowed a school-record 778 yards, as North Carolina RBs Carter (308 yards) and Williams (236 yards) set a single-game record for most rushing yards in a game by a RB duo. As for Wisconsin, after scoring 45 and 49 points in opening 2-0, the Badgers have scored a total of just 20 points in three straight losses. Higher ranked teams are now 23-7 (.767) SU and 21-9 (70.0%) ATS in matchups of ranked opponents. There were 10 games featuring ranked vs unranked teams and ranked teams went 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS. The SHOCKER was No. 6 Florida losing 37-34 at home to LSU, as a 23 1/2-point favorite. The other SU loser was No. 21 Colorado losing 38-21 at home to Utah. The Y-T-D numbers stand at 134-32 (.807) SU and 83-81-2 (50.6%) ATS in favor of the ranked teams.

New AP poll: There were no changes in the AP's top-5 for the SIXTH straight week, as Alabama (a 52-3 winner at Arkansas) claimed unanimous No. 1 status for the FOURTH consecutive week. No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Ohio St, No. 4 Clemson and No. 5 Texas all held their respective positions with none taking the field. Naturally, Florida's loss dropped the Gators from No. 6 to out of the top-10 at No. 11. Florida's 'Final Four' aspirations are all but gone but adding insult to injury, Florida finds itself behind Georgia (now-No. 10), a team it beat 44-28 in Jacksonville. Cincy is No. 6, Indiana  No. 7, Iowa St No. 8 and Coastal Carolina moves into the top-10 at No. 9. It's a FIRST for a SBC school!

This pandemic-ridden season has seen some "unfamiliar" names in the rankings and we can currently find ULL at No. 17, Tulsa at No. 20, Liberty at No. 22 and Buffalo at No. 23. Joining that list on Sunday was 6-0 San Jose St, as the Spartans check in at No. 25, the first time the school has been ranked since the final poll of the 2012 season. The CFP standings come out Tuesday night and I'll have MUCH more to say about CFB in Wednesday Notes.

Good luck...Larry

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