Ness Notes: Monday, Jan 18

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."

The NFL's Super Wild Card weekend saw home teams go 2-4 SU and 2-4 ATS and until that 'explosion' in which the Browns beat the Steelers 48-37, the first five wild card games averaged a very modest 43.6 PPG. Three of the first five went over (counting Ind/Buf as an over, with that total closing 50 1/2 and ending 51). Obviously, Cle/Pit went over, making four overs and two unders for the weekend, as games averaged 50.5 points.

The Division Round saw home teams bounce back to go 2-0 SU & ATS, as the Packers beat the Rams 32-18 and the Bills beat the Ravens 17-3. However, it was the road teams that went 2-0 ATS on Sunday, as the Browns lost 22-17 at the Chiefs (but covered) and the Bucs avenged two regular season losses to the Saints by winning 30-20 in New Orleans. Doing the math, home teams were 3-1 SU but 2-2 ATS and the four games averaged a modest 40.3 PPG, as ONLY the Rams/Packers game went over the total. The playoff numbers so far show home teams 5-5 SU and 4-6 ATS, while there have been five overs and five unders.

The AFC and NFC championship games are set for Sunday, with Tampa Bay at Green Bay kicking off at 3:05 ET on FOX and Buffalo at Kansas City at 6:40 ET on CBS. The early lines show Green Bay favored by 3 1/2-points (over/under is 51) and Kansas City favored by three points (over/under is 54). Thursday's Notes will feature the NFC (how the teams got here and a preview) and Friday's Notes will cover the AFC.

CBB: (Fri-Sun recap): Friday saw just one ranked team in action, as No. 9 Wisconsin bounced back from an embarrassing 77-54 loss at Michigan on Tuesday, to win 60-54 at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have now lost FIVE of six games since opening 6-0 and climbing as high as No. 11 in the AP poll back on Dec 21. Saturday featured FOUR games between ranked opponents and the higher ranked teams lost THREE of them. The exception was No. 2 Baylor upping its record to 12-0 with a 68-60 win at No. 15 Texas Tech. Losing for the FIRST time this season was No. 7 Michigan, which saw its 10-0 start to the season end with a THUD, falling 75-57 at No. 23 Minnesota (note: Gophers are 11-0 at home!). No. 12 Clemson was routed at home 85-50 by No. 18 Virginia but maybe that shouldn't have been a surprise. After all, UVa has now beaten the Tigers 11 straight! Finally, it was No. 14 Illinois losing 87-81 at home to No. 21 Ohio St, as the Illini fell to 9-5. Will they still be ranked in Monday's newest AP poll? Not only did three of the higher ranked teams lose to the lower ranked ones on Saturday (1-3 SU & ATS), we also saw the six ranked teams in action vs unranked ones go 1-5 ATS! No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 4 Texas and No. 10 Tennessee won but failed to cover, while No. 17 Missouri broke that trend with a win and cover at Texas A&M. No. 8 Creighton and No. 16 Louisville both lost OUTRIGHT.

Sunday saw all three ranked teams win (No. 5 Iowa, No. 11 Houston and No. 20 Va Tech), with only the Hokies failing to cover. Doing the math, ranked teams vs unranked opponents went 8-2 SU but just 4-6 ATS. Games between ranked opponents now stand at 26-15 (.634) SU but just 21-20 (51.2%) ATS in favor of the higher ranked team. There is just one game between ranked opponents on Monday, as No. 2 Baylor (12-0) will host No. 6 Kansas (10-3), Baylor is a money-making 10-2 ATS (compared to Gonzaga's 6-7-1 ATS mark), including 5-0 SU & ATS in the Big 12 with a MOV of 18.6 PPG. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks are just 2-2 (1-3 ATS) after a 9-1 start to the season. Pending the AP's latest poll (announced this afternoon), there are two ranked teams in action on Monday facing unranked opponents. Louisville is currently No. 16 and will host 7-2 Florida St, but the Seminoles very likely will be ranked come tip-off (not sure Louisville will be). The other game is No. 25 UConn (7-1), which will surely remain ranked before hosting 7-7 St John's. Baylor is favored by 8 1/2-points, Louisville by 2 1/2-points and UConn by seven points.

NBA: It's MLK Day and the league features a busy NINE-game schedule, including a TNT tripleheader. It starts with 7-4 Phoenix (-5) at Memphis (5:05 ET), followed by 9-4 Milwaukee (-2.5) at 8-6 Brooklyn (7:35 ET) and wraps up with Golden St visiting the 11-3 LA Lakers (-8.5) at 10:05 ET. Not sure there is much interest in the Suns/Grizzlies game but the Bucks at the Nets will have everyone's attention. Milwaukee has won SEVEN of eight (averaging 119 PPG) and owns the East's best point-differential at plus 10.7 PPG. James Harden's Brooklyn debut (on Friday) saw him score 32 points, add 14 assists and 12 rebounds in 40 minutes (it was his 47th career triple-double). Kevin Durant sure didn't seem to mind 'sharing the stage' with Harden, as he scored a season-high 42 points. The Lakers have won FIVE in a row and continue to own the NBA's best record (11-3) and just recently passed the Bucks for the NBA's top point-differential (plus-11.0). Tuesday will begin the NBA's fifth week and Ness Notes will take a look back at the first month.

Good luck...Larry

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