Ness Notes: Tuesday, Jan 12

by Larry Ness

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at 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."

CFB: LSU's 2019 national champions (15-0) were called "a team for the ages" and many (most?) college football experts declared Joe Burrow's LSU squad "the greatest offense of all time." However, just one year later, the 2020 Alabama Crimson Tide stated "their case" for that title with a 52-24 romp over Ohio State Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium. Nick Saban won a record SEVENTH title, saying "Move over Bear Bryant," who won six. SIX of Saban's national championships have come during his 14 seasons at Alabama (all six in the last 12 years), with his first title coming at LSU back in 2013. I want a day to reflect and Wednesday Notes will feature my Alabama/LSU comparison.

CBB: The AP's latest poll was released Monday afternoon and for the EIGHTH consecutive week, it's Gonzaga (now 12-0) at No. 1 and Baylor (11-0) at No. 2. The Bulldogs got all but one of the 64 first-place votes, with one holdout ranking the Bears at No. 1. Maybe that voter is looking at Baylor's 9-2 ATS mark, compared to Gonzaga's 6-5-1 one? The only change in the top-10 was Michigan (10-0) moving up to No. 7 (from No. 10). 8-1 Villanova hasn't played since Dec 23 but remained No. 3, 10-1 Texas stayed at No. 4 and 11-2 Iowa remained at No. 5. 

9-1 Clemson made a big jump, moving up SEVEN spots to No. 12, while 8-1 Louisville went from unranked to No. 16.  9-3 Ohio St is back in at No. 21 after a one-week absence and 6-1 UConn moved into the top-25 (at No. 25) for the first time since the 2016-17 season. Falling out were No. 15 Rutgers (on a three-game slide), No. 23 Michigan St and No. 25 Florida St.

Playing as a ranked team for the first time in four seasons, UConn survived in Chicago with a 60-53 win over DePaul. The Huskies played a second straight game without James Bouknight (No. 2 scorer in the Big East at 20.3 PPG), UConn held DePaul scoreless over the final 4:27 of the game in a closing 8-0 run. Looking ahead to Tuesday's action, the Big Ten has seven teams in the AP's latest poll, including THREE in the top-10. TWO of those teams play each other tonight, as No. 7 Michigan (10-0) hosts No. 9 Wisconsin (10-2) in Ann Arbor. The only other top-25 matchup is No. 19 Duke (5-2) at No. 20 Va Tech (9-2). Michigan is favored by 3 1/2-points and Duke is favored by 1 1/2-points. Higher ranked teams are 24-10 (.706) SU but just 19-15 (55.9%) ATS in meetings between ranked opponents Y-T-D. Two other top-10 teams are in action, as 10-2 Kansas (No. 6) is at 8-3 Oklahoma St (Jayhawks are favored by 12 points) and 9-1 Tennessee (No. 10) is at 4-5 Vandy (Vols are favored by 12 1/2-points).

NBA: The 2020-21 season tipped off back on Dec 22, so we are three weeks in. Some COVID issues have arisen lately and as I've said since sports returned back on July 23, "fingers crossed." The 76ers opened 7-1 but have lost THREE in a row. Philly is now 7-4 and tied with Milwaukee, a half-game behind East leader Boston (7-3). As noted last week, the Bucks own the NBA's best point-differential at plus-11.8, so there is every indication that the Bucks will win the East for a third straight season. The defending champion Lakers own the NBA's best overall record at 8-3 and at plus-8.3 PPG, rank second to Milwaukee in point differential. Just behind the Lakers are the 7-4 Clippers and Suns. It's all still VERY early but the 2-8 Raptors have shown few signs of looking anywhere close to the team that won the NBA title two seasons ago and had the NBA's second-best regular season record during last year's regular season. Toronto's just 3-7 ATS, tied for worst with the 5-5 Nuggets, who are also 3-7 ATS. Who has the NBA's best ATS record? Naturally, it's the 4-7 Chicago Bulls at 8-3 ATS!

Good luck...Larry

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