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Friday, Mar 10
by Larry Ness - 03/10/2006
No. 1 U Conn lost in OT to Syracuse 86-85, as Gerry McNamara drained a three-pointer at the end of regulation for the second consecutive game. No. 6 George Washington saw its 18-game winning streak and perfect A-10 season come to an end, as the Colonials lost to Temple, 68-53. The Colonials were the nation's lone one-loss team and their loss will open up a second bid for the A-10 (sent only GW last year), shutting out a school to be named later (Sunday).
My free play on Friday is a rare CBB total. Take Nebraska/Oklahoma under at 9:20 ET. You may have missed my Las Vegas Insider (Mia-Fl/Duke) as I go for a 3-0 start in the tourneys and my early 15* on South Carolina/Tennessee, but there is plenty of time for my 20* Big-12 Tourney GOY and my evening CBB 15*. Also tonight, I'm releasing my first LEGEND play of the conference tournaments. These exclusive releases, previously available to only my personal clients, are now available on the net and have gone 3-0 since mid-February! In the NBA, it's my biggest three-game report of the season, my Triple Play of the Year, as I look to continue my 63% NBA run since Feb 3.
The only other top-25 teams to lose on Thursday were No. 12 Washington to Oregon (84-73) and No. 19 West Va, to No. 15 Pittsburgh (68-57). No. 2 Villanova had no such trouble, as the Wildcats easily handled Rutgers (87-55), No. 3 Duke plays today at 12:00 noon ET against Miami-Florida, No. 4 Memphis took care of Tulane (75-56) and No. 5 Gonzaga is finished with its season and awaiting a possible No. 1 seed (not likely).
Highlights by conference
Georgetown beat Marquette 62-59, in the only other Big East game on Thursday. Marquette's loss made former C-USA teams 0-3 in their Big East tourney debuts this year. Temple's win over GW sets up a classic "Big Five" matchup today, as St Joe's beat St Louis, 56-37. In the ACC, Clemson's longshot hopes of a bid ended with a 66-63 loss to Miami-Fla, and while Florida State may still get in, the Seminoles' loss to Wake (78-66) didn't help. Maryland likely guaranteed itself a ticket to the dance by beating hapless Ga Tech, 82-64.
Michigan played itself out of any chance of an at-large bid, losing to Minnesota 59-55 in the Big-10 tourney. The MAC has been a one-bid conference since 1999 and regular season champ Kent State advanced with a 76-67 win over Buffalo. In the Big-12, Colorado edged Baylor 65-61, setting up a Friday showdown with Texas A&M. UTEP and Houston both needed wins in C-USA yesterday and got them, but now face the league's top-two teams (Memphis and UAB) on Friday.
The MWC conference had three 20-game winners in the regular season, but two lost on Thursday. Air Force was upset by Wyoming (57-55), as was BYU by Utah (74-70). Regular season champ San Diego State is looking good, after a 64-52 win over Colo St. Arizona (73-68 over Stanford) and Cal (82-67 over USC) got important wins in the Pac-10, while Washington lost to Oregon (no harm, no foul for the Huskies). In the WAC, both La Tech (75-64) and Utah St (76-69) won, setting up a semifinal showdown tonight.
It's a 33-game college basketball 'board' tonight. ESPN2 will carry all four ACC games on Friday and during the late-afternoon break, will air the Patriot League championship game between Bucknell and Holy Cross (4:30 ET). Bucknell, playing on its home court, is favored by 9 1/2 points (114). ESPN airs the early games in the Big-10, then covers the Big East semis tonight. Late-night viewers will see Wyoming/Utah in the MWC (12:00 midnight ET).
ESPNU carries the four Big-12 games, then goes late-night as well, with the Long Beach St/Cal-Irvine meeting in the Big West (also at 12:00 midnight). FSN covers both semifinal games in the Pac-10, beginning at 9:00 ET.
Here's just a few of the games (and lines) in which teams could be playing for their NCAA 'lives'. Indiana vs Wisconsin in the Big-10 (2:20 ET), where the game is listed at 'pick' (132). Colorado vs Texas A&M in the Big-12 (2:50 ET), where the Aggies are favored by 1 1/2 points (129). Kentucky vs Alabama in the SEC (3:20 ET), where the Wildcats are favored by 2 1/2 points (128 1/2).
Temple vs St Joe's in the A-10 (6:30 ET), where the Owls are a one-point favorite (114 1/2). Houston vs Memphis in C-USA (4:30 ET) with the Tigers favored by 11 1/2 points (1453 1/2) and UTEP vs UAB (7:00 ET) with the Blazers favored by 4 1/2 points (121). La Tech vs Utah St in the WAC (9:00 ET), where the Aggies are favored by 1 1/2 points (137).
In may not have been a "fair fight" but the Spurs will take last night's 117-93 win over the Suns. Nash did not play for Phoenix (neither did Barbosa), as the Spurs ended the Suns' 11-game winning streak, while holding the Suns under 100 points for the first time in 23 games. However, Dallas kept pace with the Spurs last night, beating the Blazers in Portland, 109-92. Both teams are 48-13, with San Antonio sporting a 21-4 mark since its home loss to the Pistons (Jan 12) and Dallas going 26-5 since January 1.
Tonight's NBA card features 10 games. Some notes of interest are Cleveland at Orlando at 7:05 ET. The Cavs have rebounded from a five-game losing streak (0-5 ATS) to go 4-0 SU and ATS. Meanwhile, the Magic have lost six straight and 18 of 20 (6-13-1 ATS). The Cavs are favored by 4 1/2 points with a total of 189. The Celtics have ridden Paul Pierce's hot hand (seven consecutive games of at least 30 points) to win eight of their last 12 (9-3 ATS). Tonight they host the Bucks (7:35 ET), who they are chasing for the East's final playoff spot. Milwaukee has lost seven of nine (2-7 ATS) and Boston is favored by 3 1/2 points (204 1/2).
The Heat have won 10 straight and tonight host Golden State at 7:35 ET. Miami is favored by nine points (210). The Spurs are home against the Lakers (8:35 ET) and are favored by 8 1/2 points (190 1/2). The Spurs are 26-3 at home but just 16-13 ATS. The Kings try to reach .500 (they are 30-31) for the first time since they were 7-7. This from a team that's won 50-plus games in each of the last five seasons. Since opening 0-2 with Artest, Sacramento has gone 12-5 SU and 13-3-1 ATS, including 7-0 SU and ATS at home. The Kings host the Grizzlies tonight at 10:05 ET and are favored by five points (192).
Ness Notes is available by 1:00 ET Monday through Friday. A feature story (Countdown to the madness-part 2) runs Saturday and Sunday.