Ness Notes Feb

In Monday's NBA, the 76ers went over 15 minutes without a FG (0-for-19) in the second half and lost to Houston, 87-81. The Rockets are now 13-6 when both Ming and McGrady are in the lineup and could make a late-season run at the playoffs. New Jersey won its 11th straight home game (8-3 ATS) by beating the Hornets 99-91 and the Bobcats made it two straight wins (following 13 straight losses!), in a 119-106 win over the Sonics. Golden State beat Denver 122-114, giving the Warriors their sixth straight pointspread win and handing the Nuggets their eighth straight ATS loss! My free play is in college hoops, Virginia over Maryland at 7:00 ET. In Tuesday's NBA, I look to follow my Eastern Conference GOW winner last night on Washington (94-82), with my Western Conference GOW winner.

In college hoops, it's one of my exclusive Las Vegas Insider Plays, already off to a 2-0 start in February. Get them BOTH, right now! Tuesday's action is highlighted by Detroit going for its 40th win of the season in a game at Atlanta (7:05 ET). The Pistons lost their last game and have yet to lose back-to-back games this season.

Atlanta is just 14-32 this year but the team won just 13 games all of last year. Detroit is favored by 10 points with a total of 191. The Clippers will try to move 12 games over .500 for the first time since the club has been in California, when they visit the New York Knicks (7:35 ET). The Clipps have won eight of nine while outscoring opponents by 11.

9 PPG, while the Knicks have dropped five straight and 11 of 12. LA is favored by seven points with a total of 197 1/2. Dallas tries for its 12th straight win tonight versus the Lakers (8:35 ET), which would be an NBA season-high (Detroit has also won 11 straight this season). The team has held all 11 of its opponents to less than 100 points in the winning streak (allowing an average of just 87.5 PPG), a franchise record.

After going 9-6 in January with Kobe averaging 43.4 PPG, LA is 0-2 in February and has opened its seven-game road trip 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS (0-3 SU and ATS the last three). Odom and Mihm will most likely miss again tonight, leaving the already thin Lakers, even more so.

However, the Lakers have beaten the Mavericks in both meetings this year. The Mavs (9-2 ATS during their winning streak) are favored by 10 1/2 points with a total of 199. Gonzaga edged St Mary's last night 62-61, giving the Bulldogs a school-record 35th consecutive home win. It's also the longest current home winning streak in the nation and the team's 10 straight overall wins, ties them with George Washington and Memphis for the nation's longest current winning streak. Gonzaga's win gave them a 9-0 record in the WCC, leaving them as just one of >SEVEN schools still unbeaten in conference play.

Monday was a good night for 'losers', as both James Madison (CAA) and Idaho (WAC) won their first conference games of the year last night. The Dukes won at home over Delaware (74-64) and the Vandals also won on their home court, 72-61 over Fresno State. That leaves just FIVE schools winless in conference play, one of which (The Citadel), is playing tonight. Bigger games of note for Tuesday are the ESPN doubleheader, opening with No.

11 Tennessee at Kentucky (7:00 ET), followed by No.2 Duke at No. 23 North Carolina (9:00 ET).

On ESPN2 at 7:30 ET, No. 4 Villanova plays St Joseph's at The Palestra (in a Big Five battle). No. 25 Northern Iowa remained ranked this week (first time in the school's 106-year history!), despite losing last week to Creighton.

The Panthers host Wichita State tonight (9:00 ET) and the 19-5 Shockers (going for their third straight 20-win season!) are in a three-way first-place tie with the Panthers and Blue Jays (Creighton) in the MVC at 10-3. No. Iowa is favored by six points with a total of 124 1/2.

Tennessee/Kentucky is the second-most played rivalry in SEC history, with the Wildcats leading the all-time series, 137-62. However, while the Vols have lost six straight in Lexington, they are the ranked team this year (16-3), while the Wildcats are just 15-7, having already lost FOUR games in Rupp Arena this year. Kentucky is the favorite though, by 2 1/2 points (total is 152). No. 4 Villanova (17-2) and 10-9 St Joe's are both 3-0 this year over fellow Big Five members La Salle, Penn and Temple but these teams are hardly equal, as the Wildcats enter this game favored by 7 1/2 points with a total of 133 1/2.

The nightcap of the ESPN doubleheader features Duke at North Carolina. Carolina is back in the top-25 after a two-week absence but has already lost three times at home this year to Illinois, Miami-Fla and Boston College. Duke is off two "close calls", edging BC 83-81 on the road and Florida State 97-96 in OT at home. Duke is led by all-Americans JJ Redick (28.2 PPG) and Shelden Williams (18.4-9.

9), while Carolina, after losing four players from last year's national championship team to the NBA draft lottery (and incredible 81.4 PPG!), is led by four freshman. The 6-9 Tyler Hansbrough (17.

8-7.6) is the best of the group. Duke is favored by five points with a total of 155.

Super Bowl recap Part 1 (the teams) Pittsburgh finally won its "one for the thumb." The Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1) joined the San Francisco 49ers (5-0) and the Dallas Cowboys (5-3) as the only five-time winners in Super Bowl history, with their win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Pittsburgh had won FOUR Super Bowl rings in a six-year span (from Super Bowls IX through XIV) and the 26-year gap between Super Bowls wins is the second-longest behind Green Bay's 29-year span between wins is Super II and Super Bowl XXXI. Of course everyone knows that the Steelers became the fifth wild card team to win (including the 1969 KC Chiefs as a wild card team) and the first-ever No. 6 seed to win (NFL began its 12-team playoff format in 1990).

However, what I find even more impressive, is that Pittsburgh won a Super Bowl title the year AFTER it finished with the league's best record! The Steelers were an NFL-best 15-1 in 2004 but lost to New England in last year's AFC Championship Game. Knowing that teams which lose in the Super Bowl have struggled the next season as of late (more on that later), I went back to 1990 and checked on how teams which finished with the best regular season record but failed win the Super Bowl that same year, did in the following season? The results show that the 2005 Steelers join only the 1997 Denvner Broncos, as teams to have won the Super Bowl, the year AFTER finishing with the league's best record (or tied for the best) and NOT winning the title. The Broncos finished the 1996 season at 13-3, tied with Green Bay for the NFL's best record that season, but while the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl that year, the Broncos were upset in their first playoff game of 1996 (at home by the Jaguars who were 14-point underdogs), 30-27. However, the Broncos came back to go 12-4 in 1997 and as a wild card and the AFC's No.

4 seed, went on to capture their first-ever Super Bowl, by beating the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, 31-24. In all, 13 teams (since 1990) have finished a season with the league's best regular season record (or tied) and NOT won the Super Bowl that year. Only the Denver Broncos of 1996 and the Pittsburgh Steelers of 2004, have gone on to win the Super Bowl the following seasons. Denver in 1997 and Pittsburgh in 2005! That leads me to Sunday's Super Bowl-loser, the Seattle Seahawks. Of the league's 32 current franchises, 17 have won Super Bowl titles. Four pre-1980 franchises have never even made the Super Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and the New Orleans Saints.

The Jacksonville Jaguars (1995) and the Houston Texans (2002) have also never made the "ultimate" game. Seattle, making its first Super Bowl appearance in its 30-year history, now joins EIGHT other franchises that have made the 'trip' but not won. Of course the Buffalo Bills and the Minnesota Vikings 'head' this list with FOUR Super Bowl appearances each, but ZERO wins! Will Seattle now be tested in 2006, by the 'curse' suffered by recent Super Bowl losers? Tennessee lost in Super Bowl XXXIV to St Louis but came back in the 2000 season to finish with an NFL-best 13-3 record. The Titans did lose their first playoff game that year but they are also the last Super Bowl loser to post a winning record the following season! The last FIVE Super Bowl losers have gone a combined 31-49 the following seasons, for a winning percentage of .388. The teams' combined ATS records have been even worse, as they stand 27-50-3, or a winning percentage of just .

351! My Super Bowl recap Part 2 covers coaches Cowher and Holmgren, tomorrow. Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET and by 9:00 ET on Saturday and Sunday. .

By: Larry Ness


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