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Ness Notes (March 15)

Monmouth is making its fourth NCAA appearance this year and has lost its previous three first-round games by 23, 43 and 33 points. However, Monmouth appeared in last night’s inning game and beat Hampton, 71-49. It marked NEC’s first win in an NCAA tournament since 1983.

The Hawks, seeded 16th, now move on to face the Minneapolis Regional’s top seed, Villanova. As everyone knows, no 16th seed has ever beaten a top seed in 84 previous attempts. Only four No. 15 seeds have beaten a No. 2 seed, and all four winners upset by losing in their second-round games.

My free play for Wednesday is BYU over Houston on the NIT at 8:30 ET. At tonight’s NIT I will be releasing one of my exclusive LEGEND Plays, a game you do NOT want to miss! In the NBA, I’m looking to continue my consistent earnings (64% since Feb. 3) with not one, but two, 15* plays. My NBA 15* snaps are on an 8-3 streak, that’s 73% ATS, after last night’s win over the Suns.

Monmouth’s first NCAA win leaves four schools in this year’s tournament without an NCAA win. Air Force is 0-3 in three previous appearances, George Mason is also 0-3, San Diego State is 0-4 and Winthrop is 0-5. Before Monmouth’s win, 10 schools in this year’s tournament had won just one NCAA game.

The school with the most attempts and only one win is Murray State. The Racers are 1-12 in 13 previous NCAA appearances. Also of note is Iona and Montana (both 1-7) plus South and South Alabama (both 1-6).

In 19 of the last 21 years, at least one No. 12 seed has beaten a No. 5 seed in the first round. Since 1985, 14 No. 12 seeds have made it to the Sweet 16, including Wisconsin-Milwaukee last year. However, only one No. 12 seed has won a game in the Sweet 16.

LSU was an 11th seed when it reached the Final 4 in 1982 (the lowest seed to get there) and Villanova was an 8th seed when it defeated Georgetown to win the 1985 national championship. Villanova’s win remains the lowest seed to capture an NCAA title.

Five schools representing six of the last 10 national championships are seeded fifth or lower this year, or in Maryland’s case, not even here. Maryland is the No. 1 seed in the NIT (I bet that makes you feel good!), while Arizona and Kentucky are seeded eight, Syracuse seeded five, and Michigan State only seeded six.

Louisville, a member of last year’s Final 4, is like Maryland a No. 1 seed this year but in the wrong tournament (NIT). The Cardinals join Marquette as the only two schools in the last nine years to make it to the Final 4 one year and not even be invited back the next.

The final AP poll of the year was released Monday, with Duke finishing as the No. 1 team in the nation for the fifth time since 1999 and for the seventh time in school history. UCLA and Kentucky were ranked No. 1 in the latest AP regular season poll a record eight times. However, being ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll hasn’t been a good thing for a long time.

In the last 26 years (from 1979 to 2005), only four schools, ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll, have managed to capture the national title in that same season. The list includes North Carolina (1982), Duke (1992), UCLA (1995), and Duke (2001). Six times the No. 1 team in the nation made it to the championship game but lost (Illinois did it last season) and four other times it made it to the Final Four, only to lose in the semifinals. Lots more NCAA ‘dope’ tomorrow!

John Chaney skipped Temple’s game last night (his wife is sick) and didn’t get to watch his Owls lose at home in OT to Akron, in one of eight opening-round NIT games. The home teams finished 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS on Tuesday night. The 40-team field is now down to 32 and seven first-round games are scheduled for tonight. Six 20-win teams are in action tonight, including 20-8 BYU at 20-9 Houston and 21-9 Old Dominion at 20-9 Colorado.

Also, 20-12 La Tech is at Clemson and 23-7 Western Kentucky is at South Carolina, the defense camps. ESPN will broadcast Vanderbilt at Notre Dame (7:00 ET) and the Irish are favored by 5 1/2 points (142 1/2). ESPN2 takes Wake Forest to Minnesota (7:00 ET), where the Gophers are 3 1/2-point favorites (134). All four of the tournament’s No. 1 seeds start late. Michigan plays tomorrow, Cincinnati and Louisville don’t play until Friday and Maryland doesn’t play until Saturday.

Dallas and San Antonio both won last night and remain tied for atop the Southwest Division and Western Conference at 50-14. Dallas beat Cleveland 91-87 and the Cavs have now lost three in a row and are just two games behind Indiana for the fourth seed in the East. The Spurs beat the Hornets (96-81) and New Orleans has now lost a season-high seven straight. New Orleans is one game behind the Lakers for the final playoff spot in the West.

Speaking of the Lakers, they lost in Sacramento last night (114-98) and trailed the Kings (who have won 13 straight at home, including 10-0 SU and ATS with Artest) by half a game. The 33-31 Kings are now in seventh place in the playoffs in the West, just two games behind Memphis. The Lakers (33-32) are eighth, one game ahead of New Orleans and two games ahead of Utah. In a rematch of the highest scoring game in the league since 1995 (Seattle beat Phoenix on Jan. 22, 152-149 in 2-OT), the Suns beat the Sonics in Seattle last night, 129-120.

The Suns host the Clippers tonight on ESPN at 9:05 ET, leading a 10-game NBA schedule. The Suns are favored by 5 1/2 points and the total is 216 1/2. Detroit still owns the best record in the league (50-12), but the Pistons are just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 road games. Tonight, they’re in Toronto (7:05 ET), where they’re favored by seven points (194). The Mavs can move a half-game ahead of the Spurs tonight with a win in Houston (9:05 ET). The Rockets are 1-15 without McGrady in the lineup (he’s out) and are home underdogs by four points (174 1/2).

The Lakers are 0-3 this year against the T-wolves, but Minnesota enters their game tonight in Los Angeles (10:35 ET), losing 19 of their last 22 road games. LA is a five-point favorite (201). The Magic have lost 19 of their last 23 and the Knicks have lost 24 of their last 28, but both are favorites tonight! Orlando hosts Utah at 7:05 ET as a 3 1/2-point favorite (181 1/2), while the Knicks host the Hawks at 7:35 ET as a 3-point favorite (205).

Ness Notes is available at 1:00 ET Monday through Friday.


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