Ness’s Notes (January 11)

Was it really just a week ago that Texas beat USC 41-38 in the Rose Bowl? Is it possible that Vince Young is as good in the NFL as he was in his two Rose Bowl appearances? Did the ‘monkey’ finally get off Mack Brown’s back?

To end the CFB season, keep in mind that Texas’ 83 victories in the past eight years are the most of any school. The Longhorns are also the ONLY school to have finished in the final BCS rankings in EVERY ONE of the past seven years. Texas is also the only BCS affiliated school to have won at least 10 games in each of the last five years.

My free game for Wednesday is the Min T-wolves over the Chi Bulls in the NBA at 8:05 ET. Jump to a 3-0 start with my CBB 15 * plays in ’06 and I offer another 15 * plays tonight (rare 15 * s in a row!). In addition, I present my 10 * SEC Game of the Month and my 10 * NBA Favorite of the Month. Get them ALL, right now!

To end the bowl season, 16 of the 28 games were decided by a TD or less, with EIGHT decided by three points or less (two in overtime). Fifteen of the 28 winning teams came from behind to win, and EIGHT of them erased double-digit deficits!

The average margin of victory was 10.9 points per game, the lowest in the BCS era and the lowest since 1992. Next year sees the addition of the fifth BCS bowl game but there are NO playoff plans in the game. near future. Speaking of which, it’s BASKETBALL season!

Tonight’s college basketball program includes 46 games. Last week was a bad week for the top 25 teams as 15 ranked teams lost, including two losses to Michigan St. FOUR teams fell from the undefeated ranks last week. Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio St and Villanova.

That leaves Duke (14-0), Florida (14-0) and Pittsburgh (12-0). Duke was ranked number one all season, but was unanimous number one this week, for the first time all season. Florida, unranked earlier in the year, has to be the biggest surprise team of the season, in Billy Donovan’s 10th year at Gainesville. Pitt is 12-0 but ranked 12. Kentucky fell out of the AP poll for the first time this week, after 88 consecutive rankings, as did Wake Forest (60 consecutive appearances). The current leader in back-to-back poll appearances is Duke, at just 176! U Conn is now second at 49.

Both Duke and Florida play tonight, while Pittsburgh plays Thursday (at home against DePaul). Duke hosts Maryland tonight on ESPN at 9:00 ET and the Blue Devils are favored by 14 points with a total of 156 1/2. Florida is home to an 11-3 Miss St team, but the Alligators are still the favorites by 18 1/2 points!

ESPN2 features a triple header tonight that begins with Syracuse at Notre Dame at 7:00 ET. That game is followed by Texas A&M at Oklahoma State (9:00 ET) and TCU in New Mexico (11:00 ET). Before the Maryland / Duke game, ESPN opens its coverage with Indiana at Michigan State at 7:00 ET (the Spartans are favored by five with a total of 146 1/2).

NBA fans have a list of 10 busy games tonight and all eyes are on Portland as Kobe tries to score 45 points or more for the fifth game in a row. However, he has a bit more work to do if he plans to catch Wilt, who set an NBA record in 1964 of NINE consecutive games over 45!

Who said 13 was an unfortunate number? It probably wasn’t because of Bruce Sutter. Sutter became the fourth reliever to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley. Yet Sutter is the ONLY one of the four who has EVER started in the majors.

His ‘election’ in his thirteenth year of eligibility is the most recent by any player since Ralph Kiner was elected in 1975. Jim Rice fell 53 votes short in his twelfth year on the ballot and Goose Gossage 54 votes less, in his seventh year of eligibility. Sutter’s election was long overdue, but I wouldn’t expect the 13th to be Rice’s charm next year.

Rookies in next year’s HOF nerd will be Tony Gwynn (lock) and Cal Ripken Jr (lock), not to mention a member of Sports Illustrated’s so-called “Liars Club”, Mark McGwire. In case voters have forgotten, Rice has 382 career HRs, 1,451 RBIs and a batting average of .298 LT. He surpassed 300 seven times, scored 100 runs eight times, while winning three HR titles, two RBI titles, and the American League MVP in 1978.

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