Notes from Ness (March 15)

Monmouth is making his fourth NCAA appearance this year and has lost his 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 the first victory in a NEC NCAA tournament since 1983.

The 16-seeded Hawks now move to face Villanova, the top seed for the Minneapolis Regional. As everyone knows, no seeded 16 has beaten a seeded in 84 previous attempts. Only four No. 15 seeds have beaten a No. 2 seed, and all four surprised winners lost in their second-round games.

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

Monmouth’s first NCAA victory leaves four schools in this year’s tournament without an NCAA victory. 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 victory, 10 schools in this year’s tournament won just one NCAA game.

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

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

LSU was an 11th seed when it reached Final 4 in 1982 (the lowest seed to go there) and Villanova was an eight seed when it upset Georgetown to win the 1985 national championship. Villanova’s victory is still the most seedy seed. low on capturing an NCAA title.

Five schools representing six of the last 10 national championships rank fifth or less this year, or in Maryland’s case, not even here. Maryland is a No. 1 seed in the NIT (I bet that makes them feel good!), While Arizona and Kentucky are eight seeds, Syracuse a five-seeded and Michigan State just one of six.

Louisville, a member of Final 4 last year, 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 past nine years that made Final 4 one year and weren’t even invited the next.

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

Over the past 26 years (from 1979 to 2005), only four schools, ranked No. 1 in the latest 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 nation’s number one team made it to the championship game but lost (Illinois did it last season) and four more times it made the Final Four, only to lose in the semifinals. Much more ‘dope’ from the NCAA tomorrow!

John Chaney skipped Temple’s game last night (his wife is ill) and couldn’t see his Owls lose at home in OT to Akron, in one of eight first-round NIT games. Home teams finished 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS on Tuesday night. The field of 40 teams is now down to 32 and seven first-round games are on the schedule tonight. Six teams with 20 wins 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 in Clemson and 23-7 Western Kentucky is in South Carolina, the defending champions. ESPN will broadcast Vanderbilt on Notre Dame (7:00 ET) and the Irish are favorites by 5 1/2 points (142 1/2). ESPN2 leads Wake Forest in Minnesota (7:00 ET), where the Gophers are favorites by 3 1/2 points (134). All four No. 1 seeds of the tournament start late. Michigan plays tomorrow, Cincinnati and Louisville don’t play until Friday, and Maryland doesn’t play until Saturday.

Dallas and San Antonio won last night and remain tied for the top of the Southwest Division and Western Conference 50-14. Dallas beat Cleveland 91-87 and the Cavs have now lost three straight games 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 seven straight games, the most of the season. New Orleans is one game away from the Lakers for the West’s final playoff spot.

Speaking of the Lakers, they lost last night in Sacramento (114-98) and lagged behind the Kings (who have won 13 straight home games, including 10-0 SU and ATS with Artest) by half a game. The 33-31 Kings are now seventh in the playoffs in the West, just two games behind Memphis. The Lakers 33-32 are eighth, one game above New Orleans and two games above Utah. In a rematch of the league’s highest scoring game since 1995 (Seattle beat Phoenix Jan. 22, 152-149 in 2-OTs), 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 are in Toronto (7:05 ET), where they are favored by seven points (194). The Mavs can move a half game ahead of the Spurs tonight, with a win at Houston (9:05 ET). The Rockets are 1-15 without McGrady in the lineup (he’s out) and they are home losers 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), losers of 19 of their last 22 road games. LA is favored by five points (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 and is favored by 3 1/2 points (181 1/2), while the Knicks host the Hawks at 7:35 ET, as three-point favorites (205).

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

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