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Bet Early and Beat the Rush, if Not the Odds

Times Staff Writer

Oddsmakers at the Plaza Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas are so confident that the AFC champion will win the Super Bowl that they already have installed the NFC champion as a one-point underdog -- nearly three months before the game.

“I think this is the earliest any casino has released a Super Bowl line,” said Lou D’Amico, director of the Plaza’s Racing and Sports Book.

“To date, the AFC has demonstrated that it has most of the NFL’s top teams, so that’s why we made whoever wins the AFC title the favorite to win the Super Bowl.”

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Trivia time: What is the only Big Ten school never to have qualified for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament despite having played host to the inaugural championship game in 1939?

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Doing the math: How do four field goals, a touchdown and an extra point add up to 18 points? For the answer, one has to go back to 1911, the year before the rules of football changed the value of a touchdown from five points to six.

An item in Thursday’s Morning Briefing about Jim Thorpe kicking four field goals and an extra point in an 18-15 victory for the Carlisle (Pa.) Indian School over Harvard in 1911 brought dozens of e-mails from readers wondering how that was possible.

According to the book “Jim Thorpe: World’s Greatest Athlete” by Bob Wheeler, Thorpe kicked field goals of 13, 43, 37 and 48 yards and drop-kicked the extra point after Alex Arcasa scored on a one-yard run in the third quarter.

A touchdown was worth four points and an extra point worth two until 1897. From 1898 until 1912, a touchdown was worth five points and an extra point worth one.

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Tired of Dookies: John Walters of sportsillustrated.cnn.com engaged himself in a devilish debate on whether one should love or loathe Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke men’s basketball program.

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“Duke has been the class of college hoops since 1980,” Walters wrote. “But they’re just so arrogant.

“That sneer Coach K gives the refs whenever a call goes against him? I expect him to pull the receipt out of his pocket and say, ‘I paid for these calls two hours ago.’ ”

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Hey, Boss, get lost: It should come as no surprise that New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner was not invited to a roast this weekend for former Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer, considering that the pair had a falling out.

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But the war of words between the two seems to be escalating.

Zimmer told a New York reporter that he would leave the charity benefit, scheduled for Saturday in Connecticut, if Steinbrenner were there. A Steinbrenner representative said the owner would be busy the night of the roast, “whatever night it is.”

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Trivia answer: Northwestern.

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And finally: Sports Illustrated’s Bill Scheft, on USC’s surviving a scare last week at Oregon State: “It was so foggy in Corvallis the Trojans could have gotten Mike Williams in for a series.”


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