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Book reviews by Howard Schwartz (Manager of the Gambler's Book Shop in Las Vegas)

The 2004-05 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook (24th Edition, edited by Chris Dortch, 384 pages, 8x11 paperbound, $21.95) has arrived at Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club), along with the 2004-05 Official NBA Guide (750 pages, paperbound, $18.95)--and each is a vital resource for anyone seriously preparing for the upcoming basketball betting season .

The Blue Ribbon book, annually GBC's best-seller since the l980s, contains no spreads, totals or betting information. Its strength comes from the analysis, projections and predictions which allow bettors, bet-takers, coaches, players, sportscasters, sports talk show hosts and  fans to have a year-long reference source.

The key factor in the book is finding teams that are "sleepers" (an underrated team likely to pull an upset or cover big spreads, especially early in the season before conference play begins and before linemakers realize they'd better adjust and quick). Editor Dortch and his able staff have examined which returning players will prove critical to a team, who will replace key starters, where  important coaching changes have taken place and the strengths and weaknesses of more than 300 teams. He includes schedules and last year's results for the top 25 teams, with schedules only for all other teams outside the top 25; showing  projected starters, key reserves, key questions about each team (like who the court leaders are and whether a team's rebounding margin has improved), all the while rating each team's backcourt, bench and depth and frontcourt.  Team web sites are listed when they exist so you can get last-minute injury information or coaching comments.

The book has tapped into a variety of resources to give the best in-depth analysis of each school possible. Off-season interviews with coaches; talk-show appearances; statements from sports information directors all blended in to summarize and emphasize what to expect in the new season ahead. Also, there's a handy chart for who's out and who's in; who the top prep stars are; where the top recruits went.

Overall, the material in this book has to be among the freshest available.

In The Official NBA Guide you can see last season's scores and a team's cumulative record, game by game. For example, what was the team's record throughout a month of the season? The Washington Wizards went from a pitiful 9-21 mark in January to 14-32 in February, sadly winning only five times in a month.

The book shows you each team's 2004-05 schedule; team rosters; player birthdates; where to find the team address; phone number; broadcast information; year-by-year team history; record winning and losing streaks; memorable games (such as Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962 and the highest scoring game in league history (Pistons beat the Nuggets 186-184 in 1983); regular season; individual; team and lifetime records; year-by-year reviews; playoffs and Finals results; award winners; retired numbers.

A great one-volume source of reference material for trivia contests or to settle arguments.

(The books mentioned here are available from Gambler's Book Shop, 630 South 11th Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101. Call l-800-522-1777 from 9 to 5 Monday through Saturday Pacific time to order, using only MasterCard, VISA or Discover card (no Amex accepted). You may order through the store web site at and view the store's 1,000 books, videos and computer software. You may also call or write and ask for the free 80-page catalog to be sent to you. The store, founded in 1964 by John and Edna Luckman, is located about two miles from Downtown Las Vegas, and the same distance from where the Strip begins, a block west of Maryland Parkway, just off Charleston Boulevard.)