as for my first question, is there a keyboard command in Ubuntu similar to Ctrl-shift-esc (and ctrl-atl-delete) where you can bring up a task manager type program. I have been at a loss what to do when my computer locks up so I have been forced to restart.
Gnome System monitor You could probably program the key sequence you're talking about via the keyboard shortcuts applet (another Gnome tool)
for my second question, is there an in depth hardware info program similar to CPUZ that I can use?
Not sure what to tell you here as I'm uncertain if you can find all you need in one package. I know gnome panels has a CPU frequency scaling monitor you can add (right click somewhere on your task bar and select add), but it sounds like you want more.
I'd think somewhere like gnome-look.org would have a decent desklet to use for that. If not there, gnomefiles.org would probably have something.