Wednesday’s 6-pack, Quote and Quiz of the Day

NHL information every day on NHL page……college/pro basketball every day on Hoops page

Wednesday’s six-pack
Westgate’s odds to win the Masters in April:
13-2— Jordan Spieth
8-1— Dustin Johnson
12-1— Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama
15-1— Justin Rose
25-1— Bubba Watson
100-1— Eldrick Woods

Today would’ve been my dad’s 91st birthday; he’s been gone almost two years now– I miss him every day.

Tweet of the Day
“I’ve tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game’s unique place in American culture……….I believe it’s a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change.”
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred

Wednesday’s quiz
Who was Vice-President when George Washington was President?

Tuesday’s quiz
The first year the designated hitter was used in the American League was 1973.

Monday’s quiz
Bobby Cremins was Georgia Tech’s coach when they made the Final Four in 1990; Paul Hewitt was coach when they made it in 2004.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings……..

13) Big change for the Lakers Tuesday; they fired GM Mitch Kupchak after 17 years, they removed co-owner Jim Buss from the front office and they fired publicist John Black, who has been with the Lakers for 27 years. Co-owner Jeanie Buss actually fired her brother and still has to work with him as a co-owner. Christmas should be fun for them in upcoming years.

According to the Interweb, Kupchak hadn’t talked with Jeanie Buss since November 1.

Magic Johnson now runs this dysfunctional show; he went 5-11 as the Lakers’ coach at the end of the 1994 season. Being a great player and being a coach/administrator are different skills.

12) Agent Rob Pelinka is expected to be named the next GM of the Lakers; he was a sub on the Fab Five Michigan teams with Jalen Rose and Chris Webber. He was also Kobe Bryant’s agent, which makes him familiar with the inner workings of the Lakers organization.

Pelinka’s current NBA clients include James Harden, Eric Gordon and Andre Iguodala.

11) Longtime major league umpires Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce and Tim Welke have all retired. Hirschbeck retiring is bad news for pitchers. Davidson retiring is bad news for people who enjoy balks being called.

10) There are four sets of brothers coaching D-I basketball this year:

Scott/Bryce Drew, Baylor/Vanderbilt
Sean/Archie Miller, Arizona/Dayton
Bob/Danny Hurley, Arizona State/Rhode Island
James/Joe Jones, Yale/Boston U

9) Catcher Matt Wieters signed a 2-year deal with the Nationals Tuesday.

8) In basketball, individual plus-minus is the score of the game while that person is in the game. For instance, if I start a game and leave with our team up 20-12, I get a +8 for that segment.

You look at the Denver Nuggets, and Nikola Jokic is +134 in 47% of the team’s minutes. Jameer Nelson is next-best for Denver, at +38 in 53% of the Nuggets’ minutes. Jokic is a valuable guy.

Turning to the 76ers, Joel Embiid is +68 in 30% of the Sixers’ minutes; Jahlil Okafor is -272, in 32% of the team’s minutes. That helps explain why Philly might trade Okafor.

7) Northern Iowa won the Missouri Valley tournament in three of the last seven years; the other four years, they lost their first tournament game. All or nothing.

6) Speaking of the MVC, Wichita State is an amazing 52-19 vs spread in its last 71 regular season conference games- thats against the spread!!! The last three years, Shockers are only 3-4 against the spread in conference tournament games, losing to Illinois St., Northern Iowa last two years in the semifinals of Arch Madness.

5) NBA types who work college games on TV often promote the idea of teams calling a timeout and being able to move the ball up to the front court, the way NBA teams can.

To me, this is an artificial way of creating drama at the end of games. The NBA obviously has the best players in the world, but that doesn’t mean it also has the best rules.

4) I’m constantly amazed at how much coverage the NFL gets on TV; even now, with the draft two months away, ESPN has a daily show on NFL stuff. There really isn’t that much to talk about until the Combine.

Football never ends: Colorado Buffaloes’ spring practice starts today.

3) I’m not fond of basketball teams practicing on game days, college or pro. I can see having a walk-thru to go over scoring reports, but having actual scrimmages on game days is a waste of energy and it leads to more injuries (in my opinion) and decreased energy in games.

2) The Interweb is fabulous; on Twitter, someone posted a 4-page letter a woman sent to her ex, in which she apologized for whatever caused their relationship to end.

The letter was hand-printed, single-spaced and it was four full pages. It appeared to have taken a long time to write and a lot of effort went into it.

The guy’s response? He took a red pen and graded the letter: for grammar, punctuation and usage, making comments in the margin. Then he sent the letter back to her with a grade: D-

I’m thinking the odds of a reconciliation are not good.

1— Seems strange that the ACC tournament is in Brooklyn this year; its like if they held the Big Sky tourney in Los Angeles or if the SEC tournament was in Denver. Makes no sense.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but……..

13) Sacramento Kings traded star center DeMarcus Cousins and Omar Casspi to New Orleans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and future 1st and 2nd round draft picks. This trade came out on Twitter just before midnight Sunday night.

Cousins and Anthony Davis together in the New Orleans frontcourt is going to be interesting to watch. Kings needed a 1st-round draft pick because the Bulls have their #1 pick this year.

12) Cousins is really talented but seems like a walking timebomb; he already has 17 technicals this season, his frustration level is obvious as he plays for a losing team. When you pay your franchise player $200M, and that day is coming for Cousins, you have to trust him to actually be a franchise player.

11) Sacramento’s struggles aren’t all Cousins’ fault; Kings once picked Thomas Robinson immediately in the draft right before Damian Lillard was picked; that wasn’t Cousins’ fault. Kings have had substandard management for a long time. Remains to be seen whether this extends that horrendous streak.

Sacramento also drafted Jimmer Fredette over Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard. Yikes.

10) Speaking of Jimmer, the BYU alum is scoring around 35 a game in the Chinese pro league; he had 73 points in a game over the weekend. No word on how many points the guy he was guarding scored.

9) College of Charleston is 4-1 as a road favorite in CAA games this season; the six years before this, they were a combined a 6-21 vs spread as a road favorite.

8) During the NASCAR telecast Saturday night, the great Darrell Waltrip actually invoked the name Gladys Kravitz while talking to Dale Earnhardt Jr about something. Gladys Kravitz was the next door neighbor on the old TV show Bewitched, which was on TV in the 60’s.

I know nothing about car racing, but I enjoy listening to Darrell Waltrip.

7) During the 18 years that Steve Fisher has coached San Diego State, UNLV has had eight different basketball coaches.

6) Remember this when the Sweet 16 of the NCAA’s rolls around; since 2006, Pac-12 teams are 10-6 in regional semis/finals in the West region, 1-11 in regional semis/finals of other regions.

5) I love basketball as much as anyone, but I’ve got zero desire to watch the NBA All-Star Game; that said, don’t want the league to put up a financial stake to make it more competitive. Last thing the NBA would need is Steph Curry or Lebron James blowing his knee out trying hard to win a game that means absolutely nothing.

4) According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, these would be the four 8-9 seed games in the first round of the NCAA’s, if the tournament started today:

VCU-Michigan, Minnesota-Wichita State, Northwestern-Arkansas, Dayton-Miami

Winners of those games would play the #1 seeds in the second round.

3) In 2008, 3-pointers accounted for 29.1% of points scored in college hoop; this year, that figure is up to 30.4%.

2) One of the thousands of reasons why Las Vegas is great: you can wager on which QB will be selected first when the NFL Draft happens in Philly in late April.

1— There were commercials on basketball games this weekend for people to invest in the country of Belize, which looks like an island with really nice weather. I’m sure the commercials are designed to seduce nitwits like me who live in cold weather climates to give these people my money, but thats what Vegas is for. Ha!!!! (Its a joke, kind of)

Monday’s List of 13: Some college hoop knowledge…….

With Champ Week only 7-10 days away, here is some knowledge about some of the lesser known conferences around the country……….

29) Big West— Was #13 league each of last two years, has fallen off the cliff to #29 this season. Cal-Irvine is by far the best team in league, especially if G Luke Nelson is healthy. Anteaters start three seniors; rest of their team is three sophomores and seven freshmen.

Top seed has won this conference tourney in only two of last seven years.

26) Big Sky— Should be wild weekend in Reno when they have conference tourney; Weber State, North Dakota are tied for first; Eastern Washington’s game behind. Lot of experienced teams, should be a wide-open tournament on a truly neutral floor.

Top seed won this tournament the last six years, but they hosted tourney most of those years, and the tourney was a lot smaller than it is now.

24) America East— Vermont is unbeaten in the league and will be heavy favorite to win the tournament, but Will Brown has won five conference tourneys for Albany and his Great Danes were 9-7 in league play in two of those five seasons- they’re #3 seed right now. #2 seed Stony Brook lost by 7 to Vermont at home; they play Catamounts again next weekend.

21) Ohio Valley— Belmont has 4-game lead over everyone else in league; much like Irvine in the Big West, lot of pressure on them, since they still need to win conference tourney to make it to the NCAA’s. Morehead State is 9-5 in OVC, five other teams are 8-6.

Belmont has won OVC tourney twice in their four years in the league.

20) Conference USA— Middle Tennessee State is much the best; they lead Louisiana Tech by two games, Old Dominion/UTEP by four. Three different teams won this conference tourney since powerhouse Memphis left for the AAC.

19) Horizon— Valparaiso leads Oakland by a game, but Grizzlies beat Valpo twice during the season. This could be fifth time in six years Valparaiso is #1 seed in tourney; they won it twice in previous four Horizon tourneys when they were the #1 seed.

18) MAAC— Last time the #1 seed won MAAC tourney was 2010, when 17-1 Siena won it. This year, Monmouth is clearly the best team, with a 4-game lead over St Peter’s, five over Iona and host Siena. March 2-6 should be a fun event in beautiful downtown Albany.

17) Ivy League- Their first-ever conference tournament; top four teams will meet in the historic Palestra, one of the cathedrals of college hoop. Princeton is 10-0, Harvard 8-2, Yale 6-4 and no one else is at .500 in the league. Penn/Columbia are tied for 4th, which is the last spot to get into the tournament.

16) Summit League— North Dakota State/South Dakota are tied for first; tournament is in Sioux Falls. Eight of the last nine years, the conference tourney winner finished either 1st or tied for 1st during the regular season. Denver is in 3rd place, vastly improved under Rodney Billups, their new coach. 7-7 Fort Wayne has been a disappointment after they beat Indiana in November.

15) Sun Belt— Texas-Arlington beat St Mary’s in Moraga; they’re only team besides Gonzaga to beat the Gaels. Arkansas State/Georgia Southern are game behind the Mavericks. Top-seeded team won this league the last two years, but there are several capable teams here. Tournament is at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, not necessarily a neutral site.

Six of the last seven years, the conference tournament final was decided by 4 or less points.

14) Mid-American— Akron is three games above anyone else in the league, but they’re 5-9 vs spread in league games— lot of close wins, and close games in March lead to upsets. Buffalo was 9-12 three weeks ago; now they’ve won six games in a row and are hottest team in the league.

Western Michigan won five of its last six games and has a really good point guard. If Akron gets upset here, almost anyone could win this tournament. Wide-open, athletic teams; fun games to watch. Tough games to handicap. A top seed won conference tournament three of last four years.

13) Southern Conference— Semi-final doubleheader in this league should be great; any of the top four teams would be a worthy champ. Top seed won this conference tournament four of the last five years. Tournament is in Asheville, NC. Chattanooga is the defending champ.

12) Colonial— They moved this tournament to Charleston for first time this season, bad news for NC-Wilmington, which leads Charleston by game in league standings. Top seed won this tourney 10 of the last 14 years, including the last three years. Towson is #3 seed, but one of their best players was shot in the leg recently and is out for the year.

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a basketball Saturday……..

13) Kansas 67, Baylor 65— Jayhawks won their last four games by total of 10 points; three of those four games were on the road. Frank Mason is a great point guard for them.

12) Oregon 101, Colorado 73— If NCAA’s started right now, I’d pick the Ducks to win it all. Things change quickly with injuries and other happenings, but Oregon is really good.

11) West Virginia 83, Texas Tech 74 2OT— Wild week for the Mountaineers; they lost in OT at Kansas on Monday, then survived here, despite a 10:51 field goal drought that included the whole first overtime. The Big X is really a great league, with zero stiff teams.

10) Duke 99, Wake Forest 94— Blue Devils swept Wake this year, but wins were by combined total of seven points. Giving up 94 is a red flag for Duke; Danny Manning’s team is close to climbing into the top echelon of ACC teams.

9) Army 71, Navy 68— Cadets were down 25 points in this rivalry game.

8) Tex-Arlington 68, Georgia State 67— Big road win for the Mavericks, who stay in first place in the Sun Belt— they play (tied for) second-place Georgia Southern next.

Arlington had ball for last shot, down 67-65; they ran no play at all, the guard just dribbles all the time off the clock, cannot penetrate, is doubled and has to jack an awful 30-footer, which he swished.

7) There were several injuries to key players Saturday; not sure of the severity of them:
— Baylor: PG Manu Lecomte turned his ankle, finished the game, but he was hobbled.
— Michigan State: Elon Harris hurt his knee, left on a stretcher. It didn’t look good.
— Florida: Sixth man Canyon Barry twisted his ankle, played only 22:00. Looked like he could’ve played at the end of the game if he was needed.
— Georgia: Best player Yante Maten left very early with a leg injury; he came back and sat on the bench with a bag of ice.

6) UL-Lafayette 85, UL-Monroe 84— Game was 32-25 ULM at the half. Total was 145.5. Ragin’ Cajuns outscored ULM 60-52 in the second half, without lot of 3’s being made and I guess with almost no defense being played.

5) Ball State 109, Central Michigan 100 OT— Cardinals put seven players in double figures. Marcus Keene scored 40 points for the Chippewas.

4) Northwestern 69, Rutgers 65— Wildcats were down 4 in last 3:00 of this game, but they rallied in last few minutes and pulled a game out that would’ve been a disaster had they lost. Wildcats are now 20-7, still have some work to do to make the NCAA’s for the first time.

Doug Collins looked like he was going to have a heart attack in the stands, watching his son’s team play. Very intense.

ESPNU showed Doug Collins, Northwestern alum Mike Greenberg on camera during the game more than they showed Chris Collins. Can understand the elder Collins, but Greenberg?

3) Kentucky 82, Georgia 77— Dawgs’ best player got hurt in first 2:00, never returned, but the Georgia kids fought their hearts out for 40:00, fell just short. Kentucky made their foul shots in last minute to put this game away.

John Calipari went on a post-game rant in his press conference about coaches getting fired during a season. Good to hear a guy with leverage defend his colleagues.

2) UCLA 102, USC 70— Bruins avenge their earlier loss to the Trojans in Galen Center.

1— South Dakota State 97, Fort Wayne 89— 6-9 soph named Mike Daum scored 51 points and grabbed 15 rebounds; he was 7-18 behind the arc. He has taken 54 foul shots in his last four games, scored 34.2 pts/game in his last five. Don’t forget, Fort Wayne beat Indiana this season, so they’re not some stiff team, and the game was in Fort Wayne.

Saturday’s List of 13: Random stuff on a winter day…….

13) Tom House was in the major leagues for 8 years, with the Braves, Red Sox, Mariners; he was 29-23, 3.79 in 289 games (21 starts, 33 saves). He was best known for catching Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in the Atlanta bullpen in 1974. Now he is best known for something else.

House is a throwing guru, as in, the mechanics of throwing a ball, whether it be a baseball or a football. He was the Rangers’ pitching coach in Texas in the 1980’s; Nolan Ryan mentioned him in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. Nowadays, House does work with some NFL QB’s.

Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady have all worked with House; now Jared Goff is working with him too, on ways to strengthen the shoulder and improve throwing mechanics. He’s had an interesting career; he was also USC’s pithing coach for a few years and is a PhD. Smart guy.

12) Turns out Mark Gottfried gets $2.28M to leave NC State with four years left on his contract, so while I think he got a raw deal, he’ll be back on TV next year with a healthy bank account, so good for him. Gottfried was very good on TV before he got the Wolfpack job.

11) Michigan coach John Beilein is the only one of 351 Division I basketball coaches who has never been an assistant coach, at any level.

Beilien’s son Patrick is following the same path; he is the coach at D-II LeMoyne in Syracuse at age 33, where his father was once the coach, from 1983-1992.

10) Went to an America East game the other night; Md-Baltimore County at Albany. Coach of UMBC is Ryan Odom, son of former Wake Forest/South Carolina coach Dave Odom.

Ryan Odom has the Retrievers at 16-11, after they were 7-25 LY. He coached at Lenior-Rhyne (D-II) last year, improving them from eight wins to 20+, so he is on a fast track to a bigger league fairly soon. Two years ago, Odom was the interim coach of Charlotte in C-USA after the head coach there became ill.

9) It was 66 in Chicago Friday, the 4th-warmest Jan-Feb Chicago day in recorded history. Out in Los Angeles, they were getting 3-4 inches of rain. Odd weather. As long as i don’t have to brush snow off my satellite dish again this winter, I’ll be happy.

8) This is the last year of Joe Girardi’s career as manager in the Bronx. If you root for that team, aren’t you concerned? Girardi seems like a good manager; most of the problems they’ve had the last few years seem to be front office’s problems, as in, the roster got real old.

Fact is, they’ve won only one world title since 2000 and spent a freakin’ fortune.

7) Jerry DiPoto became the Mariners’ GM in September, 2015; only 8 of the players who were on the 40-man roster then are still there.

6) Former NBA star Cedric Ceballos now does some Mountain West games on CBS Sports Network; he isn’t bad and has a tremendous, deep voice.

5) 34-year old Vince Young may be aiming for a football comeback; rumors have him headed to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL. Young last played for the Eagles, in 2011.

4) Friday was Michael Jordan’s 54th birthday, Jim Brown’s 81st. Pretty strong day to have a birthday.

3) Portland State is 12-12 this season, 5-8 in big Sky games, 1-6 in their last seven. A closer look shows that four of their last five losses came in OT, including a triple OT loss at Eastern Washington. Vikings have an experienced team, so you’d think they’d win some of those close games.

Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Montana State is 6-2 in its last eight games- they’ve won their last four home games- their last three home wins have all come in overtime.

2) Quote of the Day, part 2: “This is not even a conspiracy theory. The Earth is flat.” Kyrie Irving of the Cavaliers— maybe he learned that in his six months at Duke. Seriously, Irving thinks the world is flat.

1— RIP William James Myers, 79, better known as George the Animal Steele, a pro wrestler who entertained fans by eating the turnbuckle with his green tongue sticking out. Trust me on this, he was fun to watch, in a creepy kind of way. RIP, sir.

Friday’s List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here…….

13) NC State fired basketball coach Matt Gottfried Thursday; he is 122-82 in Raleigh, 47-55 in ACC games (only 8-24 the last two years). State made the NCAA’s in Gottfried’s first four seasons in Raleigh, but will miss this year for second year in a row, so decision-makers pulled the plug.

This is the same school that shoved Herb Sendek out the door in 2006 after he made the NCAA’s five years in a row, going 46-34 in ACC games. They’re bleeping clueless. NC State ain’t Duke or UCLA.

Until Mike Krzyzewski retires, NC State is a bad job, third-fiddle at best on Tobacco Road. Now Wake Forest has passed the Wolfpack. I will be curious to see who they hire.

12) Vinny Del Negro? They went the alumni/NBA route with Sidney Lowe and that was very bad (25-55 in ACC games, no NCAA’s in five years). Does that hurts Vinny here?

My guess is they go hard after Dayton’s Archie Miller; I’m not sure being a smaller fish in a very big pond is better than being a big fish in a smaller (A-14) pond.

11) Quote of the Day, #2, from an unnamed college basketball coach on the NC State job, from Gary Parrish’s article on

“I wouldn’t touch that job. If making four NCAA Tournaments [in six years] gets you fired midseason [in your sixth year], it’s not a good job to take if you already have a good job.”

Archie Miller already has a good job, maybe a very good one.

10) NC-Wilmington 66, Northeastern 65- Seahawks led by 20 at the half, hung on for the win; they do not have the same quality depth they had last year. This was a brickfest; teams made a combined 9-42 on the arc. Huskies won a game Saturday when they were down 16 at the half, almost did it again here.

9) Delaware 68, Drexel 67— Two weeks ago, Blue Hens were 2-10 in the CAA; since then, they won three games in a row by a total of four points. Delaware was +11 (20-9) in turnovers in this game and won by only one. Drexel was 11-24 on arc, Blue Hens were 8-16 on foul line.

8) Michigan 64, Wisconsin 58— Badgers drop into a 3-way tie for first in the Big 14. Michigan has now won three games in a row, as they try and get off the bubble.

7) Miami Dolphins cut four players Thursday, knocking $20,165,000 off their ’17 cap number. OT Branden Albert is going to get gobbled up by some blocking-hungry team.

6) Bulls 104, Celtics 103— Jimmy Butler made two foul shots with 0:00.9 left on a (really) dicey foul call on a jump shot.

5) Bad Beats of the Night: Omaha 83, Oral Roberts (+6) 76 OT— You get six points and you’re in OT, you expect to cover.

Charleston 76, Hofstra (+2) 72– Not sure exactly what happened, but Hofstra’s coach got a technical foul with 0:01 left when game was 74-72 and was going to be a push. From play/play sheet, looks like Charleston blocked a 3-pointer and Hofstra wanted a foul called.

4) Santa Clara 106, Pepperdine 55- Broncos are only 15-13, but led 54-19 at the half. Losses like this get coaches fired.

Ironic that on the day Gottfried got fired, Sendek’s newest team won by 51.

3) Colorado 60, Oregon State 52— Buffaloes won six of last seven games after starting out 0-7 in the Pac-12. Been a rough year for the injury-plagued Beavers.

2) UConn 63, Memphis 62— Breakaway dunk at buzzer by UConn was waved off, so Memphis loses/covers in a game they led by 14 at the half.

1— Sacramento State 67, Montana 65— 10-14 Hornets sweep Montana; Sac State has covered nine of its last 11 games.

Thursday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud……..

13) Minnesota 75, Indiana 74— If Hoosiers miss NCAA’s, will Tom Crean get the boot and if he does, will Indiana go after native son Steve Alford?

12) Seton Hall 87, Creighton 81— Bluejays are 3-4 in their last seven games; Villanova now has a 3-game lead in the Big East.

11) SMU 80, Tulane 75— 24-point underdog Green Wave were up 15 at the half.

10) Duke 65, Virginia 55— Cavaliers shot 5-20 on arc, have now lost four of their last six games.

9) Arkansas 83, South Carolina 76— Erratic Razorbacks were a 9.5-point underdog.

8) Iowa State 87, Kansas State 79— Cyclones never trailed in impressive road win.

7) Northern Iowa 64, Bradley 61— Surging Panthers won nine of last 10 games which followed a 7-game losing streak.

6) Oklahoma State 71, TCU 68— Cowboys won seven of their last eight games after starting Big X play 0-6.

5) North Carolina 97, NC State 73— Wolfpack Nation, never a patient lot, is getting a lot more restless. State lost to UNC twice this season, by total of 75 points.

4) Fordham 53, Rhode Island 43— Ugly loss for the home side; URI is headed to the NIT. They were supposed to make the NCAA’s.

3) San Diego State 66, Utah State 62— Aztecs are grinding out wins without much offense; they are back over .500 (7-6) in the Mountain West.

2) Butler 110, St John’s 86— Bulldogs were 13-26 on arc, 29-40 on the foul line. Not too often a college team scores 110 points in 40:00, especially in a conference game.

1— Non-basketball item; Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria is being considered as the United States’ ambassador to France. Good God, the French hate us enough already!!!!

Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings……..

13) Recruiting services that get quoted like they’re the gospel aren’t quite what they appear. Bob Huggins is in his 10th year as the coach at West Virginia, won a ton of games; he has never had one McDonald’s All-American with the Mountaineers. None.

Huggins finds great athletes who work their butts off to improve and don’t mind being coached hard. Lot of McDonald’s All-Americans think they’re bigger than life and have big egos, with one foot already in the NBA.

12) San Diego State is just 6-6 in the Mountain West, a bad year for them, but they’ve led by 7+ points in all six losses. Aztecs have had too many scoring droughts when they’ve had the lead.

11) Political commentator John Heileman (MSNBC/Bloomberg) was once a good high school pitcher in the LA area. He played Little League ball against Bret Saberhagen, and before blowing his arm out, gave up a 430-foot homer to Darryl Strawberry in high school.

10) Favorites are 13-0 vs spread in Texas Longhorns’ last 13 conference tourney games.

9) Reader Mike e-mailed with news the Chick-fil-A may be headed into our area here, 10 miles north in Clifton Park. This would be outstanding news. Chick-fil-A is good stuff.

8) Michigan State’s AD is the head of the college basketball selection committee, but he had to cancel a 2-week trip to evaluate teams in person. His plate at Michigan State is pretty full:

— The MSU gymnastics coach was suspended, supposedly in connection with an investigation into whether a longtime MSU doctor molested gymnasts.
— Nick Vista, Michigan State’s former longtime SID, passed away over the weekend at age 90.
— Three football players have been suspended with regards to a criminal investigation that is still ongoing. A football staffer was also suspended (with pay).

Too much chaos in East Lansing for the AD to be traveling, watching basketball games.

7) Rutgers switched its shoe/apparel contract from Nike to adidas. Somehow I don’t think Phil Knight is staying awake nights worrying about this development.

6) Oklahoma lost G Jordan Woodard for the year with a knee injury; St Joe’s lost Lamarr Kimble with a broken foot. Towson State’s John Davis was shot in the leg in a drive-by shooting Saturday night; it is unclear whether he will play again this season.

5) What is the over/under on how much Latrell Sprewell was paid to sit next to James Dolan at the Knicks’ game Sunday? I’m guessing $5,000, but who knows?

One of the cable channels showed a clip of Sprewell playing for Minnesota 13 years ago, last time he was in the Garden. He makes a hoop, the Knicks call time-out and one of the Wolves’ subs comes off the bench to chest-bump Sprewell. The sub was Fred Hoiberg, now the Bulls’ coach.

4) Talk show host Carson Daly got a partial golf scholarship when he went to college at Loyola Marymount. He dropped out of LMU to try and become a pro golfer, which didn’t turn out too well but his show business career has gone great.

3) Gonzaga struggled a little bit last year when they had three big-time transfers sitting out the season but practicing with the team. Same thing is happening now at Nevada, which has four transfers sitting out this season, reducing their available scholarship players to nine.

When the current players are playing against better players in practice, it hurts this year’s team.

2) Montreal Canadiens are in first place, but they fired their coach Michel Therrien Tuesday and hired former Bruins coach Claude Julien, who won the Stanley Cup in Boston six years ago. It is the second time (2002-03) the Canadiens replaced Therrien as its coach with Julien.

1— Get well soon to Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder and Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire, both of whom were recently diagnosed with treatable forms of cancer.

Looking at top 13 conferences in college basketball……..

13) Southern Conference— Fastest rising league in country; three years ago, they were #30, two years ago #25, LY #19, now they’re 13.

Furman (11-2) leads East Tennessee State by a game right now, but Chattanooga, NC-Greensboro and Wofford could all win conference tourney too. Their games are well worth watching on

12) Colonial— NC-Wilmington and Charleston are on top of league, but have both struggled the last few games. Towson State has been surging but one of their better players was shot in the leg in a drive-by shooting in Philly Saturday night. Not sure when he will play again.

11) West Coast— Gonzaga and St Mary’s and……no one else. BYU is very young this year, so they have taken a step back. Four first-year coaches in this league but the WCC is a lot like the Big West when UNLV ruled it during Jerry Tarkanian’s heyday.

10) Missouri Valley— Wichita State is tied with Illinois State for first place, despite losing Baker and Van Vleet from LY’s team; Redbirds lost star F McIntosh, a big loss for a team that is 21-5 and was headed for a showdown with the Shockers in Arch Madness. Northern Iowa has won eight of last nine games, after a 5-11 start.

9) Mountain West— Totally wide open this year, with San Diego State having a down year. Colorado State/Nevada are two of best teams, but both have zero depth, so winning three days in a row in conference tourney will be dicey. Does that open the door for Boise State?

8) Atlantic 14— League that should get more games on TV. VCU, Dayton, Richmond are all very good; Rhode Island always seems to be a half-step behind the top teams. Davidson is having a disappointing season. St Bonaventure is tough place to play, unless the students storm the court before the game is over.

7) American— SMU-Cincinnati will get in NCAA’s. Bearcats shoot it better than they usually do, could be sleeper in March. Houston/Memphis will try to steal a bid at the conference tourney. UConn has been racked by injury this season.

6) Pac-12— Conference of Champions has Arizona-Oregon-UCLA, fun teams to watch. Knocking on NCAA’s door are USC, Cal and Utah. Trojans’ non-conference schedule was #263, which could haunt them on Selection Sunday.

5) SEC— Kentucky rules this league, obviously, but I like Florida as a sleeper in March; South Carolina will get in tourney this year, but after that, NIT it is. Florida’s Canyon Barry, Rick’s son, has now made 39 foul shots in a row— he shoots underhanded like his dad.

4) Big 14— Committee didn’t have any of these teams in top 16 seeds for NCAA’s, then Wisconsin lost at home to Northwestern, which drops them more. Purdue is probably the best team in league, Maryland is strong but VERY young. Rest of the league is mediocre, but Izzo’s Spartans can’t be ignored, because Izzo is a Hall of Famer. Northwestern is going to make the tournament for the first time ever- -good for them.

3) Big East— Villanova is defending national champ, but Xavier/Creighton both lost their PG for the season with injuries, so they’ll be wounded targets in March. Butler looks like a tourney team, but they’ve lost three of last four games.

2) ACC— TV types keep saying they’re getting ten teams in tournament; I’m not seeing it. Think nine is most they’ll get. Fifteen teams is too many for a league, but they care more about football so they let Notre Dame play basketball here. Irish have been in Elite 8 the last two years; not this season. As I type this, Louisville is in a tie game in last minute at Syracuse and they have a walk-on playing. Did every ESPN play-by-play guy go to Syracuse?

Louisville’s walk-on, by the way, is from Sarasota, FL– Dick Vitale recommended him to Rick Pitino.

1— Big X— No easy outs here, now that TCU has become a good team; Texas/Oklahoma are two worst teams in league this year. Kansas has off-court issues; they’ve looked shaky of late. Baylor looks very strong, but they lost in first round the last two years, as a 5-seed and a 3-seed. Oy.

Monday’s List of 13: Random thoughts on a snowy night

13) Joel Embiid hasn’t played for the 76ers since January 27; they’re 13-18 when he plays, 7-16 when he doesn’t. Apparently Embiid has a slight meniscus tear in his knee, which is why he hasn’t been playing, but then video of him dancing on the stage of a Meek Mill concert in Philly the other night showed up and people in Philly are, uh…….not real happy.

Coach Brett Brown: ”The conversations I had with Joel after I saw the video included a lot, some of which you mentioned. By and large, I’d probably prefer it was a private conversation.’’

I’m guessing the player was introduced to the word “perception” as in, ‘When you’re getting paid millions and you can’t play because your knee hurts, then don’t show up on stage at a concert dancing. People might perceive that you’re not taking your knee rehab seriously.’

12) San Diego State 70, Nevada 56— Aztecs are 6-6 in the Mountain West this season, as their lack of shooting has caused the program to take a dip— last time the Aztecs finished under .500 in conference play was 2005.

In his last two road games, Nevada’s leading scorer Marcus Marshall is 2-22 from the floor.

11) Grant Napear is the Kings’ TV announcer; Friday night, Sacramento is playing terribly against the Hawks,  just getting killed. Kings fans are chanting “Ref u suck!!!” when they don’t get calls and Mr Napear says, “The way they’re playing, the fans should be chanting that to the Kings.”

Wow. You don’t get that kind of honesty very often on local broadcasts. Sacramento rallied to win the game, by the way.

10) This info is from Sports Insights: So far this season, 84.5% of NBA games closed with a total of 200+ points. just two years ago, that figure was only 49.6%.

9) Northwestern 66, Wisconsin 59— The long drought is over; if they get Lindsey back soon, they will be in the NCAA’s. Credit to Chris Collins, tough to turn a losing program around.

8) The following passage is from writer Jeff Passan: he is talking about Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who hopefully is selling the ballclub soon:

“Over the last 18 years, as Jeffrey Loria sprayed the stench of his naked greed across baseball like the skunk he is, as he destroyed the sport in one city and bilked another out of billions of dollars, as he tore asunder a championship team and micromanaged countless others and behaved like the lamest sort of wannabe George Steinbrenner possible, all blowhard, zero substance, the aggrieved could take solace in one thing and one alone: some day, the game would rid itself of him.”

7) Golf is really hard; on the European Tour this week, guy named Bernd Weisberger had nine straight birdies in his round on Friday. Doesn’t happen much. On the same nine holes the next day, he was +2 and drifted out of contention.

6) If Indiana misses the NCAA tournament, would the school reach out to Steve Alford to see if he would come home to be its coach? Alford coaching UCLA just seems weird; Alford coaching Indiana seems like it should happen.

I’m thinking that UCLA is/was/always will be a really hard job; the shadow of John Wooden, even 40 years later, is tough to coach under. Ben Howland went to three Final Fours and they couldn’t wait to get rid of him.

5) Raiders gave coach Jack Del Rio a 4-year contract extension. You wonder where he’ll be working four years from now; Las Vegas, San Diego, Oakland?

4) If Kevin Durant thinks it is necessary to hire ARMED security for his mother at a game, why would she even bother going to the game? She was surprised that people are steamed at her son bolting to Golden State? That should not be surprising; unfortunate maybe, but not surprising.

3) Tampa Bay Rays signed P Nathan Eovaldi to a $2M deal for 2107, with a club option for ’18; what makes this odd is that Eovaldi had Tommy John surgery and won’t pitch this season, so it is really a future contract for 2018.

2) Reds traded Brandon Phillips to the Braves; LY, he turned down a trade to the Nationals, a contending team. Now he approves a trade to the rebuilding Braves? Unusual.

Braves may have made the trade because Sean Rodriguez needs shoulder surgery after he was injured in a car accident. Initial reports said he was uninjured in the accident.

1) So I’m (trying to) sleep Saturday morning, my doorbell rings, then there is a knock on the door, so I think it might be important- it wasn’t.

Some guy wants to know if I’d like him to shovel the inch or two of snow that fell late Friday night off my sidewalk. I’m not a morning person, but I managed to decline politely and go back to sleep. Don’t be knocking on people’s doors on a Saturday morning.

Sunday, we got a foot of snow; think the guy will show up and want to clear off my sidewalk today? Nah, me either.

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a basketball Saturday……

13) There were three 4-OT games during the week: here is how those six teams bounced back from those long games:
— Alabama (+7.5) lost 67-58 to Kentucky
— South Carolina (-5.5) won 77-73 at Mississippi State but didn’t cover.
— Samford (+6.5) lost 90-73 at Furman
— Wofford (+1.5) lost 73-65 to Chattanooga
— Wyoming (+3) lost 81-74 at Utah State
— Fresno State (+3) lost 78-62 at Colorado State

Summing up, those six teams combined to go 0-6 vs spread today; only South Carolina won.

12) Duke 64, Clemson 62— Mike Krzyzewski turns 70 on Monday; how long is he going to keep coaching? Clemson led this game with by a point with 10:10 left, but Duke made 11-26 on the arc and Tigers were only 2-9. Tough to overcome that.

Luke Kennard was only Blue Devil to score in double figures in this game; a small red flag.

11) Coming into today, Big X home favorites of 8+ points were 1-15-1 vs the spread this season. but all four of the league’s home favorites covered Saturday, so that stat is now 5-15-1.

10) St John’s 78, Seton Hall 70— CBS announcers said on air that part of why Chris Mullin is recruiting more international players is that they tend to be more team-oriented and are often better fundamentally. I don’t disagree but it is disappointing to hear, isn’t it?

9) Wm & Mary 89, Charleston 79
Elon 77, NC-Wilmington 76— Both frontrunners in the CAA go on the road and lose.

8) Rider 112, Quinnipiac 107— Broncs were 13-19 on arc, 31-36 on foul line; Rider really played  only seven guys (an 8th guy played 3:00) in an 89-possession game- they must be tired.

7) Michigan State 77, Iowa 66— Not one Big 14 team was a top 4 seed in the initial NCAA bracket that was released Saturday, a very interesting development. Wisconsin fans have to be a little upset by that- they’re 21-3, but not considered a top 4 seed.

6) Georgia 76, Tennessee 75— Dawgs lost five of last seven games, but they’re 7-0 as an SEC road underdog- their last five road games were all decided by 4 or less points or in OT.

5) Appalachian State 77, Georgia State 72— Panthers fall out of a tie for first in Sun Belt. App State crawls out of a tie for last place.

4) Villanova 73, Xavier 57— Xavier has major injury issues, but congrats to Jay Wright on his 500th career coaching win.

3) Tennessee Tech 83, Belmont 70— First OVC loss of the season for the Bruins, who are 6-2 vs spread in OVC road games.

2) Gonzaga 74, St Mary’s 64— Next difficult game for Gonzaga should be when BYU visits Spokane; surprisingly, Cougars won two of last three visits to Spokane.

1— Ole Miss 90, Auburn 84— Rebels were down 20 at the half, 47-27, so if you took Auburn +4, you can stop reading this now. Terence Davis scored 26 points in this game, he had zero points at halftime. Ole Miss scored 27 points in first half, 63 in second half.

Saturday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but……

13) Baseball is going to experiment with a rule in the low minor leagues where teams start extra innings with a runner on second base; this is when you know idiots are taking over at the top of the sport.

If you really need to shorten/quicken baseball games, here are some ideas that would work, without making the major leagues look like girls’ softball:

— Make a pitcher have to face at least two batters in every appearance; would result in way fewer pitching changes, each of which is 5-6 minutes in length.
— Pitching changes are subbed in, just like basketball. You call time, the guy jogs in from the bullpen and the game resumes. No conferences on the mound, which leads us to……
— No visits to the mound by any coach/manager. Ever. If a coach comes to the mound because of an injury to the pitcher, the pitcher has to leave the game.
— Get rid of the DH; then, more pitching changes would happen via pinch-hitting and you’d have less pitching changes within the half-inning.
— If you hate extra inning games so much (I love them myself), then instead of cheapening the game by having runners start the inning on base, just have tie games, like they do in Japan. If the game is tied after 10 or 11 innings, it ends.

I’m not in favor of this; extra inning games create some unique happenings that make the game great fun but better tie games than starting an inning with men on base.

— Eliminating replay reviews would be useless, because managers’ arguments with umpires took up just as much time as replay reviews and with far fewer benefits.

The thing is, MLB is harping on this issue because games are 8-10 minutes longer than they used to be; 8-10 minutes!!!! Who cares? The game is fine the way it is; people who don’t like baseball have way too much influence over the game’s decision makers.

12) Jeffrey Loria supposedly has reached an agreement to sell the Miami Marlins for $1.6B to a guy in NYC, but the guy (a real estate magnate) doesn’t have enough cash on hand- his wealth is tied up in real estate, so it is unclear if MLB would approve the sale. Baseball would be better off to get rid of Loria, though.

Kicker is, the real estate guy who wants to buy the Marlins is Ivanka Trump’s brother-in-law; how much money do these people have?

11) Tough break for the Milwaukee Bucks; Jabari Parker tore an ACL, is done for the season. Portland loses Evan Turner for 5-6 weeks with a broken hand.

10) Jordan Spieth got into a verbal spat with professional autograph collectors/sellers this week, saying that “….they should get a job” instead of selling his signature on the Interweb. Actually, selling autographs, memorabilia is a job.

I’ve seen NFL players bark at collectors too; Torry Holt for one, at the Football Hall of Fame in 2001 when I was watching the Rams practice before the Hall of Fame Game. Guys with thick binders filled with pictures are guys who collect signed stuff and sell them. Players are very cool with kids; they sign a lot and willingly. With collectors, they have way less patience.

It is the American way, I guess; make money any legal way you can.

9) Houston Astros players lost only 413 days to the disabled list last year, least in the major leagues; Oakland A’s lost the most, with 1,966 player days on the DL.

8) Just when Northwestern looked headed to their first NCAA tourney, their best player gets mono and the Wildcats lose their next two games. Their non-conference schedule was so weak, their margin for error is less than most teams.

7) Central Michigan beat Ohio U 97-87 Tuesday night; the two teams combined to take 72 3’s, 60 2-point shots and only 43 foul shots. Basketball is trending that way, for better or worse.

6) Apparently, Michael Buffer got paid $10,000 to do his shtick introducing the starting lineups at the UNLV-Nevada game in Reno Wednesday night. He did the same thing at a Kentucky game couple of weeks ago. Now thats a good gig.

5) Saint Louis Billikens lost at St Bonaventure Wednesday night; afterwards, they couldn’t find the team bus. Turns out the bus driver was drunk and she took off without any passengers- she and the bus were found 40 miles away, because coach Travis Ford’s I-Pad was on the bus and he could locate it with his IPhone. Oy.

its been a bad season for the Billikens but at least that provided some comic relief, once they got on the chartered plane back home.

4) RIP Mr Mike Ilitch, 87, who owned the Little Ceasar’s pizza chain, as well as the Red Wings and the Tigers. He won four Stanley Cups as owner of the Red Wings, who had a farm club in Glens Falls for many years

3) Louisville will be back at full strength for Saturday’s game with Miami; PG Snider is healthy again and the two late-night partiers are back in good graces after being suspended for the game at Virginia, after they missed curfews (supposedly by four hours).

2) Atlanta Falcons had a great season, right? Well, they fired their defensive coordinator and their defensive line coach, so they’ll have two new coordinators next season. Unusual to fire assistant coaches after you came so close to winning a championship.

1— It hadn’t dawned on me until I just heard it on TV: the 49ers will have their 4th different head coach in four years next season, and that doesn’t include interim coaches. That would indicate the problem may be the owner, since he is the only decision maker who has been there the whole time.

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a Thursday night of hoops

13) Before I start in on Thursday’s college games, there was a high school game this week in California that ended 146-123. A 32:00 high school game ended 146-123. No bueno.

Lonzo Ball’s (PG at UCLA) brother is in 10th grade; he scored 92 points in this game for the winning team, 41 in the 4th quarter, but he rarely crossed half court to defend in the second half. All of this raises numerous questions.

— What coach allows their players not to play defense, just so he can show off?
— What parent is OK with their son and his team embarrassing an opponent? The winning team was fouling on purpose, just to get the ball back— this is OK?
— Who coaches the other team? You have to double or triple-team the kid, just so he can’t make fools out of your players. Thats the least you need to do.
— Refs are probably relieved that no one on the losing team tried to put the kid into a wall for being a self-absorbed human being.
— The kid is an outstanding player, already committed to UCLA, and he is only in 10th grade, so this is likely to be repeated at times over the next two years.

12) Duke 86, North Carolina 78— Sorry to disagree with Duke alum Jay Bilas, but Auburn-Alabama football is a much bigger rivalry than this game; I mean, someone poisoned a tree over the Iron Bowl. I didn’t even know it was possible to poison a tree. Duke was 13-27 on the arc.

Weird fact; these teams have met only once in last 12 ACC tournaments. Surprising.

If I’m running ESPN, I bring in UNC alum Brad Daugherty for a 3-man booth for these rivalry games, with Dan Shulman and Bilas. Too may Dukies on network TV.

11) Wofford 131, Samford 127, 4OT— This is the third night in a row a game went four OT’s. Samford led by 6 at the half, made 14-27 on the arc but lost.

10) Purdue 69, Indiana 64— Swanigan had 16 points, 14 boards and I thought he got by far the worst of the officiating- couple fouls against him were total home court calls. . Swanigan has improved his draft stock by staying in college this year. Indiana is 15-10, 5-7 in the Big 14; they need to start winning some games, so Selection Sunday isn’t a very long day.

9) Northeastern 73, Charleston 72— Kid on Northeastern grabbed an airball, tossed up an underhanded flip at the buzzer and it went in, giving Huskies an unlikely win in a game they trailed by 16 at the half. Cougars fall out of a tie for first place in the CAA.

8) Furman 60, Chattanooga 56— Paladins are in first place in an improved Southern Conference; well-balanced Paladins start three juniors and a senior- no one on Furman scored more than 13 points in this game. Chattanooga is 2-3 in its last five games.

7) Rice 89, FIU 78— 16-8 Owls are headed for only their second winning season since 2005; they’re 7-5 in Conference USA.

6) Colorado 81, Washington 66— Huskies’ star freshman Markelle Futlz didn’t play because of a sore knee, which should raise red flags in front offices all over the bottom half of the NBA. Buffs are now 4-8 in Pac-12, after starting out 0-7 in conference games.

5) Wisconsin 70, Nebraska 69 OT— Nigel Hayes tore the Cornhuskers’ hearts out with a 3-pointer with 0:18.4 left in OT, after Nebraska had tied the game with a 3-ball at buzzer of regulation. Nebraska has now lost eight of its last nine games.

4) Cal State-Bakersfield 72, New Mexico State 53— Roadrunners hand NM State their first loss in WAC, are now tied with Aggies in loss column for first place.

3) Liberty 92, Gardner-Webb 87, 2OT
NC-Asheville 104, Winthrop 101, 2OT— Both winners are 11-2 and tied for first place in the Big South, but they both were fully extended here.

2) UCLA 82, Oregon 79— Highly entertaining two hours; Ducks controlled the game early, led by 9 at the half, by 13 with 12:00 left, but then UCLA got momentum in the second half and surged to a win that avenged their 89-87 loss in Eugene back in December.

1— St Mary’s and Gonzaga both won their games vs inferior opponents last night, setting up Saturday’s showdown in Moraga. Gonzaga won first meeting with St Mary’s 79-56 at home Jan 14.

Thursday’s List of 13: Wrapping up an evening of basketball

13) VCU 54, George Washington 53— VCU pulled a successful scam; down a point with 0:00.4 left, the inbounder runs the baseline, the GW guy ran with him on the baseline and another VCU guy comes up and sets a screen, gets run over by the GW guy and the ref calls a foul!!!!

VCU hits the foul shots and wins by a point, second time in five days they won a road game they were trailing in with less than a second to play. That doesn’t happen a lot.

12) Minnesota 101, Iowa 89 2OT— Gophers led this game 40-29 at the half; they really needed this win, just their second in their last seven games. Mason had 25 points with only one turnover for Minnesota in a hectic game.

If you laid seven points with the Gophers, someone was smiling down on you.

12a) Wyoming 102, Fresno State 100, 4OT— Not sure why Wyoming brings two of its better players off the bench, but they do. Cowboys’ McManamen hit his first seven 3’s in this game, then missed his last six. Dalton had 21 points, 20 boards off the bench for Wyoming.

They had 11,841 fans at the UNLV-Nevada game, biggest crowd in Reno history.

11) Wizards 114, Nets 110 OT— Brooklyn has lost 11 in a row overall, 13 in a row at home, and they want to kick the Islanders out of the Barclays Center? Oy.

10) Seton Hall 72, Providence 70 OT— Game was 41-36 at the half; for people who played the over (135.5), second half of this game was nauseating. The overtime was more uplifting.

Both of these teams are on NCAA bubble or just off it; this really did have feel of a tournament game, albeit a bad tournament game. Providence led by 15 in the first half.

9) Tennessee 75, Ole Miss 66— Vols ended game on a 17-2 run; Rebels didn’t score a basket for last 3:55 of game; they led 64-58 when they scored with 3:56 left to play.

8) Baylor 72, Oklahoma State 69— Bears led this game 70-57 with 4:14 left, then didn’t score for next four minutes. The Big X is a brutal league; there are no bad teams. None.

Baylor did a great job in last 0:10 when OSU had the ball down 3- they defended the arc really well. They didn’t so such a great job in the 4:00 before that, as far as scoring points.

7) This game was Tuesday, but it was an exceptional game……..
Alabama 90, South Carolina 86 4OT’s— Gamecocks were 3-30 in the first half. 3 for 30!!!! They were +10 in turnovers, made 35-50 on the foul line but still lost. Alabama is quietly 7-4 in SEC with four road wins.

6) Morehead State 101, Murray State 100 OT— Belmont’s two main challengers in OVC played an extra 5:00 here. Morehead led by 12 at half, has now won six of its last seven games. Murray was 13-23 on the arc, was +5 in turnovers but still lost.

5) Pittsburgh 83, Boston College 72— Panthers break their 8-game losing streak; five of those eight losses were by 8 or less points. Wonder if Kevin Stallings wishes he was back in the SEC?

4) Spurs 111, 76ers 103— Philly is 13-18 when Joel Embiid plays, 5-16 when he does not.

3) UConn 97, South Florida 51— USF needs a coach for next year; two years ago, they wanted to hire Manhattan’s Steve Masiello but didn’t because of concerns about his resume. Those concerns have been dealt with, but Manhattan hasn’t won much since then. Still think he would be a good fit for the Bulls.

2) Heat 106, Bucks 88— Miami was 11-30 at the halfway point of the season; since then, they are 12-0, and are only a couple games out of a playoff berth. Erik Spoelstra can really coach.

1— Clippers 119, Knicks 115— Former NBA star Charles Oakley had an incident at this game and was escorted out by the police; hope it is nothing serious. About ten years ago, I was in Orlando watching AAU games in the summer, and Oakley was there with Michael Jordan watching Jordan’s sons play.

Charles Oakley is a HUGE man; he would be very high on the list of people I wouldn’t want to be mad at me. Ever.

According to the NYPD, Oakley was charged with three misdemeanor counts of assault for hitting security guards and criminal trespassing.