Tuesday’s 6-pack, Quote, Quiz of the Day

We have basketball info every day……..NFL stuff is posted on the NFL page……bowl write-ups are being posted gradually on college football page.

Tuesday’s 6-pack
Highest payrolls in the NBA:
6) Portland Trailblazers $131,747,436
5) Houston Rockets $134,843,975
4) Toronto Raptors $141,265,305
3) Golden State Warriors $145,699,527
2) Oklahoma City Thunder $146,463,850
1) Miami Heat $158,203,135

Quote of the Day
“I think your play is embarrassing, me subbing them is saving them, maybe. Maybe we saved them. The pro player thing, this is basketball; this is about honoring the game and doing the right things.

Embarrassment is not giving the effort in that Bulls uniform, so I put five guys in that I thought could put the effort in. They’re disappointed, they feel bad about it. We need some leadership to step up, we need some guys to take leadership roles on the team.”
Chicago Bulls’ coach Jim Boylen 

Tuesday’s quiz
Who was the Detroit Lions coach last time they won a playoff game?

Monday’s quiz
Matt Prater (then with the Broncos) holds the record for the longest FG in NFL history (64 yards); he kicked it against the Tennessee Titans. 

Sunday’s quiz
Dwyane Wade played his college basketball at Marquette. 

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

13) Saturday night the Chicago Bulls lost by 56 points to Boston- they lost at home, 133-76, which is obviously not good and it came a couple games after a coaching change. 

But this is worse; on Sunday, the Bulls refused to practice, because new coach Jim Boylen held a couple of two-hour practices earlier in the week. During the season with lot of games, NBA teams don’t have 2-hour practices very often. 

Chicago is 6-21, last in the Eastern Conference; their team payroll is $103,926,708, which is 2nd-lowest in the NBA. Their team sucks, but guys get mad when the coach shows them up by subbing out five guys at a time- they revolt at practicing. How do you get better? 

I’m getting old…..lol

12) Baseball’s winter meetings are this week in Las Vegas, good chance to think ahead to next spring and also to feel warmer. Thinking about baseball takes some of the chill out of the air.

11) ESPN’s Sunday night baseball games will move up an hour next year, starting at 7:00 instead of 8, which means there will be overlap with the 4:00 games on DirecTV, which is fine. 

10) Tampa Bay Rays went 44-34 LY when they used an “opener” to pitch the first inning of a game; they’ve said they will use that tactic again in 2019. 

9) Oakland Raiders fired GM Reggie McKenzie Monday; when you’re paying the coach $100M over ten years, you have to give him control of the franchise, so they told McKenzie to take a hike. Dallas/Chicago are two of the hottest teams in the NFL, thanks in large part to players they got from Oakland, which stockpiled draft picks as it prepares to move to Las Vegas in 2020. 

8) 32-year old backup QB Josh Johnson, on his sixth NFL team,  led two TD drives Sunday against the Giants; he said he used the Madden NFL video game in order to learn some of the names on the Redskins’ roster- he played Sunday despite only being on the team for five days.

Johnson was picked in the AAF draft last week; not sure now if he’ll play in the new spring league, if he finished the season with Redskins, which he figures to do. 

Mark Sanchez said last week that the first time he talked to LT Trent Williams was in the huddle on the field in the Redskins’ loss at Philadelphia LW. Hard to win that way. 

7) Tennessee 76, Gonzaga 73— Impressive win on a neutral floor for Rick Barnes’ Volunteers; they made 12-29 on the arc, with Schofield going 6-10. 

6) I wonder how Michael O’Keefe’s acting career would’ve turned out if he hadn’t played golf against Judge Smails in Caddyshack.

5) Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell agreed to a contract extension through 2024 and has gotten $1M in additional salary for his assistant coaches, good news for Cyclone fans. 

4) Kansas State is expected to hire North Dakota State’s Chris Kleiman its football coaching job; he is expected to accept the job but he is also expected to coach North Dakota State as far as they go in I-AA Playoffs. Kleiman is 67-6 at NDSU and has won three national titles.

3) Oakland A’s new AAA affiliate will be called the Las Vegas Aviators, a logo that I predict will take off in popularity. 

2) Harold Baines is in the Baseball Hall of Fame? I’m not buying that, but it guarantees that Edgar Martinez is getting in down the road, which is a good thing. 

1) I don’t get why the Heisman Trophy TV show is an hour long; a complete waste of 45 minutes. Introduce the four finalists and tell us who won; dragging it out to an hour must make money or they wouldn’t do it, but I never watch it- just let me know who won.

Best thing about the college football playoff is that it has taken a lot of the focus away from this individual award. I remember Joe Tessitore talking about the Heisman during a game on Labor Day weekend a few years ago, thats how ridiculous it had gotten.

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday…..

Chiefs 27, Ravens 24 OT— Chiefs converted a 4th-and-9 with 1:20 left that would’ve ended game, then they tied game with 0:53 left, and won it with a FG on first down of OT, followed by a defensive stop. This was a playoff-quality game. Lamar Jackson got hurt at the end of OT; not sure how severe the injury is, but Robert Griffin III played the last two plays of the game. 

Ravens ran ball for 198 yards, but were outgained 441-321. 

There are four teams at 7-6 in AFC, which is second Wild Card spot, so last three weeks are going to be fun. Denver’s (6-7) loss in San Francisco could be a crippler for them. 

Dolphins 34, Patriots 33— One of wildest endings ever; Miami had ball on its own 31-yard line with 0:02 left, down 33-28. They complete a pass over middle about 20 yards down field, toss two fairly short laterals, and they score the game-winning TD. New England’s defense doesn’t have lot of real fast guys. Really a shocking ending. 

Patriots have now lost five of their last six visits to Miami; home team won 11 of last 12 series games. New England is 3-4 on road this year; Miami is 6-1 at home. Dolphins are 8-3-1 vs spread in last dozen games as home underdogs. Dolphins’ playoff hopes are still alive. 

Miami had seven plays of 20+ yards; all seven came on first down plays, which is interesting. Does New England play an easier defense to attack on first down?

Saints 28, Buccaneers 14— Tampa Bay’s special teams totally screwed this game up; they missed two pretty easy FG’s (46, 40 yards) when they were ahead, had a punt blocked in 3rd quarter when they led 14-3 and New Orleans looked dead. 

Saints’ first six drives: 28 plays, 108 yards, 3 points
Saints’ last four drives (after blocked punt): 33 plays, 175 yards, 25 points

First time these teams played, when Bucs won 48-40 in Week 1, there were 15 plays of 20+ yards; there were only four such plays in this game.

Last five years, Saints are 15-8 vs spread coming off a loss; they’re 17-6 vs spread in last 23 road games, 6-1 this year.

Colts 24, Texans 21— Andrew Luck is Comeback Player of the Year; Indy won six of last seven games after a 1-5 start. Ravens’ loss, coupled with this result and Miami’s win, totally jumble race for second Wild Card in AFC. 

Houston could’ve claimed #2 spot in AFC with win here; their 9-game win streak ends. Texans ran for only 89 yards in this game. 

Browns 26, Panthers 20— Carolina was inside 10-yard line in last minute, but Newton threw two incomplete passes and Cleveland held on to improve to 5-7-1, while Panthers lost their 5th game in row- they’re 1-6 on road this season. 

Carolina had 12-yard edge in field position, was +1 in turnovers, but lost. Scoring 20 points (two TDs, two FGs) on five red zone drives isn’t good enough. Cleveland is 5-7-1; how do you not consider Gregg Williams for the permanent head coaching position? 

Packers 34, Falcons 20— Green Bay started this game by losing two replay challenges in first 1:23, which just never happens, but then they whacked Atlanta, scoring five of the first six times they had the ball, and also adding a defensive TD. 

Falcons lost their lost their last five games, scoring 17 ppg; they’re 0-7 this season scoring 20 or less points, 4-2 scoring more- they’re 1-5 on road. If you own the Falcons, do you stay the course with this coach and this QB? They’ve got injuries, but they also look like a team that has quit.

Jets 27, Bills 23— 49ers, Raiders both won; had the Jets lost this game, they would’ve had inside track to #1 pick in the draft.

With 1:22 left and Bills up 23-20, Jets had 4th-and goal inside 1-yard line; they went for it and ran ball in for a TD. TV guys had been babbling about how Jets HAD TO GO for it— why? Where does it say that you have to? 

Jets had a 20-yard edge in field position in this game; they were outgained 368-248, but snapped a 6-game losing streak. Allen was just 18-37 passing- he did run for 101 yards.  

If they re-did the 2018 draft today, Mayfield/Barkley would probably still be top two picks, but what about Darnold/Allen/Rosen? How do they stack up now? 

Giants 40, Redskins 16— Pet peeve of mine; NFL is a multi-billon dollar business, yet they cheap out when it comes to QB’s. Every NFL team should have three QB’s active every week, even if the #3 QB is a separate part of the roster. Why? So you don’t get situations like the Redskins have, with two QB’s on roster, neither of whom has been with the team for two weeks yet. It kills the quality of the product; you cannot compete without a QB who knows the plays. 

Giants’ rookie RB Barkley only ran ball 14 times, but for 170 yards; he is definitely on a pitch count- his backup ran ball 14 times, too. Giants won four of last five games, but three of the four wins were vs backup QB’s (4th win was vs Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is now a backup). This was a horrendous day for the Redskins. 

Which the score 40-16 and Washington driving with about 4:30 left, Redskins’ WR Doctson got a taunting penalty after he made a 20-yard catch; penalty took ball from 2-yard to the 17, then Washington threw an INT on next play. Grow the bleep up, shut up and play!!! Winning teams aren’t stupid. Losing teams do stuff like this all the time. 

49ers 20, Broncos 14— Kyle Shanahan beats the team his dad led to two Super Bowl titles. Loss drops Denver to 6-7, a game behind four teams for the 6-seed in the AFC. Game was 20-0 at the half. Broncos converted 2-15 on third down, averaged 3.9 yards per pass attempt.

49ers are 3-3 at home; last five Denver games, four of last six 49er games stayed under total.

Chargers 26, Bengals 21— Bolts won nine of their last ten games, head to Arrowhead this week with chance to tie for AFC West lead. Cincy lost five games in row, seven of last eight- they actually outgained LA 295-288.

Lions 17, Cardinals 3— Arizona’s offense was on the field for 65 plays in this game; they were outscored on those plays 7-3 by the Detroit defense. Total yardage in this slugfest was 279-218 Arizona and it was played in a dome; there was only one play in this game (out of 120) that gained more than 17 yards, by either team.

Cardinals stayed under their team total in six of their last seven games. Six of last seven Detroit games stayed under total; under is 5-2 in Arizona home games. This snaps the Lions’s 8-game losing streak in the desert; their last previous win here was in 1993.

Raiders 24, Steelers 21— Third loss in row for Pittsburgh,, which maintains a half-game lead over Baltimore in AFC East. Roethlisberger missed the first four drives of the second half with a rib injury, then returned to lead two drives, one which put Steelers ahead, other which ended with a missed FG at the gun. Under is 6-1 in Steeler road games this season.

Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 OT— Dallas traded a first-round pick for Amari Cooper; that investment paid off here, with Cooper catching 10 passes for 217 yards and three TD’s, including the GW score in OT, catching a deflected pass and running it in.

Dallas has now won/covered five games in a row; if you had Philly/under, the gambling gods owe you one (or two). Over is now 3-1 in Philly’s road games this season, 5-1 in last six Dallas home games.

There were nine one-score games Sunday, just a great day of football.

Bears 15, Rams 6
— Excellent defensive game for the Bears, who had four takeaways.
— Second week in row Rams gave up a TD pass to an offensive lineman, which is odd.
— New Orleans takes over the #1 seed in the NFC.
— Chicago won six of its last seven games; they’re 9-2-2 in last 13 games as a home dog.

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

13) I’m not sure this is a good idea; West Virginia QB Will Grier will sit out of the Mountaineers’ bowl game against Syracuse to prepare for April’s NFL Draft. 

The starting QB skipping a bowl game? If I’m an NFL team that is looking for a QB, I’m more skeptical of Grier now than I was yesterday.

Remember Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday, when he is taking to his QB Jamie Foxx? 

“You’re a goddamn quarterback! You know what that means? It’s the top spot, kid. It’s the guy who takes the fall. It’s the guy everybody’s looking at first – the leader of a team – who will support you when they understand you. Who will break their ribs and their noses and their necks for you, because they believe. ‘Cause you make them believe. That’s a quarterback.”

By the way, West Virginia opened at -7 in that bowl game; they’re now -1.5 or -2.

12) Kyler Murray wins the Heisman Trophy; Oklahoma has consecutive Heisman winners. Lincoln Riley’s agent is a very happy man tonight. 

11) Oregon freshman Lou King made his season debut for the Ducks Saturday; we’re trying to keep tabs on kids who are becoming eligible this month who will help their teams. King scored 11 points in 17:00 off the bench for Oregon Saturday. 

10) Nebraska 94, Creighton 75— Cornhuskers end 7-game losing streak to their in-state rivals. Nebraska is 8-2 with a couple games left before Big 14 play resumes. 

9) Upsets of the Day:
— Western Kentucky (+9.5) 78, Arkansas 77
— Eastern Illinois (+9.5) 74, Western Illinois 67
— Fordham (+7.5) 78, Rutgers 70
— Eastern Kentucky (+7) 76, Northern Kentucky 74
— Tulsa (+6.5) 47, Kansas State 46
— Seton Hall (+6) 84, Kentucky 83 OT

8) Seton Hall 84, Kentucky 83 OT— Kid on Kentucky hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to force OT; Seton Hall scored with 0:09 left in OT to win an exciting game in Madison Square Garden, where the Pirates play every March in the Big East tournament. 

Kentucky is 7-2, losing its first/last game and beating mostly stiffs in between, the exception being their win over NC-Greensboro, and maybe their win over Southern Illinois. 

7) UMass 78, Providence 77— This game was Friday night, and it was fun. Providence led 50-30 in first half, but the Minutemen came storming back and won it on a hoop with 0:10.7 left. 

This is a big win for UMass, a horrific loss for Providence. Great fun to watch; both teams played with tremendous energy. 

6) Cincinnati 62, Xavier 47— This is annually one of the hardest games to ref; very, very intense rivalry, where Cincinnati wears red and Xavier wears their blue uniforms every year, no matter where the game is played, kind of like USC-UCLA in football. 

Noticed that Creighton-Nebraska do the red/blue uniform thing now, too.

5) Northwestern 75, DePaul 68— Blue Demons led by 15, then Northwestern went on a 25-0 runs and seized control of the game. 

DePaul hasn’t had a winning season since 2007; its a Big East school located in Chicago- how are they always this bad? Seems like DePaul should be a good job. 

4) Syracuse 72, Georgetown 71— Hoyas led by 13 at half; these teams played the last four years, but series is scheduled to end now, which is too bad. ACC is going to a 20-game conference schedule, so they’ll regress to playing more cupcakes out of conference. Too bad. 

3) Some stats on bowl matchups:
— 7 of 10 Big X teams are in bowls; other three coaches got fired/“quit”
— Only one of the seven Big X teams is favored in their bowl.
— 10 ACC teams in bowls; seven are underdogs.
— Nine Big 14 teams in bowls; six are underdogs.
— 11 SEC teams in bowls; nine are favored. 

2) UCLA 65, Notre Dame 62— Kris Wilkes hit a 3-pointer with 0:00.9 left to give the Bruins a win in a sloppy game where they blew an 11-point halftime lead. 

1) Boston College-Texas A&M basketball game was cancelled because of mechanical issues with the Eagles’ charter plane, complicated by stormy weather in east Texas. The game was supposed to be the first of a home-and-home series.

A&M people didn’t sound too happy about BC not getting to College Station for the game; BC refused to travel and play on Saturday, the same day of the game.

Saturday’s List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

13) With former basketball standout Kevon Looney in town with the Warriors to play the Bucks in Milwaukee Friday night, Milwaukee Hamilton HS held a ceremony at the school Thursday afternoon to retire Looney’s #5 jersey.

A surprising thing happened; the whole Warriors’ team showed up- Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, even coach Steve Kerr……all of them showed up to honor their teammate/friend. 

Imagine being a kid at that school and seeing those guys in your gym? Pretty cool. 

12) Titans 30, Jaguars 9— Game is 7-2 Tennessee in 2nd quarter; Jaguars have 4th-and-goal on the 2-yard line but instead of kicking a gimme field goal, they go for it with the backup QB and they don’t get it. Titans run next play for a 99-yard TD, and school is out. 

I don’t give a rat’s ass about analytics; in these cases, if you’re Jacksonville you have to put points on the board in what was a tight, tense game, especially if you’re a losing team. 

I’ll say it this way: the Jaguars tackled with a lot less enthusiasm once that 4th down play failed. Thats a nice way of saying they stopped trying as hard- they quit. 

11) Washington Nationals have given out lot of deferred money in the past to pitchers Max Scherzer ($105M of $210M) and Stephen Strasburg ($70M of $175M), but only $10M of Patrick Corbin’s newly-signed $140M contract is deferred money. 

10) Of the 353 D-I college basketball teams, 27 are coached by former NBA players. 

9) Thru Week 13, best red zone teams, based on points/possession:
Chiefs 5.75, Bengals 5.73, Bills 5.70, Steelers 5.69

Worst red zone teams, based on ppp:
Jets 3.87, 49ers 4.21, Jaguars 4.22, Lions 4.40

8) Most drives that went into red zone this season:
Rams 67, Saints/Chiefs 55, Buccaneers 47

Fewest drives that went into red zone this season:
Cardinals 22, Bills/Dolphins 23, Jaguars 27

7) Three things about NFL officiating that bug me:

a) They call too damn many holding penalties.
b) They call way too many penalties on punts/kickoffs.
c) When they call pass interference, a 2nd official usually also throws a flag, to “sell the call”

6) Phoenix Suns are first team in the shot clock era (since 1955) to be held under 10 points in the first quarter of consecutive games. 

5) Big 14 finished their first round of conference games this week; home favorites were 5-4 vs spread, road favorites were 3-2, making favorites 8-6 vs spread overall. 

4) Here is why Washington Wizards will have a hard time trading John Wall: his contract is outrageous.

2019-20: $38,150,000
2019-20: $38,150,000
2020-21: $41,202,000
2021-22: $44,254,000
2022-23: $47,306,000 (player option)

Good luck getting someone to take that contract. 

3) DeAndre Jordan was a 45% career free throw shooter before this season; he is shooting 75.8% this year (72-95). 

Jordan is in his first year with the Dallas Mavericks, whose shooting coach is Peter Patton, who has been teaching basketball for 20+ years, including studying shooting under San Antonio Spurs’ assistant Chip Engelland. Coach Patton deserves a raise. 

2) NBA trade:
— Cavaliers re-acquired G Matthew Dellavedova and F John Henson from the Bucks, along with a future 1st and 2nd-round draft pick.
— Milwaukee got veteran PG George Hill, who was with coach Budenholzer in San Antonio; they also got Jason Smith and a 2nd-round draft pick from Washington.
— Wizards acquired Sam Dekker from Cleveland. 

1) Best wishes to Redskins’ QB Alex Smith, who has an infection in his broken leg following multiple surgeries on the leg last month. Get well soon.

Friday’s List of 13: Some college knowledge……..

Request for college basketball fans: If you know of an impact transfer who is going to become eligible this month, please e-mail his name/school to me and we’ll post it for everyone’s benefit, because not every school’s semester ends at the same time. 

I have two right now:
Butler- Tucker
Western Kentucky- Bearden. 

These two teams will be helped when these kids can play. Adds some depth and increases the talent level. 

For today, I’m looking at college basketball conferences so far this season:

13) Big X:
— Kansas (schedule #10)/Texas Tech (schedule #339) haven’t lost yet
— Iowa State is 7-2 but has been missing four guys for various reasons; two of those guys came back two games ago. Cyclones’ bench minutes are #345, but depth is on the way.
— West Virginia is 5-3, has very young guards, and I’m not sure how they get a lot better, unless those young guards suddenly become good young guards.
— Texas is 5-3, losing at home to Radford/VCU. This is Shaka Smart’s 4th year at Texas- his teams at Texas have played tempo #306-212-316-194.

When he was at VCU, Smart’s teams played tempo #69-156-173-91-22-70. Why the difference, other than pressing/trapping is hard unless your players are better athletes than your opponents. 

12) Big 14:
— They’re playing 20 conference games now, so teams play two games in December.
— Five teams started conference play 2-0; five started 0-2.
— Illinois is 2-7, the only team under .500
— Seven Big 14 teams are in KenPom.com‘s top 30
— Nebraska, Northwestern are two most experienced teams in league. 

11) ACC:
— Duke is #343 in experience, which is why college hoop handicapping has become so difficult, weighing talent against experience. I want Duke to play Nevada in March.
— Virginia is only unbeaten team in the league.
— Pitt was 7-1 before losing at home to Niagara; whoops- they start three freshmen.
— Louisville is 6-2 vs schedule #86 in Chris Mack’s first season; great job so far.
— ACC has eight teams in the top 32
— Miami lost last four games, with three losses by 4 or fewer points. 

10) SEC:
— Auburn/Tennessee are two highest-rated teams, a change from normal.
— Kentucky is 7-1 vs schedule #319; they lost 118-84 to Duke- best team they’ve beaten is #71 NC-Greensboro.
— South Carolina was in Final Four two years ago; they’re 21-20 since. Not good.
— Texas A&M is 3-4 vs schedule #204; they’re experience team #274, Could be a down year.
— Vanderbilt lost its star freshman PG Darius Garland for the season (knee)

9) Big East:
— St John’s is 8-0 vs schedule #322; how good are they?
— Georgetown is 7-1 vs schedule #304; same question.
— Only four Big East teams are listed in the top 50.
— Creighton has made 45.8% of its 3’s (#2) so far this season.
— If you were wondering, Indiana State (48.8%) is #1
— Villanova is playing 5th-slowest tempo in country so far. 

8) Pac-12:
— Only one team ranked in top 40 and Oregon is only 4-3.
— USC is 0-3 vs top 70 teams; their five wins are vs teams ranked #198 or lower.
— Washington is #1 in country in minutes continuity; they’re 6-3 with two top 10 losses (Auburn/Gonzaga).
— UCLA is 6-2 vs schedule #229; they’re #351 in experience, with two key freshmen out for year with injuries. Best team they’ve beaten so far is #122 LMU.
— Arizona State is 7-0 vs schedule #282, but they were 12-0 in pre-conference play LY, and wound up 20-12. 

7) AAC:
— 4 of the slowest 15 tempos in America are teams in the AAC.
— Temple is 7-2 vs schedule #155 in Fran Dunphy’s last season as head coach.
— Central Florida is 6-2, with two losses by total of 3 points.
— Wichita State is 4-3 vs schedule #112; they’re a total rebuild (#343 in MC).
— Memphis is 4-4 vs schedule #54; Tigers start two freshmen, three seniors. Better beat the Tigers now; Penny Hardaway is going to dominate recruiting in Memphis, which will put them in the top 25 sooner rather than later.

6) WCC:
— #8-rated conference right now; they were 14th three years ago, #12 LY.
— Gonzaga is to the WCC what UNLV was to the Big West 30 years ago; huge fish in a small pond that carries the league’s banner on national stage.
— San Diego beat San Diego State, USF pounded Cal Wednesday; middle of pack in this league has improved a lot, but St Mary’s is a bit down.
— LMU is playing pack-line defense like Virginia and it is working- they’re 9-1.
— If BYU jumps into a league for football reasons, who replaces them in WCC? Hawai’i?

5) Mountain West:
— Nevada is 8-0 and starts five 5th-year seniors; will the coach be back next year?
— Wolf Pack is only team in MW in top 60; its a one-bid league, unless someone beats Nevada in the conference tournament.
— Fresno State is #17 experience team that is probably 2nd-best team in league; they’re 6-2 and start three seniors, two juniors.
— Boise State is 2-5, with losses to Idaho State/Drake; could be a down year, after winning 20+ games the last six years.
— UNLV is turning the ball over 24.4% of time and shooting 27.7% on the arc, which is why they’re 4-3 vs schedule #324- their first road game is Saturday at Illinois.  

4) Atlantic 14:
— League was #10 LY and is #10 this year, their lowest ranks since 2007.
— A-14 is down right now: #70 Davidson is their highest-rated team.
— Saint Louis was touted this year, but they’re turning ball over 21.7% of time and making only 29.9% of their 3’s. Despite that, they’re 6-2 vs schedule #217.
— VCU has had six coaches since 2002, and no losing records. Big fish, smallish pond, and no football to take resources away from basketball.
— LaSalle changed coaches but change isn’t always positive; they’re 0-9 this season, with losses to Lafayette, Bucknell, Drexel, Grand Canyon- they wouldn’t be the best team in the freakin’ Patriot League. 

3) MAC:
— Buffalo is legitimately good; they won at West Virginia, are #42 experience team.
— Toledo is only other MAC team in top 100, so its likely another one-bid year.
— Rockets are 8-1 and making 41.5% of their 3’s; they’re experience team #81.
— You look at Kent State’s 7-1 record, then you look at schedule #343- no thanks.
— Western Michigan is 4-4 vs schedule #314; they’re turning ball over 22.9% of time and making 29.5% of their 3’s, not a good combination.
— Bowling Green has one winning season since 2010; their coach that year was fired because of an incident in a bar, where the coach was drunk and being a jerk. That coach is now at New Mexico State and his team is 7-1- some schools would’ve built the guy his own private bar.  

2) Missouri Valley;
— Defections have crippled this league; Wichita State-Creighton were difference-makers.
— Loyola-Chi is their only top 90 team, and they’ve lost three of last four games.
— Evansville’s new coach is former NBA player Walter McCarty; Purple Aces are trying to play faster- they’ll be interesting to follow the next couple years.
— Drake is experience team #116, but #304 in MC, so they’ve been cobbled together by transfers. Bulldogs are also on their third coach in three years, which doesn’t help, but they’re 5-1 so far this season.
— Northern Iowa won 184 games from 2009-16, but they’re 33-37 the last 2+ seasons, so the coach’s seat has to be getting a little warm. 

1) Ivy:
— Yale won at Miami, beat Cal, lost in OT at Memphis; their eFG% is #5 in country.
— Harvard is 4-4 vs schedule #28, but they also lost at #274 Siena.
— Columbia is 0-6 vs D-I teams, vs schedule #329. Could be a long winter.
— Penn Quakers are 7-2, are experience team #63- they start two juniors, two seniors.
— Cornell is #34 experience team, lost by only 8 at Syracuse- did Boeheim take it easy on the Big Red because his son plays for Cornell? (No, he didn’t)

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

13) Arizona Diamondbacks traded their star 1B Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals Wednesday for P Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, a minor-leaguer and a draft pick. 

12) Denver Broncos’ WR Emmanuel Sanders tore his achilles in practice Wednesday, and is obviously out for the season. Sanders caught 71 balls for 898 yards this season. 

Within two hours of Sanders going down, Denver scooped up WR Andre Holmes off waivers from Buffalo. Holmes had previously played for OC Bill Musgrave in Oakland. 

11) There are 130 I-A college football teams; 10 of them are now coached by guys who were at one time, assistant coaches at Alabama under Nick Saban. Colorado hired Mel Tucker this week, the latest former Saban aide to get his own program to run. 

10) AAF is a spring football that starts in a couple months; they have eight teams and some big name coaches. 

XFL is another spring football league that will start in 2020 and won’t be like the goofy XFL that played in 2001, for one year only. Vince McMahon still owns the XFL; they’ll have eight teams, Oliver Luck is the commissioner- they’re going to pay their QB’s around $250,000 a year. 

9) San Antonio Spurs are only the 5th team in NBA history to lose three games by 30+ points within a week and they’re the first since the 2005-06 Trail Blazers.

8) Adam Ottavino is a relief pitcher for the Colorado Rockies; he was on MLB Network the other day and he was saying how his father is a character actor in Hollywood who has been seen on Law and Order, NYPD Blue and in the movie Presumed Innocent, among others. 

7) Washington Redskins signed QB Josh Johnson to back up Mark Sanchez; Johnson was the 5th-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in ’08- he’s played in parts of 29 NFL games, is 0-5 as an NFL starter. He hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since ’14- he hasn’t thrown a pass since ’11.

Johnson played his college ball at the U of San Diego (not San Diego State) where his coach was current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.  

6) When Notre Dame basketball player Rex Pflueger was in junior high, he was the QB of his 7th grade football team; one of his teammates was Sam Darnold, who is now obviously a QB in the NFL the first-round pick of the Jets last spring. 

5) Fresno State is favored over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl; it is only the 11th time in last 80 meetings between the two leagues that the Mountain West team is favored over a Pac-12 opponent. 

4) Georgia State 83, Alabama 80— This game happened Tuesday night, when the Crimson Tide led by 21 at halftime and then lost. Georgia State had lost their previous game to Liberty by 26, so this was a terrible loss for Alabama. 

3) Miami, FL was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in ACC basketball this winter, but they’ve now lost four games in a row, the last two to Ivy League teams, so it could be a long winter for the Hurricanes. 

2) ACC football teams are 2-5 vs SEC opponents this year, 0-7 vs spread.

1) One of three.soldiers killed by an IED explosion last week in Afghanistan.was a man named Drew Ross, who was the son of former Georgia Tech/Chargers’ coach Bobby Ross. and was in his second tour of duty overseas. RIP to all three people who passed away; very sad thing.

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

13) Washington Nationals signed lefty pitcher Patrick Corbin to a 6-year, $140M deal Tuesday; Corbin is 56-54 in his career- he was 14-8 in 2013, then missed the next year with an injury. He was 14-13 in ’17, 11-7 LY. He’s allowed 944 hits in 945.2 IP in his career. 

Say this for Corbin; he was smart enough not to go to Philly, whose small ballpark isn’t good for a pitcher’s well-being, or his stats. Same thing for avoiding the American League and the DH. 

12) If you’re a free agent starting pitcher, why wouldn’t you sign with an NL team, so you don’t have to face the DH? Wouldn’t your stats automatically be a little better? 

Also, if you’ve got a little kid who is just starting to play ball, shouldn’t he bat lefty? You’re two steps closer to first base; there is no advantage to batting right-handed.

11) Urban Meyer, the most humorless person in America, stepped down as Ohio State’s football coach Tuesday and was replaced by Ryan Day, who will make $4.5M a year. 

It is hard to believe that Meyer and Les Miles have the same job; both do their jobs well, but Meyer looks like he could have a stroke at any minute, while Miles can say funny things and appears to be an enjoyable person to talk to. 

10) USC named former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury as its new OC; Trojans have a long tradition of great running backs- are they going to run the Air Raid now?

9) Seattle Mariners have traded ten guys in the last 28 days, and it sounds like that number is going to get a lot higher before spring training. 

8) Seattle’s baseball team is going in the ashcan for the next couple years, but the city was awarded an NHL expansion franchise Tuesday; the unnamed team will be the NHL’s 32nd franchise and it will begin play in 2021-22. 

You can actually wager on what the team will be called; Totems is the current favorite, followed by Emeralds, then Sockeyes, Kraken or Rainiers. 

7) Steelers’ RB James Conner’s ankle injury is worse than first thought; he won’t be in the lineup for Pittsburgh in this week’s game at Oakland. 

6) We mentioned Adrian Peterson had a 90-yard TD run Monday night, but gained only 98 rushing yards for the game; he is only 2nd RB since 1950 to do that, joining Herschel Walker.

5) Joey Chestnut holds the world record for eating shrimp cocktails; he ate 43 of them in eight minutes last year. Not sure who decided that should become a contest, but how is that good for you? I like eating as much as anyone, but speed eating ain’t my thing. 

4) Louisville’s football team was 1-11 against the spread this year, the worst record of any team in the country; UConn, New Mexico State and Georgia State were all 2-9-1. 

3) 106 undergraduates declared for the NFL Draft last year; as recently as 2012, only 64 kids came out early. This year’s number is expected to be right around 106 again. 

2) Former Clemson QB Kelly Bryant, who bolted Clemson as soon as he got benched, transferred to Missouri, so he’ll remain a Tiger. Mizzou graduates QB Drew Lock after this season, so Bryant should step right in and start next year. 

1) Providence 100, Boston College 95 OT— This was a really fun game, and underscores the mistake BC made leaving the Big East for the ACC, though we know football was the reason that happened. Regional rivalries like this game should be played twice a year.

This was a hard fought, foul-filled couple of hours; Eagles were 36-45 on charity stripe, Friars were 23-34. Three Providence players fouled out. 

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

13) Eagles 28, Redskins 13— Washington lost another QB; McCoy broke his leg, leaving Mark Sanchez as the #1 guy. Now they have to sign another QB to back Sanchez up. Adrian Peterson had a 90-yard TD run in this game, but ran for only 98 yards on nine carries. 

With this result, Minnesota moves up to the #6 spot in NFC playoff race. 

Eagles are 6-6, and can tie for first place in NFC East with win at Dallas Sunday. 

12) With 14:10 left, Eagles led 14-13, scored a TD, then WENT FOR TWO, a genius move; if you make it, you’re two scores ahead. If you don’t make it, it you’re still up seven points and the other team will probably kick the PAT if they score a TD. 

This was first time I can remember an NFL team doing this; Minnesota Gophers tried it 4-5 years ago, but didn’t score the two points. 

11) Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder retired over the weekend; 79-year old Snyder coached K-State for 27 years, orchestrating one of the greatest rebuilding jobs in college football history— the Wildcats were TERRIBLE when he took over, but under Snyder, Kansas State had a 215-117-1 record, playing in 19 bowls in Snyder’s 27 seasons. 

Administrators at K-State were considering dropping football down to I-AA before hiring Snyder, thats how pathetic their program was, but Father Time is unbeaten- Snyder was diagnosed with throat cancer three years ago, and now at age 79, has decided to step down, or it was decided for him. What a great career he had.  

10) In the USA Today coaches’ poll for the top 25 college football teams, only two coaches didn’t vote for Alabama #1; Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi and Alabama’s Nick Saban. 

With the playoff in place, Saban can now use that a motivational tool with his team. Poll itself doesn’t mean a damn thing. 

9) 76ers are 9-2 since acquiring Jimmy Butler from Minnesota; Timberwolves are 8-3 since they made the trade, the rare case of a trade helping both teams. 

8) Georgia didn’t make the college football playoff, but according to Las Vegas oddsmakers, they would be favored on a neutral field over Oklahoma, Ohio State and Notre Dame. 

7) In 1983-84, Wayne Gretzky scored 13 unassisted goals; in the 35 years since then, no one else has scored more than 10 (Teemu Selanne, Rick Nash) in one season.

6) Lot of changes in the coaching profession:
— Chicago Bulls fired Fred Hoiberg, who figures to resurface in college ball.
— Louisville hired Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield.
— UMass hired Florida State’s OC Walt Bell as its new coach.
— Auburn fired OC Chip Lindsey, who will probably join Les Miles at Kansas.
— Carolina Panthers fired two defensive assistants Monday; Panthers lost their last four games, are 6-6 and still have to play the Saints twice. 

5) Wichita State has a basketball player named Ricky Torres who is a fascinating story; the kid dropped out of high school, got his GED later on and wound up going to a junior college at a school called Missouri State-West Plains- he scored 17.2 ppg for a 25-9 team, and caught the attention of Wichita coaches, with Shockers graduating lot of players last spring. 

4) Seattle Mariners are taking their team apart; they traded Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz to the Mets for Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and three prospects, then traded Juan Segura, James Pazos and Juan Nicasio to the Phillies for Carlos Santana and JP Crawford. 

Most analysts think the Mariners will trade Santana somewhere else, seeing how he is over 30 and makes $20M a year. 

3) Couple of Big 14 conference games last night:
— Michigan State 90, Iowa 68— Hawkeyes are already 0-2 in conference.
— Wisconsin 69, Rutgers 64— Both home teams won, only Spartans covered. 

2) Couple of big-name schools lost to low D-I teams in college basketball last night:
— Niagara 71, Pittsburgh 70
— Vermont 72, George Mason 67— Catamounts were a road favorite 

1) In 1993, Dennis Rodman played in an NBA game where he grabbed 28 rebounds but didn’t score any points. That doesn’t seem possible, but it happened.

Monday’s List of 13; Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Chargers 33, Steelers 30— Pittsburgh led 23-7 at half; Chargers had ball three times in second half, ran 31 plays for 231 yards for two TD’s and a FG- they also ran a punt back for a TD, and converted 2-point conversions after both TD’s. 

Chargers won eight of their last nine games after a 1-2 start; they’re game behind Kansas City- they visit Arrowhead Stadium in Week 15. Bolts are 6-0 outside of Los Angeles. If season ended today, Chargers would be right back here for a Wild Card game. 

Steelers lost for second week in row and now leads the Ravens by half-game in AFC North; they still have to play New England and the Saints. 

Titans 26, Jets 22— Jets had a pick-6, blocked a punt, blocked a PAT, led 16-0……but lost. Gang Green has now lost six games in a row (1-5 vs spread). Last five times Jets had the ball, they ran 12 plays for 52 yards, 2 first downs, no points. Jets are 0-9 when they score less than 34 points. 

There are four teams a game behind Baltimore for the #6-seed in the AFC; Titans are one of them. Tennessee is 4-1 at home this year; since ’16, Titans are 8-4-2 vs spread as a home favorite, 1-1 this season.

Cardinals 20, Packers 17— 14-point underdog Arizona ended lot of Survivor pools with this win; they also ended Mike McCarthy’s tenure as Packers’ coach.

Green Bay missed a 49-yard FG at the gun, as Packers lost for 5th time in last six games. This was the Cardinals’ first win in Wisconsin since 1949- they had lost their last eight visits there. McCarthy was fired before the 4:00 games were over.

Green Bay has only one offensive TD in 2nd half of their last three games. Right now, the Packers would draft after Cleveland; who would’ve expected that this summer? Will be very interested to see who this team hires as their next head coach. 

Giants 30, Bears 27 OT— An unusual game:
— Chicago gifted the Giants with a defensive TD 0:38 into the game.
— Bears scored a TD, with a defensive lineman carrying the ball.
— Giants ended the first half by making a 57-yard FG.
— Giants took the lead when a WR threw a 49-yard TD pass.
— Bears were down 10 with 1:30 left, but kicked a FG, recovered an onside kick, then tied the game on a pass by a RB at the gun.
— Giants won in OT; they’ve won three of their last four games.
— Seven of last nine Chicago games, last four New Jersey games went over total.

Jaguars 6, Colts 0— Second NFL game this season without a TD scored; other one was also a Jaguar home game (9-6 loss to Titans). There was another game with no offensive TD’s scored (Jets-Dolphins) but there was a defensive TD in that game. 

When this game was scoreless early in 2nd quarter, Colts went for it on 4th down inside Jags’ 5-yard line and got stuffed. Whatever happened to scoring first??? Loss snaps a 5-game Indy win streak, 7-game Jacksonville losing skid; Jaguar QB Kessler gets first win as an NFL starter (1-8) after losing all his starts for Cleveland in ’16. 

Buccaneers 24, Panthers 17— Carolina loses its 4th game in row; they have one takeaway in those four games. Newton threw four INTs in this game. Panthers are 1-5 on road this year, and they were down 17-0 in third quarter in the game they won. Carolina is still only game out of second Wild Card spot, if Redskins lose Monday night. 

First time in 10 years this season series was split; Buccaneers had 14-yard edge in field position. Bucs have only one giveaway in last two games, after 27 in previous nine games. 

Rams 30, Lions 16— Aaron Donald is freakin’ awesome; for second game in row, his strip/sack created an LA TD that put them in commanding position. Rams scored 30 points but watching the game, I felt like Detroit has a good defense; two of Rams’ three TD drives started in Detroit territory. LA beat spread for only second time in last eight games, running ball for 149 yards. 

First time since 1979 Rams won NFC West in consecutive seasons. Five of last six Detroit games stayed under the total; Lions had ball in red zone five times, scored only one TD, three FG’s- very hard to beat the Rams scoring only one TD. Rams are now 9-2-1 vs spread in their last 12 post-bye games. 

Ravens 26, Falcons 16— Whats happened to Atlanta’s offense? They gained total of only 131 yards in this game, throwing for only 97. Falcons lost last four games, scoring 16-19-17-16 points- their longest play in this game was 17 yards. 

Both teams scored one offensive TD and each team scored a defensive TD. 

At this point, Baltimore is the #6 seed in the AFC, but is only half-game out of first place in AFC North; Lamar Jackson is now 3-0 as an NFL starter; will Joe Flacco get traded this winter?

Texans 29, Browns 13— Houston won its last nine games after starting season 0-3; they’re 17-10-1 vs spread in last 28 games as a home favorite, and covered five of last six tilts overall. 

Cleveland turned ball over four times (-4), after having four giveaways total in their previous five games. Since ’15, Cleveland is 10-19-1 as road underdogs, 2-3-1 this year. Browns outgained Houston in this game while running 22 fewer plays (74-52), but when you’re -4 in turnovers, you lose just about all the time. 

Dolphins 21, Bills 17— Buffalo outgained Dolphins 415-175 but lost; they turned ball over three times (-2). Miami is 4-0 when it allows 20 or fewer points, 1-6 when they allow more. Dolphins are still struggling on 3rd down; they’ve converted just 17 of last 63 3rd down plays.

Dolphins are 5-1 at home this season; last two years, Fish are 3-0-2 as home favorites, 2-0-1 this season. Buffalo ran ball for 212-167-198 yards in its last three games. Under is 3-0-1 in Miami’s last four games. 

Broncos 24, Bengals 10— I’m told that quarterback is an important position, and it doesn’t look like Cincinnati has one, with Andy Dalton injured. Denver ran ball for 218 yards, had 10-yard edge in field position, sending Bengals to sixth loss in their last seven games. Last four years, Broncos are 9-4-1 as road favorites, 2-0 this year. Last five Denver games stayed under total. 

Chiefs 40, Raiders 33— KC stayed game ahead of Chargers in AFC West; they recovered three fumbles by Oakland, were +2 in turnovers’ and scored 40 points in a game where their game plan was screwed up by Kareem Hunt’s suspension late in week. 

Oakland lost seven of its last eight games (2-6 vs spread); they’re 1-4 at home, with losses by 20-14-14-7 points. Raiders are 4-8-1 in last dozen games as a home underdog, 1-3 this season. Imagine how bad they’d be doing if they weren’t paying their coach $10M a year? 

Patriots 24, Vikings 10— Miserable day for NFC North, with all four teams losing, none of them covering, and Packers firing their coach. Vikings stayed under their team total in six of last seven games. 

Patriots won eight of last nine games, are 6-0 at home. Since ’15, NE is 19-7-3 as home favorites, 5-1 this year. Total yardage in this game was 471-278, Patriots. Last five NE games went under the total. Minnesota regains #6 seed in NFC East if Eagles beat Washington Monday night. 

Seahawks 43, 49ers 16— Seattle won its third straight game, scoring 27-30-43 points; right now, they’re #5 seed in NFC and would visit Dallas in a Wild Card game. Seahawks have beaten the 49ers ten games in a row; Seattle covered 10 of last 14 tries as a double digit favorite. 

49ers lost nine of last ten games; they’re 0-7 on road, and have zero takeaways in their last four games (-18 in last eight games). 

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

13) Oklahoma 39, Texas 27— Guy who makes the subs in my neighborhood deli had the Sooners -9.5, so it was a good day for him. 

Serious question: Has a college quarterback who is as good as Kyler Murray ever given up football to do something else? Hard to imagine this kid walking away from the gridiron. 

12) Alabama 35, Georgia 28— Going to be a very long 16-17 hours for the Georgia coaches, between the end of this game and seeing what four teams make the Final Four playoffs. If the Dawgs miss out on the playoff, then it’ll be a long winter for those coaches. 

The hideous fake punt with 3:11 left wasn’t good; hope whoever called it has job security. 

Jalen Hurts came off the bench and saved the day for the Crimson Tide; this is a kid with a 26-2 record as a starter who got benched LY but didn’t transfer, and didn’t whine- he just stayed the course and was ready when his name was called again. Good for him. 

11) UAB 27, Middle Tennessee State 25— How has UAB coach Bill Clark not been scooped up by a big-money program? His Blazers went 8-5 LY, are 10-3 this year- they didn’t even field a team in 2015-16, when school tried to shut the program down for financial reasons. 

What Clark has done at UAB is remarkable and certainly under-reported by national media. 

10) One of several hundred reasons why I’m not married anymore: If you buy the Mrs a Jaguar SUV, she’ll smile and be happy. Who knew? Never tried that one. 

For the record, a quick check shows that a Jaguar SUV goes for around $47,000. 

Merry bleepin’ Christmas. Oy. 

9) In six of their last eight games, on their opponents’ first drive of the second half. Cleveland Browns have forced six turnovers. Solid halftime adjustments being made by Gregg Williams. 

8) NFL used to have two facemark penalties, a 5-yard and a 15-yard penalty, depending on the severity of the foul; wish they’d go back to that. Just touching a ball carrier’s facemark shouldn’t be a 15-yard penalty.

7) Recent hot streaks by the Bears/Cowboys are hurting the Raiders, who own those teams’ first round draft picks next April. Oakland helped make those two teams contenders this season by giving them skilled players. Time will tell how the Raiders will utilize the draft to improve their team before they move to Las Vegas in 2020.

6) Upsets of the Day:
— Siena (+8.5) 67-64 over Harvard
— Yale (+7.5) 77-73 over Miami
— Green Bay (+6.5) 100-92 over Belmont
— New Mexico (+6.5) 85-75 over Bradley
— Idaho (+5.5) 67-54 over North Dakota
— Weber State (+4) 113-103 over BYU
— George Mason (+4) 87-84 over Wm&Mary
— Ohio U (+4) 101-84 over Marshall

5) I like to see as many college basketball teams as I can before Christmas, so when conference play starts you get a sense of what teams are/have, but sometimes, you just have to turn the channel. I was watching the Baylor-Wichita State game as I type this and Wichita is winning 20-4. Got to turn the channel, because right now, I don’t think Baylor could beat the Washington Generals. 

Now my brain knows that they’re young/talented and will improve, but my heart will have a hard time forgetting how awful they’re playing tonight, so time to watch another game. 

4) There was a college baseball game in 1947 where Vin Scully played CF for Fordham, and George Bush played 1B for Yale. 

3) Saints 13, Cowboys 10— If you think handicapping is easy, try this score on for size; New Orleans had been averaging 37 points a game, but Dallas’ defense played its hearts out and Cowboys won their fourth game in a row.

2) Some other things about that game:
— New Orleans didn’t score in first half for first time in 73 games (4.5 years)
— Saints gained only 59 yards in first half, their worst showing since 2002.
— In the third quarter alone, Cowboys had six penalties on defense/special teams.

1) Before Thursday’s game, Drew Brees was 53-0 in NFL games when his team allowed 14 or fewer points; the 13-10 loss in Dallas was his first such loss.

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

14) RIP to former President George H. W. Bush, who passed away late Friday night at age 94. RIP, sir.

13) One thing to monitor that is a little tricky to do in next couple weeks; some college hoop transfers become eligible when the first semester at their school ends.

Butler gets Duke transfer Jordan Tucker eligible when the fall semester ends in a couple weeks- he is expected to improve the Bulldogs a lot, so have to follow guys like that and see who provides a boost to their team.

12) Big 14 is going with 20 conference games this season for first time, so everyone is playing two league games this weekend, which in my opinion is too early for conference games.

— Michigan State 78, Rutgers 67— Spartans were down 8 early, but held Rutgers to 30 points in second half and won going away before a hostile sellout crowd.
— Wisconsin 72, Iowa 66— Quality road win for the Badgers.

11) Thursday night’s Saint-Cowboy game got the best TV rating for any NFL Thursday night game ever; NFL TV ratings are up 5% this year, by the way.

10) The Jumbotron at the new Cowboys’ Stadium cost more money by itself than the entire Texas Stadium in Irving, where the Cowboys played before Jerry World was built.

9) Houston Cougars’ DT Ed Oliver will skip the Cougars’ bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Oliver hadn’t been playing that much recently anyway, and was seen as having some issues with Houston coach Major Applewhite.

8) TMZ published a video of Kansas City Chiefs’ RB Kareem Hunt involved in an incident in a hotel last February, and Friday night the Chiefs released Hunt, which has to be at least a little bit shocking to the team.

Hunt has run ball for 824 yards this year and scored 14 TD’s, via run or pass this season.

7) One thing I don’t need for Christmas is an article in a national publication about a 14-year old kid who “might” be the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Nothing like putting a ridiculous amount of pressure on a kid; find something more current to write about.

6) If you weren’t keeping score at home, the ACC-Big 14 challenge this week wound up in a 7-7 tie, while also providing 28 hours of mostly quality TV.

Right this second, I think Michigan is the best team in the country.

5) Mets non-tendered utility guy Wilmer Flores, which means he is a free agent, after being a popular Met for the last six years.

Big part of the Robinson Cano/Jay Bruce that is supposed to happen soon, is that it opens up a spot for prospect Peter Alonso to play 1B for the Mets. Will Jeff McNeil move to 3B now?

4) White Sox non-tendered DH Matt Davidson Friday; he hit .462 with 7 homers in seven games in Kansas City LY; in 116 games everywhere else, Davidson his .213 with 13 homers. Chicago also got rid of OF Avisail Garcia.

Maybe the Royals should sign Davidson?

3) The new ACC Network will start up on August 22, 2019. On August 29, the first conference football game will kick off on the new all-ACC platform when Georgia Tech visits Clemson for a Thursday night game. Hopefully, DirecTV will carry this channel; they do not carry the Pac-12 Network.

2) Kentucky Wildcats have 2nd-least experience of any college basketball team in the country, and they’ve won six games in a row since getting waxed by Duke in their opener, but Wildcats’ opponents are shooting 40.3% from the arc (#328).

Considering that their schedule to this point is rated #316, their defense better improve or SEC opponents will be raining 3’s in the Wildcats all winter.

1) I’m doing a survey about Christmas music; you’ll see the results in a couple weeks, but so far, I’ve gotten way more diverse opinions than I thought I would. No one song is dominating the “What is your favorite Christmas song?” question that I’m asking people.

One surprising thing: several people have said that they totally dislike Christmas music. One young lady replied, “Christmas music makes me want to slam my head into a door”

Alrighty then.

Friday’s Den: Ranking the months of the year……

1) March— Conference tournament basketball, March Madness, spring training games on TV every day, plus winter is winding down. March is a good time of year. 

2) November— Lot of football going on, plus college basketball starts

T3) June/July/August— Summer months are all good in upstate New York; hot weather, the horses are up in Saratoga in late July/August, baseball on the tube every night.

6) December— I spend 10 days in Las Vegas every December, wrapped around Christmas, so that ramps up this month’s ranking a lot. Walking on the Strip and seeing all the Christmas decorations is a little unique. 

College basketball games, the NFL stretch run, bowl games- good stuff.

7) September— When I was a kid, this was the worst month of the year, going back to school and all, but as an adult, football season starts, the pennant races in baseball, plus the weather is mostly still summer-ish. 

8) October— Slowest month for this website, which usually means a trip to the desert, never a bad thing. Football Sundays at the Westgate Theater are really good. 

9) May— Really the same month as April, except one more day and the weather is usually a little bit warmer. 

10) April— Baseball season starts, which is very good and winter is replaced by mostly rain, but the NBA/NHL playoffs start

11) January— 31 days of cruddy weather offsets the NFL playoffs and conference play in college basketball. There are no bad months of the year, but January is a damn cold month. 

12) February— Only 28 days (usually) but the same cruddy weather, plus only one football game, though the new AAF could start making February a little better. 

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

13) 40 years ago this week, one of my all-time favorite TV shows made its debut on CBS. 

The White Shadow was about a retired NBA player who coached an inner-city high school team in Los Angeles- his old college friend was the school’s principal. 

The show starred Ken Howard, who was brilliant as a high school coach who bickered with the female assistant principal; the show was written by Bruce Paltrow, better known as Gwyneth Paltrow’s father. 

Now that I’ve written that, I feel old. 40 years ago. Damn 

12) This week, Major League Baseball announced a multi-year partnership with MGM Resorts that includes sponsorships and promotions across various media platforms, as legalized wagering becomes an established thing all over America. Right now, eight states have legal sports betting, with more to come, for sure. 

11) Last year, Scott Tolzien started at QB in the Colts’ season opener against the Rams in LA; Tuesday night, he was the THIRD quarterback taken by the Birmingham Fire in the new AAF, who will be coached by former Packers’ DB Tim Lewis.

10) If you’re wondering about this new football league, the AAF that drafted its QBs Tuesday night, there will be no TV timeouts and 60% fewer commercials than NFL games. 

Other differences will include no kickoffs and instead of onside kicks, the trailing team will get the ball on their own 35-yard line facing 4th-and-10. There will also be a 30-second play clock and mandatory two-point conversion attempts after touchdowns.

The league starts the Saturday night after the Super Bowl and has a 10-game schedule this year, with eight teams in the league, at least for the first season.

9) USC kept head football coach Clay Helton, but four assistant coaches were told to take a hike over the weekend. In college football, the assistant coaches do the recruiting, so this is no small thing, since college football recruiting is basically a 24/7/365 pursuit. 

8) Larry Scott is the commissioner of the Pac-12 conference; he makes $3.1M a year, more money than every football coach in the Pac-12. 

Greg Sankey is the commissioner of the SEC; he makes around a million bucks a year, less than every head football coach in the SEC. 

At $3M a year, you’d think Mr Scott could find a way to get the Pac-12 Network on DirecTV. 

7) West Virginia OC/play caller Jake Spavital is the new football coach at Texas State; they must’ve been watching that 59-56 game with Oklahoma last week. Mountaineers finished in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense this year; Spavital is considered a really good recruiter, which will come in handy at Texas State, which needs a lot of players. 

6) Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm turned down Louisville’s offer, will stay as coach of the Boilermakers, which is good news for Purdue football fans. 

5) Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz for two future 2nd-round picks and Alec Burks,

4) Why is ESPN running another hour-long story on Bob Knight? Hasn’t this subject been beaten to death by now? Knight won three national titles but was a creep/bully who made the game less fun for everyone around him. When winning isn’t fun, thats a problem. 

3) Vanderbilt’s star freshman guard Darius Garland is out for this season after he had meniscus surgery; big loss for the Commodores. 

2) Fact that I found weird: Eldrick Woods made his first hole-in-one in 20 years last week while playing golf with Fred Couples in La Quinta, CA. How does a guy who is that good a golfer go 20 years in between hole-in-ones?

1) I’m guessing you do too, but I get dozens of e-mails from companies promoting their Cyber Monday or Black Friday sales. They shout out “Hurry before its too late!!!!” 

When it comes to spending your money, it is never too late. A few hours after that sale ends, another one just like it begins, and that too, according to e-mails, is too good to pass up. 

Guess it is a cheaper way of advertising, but enough already with the e-mails!!!!

Wednesday’s 2nd list of 13: Catching up on college hoop

If you spent all of November watching football and you missed the start of college basketball season, here is some of what you missed…….

13) Gonzaga 89, Duke 87— Finals of Maui Classic was a terrific game; Duke led 2-0, but that was it- they were down by 16 with 15:54 left, before tying game late. Zags made 10-19 on the arc, and they were playing without Tillie, who made 47.9% of his 3’s last year. 

12) Virginia 53, Wisconsin 46— Predictably slow-paced game (58 possessions) in final of the Battle for Atlantis. Teams combined to go 6-28 on arc; Badgers only got to foul line three times and forced only five turnovers (-8). If you bet the under, this was a rocking chair game. 

11) Kansas 87, Tennessee 81 OT— Vols start three seniors, two juniors, led by 8 early in 2nd half, but three Jayhawks played 40:00+ in this OT thriller. Kansas made 44% of its 3’s in its 5-0 start. Tennessee is #36 experience team, Kansas #283. 

10) Virginia Tech 89, Purdue 83— Finals of Charleston tourney elevated Hokies into the top 25, which they may have floundered by losing at Penn State last night. Tech outscored Purdue 19-7 on foul line. Both teams made over 40% of their 3’s. 

9) Duke 118, Kentucky 84— Result like this in a season opener distorted everyone’s view of the season; did Duke become a little overrated because they played so well in this game? If you’re John Calipari, how do you restore the young Wildcats’ confidence- they were down 91-54 at one point. 

8) Louisville 82, Michigan State 78 OT— Chris Mack has a tough job, following Rick Pitino at a place where the fanbase isn’t exactly patient, but this win gets him off on the right foot.

7) San Diego 70, Colorado 64— Toreros are #6 experience team in America; they’re 5-1 with a 3-point loss at Washington. The middle of the WCC is better this season than it has been for a few years. San Diego starts four seniors, so this is a big year for them. 

6) Buffalo 99, West Virginia 94 OT— Bob Huggins has young guards this year, which isn’t a good thing, but Buffalo is really good and should dominate the MAC. Bulls were down 69-56 with 8:05 left in regulation, but they forced 19 turnovers (+8) and got a great road win. 

5) UConn 83, Syracuse 76— Orangemen don’t leave home before Christmas too much; they made only 23.3% of their 3’s in their first five games. This was Danny Hurley’s first statement win as the new UConn coach, coming in New York City, where it was like an old Big East conference tournament game. 

4) Michigan 73, Villanova 46— Wildcats graduated four guys from LY’s national champs, and Michigan took its frustrations out for losing the national title game to Villanova eight months ago- this game was 49-17 at one point. Another early season brickfest, with teams combining to make only 8-32 on the arc. 

3) Ohio State 64, Cincinnati 56— Good road win for Buckeyes squad that is experience team #281, while Cincy is #131 in experience. OSU led 55-39 with 5:23 left, before Bearcats made a late run but fell short. Buckeyes also have a road win at Creighton already. 

2) Seton Hall 83, Miami 81— Finals of Wooden Legacy tournament in Fullerton; when they announce the Field of 68 in March, games like this will carry some weight, even though it was played almost four months before Selection Sunday. Pirates are #233 experience team; this is a great win for them. 

1) Texas 92, North Carolina 89— Longhorns look to be improved this year, after going 30-37 the last two years. Texas lost to Michigan State the next night, but they’ve got this win and a neutral court win over Arkansas- the #256 experience Longhorns hope to be a factor in March.