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

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

Thursday’s six-pack
Prop bets for tonight’s NCAA tournament games:
— Over/under, total 3-pointers made in Purdue-Kansas game: 16.5
— Over/under, total 3-pointers made in West Va-Gonzaga game: 14.5
— Over/under, total 3-pointers made in Michigan-Oregon game: 17.5
— Over/under, total 3-pointers made in Xavier-Arizona game: 13.5
— Largest lead by either team in Purdue-Kansas game: 15.5 points
— Largest lead by either team in West Va-Gonzaga game: 14 points
— Largest lead by either team in Michigan-Oregon game: 12.5 points
— Largest lead by either team in Xavier-Arizona game: 16.5 points

Memo of the Day
“From the teams I’ve been on, nobody drinks on the plane. A lot of teams don’t allow it. Guys are being smart about their bodies and their careers. Taking care of your body is the biggest thing.”
NBA player DJ Augustin, who has played for eight teams in nine NBA seasons

Thursday’s quiz
Which college basketball team is known as the Anteaters?

Wednesday’s quiz
Concord is the state capital of New Hampshire, the Granite State.

Tuesday’s quiz
Dallas Cowboys backup (Boise State alum) QB Kellen Moore is the only left-handed QB in the NFL right now.

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

13) Worlds colliding: Madcap comedian Carrot Top was at Phillies’ spring training Wednesday, and was seen talking to former Phils’ manager Charlie Manuel.

Carrot Top’s dad worked for NASA; he was a rocket scientist. Seriously.

12) You know it might be a bad day when you’re a marginal major league player, you get a start in a road spring training game, and you forget your jersey. Oy.

Happened to Allen Webster of the Rangers, a guy who has pitched in 28 big league games (23 starts), so he should know better. Webster wound up giving up three runs in three IP, putting eight guys on base in a game Texas won 7-4.

11) In the 1987-88 NBA season, home teams won 67.9% of games; this season, that number is down to an all-time low of 57.4%. Teams traveling on private planes plays into that some, but an article on ESPN.com says one of the main reasons why road teams win more now is that players on the road party a lot less than they used to.

10) Basketball TV guy Doug Gottlieb, who recently jumped from CBS to FOX, will interview for the head coaching job at Oklahoma State (his alma mater) today. Gottlieb’s dad was a high school coach; his brother is an assistant coach at Oregon State.

9) Didn’t take VCU long to replace Will Wade with former Rice coach Mike Rhoades, who went 23-12 with the Owls this season— he was 47-52 in three years at Rice, after inheriting a 7-23 team three years ago.

By the way, as part of Wade’s contract at VCU, LSU will have to play a home/home series with the Rams- that was part of Wade’s buyout in his contract.

8) At the WBC, Team USA was DH’ing Giancarlo Stanton and sitting Paul Goldschmidt; why? I’ve had Stanton on my fantasy team since he was an 18-year old in the Florida State League. He is one of my favorite players, but no way in hell is he as good a hitter as Goldschmidt.

7) Padres’ TV guys were saying the ballclub wasn’t real happy about how little Yangervis Solarte played for Venezuela; they used him mostly as a pinch-runner. Bottom line is this: these teams are getting ready for the season- they want their guys getting AB’s in late March, not being subs.

6) Rory McIlroy lost 2 & 1 to Soren Kjeldsen at the World Golf Match Play tournament, but he did hit a drive 410 yards. Don’t see that a lot.

Jason Day withdrew from the tournament to be with his ailing mother. We wish her well.

5) In 13 years as a major league manager, Terry Collins is 925-925.

4) It is amazing to me that in most states, high school basketball doesn’t have a shot clock. There is a shot clock here in New York; protects the sport from overbearing coaches who strangle the game. Basketball is a much better spectator sport with a shot clock.

3) I don’t mind the WBC, I fully understand why it exists (to grow the game), but I’d much rather watch a spring training game. Just means more to me; I’m not a big nationalistic guy.

2) United States 8, Puerto Rico 0— Guy doing play-by-play on MLB Network oversold this tournament like he was Al Michaels in Lake Placid in 1980, but Americans win this event for first time ever. Puerto Rico didn’t get a hit until the 7th inning. Now everyone can go back to their major league teams and we can get ready for the season to start in ten days.

1— Mentioned yesterday that Chuck Barris passed away; the host of The Gong Show wrote an article for a magazine back in the 80’s, talking about how he was a vendor at Shibe Park during the 1950 World Series. He cut his hand at the same time one of the pitchers got hit with a line drive. In the First Aid room, everyone tended to the pitcher and ignored his bleeding hand. He got promoted as a vendor because they felt guilty about ignoring him.

Later in the same article, Barris tells a story about how he proposed to his second wife- they’re making out on the couch while he’s trying to watch the Raiders’ game on TV over her shoulder— he had bet on Oakland. She is bugging him to get married, so he tells her if the Raiders win this game, they’ll get married. Raymond Chester scores a touchdown, the Raiders win, and he was on the hook.

A great character; he was also a hell of a lot smarter than he let on.

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

13) Cam Newton is having rotator cuff surgery next Thursday; not sure of the recovery timeframe, or why the operation is happening now and not two months ago, but question is: Will he be ready for the regular season? Big question for the Panthers.

12) If I owned a major league baseball team, all my coaches would know both English and Spanish; have to be able to communicate with players. Would also want our players to know English; how the hell can you live in a country and not know at least some of the language?

Sometimes, players know more of the language than they let on, so they can avoid talking to the media. Being bilingual is a big advantage in today’s baseball.

11) Oklahoma State’s star guard Juwan Evans is leaving school for the NBA; at 6-1, he is a marginal prospect who could wind up in the D-League. He helped us some this year when we picked the Cowboys; we wish him well, but wish he was coming back for another season in Stillwater.

10) Will Wade leaves VCU for LSU and everyone on Twitter asks why; is it a better basketball job? Money is (surprisingly) similar, they care more about basketball at VCU, since there is no football and he had a top 20 recruiting class coming to VCU in September.

I’ve said this before here; sometimes big fish/smaller pond works better.

9) UMass hires Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey to take over its hoop program; Kelsey went 102-59 at Winthrop, 56-30 in Big South games- he replaced Gregg Marshall there.

8) New Jersey Jets have drafted six QB’s since 2009, yet still paid 37-year old Josh McCown $6M to come in and play for one year. This is called mismanagement; not the McCown part, but draft one guy who can play, will ya?

7) Went into a LIDS store in the mall the other day; had good talk with young person who works there, who happens to be a fellow A’s fan. Major league fitted caps are now $35; caps for the World Baseball Classic are $37. Glad my hat collection is already too big- no thanks.

6) They were talking on the Padres’ spring training game the other night how sometimes guys go down to the minor league camp and play in B games to get extra at-bats. A major leaguer would play in one of those games and lead off every inning, just to get more AB’s. Minor leaguers are not necessarily fond of that, since it costs them some AB’s, but thats how it works.

5) Cincinnati Reds’ announcers are different than most local baseball announcers- they’ll rip the home team if they deserve it. “Boy, this is like a circus.” moaned Thom Brennaman during a bad inning by the Reds in their game with the Angels Tuesday.

Two oddities from this Reds-Angels game:
a) Both teams wore red jerseys; it is 2017, we can’t get different color jerseys?
b) Angels used a DH, Reds did not. People bet on these games. Wonder how many people bet on this game not knowing that little nugget?

4) RIP Jerry Krause, 77— he was GM of the Jordan-era Bulls who later became a baseball scout after leaving the NBA. Krause brought Toni Kukoc over from Europe to join Jordan/Pippen, which didn’t go over well with his two stars. Krause probably didn’t get enough credit for the Bulls’ success.

3) Fans sitting behind the announcers at the Bakersfield-Colorado State NIT game Monday nite weren’t very happy with the officiating and were letting the refs know it— the mikes picked up some of their R-rated criticisms. I’m thinking someone with ESPN must’ve asked them to cool it, since they weren’t as vocal near the end of the game

2) Nicole Auerbach reports that of the 351 Division I basketball teams, only five haven’t had a kid transfer out in the last two years. North Carolina hasn’t lost a transfer since 2011.

1— The night the Knicks beat the Lakers to win the 1970 NBA title, when Willis Reed limped out and inspired the Knicks to win by scoring the first two hoops of the game on basically one leg, one of the ballboys that night was Steve Albert, now the Phoenix Suns’ play-by-play guy on TV.

1a) One of my heroes passed away late Tuesday night; Chuck Barris, the wacky host of The Gong Show, died at age 87. Creator of game shows like The Dating Game and Newlywed Game, Barris was a creative genius with a bizarre sense of humor. He made me laugh more than just about anyone other than Steve Martin. RIP, sir, you will be missed.

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

13) You don’t read enough uplifting stories these days; saw one on Twitter Sunday night on how former Indiana coach Tom Crean is a terrific guy, doing random acts of kindness around the Bloomington area throughout his seven years coaching the Hoosiers.

Crean was being mentioned for the LSU job (he didn’t get it); he got Marquette to the Final Four when he had Dwyane Wade. The man can coach; am guessing he’ll have a new job soon, but being selfish, would actually be curious to hear him on TV for a season.

12) In 1980, Duke’s basketball coach quit to go to South Carolina, in part because the Duke AD didn’t have the coaches’ parking lot paved, even though the coach requested it after he made the Final Four in ’78. When the coach left, Duke hired a young coach named Krzyzewski to replace him, so Duke fans shouldn’t be too annoyed the Blue Devils lost to Carolina Sunday.

If the Gamecocks hadn’t hired Bill Foster away from Duke 37 years ago, maybe the Coach K era never would’ve happened.

11) Counting all four postseason tournaments, ACC teams are 5-15 against the spread. All this “Which conference is best/worst?” arguments are cyclical, it changes from year to year.

10) Last three times Arkansas made the NCAA tournament, they were eliminated by North Carolina, in 2008, 2015, 2017.

9) Ominous stats for UCLA (South), Oregon (Midwest), who are playing in regional semifinals this week: since ’06, Pac-12 teams are 10-6 in West Region semis/finals, but 1-11 in other region’s semis/finals. Arizona is still playing in the West region.

8) Hey, they found Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey; now I can sleep better.

7) Since 2010, Wisconsin/Kentucky (six each) have most Sweet 16 appearances.

6) Greg Maddux faced 20,421 hitters in his career; of those, only 310 times did he have a 3-0 count. Of the 310 3-0 counts, 177 of them were intentional walks.

5) NFL is considering shortening overtime to 10:00 instead of 15:00. They should eliminate it altogether in preseason games.

4) QB Josh McCown gets $6M for one year from the Jets, where he’ll have a chance to start.

3) LIU went 20-12 this season, 13-5 in the NEC, but they fired their coach Monday. Must be an interesting backstory there. Guy went 46-42 in five years in the NEC, making the NCAA’s in his first year. Doesn’t seem like a record that merited a dismissal.

2) Philadelphia 76ers’ studio show is unique; former St Joe’s coach Jim Lynam is an analyst, and so is his daughter Dei Lynam. I’m old enough to remember when St Joe’s won a tournament game way back when and his daughter ran on the court and hugged him- she was a kid back then.

1— Our thoughts/prayers go out to former NFL WR Dwight Clark, who announced he has ALS and is fighting that crippling disease. One thing, though…….

My mother passed away in 2004; she had Alzheimer’s, dementia and arthritis in her knees, but she never played one down of football. Football isn’t responsible for everything.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a basketball weekend…….

13) Michigan 73, Louisville 69— Wolverines shot just 6-17 on arc; they shouldn’t win this game with those numbers, especially with Walton going 3-13 from floor. Snider was 0-9 for Louisville, 0-7 on arc, bad time for a game like that. Michigan was +5 (11-6) in turnovers; they’re on the roll of a lifetime here, finding ways to win.

12) Kentucky 65, Wichita State 62— Just like 2014, these teams play a tense second round game and Wildcats prevail. Whats next for a Wichita team that returns all its players next year? Will they be in a different league? Will Gregg Marshall still be there? UCLA whacked the Wildcats back in December in Lexington; the rematch should be fun.

11) Kansas 90, Michigan State 70— Spartans were #323 experience team in country; they played #49 non-conference schedule, had some injury issues, but got to the round of 32. Izzo is a great coach, but tough coaching such a young group, albeit a very talented team. Since 2010, Kansas is just 5-3 in this round; this is a solid win- they move on to play Purdue in regional semis.

Jayhawks scored 1.31 pts/possession in first two tournament games, which is really good.

10) North Carolina 72, Arkansas 65— Razorbacks were down 30-13 early, rallied to take the lead, led as late as when score was 65-60, but Tar Heels scored the last 12 points of the game, holding Arkansas scoreless over 3:30 of game. Razorbacks needed to keep game chaotic; when it slowed down, they fell apart.

9) Oregon 75, Rhode Island 72— Conference of Champions wins again; this was a hard-fought game, with Rams up 46-38 at half, but they only scored 26 in 2nd half. Oregon plays Michigan next in Kansas City- they outscored URI 18-6 on foul line, made 7-16 on arc. Rams shot 65% inside arc, but were just 6-8 on foul line, 6-22 on arc. This was a fun game to watch.

Bobby Hurley was with his brother Danny this weekend in Sacramento; had to be weird for him, since he played for the NBA’s Kings and got into a car accident outside the old arena there that ruined his playing career. Bobby was a much better player than his brother, but Danny Hurley seems like he is the better coach.

8) Baylor 82, USC 78— Trojans’ Metu killed the Bears inside (28 points), but Baylor’s bench outscored USC’s 25-4- they were +11 on boards and Lecomte took over a segment of the game that put Baylor ahead for good. USC was 9-22 on arc; they had a great week, but fell little bit short here.

7) South Carolina 88, Duke 81— This regional was supposed to be played in North Carolina, but was yanked because of the Bathroom Law, so Duke, a team that refuses to play true road games in pre-conference play, winds up playing the Gamecocks in Greenville, SC, basically a road game in the Round of 32.

Gamecocks were down 30-23 at halftime, but stormed back in 2nd half, scoring 65 points, most points a Duke team has allowed in one half under Krzyzewski. South Carolina is in Sweet 16 for first time ever; last time they had even won one tournament game was in 1973.

6) UCLA 79, Cincinnati 67— Bearcats led 33-30 at half, then UCLA scored 30 points in first 9:50 of second half, and pulled away in last ten minutes. Underdogs were 6-2 vs spread on Sunday.

There are rumors on the Interweb that Indiana will offer Steve Alford $31.7M for seven years to be its new coach, but now all that has to wait. UCLA is headed to Memphis to play Kentucky in the gym that John Calipari used to call home. Bruins beat Kentucky 97-92 in Rupp Arena in December.

5) Washington hired Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins as its new hoop coach. Hopkins was supposed to be Jim Boeheim’s successor (and he may still be), but he is 47, which is a little late to be getting your first head coaching job- guess he got tired of waiting.

4) A Las Vegas gambler risked $20,000 to win only $500, playing Louisville on the money line against Jacksonville State Friday.

3) Another investor risked $50,000 on a Villanova/Gonzaga money line parlay, which went down the drain when Wisconsin upset the Wildcats. Thats a bad day.

2) Here’s a good day: When Kansas State won their play-in game with Wake Forest, K-State coach Bruce Weber banked a $164,000 bonus for winning an NCAA tournament game. Hope he sends his agent a nice gift.

1— World Baseball Classic has to be a financial bonanza; they put 65,000+ fans in Petco Park for two separate admissions Saturday. Not sure what tickets cost, but they should have good crowds in Dodger Stadium for the finals this coming week.

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

13) Wisconsin 65, Villanova 62— Wildcats won national title LY, but since 2010, they’re now 1-4 in 2nd round games- they were favored by 4.5-4.5-9.5-5.5 points in the losses. Wisconsin has a lot of big-game experience- they were down 57-50 in this game, finished strong- they shot 64.5% inside arc, surviving 7-16 shooting on foul line.

12) West Virginia 83, Notre Dame 71— Mountaineers put relentless pressure on you and it tires teams out. West Virginia was 8-14 on arc, which doesn’t happen much (first time since Dec 10 they made more than half their 3’s)- when they shoot well, they can pressure the ball more and then they’re very hard to beat.

Notre Dame took 28 3-pointers, 26 2-pointers in this game, not usually a winning formula.

11) Gonzaga 79, Northwestern 73— I’m glad Zags won, but this game clearly swung on a blown goaltending call the refs missed, when Wildcats were making huge run, after trailing by 20 at one point. Collins got T’d up because of the missed call, which happened with 4:57 left and Gonzaga up by 5— goaltending would’ve made it a 3-point game.

Gonzaga moves on; Northwestern goes home after a historic season for them, making NCAA’s for first time. A Big 14 school near Chicago should never have been this bad for so long, but now Evanston should become a more fashionable destination for good players.

10) Xavier 91, Florida State 66— I think Steve Lavin is a great game analyst, so fun to listen to, much better than in studio, where he can only say so much. Lavin was at his best in this game with Ian Eagle, throwing in movie/pop culture references. Good stuff.

As for the game, Chris Mack can really coach; he is playing with a freshman backup PG (who has no backup), yet his team won this game easily, leading by 10 at the half. Disappointing end to the season for FSU, a young team that often struggled away from home.

9) Butler 74, Middle Tennessee 65— Three of Blue Raiders’ starters didn’t score, which makes it hard to win- their leading scorer Potts was averaging 15.6 pts/game- he didn’t score, but this was still a 5-point game late. Last four years, 12-seeds are 1-5 vs spread in second round when facing a 4-seed. Butler gets monkey off its back; they lost in second round last two years.

8) Arizona 69, St Mary’s 60— Gaels led 30-29 at the half, but superior athleticism took over in the second half as Arizona wore St Mary’s down and pulled away late. Sean Miller faces his old team Xavier in the next round out in San Jose.

7) Florida 65, Virginia 39— Horrendous exhibition by the Cavaliers, shooting 1-15 on the arc in a non-competitive performance. Florida won/covered its last five second round games, though they did miss tournament the last two years. This was just an awful game.

6) Purdue 80, Iowa State 76— Cyclones were incredibly bad for the first 22:00, then they made an epic comeback, rallying back from 19 down to take a 73-71 lead, but Purdue won this game in the last 3:00 and moves on and will play the Kansas-Michigan State winner in Kansas City. Cyclones were 7-23 on arc, their worst mark in any game since Jan 21st.

5) When John Chaney was coaching at Temple, it basically became expected that once a player got his second foul in the first half, he was done until the second half. Now all of a sudden this year, some TV people are criticizing that strategy, including some guys who coached against Chaney and did it themselves when they coached.

4) Brad Underwood bolts Oklahoma State after one year for Illinois; apparently the AD at OSU told Underwood he would re-negotiate his contract if the Cowboys won, which they did. But then the AD reneged on his word and Underwood bolted, quickly.

The term “carpet-bagger” comes to mind, but Underwood gets a huge pay upgrade for going to Illinois, and this is a capitalist society, so good for him.

This, by the way, is why some college players get annoyed— coaches jump ship for big bucks, while kids get in trouble with the NCAA for taking extra benefits. It is called “how the real world works”, but I can also see their point.

3) Since 1987, Villanova is 16th 1-seed to lose in 2nd round; of previous 15 teams to upset the 1-seed, those teams went 8-7 SU in regional semi-finals, 1-2 vs spread as a favorite, 7-5 as the underdog. Surprisingly, North Carolina has twice upset a 1-seed in 2nd round, in ’90 and 2000.

2) Looking at the eight teams who pulled those 2nd round upsets, then won again in regional semis, they went 5-3 SU if they got to the regional final- they were underdog in four of five wins.

1— Since 2001, Florida (’07) is only defending national champ that made it to a regional final the next year- they won back/back titles, in ’06/‘07. Villanova’s loss drops defending champs to 8-2 in last ten second round games (since ’01).

Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up a Friday of basketball……..

Michigan 92, Oklahoma State 91— Wolverines made 16-29 on arc and win by only one; they played four starters 38:00+. Cowboys are one of best teams ever that lost their last four games of the season, with three of the four losses by 5 or less points. Evans was 10-26 for the day, stuck a 3 at the buzzer to cover the spread, a big win for Las Vegas sportsbooks.

Baylor 91, New Mexico State 73— First 10:00 of this game had James Naismith turning over in his grave, but reality set in and Bears move on to second round for the first time in three years. WAC games are rarely on TV, but with Grand Canyon eligible for NCAA’s next year, and Aggies, Bakersfield really moving up the power ratings, maybe ESPN should show them some love.

Arkansas 77, Seton Hall 71— Razorbacks took only seven 3-pointers (3-7) the whole game; they were -14 on boards, but held Seton Hall to 39.2% inside arc. This was just 4th win for SEC teams in their last 18 games against the Big East. You wonder whats up with Seton Hall; supposedly Kevin Willard tried to get the South Florida job, and they didn’t hire him.

Oregon 93, Iona 77— This was a terrible game; Iona had no answers and stopped trying for a while midway thru second half. Ducks led 55-37 at half, looked bored for most of last 15:00. Final score doesn’t tell story here; Jordan Washington played his butt off for Iona, but he was by himself in that regard.

Louisville 78, Jacksonville State 63— Gamecocks beat spread by going 10-19 on arc; they had a great season, making NCAA’s for first time. Louisville now has an interesting game coming up with Michigan, which extended his starters big time in their game. If I’m Rick Pitino, I’m glad we’re playing Michigan and not Oklahoma State.

USC 66, SMU 65— Mustangs had every advantage in this game; Trojans had to play a day game after playing late game in Dayton Wednesday night- SMU had revenge motive, after USC beat them in LA in December and Mustangs are more experienced team. Problem is, USC has great athletes across board— they shot 76% inside arc in this game- they attacked the basket.

North Carolina 103, Texas Southern 64— Tar Heels missed 44 shots, rebounded 20 of them in this mismatch. Since 2007, UNC is 6-3 vs spread in second round games, losing back/back to Kansas/Iowa St in ’13/’14- they beat Arkansas 87-78 in 2nd round two years ago, forcing 21 turnovers while going 29-37 on foul line. They play Razorbacks again on Sunday.

Rhode Island 84, Creighton 72— Rams won ninth game in row; they shot 59% inside arc, made 28-31 foul shots and had a fairly easy time with a Creighton team that went 7-9 once their PG got hurt- they were 18-1 when he got hurt. Rams’ game with Oregon Sunday will be fun to watch.

Kansas 100, Cal-Davis 62— Cal-Davis did great this year, winning first Big West title, but the Big West was terrible this year, dropping to #29 out of 32 nationally (they were 13th last two years). Reality set in here. Kansas hadn’t played much recently, losing in 1st round of Big X tourney; did it help refresh their legs? Jayhawks lost in 2nd round two of last three years; they’re 3-4 vs spread in last seven 2nd round games.

Wichita State 64, Dayton 58— Dayton players other than Scoochie Smith were 9-41. Oy. Shockers beat Archie Miller’s team here, beat Sean Miller’s team LY; there are rumors Wichita could be headed to the AAC, there are also rumors that Gregg Marshall will be pursued by Indiana, but he already makes $3.3M at Wichita, unsure why Indiana would be a better job..

Duke 87, Troy State 65— Blue Devils made 13-28 on arc; beating the #6-seed in the Sun Belt tourney wasn’t a big deal, though athletic Trojans did get within nine in second half. Duke won its last six 2nd round games, covering four of last five. Troy gets to NCAA’s for first time in 14 years- the Sun Belt is an underrated league, getting stronger.

Cincinnati 75, Kansas State 61— Mick Cronin pretended to want the UNLV job last spring so he could extort improvements to the facilities from his bosses at Cincinnati, which worked. Now his offense is a lot better than previous years, and he has a legit shot at the Sweet 16. Their game with UCLA Sunday is going to be a really good one.

Michigan State 78, Miami 58— Miami jumps out to a 10-0 lead and it looks like Izzo might go out in first round for second year in ro— but no. Spartans came roaring back, shot 73.3% inside arc and won by 20— they were up 38-27 at the half. Hurricanes were a weird, erratic team this season. Michigan State-Kansas is an appealing 1-9 game Sunday.

Kentucky 79, Northern Kentucky 70— This was the Norse’s Super Bowl, another day in the park for the Wildcats and it showed. NKU fought hard to the end, but the guy who promised every NKU student a free steak dinner if the Norse won is off the hook. Kentucky better be on their game Sunday; Wichita State will be a worthy opponent.

South Carolina 93, Marquette 73— This was South Carolina’s first NCAA tournament win since 1973, when I was a charming 8th grader. Gamecocks scored 93 points? 53 in second half? Doesn’t say a lot for Coach Wojo’s defensive teachings. Carolina was 3-6 in its last nine games coming in; now they get a game against Duke in their home state Sunday.

UCLA 97, Kent State 80— One of Bruins’ backup big guys has a bad foot, is out; UCLA jumped out to a 16-2 lead, shot 66.7% inside arc, scored enough transition points to keep Kent at bay when the Golden Flashes made a run in the second half. UCLA-Cincinnati is going to be a great game on Sunday. Bruins will be going up against similar athletes.

Wrapping up the first real day of March Madness

Night games
Xavier 76, Maryland 65— When Xavier’s kids sat down to watch TV at 5:30 Sunday, they had to nervous as to whether they were in the field of 68 or not. Now they’ve advanced to the round of 32. Terrapins won a lot of games with an extremely young nucleus held together by junior PG Trimble; that wasn’t enough here, as Xavier big man O’Mara had a career night, scoring 18 points.

Villanova 76, Mt St Mary’s 56— Wildcats dozed thru first half, led 30-29, then did what they had to do in second half to advance. Villanova needs to step up its game Saturday. Over last seven years, #1 seeds are 23-5 SU in second round games, but they did lose five times, as favorites of 11.5-8-6.5-4.5.9.5 points. Wildcats were last of those five teams, losing to NC State in 2015.

Purdue 80, Vermont 70— Game was only 37-36 at half, but Boilermakers win/cover- Vermont didn’t score in last 1:16 as Purdue covered on a FT with 0:28 left America East teams are now 6-7 vs spread in this round the last 13 years- Albany 5-1, rest of the league 1-6.

St Mary’s 85, VCU 77— Announcer on A-14 tournament last weekend said this: “If VCU plays a team with experienced guards, they could be in trouble in NCAA’s.” That is exactly what went on here. Gaels ran a clinic on half-court offense and move on to play Saturday.

Florida State 86, Florida Gulf Coast 80— Not often a game starts 2-2 with both baskets on dunks, but this one did. This game was like a fierce playground battle between arch-rivals; teams combined to go 10-41 on the arc, but Seminoles got to foul line 39 times. Bacon had 25 for FSU; you could say he was…..sizzling.

Wisconsin 84, Virginia Tech 74— Badgers made 13-31 on arc, will next play Villanova, which could be a good game— Wisconsin starts four seniors who’ve played a lot of ball together. Bronson Koenig was 8-17 behind the arc; thats a lot of 3’s for one guy to take.

Iowa State 84, Nevada 73— Wolf Pack only played six guys in this game; difficult to play as hard as they do and not sub much— their legs go late in game, which shows in their shooting. When Nevada has better depth next year, they’re going to be a handful.

Good trivia; Nevada player Jordan Caroline’s dad is Simeon Rice, who was a really good player in the NFL. His granddad is JC Caroline, who played 10 years for the Bears and intercepted Johnny Unitas’ first career pass and ran it back for a touchdown.

Arizona 100, North Dakota 82— Fighting Hawks went right at Arizona and got their butts kicked, but what a year they had, making NCAA’s for first time. In 2018-19 they move to the Summit League, which is a better league, so they’ll need to upgrade their recruiting. Video from this game won’t hurt, at least the offensive part of it.

Arizona-St Mary’s Saturday will be an interesting game.

Afternoon games
Notre Dame 60, Princeton 58— Tigers had a wide-open 3-pointer to take lead with 0:05 but Cannady missed, and Irish survive/advance. Cannady grew up five minutes outside South Bend. Princeton won Ivy title on Sunday; thought noon Thursday game was a tough draw for them, but they played well- too bad they were 8-31 on arc.

Virginia 76, NC-Wilmington 71— Seahawks led by 14 in first half, but Cavaliers used big run to grab 30-29 lead at half- Virginia held UNCW off in second half. Hard to believe Kevin Keatts will still be Seahawks’ coach next year; he’s done great work there, and the $$$ leagues should come calling this week or next.

Butler 76, Winthrop 64— Bulldogs outscored Winthrop 20-5 on foul line; Woodson made 6-10 on arc for Butler. Big South is now 2-6 vs spread in this round the last nine years. This was Eagles’ first trip to NCAA’s since 2010, when Gregg Marshall was their coach— terrific year for them.

Gonzaga 66, South Dakota State 46— Zags were only up 26-22 at half, but they methodically pulled away in second half and won easily- they held Jackrabbits’ star Daum to 17 points. Zags might’ve covered spread had they not gone 8-18 on foul line. There will be pressure on Gonzaga Saturday, when they play Vandy-Northwestern winner to get to Sweet 16.

West Virginia 86, Bucknell 80— Mountaineers were up 27-12 eight minutes in; there was a few minutes when Bucknell couldn’t get ball over half-court, but then Bison got gritty and hung in there- they got within five points a few times in second half. West Virginia-Notre Dame is a high quality second round game Saturday.

Florida 80, East Tennessee State 65— Game was 33-32 at half, but Gators outscored ETSU 21-6 on foul line, got lot of run-out hoops after Bucs’ turnovers to pull away in second half. Second round game with Virginia will be a much different style game.

Middle Tennessee State 81, Minnesota 72— Last two seasons, Blue Raiders are 5-0 vs SEC/Big 14 teams, winning by average of 12.6 pts/game. This was a 12-seed beating a 5-seed, but not an upset. MTSU was favored by a point. Richard Pitino lost his poise, got T’d up near the end when Gophers were down nine- -they were already going to lose, but not his finest moment.

Northwestern 68, Vanderbilt 66— Vandy scored with 0:17 left to take lead, then one of their best guys screwed up, fouling on purpose— did he think a) they were behind? b) they were up 3? c) they had a foul to give? Whatever, it was a colossal screw-up.

Northwestern makes their foul shots and advances, so we get 120 more shots of the Seinfeld lady on TV Saturday (her son is a sub on Northwestern).

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

13) I was thinking abut Baylor as a possible Final Four team; problem is, the last two years Bears lost first round games as a 3-seed and a 5-seed- that is not good and hasn’t happened very often.

Last year, Baylor was a 6-point favorite over Yale; they lost to the 12-seed Bulldogs, 79-75. Year before, they were favored by 7.5 points over Georgia State, but lost to the 14-seed Panthers 57-56. This year, Baylor is a 3-seed again and gets New Mexico State- Bears are favored by 12 points. Proceed at your own risk.

12) If Kentucky gets to the Sweet 16, and they should, John Calipari returns to Memphis, where he once led the Tigers to the national title game. Things haven’t gone so well for Memphis since Calipari left for Kentucky. Curious to see what kind of a reaction he’ll get.

11) Note to self: If I ever go to a baseball game in Japan, DO NOT sit in front of the guy who blows a whistle for the whole nine innings.

10) Back in 1986, I was a big fan of the Bradley Braves, coached by Dick Versace and with Hersey Hawkins as the star player; they won an NCAA tourney game before losing in second round to Louisville. Point guard on that team was Jim Les, who played in the NBA for a while and now got his Cal-Davis Aggies in the NCAA’s for the first time. Good coach.

9) According to Baseball America, two of Tampa Bay Rays’ top 12 minor league prospects are from the Albany, NY area, where I live. Garrett Whitley, an OF and Jaime Schultz a pitcher who pitched at High Point U in North Carolina (where the basketball coach is Scott Cherry, who is from Saratoga, 25 miles north of Albany).

Albany is not exactly a hotbed of high school baseball, maybe because as I type this on March 15, my front lawn has two feet of snow on it.

8) Surprising fact: In the six years since the NCAA tournament field was expanded to 68 teams, one of the play-in winners has also won a first round game.

7) So 5-seed Minnesota is a 1-point favorite over 12-seed Middle Tennessee? Last time a 5-seed got this little respect in the first round was 2006, when 12-seed Texas A&M was favored by 1.5 points over Syracuse- they beat the Orangemen, 66-58.

Middle Tennessee was an 18-point underdog when they upset Michigan State last year. Perception of the Blue Raiders has changed a lot.

6) When the Houston Texans signed Brock Osweiler last year, they had never met him? How is that possible? Guy is hopefully your franchise QB; you’d think you’d like to talk with him before he signs a contract with $37M guaranteed in it.

5) Thanks to Jim Boeheim’s comments about there being “no value” to the ACC hoop tournament been held in Greensboro, the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Class A affiliate of Miami Marlins, will give away $20 worth of food and drinks on April 11 to anyone who shows up with a driver’s license that lists Syracuse on it.

Even better, Syracuse played NC-Greensboro in the first round of the NIT- Orange won by 13. Whoever made that happen though, they had to have a good chuckle about it.

4) 10-seed Wichita State is a 6.5-point favorite over 7-seed Dayton; whose opinion do you respect more, Las Vegas oddsmakers or a bunch of college administrators sitting in a hotel conference room? This is the most points a 10-seed has been favored by over a 7-seed.

3) Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia once walked on to the baseball team at Arizona State; he had to ask three times before they even let him try out. “We already have our second baseman” was the response he got, but finally, they let him try out. Smart move.

Things have worked out pretty well for Pedroia, and also for the second baseman who was the starter at ASU at the time— Ian Kinsler.

2) Cal-Davis 67, North Carolina Central 63— Aggies were +10 on boards, held NC Central to 5-26 on arc and advance on to get whacked by 1-seed Kansas in the next round. Thats just the reality of it, but Davis has had a great year- first NCAA tournament and they won a game.

1— USC 75, Providence 71— Trojans were down 17 early in second win; their win is 7th-largest comeback in NCAA tournament history and also avenges 70-69 loss to Friars last year. USC will play Southern Methodist next, Friday in Tulsa.

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

13) K-State 95, Wake Forest 88—  Wildcats were 25-31 (80.6%) inside arc; Deacons didn’t play whole lot of defense. Big X teams are now 5-1 vs ACC teams this year, with one win North Carolina crowning Oklahoma State in Maui Classic.

12) Mt St Mary’s 67, New Orleans 66— Mount was 10-19 on arc, UNO 1-9; plus, with 6:41 left, the Privateers’ big guy tried to strangle his teammate (the point guard) as they went into a TV timeout- the big guy was yanked from game and never returned. Have feeling the better team lost. Mt St Mary’s advances to play Villanova next.

11) How play-in teams who advance make out in round of 64: “JV (16-seed)” play-in winners are 5-7 vs spread when facing a #1 seed…….”Varsity (11-12 seed)” play-in winners are 7-5 vs spread in round of 64- those 12 teams have gone 1-1 SU in round of 64 all six years they’ve had it.

10) Venezuela played its play-in game in the WBC Monday with Jose Altuve on the bench; interesting decision by manager Omaz Vizquel, who used Rougned Odor instead. Now that they’ve advanced to San Diego, will be curious to see who they start at 2B in the next round.

9) Is there anyone who thinks Magic Johnson will do a better job than Mitch Kupchak did as the Lakers GM? Magic was a great, great player; wasn’t a very good coach- these are all different skills.

8) Of the eight 15-seeds who won first round NCAA tourney games, only Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 won its second round game- those teams are 2-5-1 vs spread in their second round games.

7) Coaching carousel; George Washington named interim coach Maurice Joseph its full time coach; South Florida named former Dayton/Ga Tech coach Brian Gregory its new coach, after Akron’s Keith Dambrot (Lebron James’ HS coach) turned them down.

6) Thank the Lord for spring training baseball on TV; Tuesday afternoon, I could barely see the house across the street from mine, thats how hard it was snowing. Watched Phillies-Braves, then Giants-Indians and was warm vicariously thru those broadcasts.

5) Atlanta Braves are leaving Disney’s Wide World of Sports for the Sarasota area next spring, as they reduce travel time to/from spring training games. Used to go to WWOS in July to watch AAU games; Tampa Bay Bucs had training camp there then- remember seeing Tom Crean (then at Marquette) watching the Bucs practice with his young son sitting on his shoulders.

4) No team lost its first conference tournament game, then won a national title that year. This year; Kansas, Louisville, Baylor, Purdue fall into that group this year.

3) If you care about such things, Kansas State was the last at-large team to make the NCAA tournament.

2) What exactly does Joe Lunardi do for the next ten months?

1— Here is my Final Four; North Carolina-Arizona-Villanova-Oregon. I’ll pick the Wildcats to repeat as national champs. Enjoy the games!!!

Tuesday’s List of 13: NCAA tournament trends (mostly)…….

13) Call me an old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn, but NBA players making 8-figure salaries taking nights off to “rest” is complete BS. They fly around on private jets, never, ever carry their own luggage, but can’t play on consecutive nights? They’re soft.

Karl-Anthony Towns hasn’t missed a game in his two years in the NBA; nothing soft about him, but he is becoming the exception instead of the rule. Karl Malone played in 80+ games in 17 consecutive non-strike seasons— you don’t think he ever got tired?!?!?!

12) When Tampa Bay Bucs’ WR Mike Evans was playing at Galveston Ball HS in Texas, the WR on the other side of the field was Phillies OF prospect Nick Williams, who is in AAA with the Phils now, and is their #4 overall prospect, according to Baseball America.

Now, on to some NCAA tournament trends……..

11) Over last four years, 16-seeds are 9-7 vs spread in first round games; over last 24 years, the #1 seed in East Region is just 7-16-1 vs spread in the first round.

10) As I type this, Rhode Island (97%), St Mary’s (96%), UCLA (94%) are getting highest percentage of money wagered on them in their first round games. Most evenly divided action is Princeton (52%)-Notre Dame game. These numbers are at William Hill sports books in Nevada.

9) Last three years, 14-seeds are 8-4 vs spread in first round, with four SU upsets. All four 3-seeds are favored by 12+ points this week, first time since 2009 that all four 3-seeds were a double digit favorite in the first round.

8) Over last five years, Atlantic 14 teams are 13-8 vs spread in first round games.

7) This is mostly random but still interesting; you look at 4-13 first round games- the favorite is 16-7 vs spread in the East region, 9-2 in Southeast, 3-6 in Midwest and 3-14 in the West.

6) Last two years, Big X teams are 3-11 against the spread in the first round;

5) Last 23 years, the 12-seed in the Midwest is 18-5 vs spread in first round, 15-8 SU; last 10 years, the 12-seed in the West is 8-2 vs spread, winning three of last four SU. Favorites are 10-5 vs spread in 5-12 games in Southeast, 8-4 in East the last 12 years.

4) Since 2008, Mountain West teams other than San Diego State are 5-22 vs spread in the NCAA tournament, 4-16 in the first round.

3) 10-seed Wichita State is favored by 6 points over 10-seed Dayton; since 1987, 10-seeds that are favored over a 7-seed are 10-16-1 vs spread. In the last 30 years, this is the most points a 10-seed has been favored by in the first round.

2) If you look at the eventual national champ the last 11 years, they went 10-1 vs spread in their first round game, exception being Kentucky in 2012, which beat Western Kentucky by 15 in first round, laying 26.5. WKU’s coach then was Ray Harper, who now has Jacksonville State of OVC in the tournament, this year against Louisville in first round.

OVC teams are 6-1-1 vs spread in first round the last eight years.

1— Illinois State coach Dan Muller put out a message on Twitter Monday, asking any “Big 5” conference coach to play a home/home series with the Redbirds next season. Muller won’t get any calls, since the Big 5 conference teams don’t have the onions to play true road games. You think Jim Boeheim is getting on a plane and flying to Normal, IL for a game in December?

Monday’s List of 13: Quick thoughts on the field of 68

Some quick thoughts after seeing the pairings and after Champ Week.

13) Must be nice go to college at Arizona; their players were watching the pairings show while sitting outside, in the sun. I’m guessing the North Dakota kids watched the pairings show inside.

12) Early last week, was texting with a friend in Las Vegas, talking about hoop; the two mid-majors who I thought were best positioned to shock the world this week were Tex-Arlington and Monmouth— welllllll……neither one of them made it.

There will be a great set of games at some point in this tournament, I’m just not real sure it’ll be the first round this year. There are jackasses on TV who run their mouths and pick lot of upsets so they can look good if the upsets happen- no way do they really believe those upsets will happen.

11) UCLA is a 3-seed; they play Kent State, then probably the Cincy-Wake-KState survivor. One note of caution about UCLA; Lonzo Ball hurt his left thumb Friday night. No one said anything, and he played the game but you could tell it was bothering him. If he ain’t 100%, the Bruins will go out early. I’m looking at Cincinnati to upset the Bruins in the second round.

10) Providence-USC is a play-in game; Friars beat USC 70-69 in an 8-9 game LY, with Friars scoring on an OB under play at the buzzer. USC led by 5 with 2:21 left. Kris Dunn is in the NBA now, though. Long trip east for the USC kids, and also for the Cal-Davis kids who also play in Dayton Wednesday night.

9) Purdue is a 4-seed, the best seed of any Big 14 team. Was looking at Maryland as a team who would get beat in the first round, but they drew a Xavier squad whose point guard got hurt 13 games ago— Musketeers are 6-7 since he got hurt.

8) Vermont is a 13-seed, second year in row the America East champ was a 13-seed. Since 2006, America East teams are 6-6 vs spread in NCAA’s, but a closer look shows that Albany was 5-1 vs spread in NCAA games, the rest of the league 1-5. Vermont lost to Butler by 12, South Carolina by 18, Providence by 22 this season- their best wins were over Harvard, Wofford.

7) Of the teams who played on Sunday, who has to play Thursday? Princeton and Wisconsin. Thats a quick turnaround, especially if the Thursday games are during the day.

6) Last two years, Big X teams are 3-11 against the spread in the first round.

5) Last year, Wichita State beat Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats 65-55 in the NCAA’s; this year, Shockers play Dayton in the first round- Flyers are coached by Archie Miller, Sean’s brother.

4) Westgate Sportsbook in Las Vegas (where it is not expected to snow this week, unlike in beautiful downtown Albany) has Duke at 5-1 to win it all; North Carolina is 6-1, followed by Kansas/Kentucky/Villanova, all at  8-1, then Gonzaga 10-1.

3) Six years ago, New Orleans didn’t have a basketball team; they were out of it for two years as the school considered dropping to Division III. Now the Privateers are in the NCAA’s- they won by 16 at Washington State of the Pac-12. Great coaching job by Mark Slessinger- UNO is 16-5 this season vs teams ranked outside the top 200. Mt St Mary’s is ranked #213.

2) Several teams made the NCAA’s for the first time; Northwestern, Cal-Davis, North Dakota and Jacksonville State; for those teams, everything from this point on is gravy- they’ve already had a fabulous season.

1— Someone in the blur of last week’s TV deluge predicted a 16-seed would beat a 1-seed this season; it has never happened, but look at the four games this year- it still ain’t happening.

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

13) Arizona 83, Oregon 80— High-level game; Wildcats jumped out quickly, held on at the end. I’m not big on debating seeding, but I do think that right now, both these teams are better than Gonzaga, if only because they’ve been tested so much more in the last nine weeks.

12) VCU 87, Richmond 77 OT— Spiders (+6.5) are our Bad Beat of the Day (they led by 3 with 0:30 left in regulation), but also they lost to their crosstown rival for third time this season. Has to be frustrating.

Bad beat #2: Penn (+7) lost by 8 in OT at home to Princeton.

Champ Week is great fun because of games like this one; VCU was in NCAA’s no matter what, but Richmond could’ve been a bid stealer, so teams like USC, Illinois State, Kansas State had to be rooting like hell for VCU, maybe harder than VCU fans.

11) Big Sky final: North Dakota 93, Weber State 89, OT— They used to be called the Fighting Sioux before the world became politically correct; now they’re the Fighting Hawks. Fitting that a team whose best player is Quinton Hooker won the first Big Sky tournament played in Nevada.

10) Duke 75, Notre Dame 69— Blue Devils are first ACC team to win conference tournament by winning four games in four days- they came from behind in second half the last three days.

9) Oregon lost Chris Boucher, its best shot blocker, with a torn ACL, damaging blow to their NCAA hopes. He was scoring 11.8 pts/game, grabbing 6.1 rebounds/game. Boucher played 12:00 last night AFTER the injury, which was found by an MRI today. Tough kid.

Minnesota lost senior guard Akeem Springs for the season with an achilles injury, big blow for the Gophers.

8) First day of the first-ever Ivy League tournament was an on-court success; Princeton snuck past the host Penn Quakers in overtime, while Yale beat rival Harvard to advance to the finals.

Princeton was 14-0 during regular season; would’ve been a bitter pill to lose to a 6-8 team that was playing on its home court. Harvard has a really good senior point guard, but their other four starters are freshmen. Unusual.

7) Random fact: Over last eight NCAA tournaments, the overall #1 seed has only won the national championship twice.

6) Nevada 79, Colorado State 71— CSU coach Larry Eustachy got every last drop out of his seven-man squad that had five frosh/sophs on it, but it wasn’t enough to win three games in three days in a conference tournament.

Question for Nevada is this: can they keep their coach now? Eric Musselman was an NBA head coach (Golden State/Sacramento); his salary in Reno isn’t that great (less than $400K). He was an assistant at LSU a few years ago; he’d be a great hire for them.

5) Illinois went 37-53 in conference play the last five years; they fired John Groce Saturday. Illini played for the national title in 2005 under Bruce Weber, but has only made tournament in three of last ten years.

Bob Williams is out after 19 years at Cal-Santa Barbara; Gauchos had a horrible year this season, but the three years before this one, UCSB was 34-14 in the Big West- they haven’t been in the NCAA’s since 2011, but this seems like a quick hook.

4) Texas State 83, Texas-Arlington 62— UTA was a team I was looking at to be a Cinderella next week; they beat St Mary’s easily in Moraga, but they got upset in the semis of their conference tournament, so they’re off to the NIT. Texas State plays Troy State Sunday for the Sun Belt title; will the winner be headed to Dayton for a Wednesday play-in game?

3) Cincinnati 81, UConn 71— Bearcats beat UConn three times this season, all by double digits, twice in the Nutmeg State. Cincy will be a trendy sleeper pick in brackets next week.

2) What could the biggest possible “worlds colliding” matchup in the first round of the NCAA’s? In 1986, Montana State played St John’s; something like that. How often does a team from NYC play a team from Bozeman, Montana?

How about North Dakota-UCLA? Vermont-West Virginia?

1— Random observation; officials called way fewer fouls in Champ Week than they did during the regular season. Watched games from all over the country: the Big West tournament could’ve been played on an outdoor court at Venice Beach— tremendous amount of contact was ignored.

Saturday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a busy Friday of basketball

13) Duke 93, North Carolina 83— UNC point guard Joel Berry got in foul trouble and Carolina fell apart. Did they keep him out too long? Doug Gottlieb called it coaching malpractice. Duke made 10-17 on the arc and wins for the third day in a row- they play Notre Dame in the ACC final tonight.

12) Arizona 86, UCLA 75— No love lost between these two; Wildcats called timeout with 0:01 left, apparently in retaliation for Bruins doing a similar thing in Tucson last month. Coaches had words in the handshake line. Arizona plays Oregon for Pac-12 title tonight.

3:20 into this game, Bill Walton is hugging someone who patted him on the back at the broadcast table- while they’re on the air. It is Julius Erving, wearing a golf cap and shorts. He stopped by to say hello. Don’t see that every day.

11) Marshall 93, Louisiana Tech 77— #2-seed in Conference USA goes down; Thundering Herd was an amazing 19-35 on the arc; when you do that, you win. Marshall scored 1.31 points per possession, a very high number.

Over last five years, La Tech is 70-18 in conference play, but with zero NCAA tournaments; they are 4-5 in conference tournaments. For mid-majors, the conference tournament is the thing.

10) Michigan 74, Purdue 70 OT— Quite a week for the Wolverines, who played three guys 40:00+ in this game, after hammering Illinois yesterday. Tomorrow they play for third day in row against Minnesota, another very hot team.

9) Davidson 73, Dayton 67— Big upset in Atlantic 14; Wildcats got 34 from senior G Gibbs, and Aldridge played 40:00 for second day in a row.

8) Vanderbilt 72, Florida 62— Commodores beat Florida three times this season; is it enough to get them in the Field of 68? Commodores are 19-14; a win over Arkansas today might be needed.

7) Richmond 70, George Washington 67— Spiders’ best player is senior TJ Cline, a 6-9 kid who is a very good passer, smart player- he is also Nancy Lieberman’s son, a fact that the announcers in this game beat to death. We get it, his mom was a great player. Don’t need to interview her (or any parent), don’t need to see her on the screen six times a game.

Richmond’s coach played at Princeton, so the Spiders spread the floor a lot and pass the ball well; they led this game 68-62 with 3:42 left but never scored again until a breakaway layup at the buzzer provided the final margin.

6) Game of the Day: Cal-Bakersfield 81, Utah Valley 80, 4OT— Roadrunners forced 28 turnovers (+12) and advance to the WAC final tonight at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

5) Nevada 83, Fresno State 72— Wolf Pack had already lost twice to Fresno State this season, trailed by 11 at the half in this game, but used a 16-0 run in second half to win and advance to the Mountain West final, on their arch-rival’s home court in Las Vegas.

4) Creighton 75, Xavier 72— Musketeers hit a 3 to tie game, then Creighton won it with another 3-pointer as a team from Omaha beat a team from Cincinnati in the Big East tournament. If I was a kid and did lousy on a Geography test in school, I’d blame the Big East commissioner.

3) Big Sky final: Top-seeded North Dakota (the Fighting Hawks, not Fighting Sioux anymore) will face Weber State in the final in beautiful downtown Reno.

Big West final: Top-seeded Cal-Irvine will face Cal-Davis after the Aggies nipped Fullerton in OT late Friday night. Davis is looking for its first Big West championship.

2) West Virginia 51, Kansas State 50— Mountaineers shot 6-32 (6 for 32!!!!) in the first half, but hung in there, survived and may have snuffed out K-State’s last chance for an NCAA bid.

1— Kent State 68, Ohio U 66— Upset in MAC semis produces a final between arch-rivals, Kent and MAC kingpin Akron. Golden Flashes haven’t been in NCAA’s since 2008.

All the #1 seeds who played Friday won. Unusual.

There is an 11am tipoff for Albany-Vermont; my alma mater is trying for their sixth America East title. I better sleep fast. 🙂

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up the best hoop day of the year…….

Thursday of Champ Week is the best college basketball day of the year. Here is my brief recap: my apologies for any typos, I’m too tired to proofread this.

13) Duke 81, Louisville 77— Cardinals were 15-26 on foul line, 4-21 on arc. Strong matchup for the quarterfinals; now Blue Devils play North Carolina tomorrow night- this is only second meeting for those rivals in last 13 ACC tournaments (Duke won last one).

12) TCU 85, Kansas 82— Jayhawks’ star Josh Jackson was suspended for this game, now the Horned Frogs move on to the Big 12 semifinals for the first time. Moral of the story; No matter what she did to tick you off, don’t back your vehicle into her car, at least not during the season.

11) Iowa State 92, Oklahoma State 83— Cowboys lost last three games, two to ISU and one to Kansas, but still, three losses are three losses. OSU was 0-3 against the Cyclones this season; they’ll be happy to play teams from outside the Big X next week.

10) Michigan 75, Illinois 55— Wolverines couldn’t wear their uniforms, because everything that was on their airplane Wednesday was held by the FAA due to the investigation into what caused the accident with the airplane. So, Michigan wore their practice gear- they also flew in from Detroit Thursday morning and went right from the airport to the arena.

9) Northwestern 83, Rutgers 61— I’m confused as to how good the Wildcats actually are; they’re going to be in the Field of 68, so I need to figure it out soon. Will they relax and play better once they hear their name called on Selection Sunday?

Wildcats had a 31-0 run in this game. Don’t see many of those.

8) San Diego State 87, Boise State 68— Aztecs looked 98% disinterested Wednesday in their OT win against UNLV; they looked like a different set of people in this game. They play in the Mountain West semifinals tonite against Colorado State. Should be a good ballgame.

7) Xavier 62, Butler 57— Bulldogs are now 0-4 in Big East tournament; long trip from Indy to New York City. Big win for the Musketeers, who have now won three games in a row.

Big East semifinals: Villanova-Seton Hall and Xavier-Creighton.

6) Texas-El Paso 86, Rice 76— Miners wore Texas Western throwback jerseys in this game. A few years ago, they made the movie Glory Road about the Miners’ 1966 NCAA title.

5) Marshall 64, Old Dominion 63— Mike D’Antoni’s brother Dan coaches the Thundering Herd; they like to run, just like his brother’s Houston Rockets, but ODU kept this game in the low 60’s before Marshall pulled it out with a free throw with 0:03 left.

4) Kansas State 70, Baylor 64— Wildcats et to 20-12, which could be bad news for mid-major bubble teams like Illinois State. Wildcats won two out of three games from Baylor, which is 5-6 in its last 11 games after a 20-1 start.

Big X semifinals: Iowa State-TCU and West Virginia-Kansas State.

3) Big West semifinals: Cal-Davis plays Cal State Fullerton, then Cal-Irvine plays Long Beach State. Irvine is the best of the four teams but they’re a very young team.

2) Fresno State 65, New Mexico 60— Last year, Bulldogs won their last five regular season games, then won the Mountain West tournament. This season Fresno won its last five regular season games and is now in the MW semis tonight. Rodney Terry is doing good work in Fresno.

1— Duke-Carolina and Arizona-UCLA highlight the great card of games Friday night.