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

On college hoop page: Info on 5 of Friday’s interesting games

Friday’s 6-pack:
Lowest payrolls for the 2024 baseball season:
$45,525,000- Oakland A’s
$68,014,000- Pittsburgh Pirates
$84,433,928- Cleveland Guardians
$84,648,333- Cincinnati Reds
$86,535,000- Miami Marlins
$88,458,712- Tampa Bay Rays

Quote of the Day 
“I want a guy that can lead, that wants to compete. I want a guy that’s not afraid of a challenge because this is a big challenge that we have in front of us. We’ve got the world champs in our division again.”
Las Vegas Raiders’ coach Antonio Pierce, talking about the Raiders’ next QB

Friday’s quiz
Butler Bulldogs lost the national title game two years in a row, when Brad Stevens was their coach. What league was Butler in back then (2010/2011)?

Thursday’s quiz
Pete Maravich is still the New Orleans/Utah Jazz’s all-time leader in triple-doubles, with seven.

Wednesday’s quiz
Larry Brown is the only coach to win both an NBA championship and a college national title.  

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with the weekend here…….

— I can’t put my finger on why, maybe it is because I’m getting older, but if I was an NFL team with a high draft pick, no way in hell would we draft USC QB Caleb Williams. Just a feeling in my gut that he ain’t worth the trouble.

I’m not a big fan of starting QB’s who transfer; he bolted from Oklahoma to USC, then USC lost five of its last six games last year, Williams skipped the Trojans bowl game (they won 42-28). Too much drama; after a loss to Washington; he was sobbing in the stands with his parents after the game.

By the way, I feel the same way about Wake Forest/Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman; you don’t start at QB for a team for four years, then jump ship to another college. You want to jump ship, go to the NFL; that would’ve made a lot more sense. 

Now this week in Indianapolis, Williams isn’t working out, and he declined the medical exams, which are considered to be one of the most essential elements of the combine.

An NFL source thinks Williams is the first player to attend the NFL Combine after declining the medical exam. He isn’t doing any passing at the Combine, either.

NFL Draft is April 25; it should be interesting.

— Old Dominion is hiring Maryland assistant Mike Jones as its new basketball coach; Jones is an Old Dominion alum who led the Monarchs to NCAA tournaments as a player in 1992, 1995. He’s also worked as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech.

— There was a lot of complaining about court storming after the Duke-Wake Forest debacle the other night, when Kyle Filipowski limped off the floor while the Wake Forest students ran on the court to celebrate the Deacons’ win.

Four nights later, after a lot of complaining on TV, Filipowski played 30:00, had 9 points, 10 rebounds, six assists in an easy win over Louisville, so he survived the incident.

For the record, there is a way to have court storming while making sure the visiting team gets off the floor safely; set the clock at 1:00 or 1:30 when the game ends, get the visitors off the floor, then the fans can run on the court when the clock hits 0:00.

— One of the cool parts of spring training is that some teams bring in retired players to mentor the younger players on skills. Mets had Darryl Strawberry in camp this week; Reds had former big league OF Brett Butler teaching their players how to bunt for base hits.

— Time flies, man; Atlantic Sun basketball tournament starts Monday; three other conference tournaments start Tuesday. One of the best times of the year is almost here.

Word of the Day: Quirk- an unusual habit or way of behaving.

— Of the fifteen teams in the Atlantic 10 (Atlantic 15???), three of them have Rams as their mascot; Fordham, Rhode Island, Virginia Commonwealth.

— People who run college sports should keep the NCAA Tournament the way it is; it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

— 41 years ago this week, the last episode of M*A*S*H aired on CBS; 105.9M people watched it, the end of one of the best TV shows ever.

— Utah State is 8-0 this season in games decided by 5 or less points; four of their five losses were by 13+ points. Aggies are 23-5 this season, despite not having any players on their team who scored a point for Utah State last year.

— In his last 11 games, Edmonton Oilers’ star Connor McDavid has 26 points, but only one goal- he scored the game-winner in overtime against St Louis Wednesday night. 

Famous people with birthdays on March 1st:
Roger Daltrey, 79
Ron Howard, 70
Chris Webber, 51
Trevor Cahill, 36
Michael Conforto, 31
Tyreek Hill, 30
Justin Bieber, 30

— Charleston 96, Campbell 73
Cougars win the CAA regular season title for the first time.
Charleston has won 8 in a row; they still need to win CAA tourney to get in the field of 68.

— Ohio State 78, Nebraska 69
Buckeyes are 3-1 since they fired their coach, including a win over Purdue.
Ohio State was 24-28 on foul line, Nebraska 7-8.

— South Dakota State 72, North Dakota 62
Jackrabbits were down 3 at half; they shot 12-26 on the arc.
South Dakota State clinches the Summit League regular season title. 

— Saint Mary’s 83, Pepperdine 57
On December 2, Saint Mary’s was 3-5, a very, very disappointing start.
On March 1, Saint Mary’s is 24-6, 15-0 in WCC; they’re the ONLY team in the country that hasn’t lost a conference game this season.

— Gonzaga 86, San Francisco 68
Zags outscored USF 51-34 in the second half.
Gonzaga shot 71.1% inside the arc.
Gonzaga hasn’t lost to the Dons since 2012. 
USF made some extra $$$; this game was in the Warriors’ arena.

— Washington 94, UCLA 77
Huskies shot 15-24 on the arc.
UCLA lost its last three games, they’re 14-14, 9-8 in Pac-12.
Bruins have the #334 eFG% in the country.

— Eastern Washington 89, Montana 79
Eagles lost their first six D-I games this season, but they’re 18-4 in last 22 games.
EWU will be the #1-seed in Big Sky Tournament; they’ve got #8 eFG% in country. 

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud……

If you’re reading this, that means the power/internet in my house stayed on, despite it being hideously windy outside.

— Where do baseball teams get their prospects from? The following info is from the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, which lists the top 30 prospects for each team.

Of the Tampa Bay Rays’ 30 top prospects, only 19 of them are home-grown, the fewest of any major league team. 11 of their top 30 prospects were acquired via trade, the most of any team; St Louis Cardinals are next, with eight prospects acquired via trade. 

— Atlanta Braves are only team that doesn’t have a top 30 prospect that was acquired via trade.

— Cardinals/Oakland A’s are only teams that don’t have an international player among their top 30 prospects.

— Who has the most international prospects in their top 30?
15- Bronx
14- Angels
13- Red Sox
12- Rockies

— Houston Astros/Baltimore Orioles both have 19 college players in their top 30; Cardinals and Royals both have 18, Braves have 16.

Red Sox have only 5 college players in their top 30; Guardians have 6, Angels 8.

— Red Sox, Padres, Blue Jays have 9 high school players in their top 30, the most of any team; Tigers/Mariners have 8.

Bronx has only two top 30 prospects who went pro out of high school; Orioles-Cardinals-Astros have three each.

— Teams approach their prospects differently; the big $$$ teams will try and trade them to cheaper teams for star players, the cheap teams will promote their prospects, and play them until they hit their arbitration years, then they trade them to the big $$$ teams.

Word of the Day: Corrupt- acting dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.

— Pretty cool baseball record that I never knew about, until Monday night; former Seattle 1B Alvin Davis reached base safely in his first 47 major league games, which is the all-time high for any player at the start of their career.

— Stolen bases were up 41% last year from 2022; the rule changes worked.

— Under is 41-15-1 in NBA games, since the All-Star break.

— Minnesota Vikings named former NFL QB Josh McCown their new QB coach. 

Famous people with birthdays on February 29:
Tony Robbins, 64
Terrence Long, 48
Tyrese Haliburton, 24

February 29 has to be the worst day to have a birthday right? You only have a birthday once every four years.

— Drake 107, Ill-Chicago 105, 3OTs
DeVries, the coach’s son, scored 39 points, with 13 boards, 7 assists.
Drake won six of its last seven games.
UIC shot 16-35 on the arc, only 15-42 inside the arc.

— Tennessee 92, Auburn 84
Dalton Knecht scored 39 points for the Vols.
Auburn led by 8 with 12:17 left in game.
Tennessee has won five in row, 11 of last 13 games.

— Iowa State 58, Oklahoma 45
Cyclones are 22-6, 11-4, in 2nd place in the Big X.
Iowa State forces turnovers 25.8% of time (#2 in country)
Teams combined to shoot 7-33 on the arc.

— Fort Wayne 79, Wright State 77 OT
Neither team led by more than six points.
Fort Wayne’s bench outscored Wright State’s subs 25-4.

— Illinois 105, Minnesota 97
Gophers lost despite shooting 14-20 on the arc.
There were a TOTAL of only 9 turnovers in this game.
Minnesota is 17-11 SU this year, but 24-4 against the spread.

Minnesota scored 1.48 points/possession; over the last 15 years, teams that scored that many points/possession are now 310-2.

— Alabama 103, Ole Miss 88
Crimson Tide outscored Ole Miss 64-46 in second half.
Both teams shot 60%+ inside the arc.
Alabama gets 38% of their points on 3’s, #22 in country.

Upsets of the Night:
Wichita State (+7.5) 74, UAB 66
Green Bay (+7.5) 69, Cleveland State 61
Fort Wayne (+6.5) 79, Wright State 77 OT
South Carolina (+5.5) 70, Texas A&M 68
Northwestern (+5.5) 68, Maryland 61
Wofford (+5.5) 91, Samford 69

— RIP to Richard Lewis, a stand-up comedian and a star of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” who passed away at age 76. Known for his self-deprecating humor and acerbic wit, he was very funny.

RIP, sir. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

— From 2006-10, UConn went 0-5 in the Big East Tournament; during that time, they went 55-31 in Big East regular season games, but they came up empty at MSG in March, even losing a 6-overtime game to Syracuse in 2009.

UConn made it to the Final Four in 2009, after that 6-overtime loss, but the next two years, Huskies were 16-20 in Big East games- the natives were restless. Jim Calhoun had won two national titles, but it had been six years since the last one.

So what happened? UConn, after losing four of its last five regular season games, goes 5-0 and wins the Big East Tournament, then as a #3-seed, they won the national championship, in coach Calhoun’s 2nd-to-last season at UConn.

My point? March Madness is great because…..you never know what’s going to happen.

— NFL Combine is this week; ESPN/NFL Network will show lot of guys running the 40-yard dash and doing drills. Best part of the Combine we don’t see; the interviews teams do with players, as they try to figure out which players they should draft.

By the way, it has been 52 years since New Orleans Saints drafted a QB in the first round; they drafted Archie Manning that year, Peyton Manning’s father.

— There were six NBA games Tuesday with a double-digit favorite, the most of any night so far this season.

In the NFL, of the 14 players with the biggest salary cap hit for 2024, four of them play for the LA Chargers.

In college football, Boise State is bringing back former HC (1998-2000) Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator; he’s been a head coach at Boise, Arizona State, Tampa Bay Bucs.

UMass is jumping from the A-15 to the MAC, which is very bad news for its basketball program; A-15 is the #8 basketball league in country, MAC is #24 league. UMass isn’t the first school to sacrifice its basketball team to try and save its football program.

Last five years, the Minuteman are 6-46 on the gridiron, as an independent.

In baseball……..
LA Dodgers signed utility guy Kike Hernandez for one year, $4M.
San Francisco Giants signed SS Nick Ahmed.

Speaking of the Giants, the last 17 years on Opening Day, San Francisco started a different left fielder every year, and this year figures to make it 18 in a row.

Switching from DirecTV to YouTube TV last year has mostly been a plus for me; one of the best parts is I can watch replays of baseball games all night long, if I want, which is really good during spring training. Not great for my sleeping habits, but whatever……

Movie of the Day: Against All Odds (1984)- A gangster hires an ex-football player to find his girlfriend. When he finds her, they fall in love, and then things get complicated.

Jeff Bridges is the football player, James Woods is the gangster, Rachel Ward is his wife. Also in this movie: Richard Widmark, Alex Karras. 

Famous people with birthdays on February 28:
Mario Andretti, 84
Bubba Smith, 79
Bernadette Peters, 76
Brian Billick, 70
John Turturro, 67
Ickey Woods, 58
Luka Doncic, 25

— Kansas State’s basketball team has won its last 12 overtime games.

— North Carolina (2016/2017) is the last team to make the Final Four two years in a row.

— Old Dominion basketball coach Jeff Jones retired; he had a 560-418 career record as a coach, after his playing days at Virginia.

— 34 of the last 46 national champs in college basketball (73.9%) were 10-1 or less to win the national title when the tournament started.

— BYU 76, Kansas 68
Jayhawks led by 12 early in 2nd half; their 19-game home win streak ends.
Kansas is 6-5 in last 11 games, after a 13-2 start.
Kansas is 3-2 when McKullar doesn’t play.

— Kentucky 91, Mississippi State 89
Bulldogs led by 13 early in second half.
Reed Sheppard hit a 14-foot runner with 0:00.5 left for the win.
Loss snaps Miss State’s 5-game winning streak.

— Indiana 74, Wisconsin 70- There was a 15-minute delay in second half, when a fire alarm went off in the arena. Game was tied when that happened. Badgers are 2-6 in their last eight games.

— UNLV 75, Wyoming 69 OT
Rebels have won eight of their last nine games.
Kalib Boone had 24 points, 12 rebounds (7 offensive)

— Northern Illinois 75, Toledo 72
Rockets were a 15-point home favorite.
Toledo led by 9 with 14:33 left to play.
NIU was 10-23 on the arc, Toledo 6-19.

— Clemson 69, Pittsburgh 62
Pitt was +8 in turnovers, led by 10 midway thru first half.
Clemson starts four seniors; they’re 6-1 in last seven games. 

— Nevada 77, Colorado State 74
Kid on Nevada banked in a half-court shot at the buzzer for the win.
Wolf Pack has won seven of their last eight games.
Colorado State lost last three games, by total of 11 points. 

Tuesday’s Den: Conference tournament trends…….

Conference tournament trends……..
ACC
Duke- since 2017, they’re 15-2 in ACC tourney games.

From 2012-14, Louisville won 3 straight conference tourneys; since joining the ACC, they’re 3-7 in conference tournament games.

Miami- since 2006, they’re 15-3 in their first ACC Tourney game each year.

North Carolina hasn’t won an ACC Tournament since 2016; they’ve gone WL in five of seven tournaments since then.

Syracuse- since joining the ACC, they’re 5-8 in conference tournament games.

Big East
Since joining the Big East…….
Butler is 3-9 in the Big East Tournament
Creighton is 9-9
DePaul is 5-15
Marquette is 14-16 (won tournament LY)
Xavier is 8-11 (4 of last 5 tournament losses were in OT)

Midwestern teams haven’t fared too well in this event (Creighton is 0-4 in Finals)

Tournament is played in Madison Square Garden, one of St John’s’ home floors; they haven’t won a Big East tournament since 2000.

Big 14
since 2011, Illinois is 8-11 (won ’21 tournament)

since 2014, Indiana is 6-9 (0-1 all-time in tournament finals)

since 2007, Iowa is 9-15 (was 4-0 in winning ’22 tournament)

since 2012, Michigan State is 18-7, won four tournaments (last one, 2019)

last two years, Purdue is 5-1; they won the tournament last year.

Big X
since 2006, Kansas Jayhawks are 36-7 in the Big X Tournament. 

since 2015, Baylor is 112-60 in regular season Big X games, 3-8 in Big X tourney. 

since 2014, Iowa State won four Big X Tournaments; the other six years, they were 1-5 in the first round.

since 2003, Kansas State is 12-19 in the Big X Tournament.

since 2017, Oklahoma is 1-6.

Since 2014, Texas Tech is 3-9.

Pac-12
Arizona won five of the last eight Pac-12 Tournaments.

since 2011, Colorado is 11-1 in its first tourney game (2-8 in last 10 second games)

since 2013, Oregon is 20-7 in Pac-12 Tournaments (won 3 tournaments).

USC has gone WL in six of last seven tournaments, WWL in the other.

UCLA hasn’t won Pac-12 Tournament since 2014 (WWL each of the last two years).

Utah is 1-7 in last seven tournaments.

SEC
Alabama won two of last three tournaments.

Arkansas went WL the last three years.
You’re reading armadillosports.com
Mississippi State went WL the last six years.
Missouri went WL the last four years.

since 2010, Auburn is 7-11 (3-1 in ’15, 4-0 in ’19, 0-10 the other 10 years).

from 2015-18, Kentucky won four straight tournaments; since then, they’re 2-4.

since 2016, South Carolina is 1-6.

Since 2018, Tennessee is 9-5.

Atlantic 15
since joining the A-15, VCU is 16-8, winning the tournament twice.

since 2011, #1-seed has won only three of the 13 tournaments.

Big West
Last 11 tournaments, eight different schools have won a title.

CAA
Last seven years, six different teams have won this tournament; Charleston is only team with two tournament titles in that span. 

MAAC
Iona won this tournament six of last eight years; since 2013, they’re 27-4.

MAC
Last four tournaments, four different teams won a tournament title. 

Mountain West
This event is played in Las Vegas; UNLV hasn’t won it since 2008, and is 2-5 since 2019.

since 2014, San Diego State is 25-7, 3-6 in tournament title game.

#1-seed won this tournament the last three years.

WCC
since 2004, Gonzaga is 41-4 in the WCC Tournament.

since 2010, Saint Mary’s is 19-12 (3-9 against Gonzaga).

Last time someone other than Gonzaga/Saint Mary’s won the WCC Tournament was 2008, when #3-seed San Diego won.

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy weekend……

— Chicago Cubs re-signed OF Cody Bellinger for three years, $80M

Stat of the Day: Last year, Braves’ OF Ronald Acuna had 41 at-bats where the at-bat ended when he was behind 0-2 in the count; he got hit by a pitch once, hit one sac fly, and went 15-39 on the other 39 at-bats. Hitting .385 when you’re down 0-2 is impressive.

Overall, Acuna was down 0-2 in a total of 105 plate appearances; he hit .340 in those at-bats, with five walks.

— MLB is getting greedy; teams not only have spring training caps you can buy, they have a different set of batting practice caps, which will be worn during the season. High quality hats, but they cost freakin’ $45, which saves me lot of $$$.

I have a nice hat collection, but I’m not buying any more Oakland A’s stuff until they start trying to win again. The A’s batting practice cap is a good one, too.

Separate question on a sore subject: Why would own own a pro sports franchise if you’re not going to try to win? The A’s franchise is so mis-managed that it can’t possible go up in value. I’d be very happy if the guy who owns the Golden State Warriors bought the A’s- he’d try to win.

— Cubs have an OF prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong; his mother is the actress Ashley Crow, who was the mom in the movie Little Big League.

— Eight major league teams have new managers this year.

— Houston Astros used only 41 players all of last season, fewest of any team in the major leagues.

Word of the Day: Disgruntled- someone who is angry or dissatisfied.

— One of the things about the transfer portal in college basketball is that teams come together at a different pace; one team that is hot right now are the Loyola Ramblers in the A-15. After a 6-5 start, Loyola has gone 14-2, winning/covering their last seven games in a row. Opponents are shooting 43% inside the arc, the #5 rate in the country.

— Arizona Wildcats have 18 basketball players listed on their roster; eight of them are from other countries. Only three of their players are from Arizona.

— Alabama has four lefties on its team, which is a little unusual.

— Atlanta Hawks’ G Trae Young tore ligaments in the pinky on his left hand; he is out for at least four weeks.

— Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State 84-82 Saturday, possible the last time these rivals will ever play basketball against each other. Oklahoma is bolting to the SEC and there are no scheduled pre-conference meetings in the future.

In this age of college sports where greed is good, it is inconceivable that the teams won’t eventually schedule an annual meeting— the games would sell out, and probably get on ESPN or Fox or something. But for now, the two rivals are going their separate ways.

— UCLA is hiring former NFL offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy was its OC; he coached at UCLA back from 2003-05, and won two Super Bowl rings as an assistant with the Chiefs.

— Famous people with birthdays on February 26
Phil Villapiano, 75
Wayne Gretzky, 63
JT Snow, 56
Marshall Faulk, 51
Jose Reyes, 41

Monday would’ve been Paul Newman’s 99th birthday.

— St John’s 80, Creighton 66
Johnnies were +10 in turnovers (13-3).
St John’s was 32-64 inside arc, 2-8 on 3’s; old-school approach.
Creighton forces fewer turnovers than any team in country.

— Memphis 78, FAU 74
Both teams shot 58%+ inside the arc.
Teams combined to shoot 12-55 on the arc.
FAU split its last six games; they need to right the ship to stay above the bubble.

— South Florida 79, SMU 68
Bulls have won 13 games in a row, 20 of last 21.
SMU was only 15-31 on the foul line.
South Florida shot 63.6% inside the arc.

— Wright State 96, Oakland 75
Oakland led 38-37 at halftime.
Raiders are 8-2 in last ten games, after a 9-10 start.
Wright State is shooting 59.2% inside the arc (#4).

— Ohio State 60, Michigan State 57
Spartans led by 12 with 11:07 left in the game.
Teams combined to shoot 7-33 on the arc.
Michigan State is 1-7 in games decided by 7 or less points.

— Was watching A’s-Dodgers spring training game Sunday; the TV analyst was Rick Monday, who played for the A’s back when I was a little kid- they traded him for P Ken Holtzman after the 1971 season, which made the A’s pitching championship-level. A’s won three World Series in a row after they acquired Holtzman.

Rick Monday played 19 years in the majors, had a career OPS of .804, was a darn good player who is now a terrific analyst with a great voice. He does radio for the Dodgers but in the spring, they do simulcasts on TV. Was excellent listening to him Sunday. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday……

Seven Top 25 teams lost Saturday……

Big 12
Houston 82, Baylor 76, OT
Cougars led 29-12 early on.
Four Baylor subs played, but totaled only 21:00.
Houston was +11 in turnovers (19-8).

Oklahoma 84, Oklahoma State 82 OT
Cowboys led by 11 late in first half.
Both teams shot 62%+ inside the arc.
Both teams had a sub score 20 points.

Houston leads Iowa State by a game, Kansas by two games.

ACC
Wake Forest 83, Duke 79
Neither team led by more than six points.
Both teams shot 62%+ inside the arc.
Duke scored 1.30 points/possession but lost; a red flag.

North Carolina 54, Virginia 44
Tar Heels had lost eight in a row in Charlottesville.
UNC won despite star G Davis going 1-14 from the floor.
UNC G Ryan made 6-11 shots on the arc. 

North Carolina leads Duke by a game, Virginia/Wake Forest by 3 games.

SEC
Kentucky 117, Alabama 95
Wildcats scored a ridiculous 1.46 points/possession.
Kentucky led by 37 with 8:37 left in game.
Alabama allowed 85+ points in all eight of their losses.

Auburn 97, Georgia 76
Auburn was 14-26 on arc, Georgia 3-14.
Tigers scored 1.43 points/possession.
Auburn is 21-6, 0-4 in games decided by less than 10 points.

Alabama/Tennessee lead the SEC at 11-3; Auburn/South Carolina are 10-4.

Pac-12
Arizona State 73, Washington State 61
Coogs beat Arizona, then lose to the Sun Devils. Oy.
Loss ends Wazzu’s 8-game winning streak.

USC 62, UCLA 56
This game was 34-34 at halftime, after USC led 33-19 early on.
Trojans snap a 7-game road losing streak.
Bruins are 14-13, 9-7 in the Pac-12; they’ll need a great Pac-12 tournament to get into the NCAA’s for the fourth year in a row.

Arizona leads Washington State by a half-game, Oregon by 2 games.
ESPN’s Bracketology has only two Pac-12 teams getting in the NCAA’s.

Big West
Cal-San Diego 92, Cal-Irvine 88 OT
Both teams had double-digit leads in this game.
Tritons have won four in row, 13 of last 16 games.

These teams are tied for first in Big West, but Cal-San Diego isn’t eligible for the Big West tournament; this is only their 4th season as a D-I team.

WAC
Abilene Christian 79, Grand Canyon 73
Antelopes lost last two games, after a 24-2 start.
Wildcats were 29-36 on foul line, Grand Canyon was 19-24.

Tarleton State 82, Cal Baptist 65
Tarleton State was +12 in turnovers (17-5)
Texans have won eight games in a row.
Tarleton only played 7 guys; they’re #354 in bench minutes.

Grand Canyon/Tarleton are tied in loss column for the WAC lead; their conference tournament should be very interesting.

Upsets of the Day:  
Air Force (+18.5) 78, New Mexico 77
Tex-San Antonio (+13.5) 64, North Texas 62
Brown (+11.5) 78, Cornell 74
Oregon State (+10.5) 85, Stanford 73
Eastern Michigan (+10.5) 58, Ball State 56
Abilene Christian (+8.5) 79, Grand Canyon 73
Georgia Tech (+8.5) 80, Miami 76
Sacramento State (+7.5) 66, Montana State 63

Word of the Day: Voracious- someone who has a huge appetite, whether for reading, knowledge or food.

— Famous people with birthdays on February 25
Ric Flair, 75
Carrot Top, 59 (real name Scott Thompson)
Bob Brenly, 70
Cesar Cedeno, 73
Rashida Jones, 48
Jeff Fisher, 66

Missouri Valley
Northern Iowa 91, Drake 77
This loss probably makes Arch Madness a must-win for Drake.
Both teams shot over 60% inside the arc.
Tytan Anderson had 18 points, 18 rebounds for UNI.

Indiana State 88, Ill-Chicago 73
Sycamores have won 11 of their last 13 games.
Larry Bird’s alma mater has the #1 eFG% in the country.

Indiana State leads Drake by a game.
Bracketology is saying the MVC is a one-bid league.

Ivy League
Brown 78, Cornell 74
Cornell loses as an 11-point favorite, after beating Yale Friday.
Cornell, Yale, Princeton are tied for first, at 9-2.

Brown/Harvard are tied for 4th in Ivy with three games left; only four teams make it to the Ivy League tournament.

Southern
Samford 87, East Tennessee State 71
Bulldogs led 53-27 at halftime.
Samford shot 75% (18-24) inside the arc.

Samford leads SoCon by three games, which will only put pressure on them in conference tournament, since the SoCon is a one-bid league.

Mid-American is the #24 league this season, the lowest it has been ranked in this century; they were #20 two years ago, their next lowest ranking.

Big Sky
Eastern Washington 85, Northern Colorado 76
Northern Colorado led by 12 midway thru first half.
Cedric Coward scored 30 points, had one assist; his job is to shoot.
Eastern Washington has a 2-game lead in Big Sky, with three games left.

WCC
Gonzaga 94, Santa Clara 81
Zags have won six in row, 11 of last 12 games.
Despite that, Bracketology has Gonzaga as a bubble team; they play Saint Mary’s Saturday, then probably again in the WCC tournament- they better at least split with the Gaels.

Saint Mary’s 88, San Diego 62
Gaels have won 15 games in a row, after an 8-6 start.
Bracketology has Saint Mary’s as a 6-seed, so they’re pretty much in the NCAA’s.

WCC is the 11th-ranked conference this year, its lowest rank in six years. BYU bolting for the Big X this year hurt the WCC’s rating. 

Saturday’s Den: Random stuff on a winter night…….

Idea of the Day– ESPN or NFL Network needs to bring Jon Gruden back to TV, so he can do those interviews he used to do with college QB’s before the NFL Draft. Learned a lot watching those, and this year especially is a very interesting year for QB’s in the draft.

— NFL’s salary cap is going up 13.6% next season, up to $255.4M/team.

— New Orleans Saints are restructuring QB Derek Carr’s contract, giving them $23M or so in salary cap relief for 2024, but Carr’s 2025 salary cap hit is up to $50.13M, including a $10M bonus that guarantees in three weeks.

In other words, the Saints kicked their cap woes down the road a year.

Right now, Saints are still $40,071,454 over the 2024 salary cap; Buffalo Bills are $41,742,609  over the cap, so those teams still have some work to do, cap-wise.

— Rams signed WR Demarcus Robinson for one year, $5M; Robinson caught 26 passes for 371 yards this season, with four TD’s, all of which came from Week 13 on.

— Golden State Warriors signed coach Steve Kerr for two years, $35M, which coincides with what’s left on Steph Curry’s contract. Kerr has won four NBA titles coaching the Warriors.

— Minnesota Golden Gophers are 17-9, 9-7 in conference this year, but they’re an impressive 23-3 against the spread this season. This is Minnesota’s first winning season since Richard Pitino led the Gophers to a 22-14 record five years ago.

— Was surprised to read that Thursday night’s Law and Order was the last episode for the great actor Sam Waterston, whose character Jack McCoy was on the show for 405 episodes. Thanks for all your work, sir. You’ll be missed.

The three TV shows I watch the most: CSI, Law and Order, Magnum PI, So many famous actors have been on Law and Order before they hit it rich. Great show.

Baseball Stuff: Colorado Rockies have 33 pitchers in their major league camp this spring.

Word of the Day: Mensch- a person of integrity and honor.

— Famous people with birthdays on February 24:
Hall of Fame 1B Eddie Murray, 68
actor Edward James Olmos, 77
actor Billy Zane, 58
singer George Thorogood, 73
former NC State/NBA center Tom Burleson, 72

— Spring training baseball started Thursday; great to watch baseball on TV again, its like welcoming old friends back into your house, after a 4-5 month lull.

Now the games themselves don’t mean so much; it isn’t about winning, it is just the players getting back in shape, preparing for the regular season, but it is still fun to watch.

— Fairfield 85, Quinnipiac 81
Fairfield is 17-10, after starting the season 1-6.
Stags made 13-26 on the arc in this game.
Quinnipiac has lost three in a row, after a 10-0 run.

— Cornell 65, Yale 62
Cornell outscored Yale 13-4 over the final 3:23.
Yale was only 11-26 on the foul line.
Big Red now leads the Ivy League by a game over Yale/Princeton.

— Bowling Green 76, Toledo 68
Toledo’s loss puts Akron atop the MAC standings.
Marcus Hill scored 31 points for Bowling Green, which starts four seniors.

— Fort Wayne 85, Green Bay 59
Mastodons led 47-23 at halftime.
Fort Wayne shot 60.5% inside arc, had only 4 turnovers.
Green Bay’s loss puts Oakland atop the Horizon standings.

— Teams shooting the best %age on 3’s this season:
40.6%- Purdue (24-3)
40.5%- Kentucky (18-8)
40.4%- Baylor (19-7)

Teams shooting the worst %age on 3’s this season:
25.2%- IUPUI (6-22)
26%- Buffalo (4-22)
26.4%- Coppin State (2-21)

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with the weekend here…….

Idea of the Day– NBA should run a 1-on-1 tournament in the summer, with players playing for the charity of their choice. 64 players, voted on by fans. It would be very popular, and it would make a boatload of $$$ for deserving charities.

50 years ago, the NBA did this for a couple years; they showed clips of the games at halftime of regular season games on Sunday afternoons. Bob Lanier won in 1972, Geoff Petrie won the next year. It died out when some agents discouraged their clients from playing. Too bad.

— When the Dodgers-Padres start baseball’s regular season in Korea next month, the games will start at 5:30am here in the East. March 21 is going to be a busy day; the second of the two games in Korea at 5:30am, then the NCAA Tournament starts at noon.

Imagine working in a sportsbook in Las Vegas? Baseball games start at 2:30am in Las Vegas; pity the people who have to take the bets before those games, then the NCAA’s start at 9am local time in the desert.

— Three years ago, Georgetown won four games in the Big East tournament, after a 9-12 regular season. In three years since then, the Hoyas are 3-51 in conference games, 21-68 in all games. Ed Cooley will eventually get Georgetown back on track. But they’ve got a big hill to climb.

— In the NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs have gone 200 games in a row without being shut out, only the 11th team to do that, the first team since the 1989 Rangers.

— Michigan Wolverines will have 18 players at the NFL Combine next week, five more than any other school; Washington is next, with 13 players.

— Kansas City Chiefs signed punter Matt Araiza to a contract, after Araiza’s legal issues in San Diego were dismissed. He was accused of a crime, then counter-sued the person for defamation, but now the slate has been wiped clean both ways.

Araiza was a great punter/kicker for San Diego State, so much so that Buffalo drafted him in the 6th round of the 2022 draft. He hasn’t played in the NFL yet.

Baseball Stuff:
Pirates re-signed P Mitch Keller for five years, $77M.

SS Tim Anderson signs with the Marlins for one year, $5M.

3B Gio Urshela signed with the Tigers for one year, $1.5M.

Mets P Kodai Senga (shoulder) will start the season on the IL. 

Word of the Day: Mentor- an experienced and trusted adviser.

— Famous people with birthdays on February 23:
Fred Biletnikoff, 80- great WR for the Raiders.
Ed (Too Tall) Jones, 72- defensive lineman for the Cowboys
actress Emily Blunt, 41
singer Howard Jones, 69
Jamal Murray, 26- star for the Denver Nuggets
Andrew Wiggins, 28- Golden State Warriors
Tom Osborne, 86- longtime football coach at Nebraska

— Washington State 77, Arizona 74
Arizona was only 17-27 on foul line.
Coogs won 8th straight game; they’re 12-4 in Pac-12.

— Tarleton State 77, Grand Canyon 74
Tarleton was 29-40 on foul line, Grand Canyon 12-17
Antelopes led by 15 with 11:45 left in the game.
Tarleton moves within a game of Grand Canyon atop the WAC.
Loss snaps the Antelopes’ 7-game winning streak.

— Northern Arizona 78, Eastern Washington 71
Big upset in the Big Sky.
Lumberjacks outscored EWU 14-0 over final 3:05 of the game.
Eagles’ PG Magnuson played 27:00; he had 8 assists, didn’t take a shot.

— Washington 84, Arizona State 82 OT
Huskies led by 25 early in second half.
ASU led by 3 with 3:14 left in overtime.
Sun Devils lost nine of their last 12 games.

— Florida Atlantic 80, SMU 70
Owls won 10 of their last 12 games.
Loss snaps SMU’s 6-game winning streak.

Upsets of the Night:
Washington State (+12.5) 77, Arizona 74
Northern Arizona (+9.5) 78, Eastern Washington 71
Hampton (+9.5) 72, Campbell 68
FIU (+6.5) 76, Liberty 71
UL-Monroe (+6.5) 66, Louisiana 59

— Cal-Davis 66, Cal-Northridge 65
Davis outscored Northridge 7-1 over final 1:59 of the game.
Northridge was only 16-29 on the foul line. 

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud…….

— Today is/was my dad’s birthday, and also my Aunt Josephine’s. Two of the nicest people I’ve ever met, I was lucky to know them. Hopefully they’re up in heaven having a good laugh today.

— Pet Peeve Department:
a) “He’s a winner” You hear this on TV and it makes my blood boil, because for every winner, there is a loser, and no way in hell is anyone automatically “a loser”

b) College basketball analysts tend to call games in the same leagues, and they become shills for that league. 

The Big X analysts: “Teams in the Big X play harder than any league in the country”

The SEC analysts: “The SEC is deeper than it has ever been; best league in the country”

Not good. Just announce the game; stop being a shill.

— You can make this wager at Circa in Las Vegas:
UConn or Purdue to win the college hoop national title: +260
Any other team in the country to win the college hoop national title: -320

— Baseball futures bets for this season:
Ronald Acuna stolen bases: over/under 56.5
Oakland A’s wins: over/under 56.5 

Hopefully for my sake, Acuna won’t get more steals than the A’s get wins, or it’ll be another long summer for me (A’s fan since 1965). Oakland has improved its starting pitching, they figure to be a little better, but they were 50-112 last year. No bueno.

— MLB Network re-played a show about Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley the other day; I was reminded that he threw a no-hitter for the Cleveland Indians in 1977, his third year in the major leagues. I listened to that game on the radio, with the great Joe Tait on the mike.

In that game……..from 1977
Eckersley allowed only one baserunner (he walked Tony Solaita)

Rick Manning was the Indians’ CF: he is still an analyst on Guardians games.

Duane Kuiper was the Indians’ 2B: he is still a play-by-play guy on Giants games.

Jerry Remy was the Angels’ 2B that day; he wound up in the same TV booth with Eckersley, doing Red Sox games for years.

Ray Fosse was the Indians’ catcher that day; he worked A’s games on TV for 30 years.

Bobby Bonds played for the Angels that day; Barry Bonds’ dad, and a hell of a ballplayer.

Stressful no-hitter; Cleveland scored a run in the first inning, the only run of the game. Time of the game: 2:02.

— Over the last 2.5 years, NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder is 126-85-7 (.597) against the spread.

— New Jersey Giants went 6-11 this past season, despite a +12 turnover ratio; they’re only NFL team in the last 20 years to have a +12 or better turnover ratio, and finish with a losing record.

— For some reason this weekend, ESPN showed a buzzer beater in a D-3 game between Cortland-Plattsburgh, two schools in New York State where it gets very cold at this time of year. When I was in college, spent a few nights in those two gyms; we never got on ESPN.

Baseball Stuff: Salt Lake City, Nashville are frontrunners for baseball’s next round of expansion, which should happen in the next few years.

1B Eric Hosmer retired Tuesday; he played 13 years in the big leagues, hit 198 home runs with an OPS of .762. He won three Gold Gloves, was an All-Star in 2016.

SS Amed Rosario gets a one-year, $1.5M deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.

P Hyun Jin-Ryu went home to Korea to finish up his baseball career; he pitched in the big leagues for 10 years, went 78-48, 3.27 in 185 career MLB starts.

Movie of the Day: Last Vegas (2013)- Four senior citizens who’ve been best friends since childhood head to Las Vegas, for the bachelor party of the one friend (Michael Douglas) who has never been married. He is marrying someone who is half his age, which complicates things.

Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen; obviously an epic cast of characters.

— Washington State is in the college basketball top 25 for the first time since 2008; Coogs have won seven in a row, 10 of last 11 games- they have the #2 eFG% defense in the country. 

— Penn State 90, Illinois 89
Illinois led by 7 with 0:37 left in the game.
Penn State was +12 (18-6) in turnovers.
Illinois’ Shannon was 13-19 on foul line.
Penn State’s whole team was 12-20 on the line.
 
— Alabama 98, Florida 93 OT
Florida led by 9 with 6:11 left in game.
Brickfest: teams combined to shoot 17-62 on the arc.
Alabama had 21 offensive rebounds, beat Gators 54-44 on boards.
Crimson Tide won 13 of its last 15 games.

— St John’s 90, Georgetown 85
Red Storm led 35-14 early on, hung on for dear life.
St John’s shot 62.8% inside the arc.
Last four games, St John’s allowed 78.5 ppg.

— George Mason 71, Dayton 67
Dayton led 33-27 at halftime.
Mason was 24-29 on foul line, Dayton 10-14.
Dayton is 5-3 in last eight games, after a 16-2 start.

— Rice 94, UAB 71
Owls were 11-19 on arc, scored a ridiculous 1.47 points/possession.
Blazers had won five of six games, before this debacle.

— LSU 75, Kentucky 74
LSU scored a hoop off a broken play at the buzzer for the win.
Kentucky led by 15 points early in second half.

— New Mexico 68, Colorado State 66
Donovan Dent drove in for game-winning hoop with 0:02.8 left.
Lobos were +8 (12-4) in turnovers.
New Mexico is now 9-5 in Mountain West, tied for 3rd with San Diego State.

— There are four college basketball teams who don’t have a senior this year:
Air Force (8-17, 1-12)
Louisiana (17-10, 9-5)
Rhode Island (11-15, 5-8)
Wofford (15-13, 8-7)

Wednesday’s Den: NBA trends……

NBA trends (thru All-Star break)

Hawks (24-31):
— 2-4 last six games SU 
— 4-18 ATS as a home favorite
— over 6-2 last eight home games
— 3-7 ATS if they played night before.

Celtics (43-12):
— won last six games SU (3-6 ATS last nine)
— 2-7 ATS last nine as a home favorite.
— under 7-3 last ten home games.
— 5-4 ATS if they played night before.

Nets (21-33):
— lost five of their last six games.
— 10-4 ATS as home favorite.
— 2-11 ATS last 13 road games.
— under 5-1 last six games
— 2-6 ATS if they played night before.
— fired their coach during All-Star break.

Hornets (13-41):
— won last 3 games, covered 5 of last 6 games.
— 7-18 ATS as a road underdog.
— under 8-3 last eleven road games.
— 5-4 ATS if they played night before.

Bulls (26-29)
— 3-2 SU last five games, 9-4 ATS last 13 games.
— 5-2 ATS as a home dog, 6-2 as road favorite.
— over 6-1 last seven games.
— 4-5 ATS if they played night before.

Cavaliers (36-17):
— won 18 of their last 20 games SU (4-5 ATS last nine).
— 12-9 ATS as home favorite, 8-5 as road favorite.
— You’re reading armadillosports.com
— under 8-3 last eleven games.
— 3-4 ATS if they played the night before.

Mavericks (32-23):
— won their last six games (5-1 ATS).
— 8-11 ATS as home favorites, 9-2 as road favorites.
— under 6-2 last eight games.
— 6-3 ATS if they played night before.

Nuggets (36-19):
— lost last three games (1-5 ATS last six games)
— 7-13 ATS as a road favorite  
— under 11-2 last 13 games.
— 2-8 ATS if they played night before.

Pistons (8-46):
— 3-2 SU in last five games, 12-4 ATS last 16.
— 8-3 ATS last 11 as a home dog, 7-3 last 10 as road dog.
— under 5-1 last six home games
— 2-8 ATS on first night of a back/back.

Warriors (27-26):
— won eight of last ten games SU 
— 6-15 ATS as a home favorite
— 17-8 ATS on the road.
— under 7-3 last ten games
— 7-4 ATS if they played night before.

Rockets (24-30):
— lost five of last six games SU
— 17-10 ATS at home, 8-14 as road dogs.
— under 3-1 last four games.
— 5-3 ATS if they played night before.

Pacers (31-25):
— won four of last six games SU.
— 9-5 ATS as a home underdog.
— under 4-1 last five road games.
— 1-8 ATS if they played night before.

Clippers (36-17):
— 11-3 SU in last 14 games (9-5 ATS)
— 12-5 ATS as a road favorite. 
— over 6-2 last eight road games.
— 5-3 ATS if they played night before.

Lakers (30-26):
— 6-1 SU last seven games (5-2 ATS)
— 2-8 ATS as a road favorite.
— over 10-4 last 14 games.
— 3-7 ATS if they played night before.

Grizzlies (20-36):
— won last two games SU, after an 0-9 skid.
— 11-15 ATS at home.  
— over 6-1 last seven games
— 6-4 ATS if they played night before.

Heat (30-25):
— won six of last eight games SU (7-1 ATS).
— 11-10 ATS as home favorites, 1-6 as home underdogs.
— under 8-1 last nine games.
— 3-5 ATS if they played the night before.

Bucks (35-21):
— lost 7 of their last 10 games.
— 11-16-1 ATS as home favorites.
— under 8-2 last ten games.
— 4-5-1 ATS if they played the night before.

Timberwolves (39-16)
— won/covered five of their last six games.
— 12-10 ATS as a home favorite.
— over 6-1 last seven games.
— 3-4 ATS if they played the night before.

Pelicans (33-22):
— won seven of last eight games SU
— 16-8 ATS as an underdog.
— under 6-1 last seven road games. 
— 5-2 ATS if they played the night before

Knicks (33-22):
— lost five of their last six games (0-6 ATS)
— 20-8 ATS as a favorite, 7-11 as a road underdog
— You’re reading armadillosports.com
— under 6-1 last seven road games
— 2-6 ATS if they played night before.

Thunder (37-17):
— won five of their last seven games (3-6 ATS last nine). 
— 15-7 ATS as a home favorite, 8-3 as a road dog.
— over 6-0 last six games
— 6-2 ATS if they played night before.

Magic (30-25):
— 6-2 SU/5-3 ATS last eight games
— 11-4 ATS as home favorite, 4-2 as road favorite. 
— under 5-0 last five games.
— 6-5 ATS if they played night before.

76ers (32-22):
— 3-9 last 12 games SU.  
— 22-13 ATS as a favorite, 8-10 as an underdog.
— under 4-2 last six games.
— 4-8 ATS if they played night before.

Suns (33-22):
— 7-2 SU/ATS last nine games.
— 11-15 ATS as a home favorite, 7-10 road favorite.
— under 5-2 last seven home games
— 4-3 ATS if they played night before.

Trailblazers (15-39):
— 0-6 SU/2-4 ATS in last six games.
— 4-1 ATS last five road games
— under 6-3 last nine road games
— 7-2 ATS if they played night before.

Kings (31-23):
— lost four of last six games SU.
— 11-4 ATS as an underdog. 
— over 7-1 last eight games
— 3-5 ATS if they played night before.

Spurs (11-44):
— 1-8 SU/2-7 ATS last nine games
— 9-13 ATS as a home underdog, 13-18 as a road dog.
— under 10-1 last eleven games.
— 3-3 ATS if they played night before.

Raptors (19-36):
— 3-16 SU/7-12 ATS last 19 games
— 5-8 ATS as a home dog, 11-12 as road dogs.
— over 5-1 last six home games.
— 3-7 ATS if they played night before.

Jazz (26-30):
— 2-7 SU/ATS last nine games
— 18-9 ATS at home, 9-16 as a road dog.
— over 4-1 last five games
— 3-6 ATS if they played night before.

Wizards (9-45):
— 0-8 SU last eight games (4-1 ATS last five). 
— 8-15 ATS as a home underdog.
— under 7-1 last eight home games.
— 4-3 ATS if they played night before.

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

— Major League Baseball needs to promote itself better; here’s an idea:

Someone runs a 12-team (or 14) fantasy league, with celebrities as team owners; the draft would be live on MLB Network during spring training, probably via Zoom.

Then, during the season, a weekly Hard Knocks-type show would air, with trade negotiations and owners discussing their teams, and other projects they’re working on.

People like watching celebrities; find 12 of them who like baseball and like to gamble some, and just like that, you have an interesting TV show.

Each celebrity would be playing for a charity of their choice. Who would the celebrities be? 

You’d need a cross-section of younger/older celebs…….MLB Network doesn’t work very hard promoting the sport; the fantasy league would be a big upgrade to their current programming. 

— Cleveland Guardians have their home opener April 8th; problem is, there is going to be a total solar eclipse that day, an event that hasn’t happened in northeast Ohio since 1806 and won’t again until 2444.

Because of the eclipse, the Guardians-White Sox game will start at 5:10, moving it back an hour- the eclipse is supposed to be at its peak from 3:13-3:17.

Officials are saying 200,000+ visitors will be coming to the area to witness the eclipse; most schools in the area will be closed that day.

The Guardians should be creative and get Bonnie Tyler to sing the national anthem; she sang Total Eclipse of the Heart, a big hit back in the 80’s.

— Virginia Tech 75, Virginia 41
Awful game; Hokies led 36-16 at halftime.
Virginia shot 32.7% from the floor.
Tech had lost four of last five games, before this one.

— Texas 62, K-State 56
Longhorns had only one player in double figures (Disu, 20 points)
Brickfest: teams combined to shoot 8-38 on the arc.
K-State has lost seven of its last eight games.

— Houston 73, Iowa State 65
Cougars never trailed; they led 28-23 at halftime
Houston was 24-32 on foul line; Iowa State was 10-15
Cyclones were 9-17 on arc, only shot 36.8% inside arc.

— Nebraska Cornhuskers are 8-0 SU at home in Big 14 games, 0-7 on the road; the home team is 14-1 ATS in their conference games.

— Pitt Panthers won seven of their last eight games, covering all eight.

— Arizona Wildcats’ basketball coach Tommy Lloyd signed a 5-year contract extension that will keep him with the Wildcats until at least 2029; he will earn around $5.5M/year. 

Baseball Notes of the Day:
Red Sox signed P Liam Hendriks for two years, $10M; he will miss most of this season with an injury.

Arizona Diamondbacks signed OF Randal Grichuk for one year, $2M.

Cubs signed OF David Peralta, 1B Dom Smith to minor league deals.

Mets signed DH Luke Voit to a minor league deal.

Word of the Day: Fraud- wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. A person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.

— Brooklyn Nets are 21-33 this year; they fired coach Jacque Vaughn Monday, hired Kevin Ollie as interim coach- he won a national title at UConn ten years ago.

— As of right now, only nine NFL teams have the same two coordinators they had this past season; 14 teams have a new offensive coordinator, 16 have a new DC.

— QB Jimmy Garoppolo is suspended for the first two games next season; for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing substances policy. Las Vegas Raiders are expected to release Garoppolo in mid-March; his $11.25M salary for next year could be voided because of this.

— I’m not sure why, but flag football is going to be a sport in the 2028 Olympics.

— There should be a rule; each writer on the Interweb is allowed only one mock NFL draft; you do more than one, you’re just making stuff up to create content.

— John Grisham is a great writer; seven of his books have been turned into movies. Most of his work deals with lawyers and the legal profession. 

These days, Grisham probably just sits on his couch with a legal pad, watching MSNBC and taking notes for his next book. Real life is stranger than fiction.

— Happy 67th birthday to the great pitcher Dave Stewart, who went 84-45 for the A’s in a 4-year span, from 1987-90, a period when the A’s won three AL titles.

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend…….

— Ohio State 73, Purdue 69
Buckeyes fired their coach Wednesday, pull a big upset four days later.
Ohio State was 2-9 in its last 11 games, coming into Sunday.
Purdue was minus-8 in turnovers (14-6), shot 3-9 on the arc.

— Seton Hall 68, St John’s 62
Johnnies led 38-19 with 3:09 left in first half.
St John’s lost 8 of its last 10 games, blowing halftime leads in last three. After the game, Rick Pitino wasn’t happy with his team’s defense.

— Utah 70, UCLA 69
Utah scored off an offensive rebound at the buzzer for the win.
Utes had lost their previous six road games.
UCLA’s last three games (2-1) were decided by total of six points.

— South Florida 90, Florida Atlantic 86
USF led by 25 with 8:38 left, hung on for dear life.
Bulls won 17 of last 18 games, after a 2-4 start.
USF leads Charlotte by a game, FAU/SMU by two games.

LY, South Florida coach Amir Abdur-Rahim led Kennesaw State to a 26-9 record, made the NCAA’s; this year, his Bulls are 19-5, 12-1 in AAC in his first year at USF. Previous four years, Bulls were 45-62, 21-47 in conference games. Great coaching job.

— SMU 106, Memphis 79
Mustangs led 58-36 at halftime; dismal effort by Memphis.
Tigers lost six of their last nine games, after a 15-2 start.
SMU won its last six games, is 19-7, 10-3 in conference games.

— Niagara 80, Quinnipiac 66
Niagara has won its last eight road games, longest active streak in country.
Purple Eagles made 9-17 on arc, 27-27 on foul line.
Quinnipiac lost its last two games, after a 19-4 start. 

Baseball Note of the Day: Players went 9-6 against the owners in contract arbitration cases this year, first time since 2019 the players had the advantage.

OF/2B Whit Merrifield signed a one-year, $8M deal with the Phillies.

Word of the Day: Subterfuge- Deceit used in order to achieve a goal.

— Rider 104, Manhattan 62
Broncs shot 77.8% from the floor, the highest shooting %age in a D-I game by any team since January 24, 2005.

— Thursday in Utah, Golden State’s Klay Thompson came off the bench for the first time since his rookie season, 12 years ago; he scored 35 points (13-22 from floor, 7-13 on arc) as the Warriors beat the Jazz, 140-137.

— LA Chargers are paying Jim Harbaugh $16M a year? Really? Wow. Sean Payton is the only coach in the NFL making more $$$ than Jim Harbaugh. John Harbaugh makes $12M a year.

— Four guys were teammates with both Michael Jordan and Lebron James:
Brendan Haywood
Larry Hughes
Jerry Stackhouse
Scott Williams

— Rangers-Islanders played hockey outdoors at Giants Stadium in New Jersey Sunday; they drew 79,690 fans, a day after the Flyers-Devils drew 70,328 fans in the same stadium Saturday night. 150,000 fans for two games; pretty, pretty good.

No way the NHL knew what a gold mine they had on their hands when they started these outdoor games. 

— NBA All-Star Game: East 211, West 186- Somewhere, some poor soul bet the under in this game, which had no chance of winning. None.

Teams combined to shoot 67-168 (39.9%) on the arc
Teams combined to shoot 96-121 (79.3%) inside the arc

— RIP to Charles (Lefty) Driesell, the great college basketball coach who passed away over the weekend, at age 92. He had a great career. 

Driesell coached at four colleges:
1960-69- Davidson- 176-65
1969-86- Maryland- 348-159
1986-97- James Madison- 159-111
1997-2003- Georgia State- 103-59

Driesell was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018; he made the Elite Eight four times, but his best team was probably his 1974 Maryland team, which was ranked #3 in the country but lost the ACC title game in overtime- back then, only one team from each league made it to the NCAA’s.

Today, that team would’ve been a #1-seed in the tournament, but they didn’t even get in- they won the NIT very easily that season. Bad timing; NC State had David Thompson that year.

Driesell was known as much for his personality as coaching; he promised to make Maryland “the UCLA of the East” back when the Bruins won the NCAA’s every year. He won a lot of games and he was fun to listen to.

RIP, sir. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a basketball Saturday…….

Only 17 days until the first conference tournament starts.
Four weeks until Selection Sunday

SEC
Kentucky (+8.5) 70, Auburn 59
Wildcats held Auburn to 30.9% from the floor.
Auburn’s first loss at home this season.
Antonio Reeves took 20 shots, had one assist; his job is to shoot.

LSU 64, South Carolina 63
Tigers had lost six of last seven games coming in.
Carolina led 41-25 early in second half.

Alabama leads Tennessee by a game atop SEC standings.
Bracketology has SEC with nine teams in NCAA’s right now.

Pac-12
Washington State 72, Stanford 59
Coogs are very quietly 20-6; they’ve won seven games in a row.
Wazzu has #20 eFG% defense in country.
Coogs had great balance; four guys had between 13-15 points.

Colorado 92, USC 89, 2OT
Buffs overcame being minus-12 (21-9) in turnovers.
USC led 65-49 in second half.
Colorado shot 56.4% inside the arc.

Arizona leads Washington State by half a game, Oregon/UCLA by 2 games.
Bracketology has the Pac-12 as a 3-bid conference.

ACC
NC State 78, Clemson 77
Clemson led by 12 with 10:19 left in game.
Tigers’ last three losses were all by one point.

Virginia 49, Wake Forest 47
Cavaliers somehow won, despite going 1-11 on foul line.
Virginia has won nine of its last ten games.
Bracketology has Wake Forest as first team out of the field of 68.

North Carolina, Duke are tied for first; Virginia is a game behind.
Bracketology has the ACC as a 4-bid league.

Horizon
Cleveland State 81, Youngstown State 73
Vikings shot 66.7% inside arc, were +8 in turnovers (18-10)
Youngstown led by 6 with 12:37 left in game.

Wright State 101, Robert Morris 71
Wright State has won six of its last eight games.
Raiders have the #2 eFG% in the country.

Oakland/Green Bay are tied in loss column atop the Horizon.
This is a one-bid league; their conference tournament will be fun to watch.

Big East
UConn 81, Marquette 53
Huskies have won 14 games in a row (9-4 ATS in last 13)
UConn had 18 offensive rebounds; Eagles had 17 defensive boards.

Creighton 79, Butler 57
Creighton shot 65.7% inside the arc.
Bluejays outscored Butler 45-22 in second half.
Creighton was 9-10 on foul line, Butler 3-3. For the whole game.

UConn has three-game lead over Marquette, four games over Creighton.
Bracketology has four Big East teams in the Field of 68.

Big 12
TCU 75, Kansas State 72
Jameer Nelson hit a 3-pointer with 0:01.1 left for the win.
K-State shot 66.7% inside arc, 1-15 on arc, 25-29 on foul line.
Wildcats led by 8 with 12:30 left in the game. 

Kansas 67, Oklahoma 57
Dickinson had 20 points, 16 rebounds for Kansas.
Jayhawks snap a 4-game road losing streak.
Oklahoma led 34-29 at halftime.

Houston/Iowa State are tied for 1st; Baylor is a game behind.
Bracketology has Big X with nine teams in NCAA’s right now.

Upsets of the Day:
Hampton (+11.5) 67, Towson 61
Elon (+11.5) 73, NC-Wilmington 72
Mercer (+10.5) 88, Samford 84
Abilene Christian (+9.5) 63, SF Austin 62
Kentucky (+8.5) 70, Auburn 59
NC State (+7.5) 78, Clemson 77
California (+7.5) 82, Washington 80
LaSalle (+6.5) 82, UMass 81
Northern Colorado (+6.5) 80, Sacramento State 75
Eastern Michigan (+6.5) 69, Bowling Green 60
LSU (+6.5) 64, South Carolina 63

Word of the Day: Tenuous- uncertain, flimsy, likely to change.

Wake Forest’s 49-47 loss Saturday makes their status as an NCAA Tournament team very, very tenuous.

Atlantic 15
St Bonaventure 81, Davidson 80 OT
Bonnies were 23-30 on foul line, Davidson 13-18.
Davidson is 12-18 in A-15 since Bob McKillop retired; his son took over.
Wildcats are 0-3 in overtime games this season.

LaSalle 82, UMass 81
LaSalle led 71-53 with 10:22 left in game, then held on.
Explorers had lost 9 of last 10 games coming into this game.

Dayton, Richmond, Loyola are all tied for 1st in loss column; VCU is a game behind.
Bracketology has the A-15 as a one-bid league, for 2nd year in a row.

Missouri Valley
Southern Illinois 74, Indiana State 69
Indiana State led by 13 in first half.
Teams combined to shoot 13-52 on the arc.
Sycamores lost last two games, after a 22-3 start.

Indiana State/Drake are now tied for first, two games ahead of Bradley.

Southern Conference
Mercer 88, Samford 84
Samford had won 23 of its last 24 games, before this game.
Samford was 28-36 on foul line; Mercer shot 62.5% inside arc.

Samford leads Chattanooga by a game in SoCon standings.

Ivy League
Princeton 73, Yale 62
Tigers avenged an earlier loss to Yale, hand Bulldogs their first Ivy loss.
Princeton shot 65.5% inside the arc.

Yale/Cornell are now tied for first, with Princeton a game behind.
Harvard/Columbia are tied for 4th; Ivy League tournament has only 4 teams in it.

Mountain West
Colorado State 75, Utah State 55
Rams out-rebounded Utah State, 45-32.
Aggies are 2-3 in last five games, after a 19-2 start.

Nevada 69, UNLV 66
Wolf Pack out-rebounded UNLV, 41-20
Rebels led by 7 with 3:45 left in the game.

San Diego State, Utah State, Boise State are all tied for first.
7 of the 11 teams in the Mountain West have either 4 or 5 MW losses.
Bracketology has this league with six teams (6!!!) in the NCAA’s.

Ohio Valley
UT-Martin 88, Morehead State 82
Junior G Sears scored 31 points, he played all 40:00.
Morehead loses second game in a row, after a 20-5 start.
UTM outscored Morehead 7-0 over final 1:38 of the game.

Western Illinois 68, Tennessee State 61
Leathernecks are 10-4 in OVC; their last winning conference season was 2013.
This is also their first season in the OVC; Summit League is a better league.
Tennessee State shot only 33.3% from the floor. 

Morehead State leads three teams by a game: (Little Rock, UT-Martin, WIU).

Saturday’s Den: NHL trends…….

NHL trends (thru Thursday)

Anaheim 19-32-2
— split their last six games overall.
— 8-18-1 at home, 11-14-1 on road.
— under 5-2 last seven home games
— 6-2 in shootout/OT

Arizona 23-25-4
— lost their last seven games
— 15-11 at home, 8-14-4 on road.
— over 4-1 last five road games.
— 5-4 in shootout/OT

Boston 32-12-10
— 1-4 since All-Star break
— 17-7-4 at home, 15-5-6 on road.
— under 8-1 last nine games
— 6-10 in shootout/OT

Buffalo 23-26-4
— 1-3 since All-Star break. 
— 12-15-1 at home, 11-11-3 on road.
— under 8-3 last eleven games
— 2-5 if they played the night before.
— 2-4 in shootout/OT

Calgary 25-24-5
— won four of their last six games
— 12-12-1 at home, 13-12-4 on road.
— over 3-1 last four games
— 0-5 if they played the night before.
— 4-5 in shootout/OT

Carolina 30-17-5
— won 13 of their last 18 games.
— 17-6-4 at home, 13-11-1 on road.
— under 7-2 last nine games.
— 6-2 on first night of back/back.
— 6-5 in shootout/OT

Chicago 14-37-3
— lost their last eight games
— 10-14-2 at home, 4-23-1 on road.
— under 13-5 last 18 games
— 1-6 if they played the night before.
— 5-3 in shootout/OT

Colorado 33-18-4
— 1-5 since All-Star break, all on road.
— 19-5 at home, 14-13-4 on road.
— over 13-4 last 17 games.
— 3-2 if they played the night before.
— 4-4 in shootout/OT

Columbus 16-26-10
— lost 11 of their last 15 games
— 9-14-4 at home, 6-10-5 on road.
— under 6-3 last nine road games
— 5-10 in shootout/OT

Dallas 34-14-6
— won 12 of their last 16 games
— 17-8-2 at home, 17-6-4 on road.
— over 19-3 last 22 home games
— 4-3 if they played the night before.
— 9-6 in shootout/OT

Detroit 27-20-6
— won six of their last nine games
— 15-8-5 at home, 12-12-1 on road.
— under 9-5 last 14 games
— 4-1 if they played the night before.
— 7-6 in shootout/OT

Edmonton 31-18-1
— 2-3 since All-Star break
— 17-6-1 at home, 14-12 on road.
— under 12-3 last 15 games
— 5-1 in shootout/OT

Florida 35-15-4
— won 8 of their last 9 games.
— 16-8-2 at home, 19-7-2 on road.
— under 20-5 last 25 games
— 4-1 if they played night before.
— 5-4 in shootout/OT

Los Angeles 25-16-10
— lost 15 of their last 20 games.
— 9-9-6 at home, 16-7-4 on road.
— over 5-3 last eight games
— 1-5 if they played the night before.
— 2-10 in shootout/OT

Minnesota 25-23-5
— 4-0 since All-Star break
— 13-11-3 at home, 12-12-2 on road.
— under 5-1 last six games 
— 2-6 if they played the night before.
— 6-5 in shootout/OT

Montreal 22-24-8
— 3-7 in their last ten games.
— 11-14-3 at home, 11-10-5 on road.
— over 4-1 last five road games
— 1-9 if they played the night before.
— 9-8 in shootout/OT

Nashville 27-25-2
— 2-7 in their last nine games.
— 14-15 at home, 13-10-2 on road.
— over 4-1 last five games
— 5-0 if they played the night before.
— 7-2 in shootout/OT

New Jersey 27-22-4
— 3-5 in their last eight games
— 12-13-2 at home, 15-9-2 on road.
— under 4-0 last four games.
— 2-6 if they played the night before.
— 5-4 in shootout/OT

NY Islanders 22-18-13
— lost 11 of last 15 games. 
— 13-7-8 at home, 9-11-5 on road.
— under 5-3 last eight games
— 0-6 if they played the night before.
— 6-13 in shootout/OT

NY Rangers 35-16-3
— won their last six games
— 19-7 at home, 16-9-3 on road.
— over 6-3 last nine road games.
— 8-0 if they played the night before.
— 7-3 in shootout/OT

Ottawa 22-26-2
— won six of their last nine games.
— 15-13-2 at home, 7-13 on road.
— over 10-5 last 15 games.
— 5-2 in shootout/OT

Philadelphia 29-19-7
— 4-1 since All-Star break
— 14-12-2 at home, 15-7-5 on road.
— over 6-2 last eight home games.
— 5-1 on first night of a back/back.
— 8-7 in shootout/OT

Pittsburgh 24-20-7
— lost eight of their last 12 games 
— 13-9-3 at home, 11-11-4 on road.
— under 11-3 last 14 games
— 6-1 if they played the night before.
— 4-7 in shootout/OT

St Louis 29-22-2
— won eight of their last ten games.
— 16-9-1 at home, 13-13-1 on road.
— over 9-5 last 14 games
— 7-2 in shootout/OT

San Jose 15-33-5
— 5-3 in their last eight games
— 9-13-2 at home, 6-20-2 on road.
— under 4-2 last six games
— 4-5 in shootout/OT

Seattle 23-21-10
— lost eight of their last 12 games.
— 11-9-4 at home, 12-12-6 on road. 
— under 16-5 last 22 games
— 0-4 on first night of back/back.
— 5-10 in shootout/OT

Tampa Bay 30-20-5
— won 11 of their last 14 games.
— 18-5-3 at home, 12-15-2 on road.
— under 9-3 last 12 road games
— 6-5 in shootout/OT

Toronto 28-16-8
— won six of their last eight games.
— 14-10-2 at home, 14-6-6 on road. 
— under 5-3 last eight games
— 1-5 on first night of back/back
— 10-8 in shootout/OT

Vancouver 37-12-6
— 13-4 in their last 17 games. 
— 19-4-2 at home, 18-8-4 on road.
— over 7-4 last eleven home games
— 4-6 in shootout/OT

Vegas 31-16-6
— won seven of their last ten games. 
— 19-6-2 at home, 12-10-4 on road.
— under 5-2 last seven home games
— 7-6 in shootout/OT

Washington 23-21-8
— lost 8 of their last 9 games.
— 13-9-5 at home, 10-12-3 on road.
— under 3-1 last four games.
— 4-3 if they played the night before.
— 6-8 in shootout/OT

Winnipeg 32-14-5
— lost five of their last seven games.
— 18-7-2 at home, 14-7-3 on road.
— under 15-2 last 17 games.
— 4-0 if they played the night before.
— 3-5 in shootout/OT