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

13) Back in 2010, I’m at the MGM Grand for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Had a great time; place is too big, but thats another story.

Early on in one of the games, three young guys next to me are going nuts; kid scores a basket to make the score 15-12 and they’re hugging each other. I have no idea why, so had to ask: “Is that guy who scored your brother or something?”

Turns out there was a proposition bet on every game: first team to get to 15 points, and these guys had the winner. I’d get dizzy trying to handicap “first team to 15” bets.

12) Bad beat of last weekend: San Diego (-5.5) 85, Portland 82— Kid on Portland drained a 3 right at the buzzer to cover the spread; losing Pilots were 10-14 on the arc, 20-20 on line and still lost a game they trailed by 18 in with 17:29 left.

The thing is this: if you bet San Diego in this game, you laid 5.5 points with a team that 48 hours earlier, had LOST BY 58 POINTS on their home court, 96-38 to Gonzaga.

Takes a lot of onions to lay 5.5 with a team coming off a 58-point loss.

11) Random NBA stats: Cleveland Cavaliers are 0-7 vs spread on the road if they played the night before. Golden State is 3-7 in that situation.

10) This year, when college hoop referees don’t feel like calling a foul, or feel one isn’t justified, they simply give the “touchdown” signal, as if to say, the defender stayed straight up.

9) I’m thinking that UCLA’s Bryce Alford reminds me a lot of Jimmer Fredette; terrific with the ball in his hands, couldn’t guard a lamp post.

If Steve Alford hadn’t have gotten the UCLA coaching job, Bryce would be playing ball at New Mexico (and Cullen Neal would’ve gone to St Mary’s). Bryce Alford would be torching what is a down Mountain West Conference.

8) Petco Park in San Diego flooded over the weekend, after heavy rains combined with a clogged drain or two; the ballfield looks like a pond, but because they recently had a motorcycle race there, the field didn’t have any grass on it anyway and was scheduled to be re-sodded soon.

7) Duke QB Thomas Sirk got a 6th year of eligibility from the NCAA after he tore his achilles, but he will transfer from Duke and play his last year of college ball elsewhere.

6) Houston Astros will have 12-foot high screens at Minute Maid Park this year, which will come up when the game starts and will run the length of each dugout, to protect fans from flying bats and foul balls.

5) Three years ago, Buzz Williams left Marquette for Virginia Tech, an odd move for a basketball coach; Williams went 139-69 in six years at Marquette, 69-37 in Big East games, so he was doing well, but he moved on to Blacksburg anyway.

In three years since, this being the third year, Marquette is 50-43 under Steve Wojciechowski, 20-32 in Big East games, with no NCAA tournament appearances- they’re a bubble team right now, .

Virginia Tech is 52-45 under Williams (41-23 the last two years), 22-31 in ACC games (20-15 the last two years). Hokies are probably going to the NCAA’s for the first time in ten years.

Sometimes it is tough to coach a college team in a pro town, which Milwaukee is, but Williams is a program builder who has done a terrific job at Virginia Tech.

4) Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles both got the gate from their NFL teams Tuesday; tough to be a 30-ish NFL running back with a big contract.

Football players must look at baseball/NBA guys and their guaranteed contracts and it has to tick them off mightily.

3) Rangers OF Josh Hamilton had his 11th knee operation Monday; not sure of how many he has had on each knee, but seeing as he only has two knees, there are no good ratios.

2) I would not want front row seats to a college or NBA game; basketball players are large humans and if they go hard after a loose ball, you wouldn’t want one of them crashing into you.

Couple years ago, Lebron James crashed into golfer Jason Day’s wife and knocked her flying at a game in Cleveland; she took it like a trooper but it had to hurt like hell.

1— Warren Buffett announced Monday that if any Berkshire Hathaway employee exactly nails the Sweet 16 in their NCAA tournament bracket, that person will receive $1M a year for life, as long as only one person does it.

Buffett also offers $100,000 to the Berkshire employee who predicts the most consecutive winners during the tournament. Last year, two guys split the $100,000.

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

13) Can be difficult to evaluate pitchers in spring training; take Sunday, when Daniel Gossett looked good pitching against the Angels. Gossett is a prospect, but……

Normally when you face the Angels, you’ll face Calhoun-Trout-Pujols-Maybin in the first two innings. Sunday, Halos’ #3 hitter was Cliff Pennington, not exactly their “A” lineup, so you have to take Gossett’s performance with a grain of salt.

12) I’m a big fan of the Showtime program Billions; turns out that two of the three co-writers on the show also worked together writing Rounders and Oceans 13, two excellent movies.

11) With closer Jeurys Familia due to be suspended (domestic violence) at the start of the season, Addison Reed will be the Mets closer on April 3 and for several weeks after.

10) Toronto Raptors lose G Kyle Lowry (wrist) for the rest of the regular season; they hope to have him back for the playoffs.

9) These stats are from Justin Ray of Golf Channel: Average age of PGA Tour winners this season is 28.7 years old.

From 2000-13, average age of winners on Tour was 33.4 years old. In 2014-15, it was 30.4.

8) Reese Maguire is a minor league catcher in the Blue Jays’ system; think catching is in his genes? His dad caught, his grandfather was a catcher for Duke in the College World Series.

In 1952.

7) Random food fact: I’ve never had Italian ice or a snow cone. Or coffee.

6) NFL Combine is this week, so we’ll see lot of 40-yard dashes and agility drills and no one will remind us that Tom Brady had an awful Combine workout and is one of the best QB’s of all time.

Game film means more than workouts, though I’m guessing the interviews teams do with prospects are REALLY helpful. Like the time Geno Smith fiddled with his cellphone during his interviews. Never should’ve been drafted high after that.

5) San Diego Padres have used 84 players the last two years. Thats a lot.

Seattle Mariners made 37 roster moves between the end of last season and the start of spring training; GM Jerry DiPoto has totally cleaned house, building a new team around his nucleus of Robinson Cano/Felix Hernandez/Hector Cruz

4) Saturday in Las Vegas, an astute gambler played $7 on a 10-team college hoop parlay and it hit, making him $5,040 (720-1 odds). He played four totals and six sides.

3) Texas Rangers are 28-10 against the Astros the last two years, with 13 one-run wins. If the Astros can just go 10-9 against Texas this year, thats a 5-game swing in the AL West race.

2) Only three big leaguers played 162 games last year: Alcides Escobar, Jonathan Schoop and George Springer.

1— Steelers signed WR Antonio Brown to a $17M a year deal, making him the highest-paid WR in the NFL. Maybe next year he can actually listen to his coach’s post-game speeches instead of playing them on Facebook Live.

Brown’s father is Eddie Brown, known here in Albany as Touchdown Eddie Brown, a great player in the Arena League. Eddie Brown once scored nine TD’s in a Firebirds game; he was great fun to watch. Hard to believe it has been 18 years since they won the Arena Bowl.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday

13) Pretty soon the college basketball coaching carousel will start spinning, which begs the question: is it better to be a big fish in a small pond, or a smaller fish in a big pond?

Shaka Smart bolted VCU for Texas and more $$$, but now he is 30-32 in two years, 15-19 in conference games and Longhorn fans are wondering why Rick Barnes got fired.

Guys like Gregg Marshall (Wichita St), Eric Musselman (Nevada) and Archie Miller (Dayton) are winning big in smaller leagues and will surely get offers from schools like NC State, Missouri, Illinois or whatever other jobs open up, but they all make a lot of money now.

Is it worth it to coach in deeper waters for more money, when it is harder to win there?

12) Watching Gonzaga lose at home to BYU late Saturday night, it occurs to you that they haven’t been tested enough by the lame WCC, which was way down this year, other than St Mary’s—even BYU is very young and isn’t as good as usual.

Gonzaga’s guards looked lost in the last few minutes, when the game was tight and a loss seemed possible. Zags hadn’t played a single-digit game since Dec 3, when they won by 7 over Arizona in Los Angeles. 84 days between close games isn’t that healthy for a team.

11) San Antonio Spurs have had 20 consecutive seasons with a winning road record; that is really a great accomplishment.

10) Arizona State 83, USC 82— ASU played starters 199 out of 200 minutes in their loss to UCLA Thursday; I’ve never seen that before. In this game, they played two subs, one 11:00, another 12:00, but they pulled out a win and improved to 7-10 in the Pac-12.

9) Big West Conference is way down this year, but three of their four games Saturday went to overtime, and the fourth game ended 83-80, so solid night of entertainment in that league.

8) Champ Week starts tonight, with four first-round games in the Atlantic Sun tourney at campus sites. Florida Gulf Coast is the #1 seed, Lipscomb the #2 seed.

Ohio Valley tournament will be next, starting on Wednesday.

7) A U of Louisville sophomore thought he won $38,000 at a women’s basketball game Thursday by hitting a layup, foul shot, 3-pointer and half-court shot during a time-out, but he has been told he is ineligible to receive the prize because he played high school ball and the fine print of the contest says no one can collect if they played organized basketball within the last six years. Too bad- the sponsor would win back the $38K in goodwill if they gave the kid the $$$.

6) San Diego State had a great running back this season, Donnel Pumphrey; the school honored the young man during a timeout in the Aztecs’ basketball game Wednesday, but there was one small problem.

Mr Pumphrey showed up wearing a Dodgers’ hat.

People in San Diego don’t like Los Angeles, and since the Chargers just bolted to LA, that feeling has ramped up a little bit, so Mr Pumphrey took some grief on social media for the hat. Took until the second half for someone at the arena to get him a red Aztecs’ cap.

5) I’m a big fan of college basketball adopting the 8-second half-court rule; would encourage teams to press more and also to run the ball up the floor, instead of walking it up.

4) Do you think Jack Nicklaus sits at home and quietly celebrates because Eldrick Woods’ career is in the dumper, which preserves Nicklaus’ record for most majors won?

3) Toughing moment at Michigan State Sunday; senior Eron Harris blew his knee out earlier this year- his career is over, but he suited up for his last home game Sunday and with 0:11 left and the Spartans safely ahead, Harris checked into the game to get one last ovation.

He knelt down, which wasn’t easy with the big knee brace he had on, and kissed the Spartan logo at midcourt. I’m not sure the average fan realizes how much effort these kids put into their playing careers and how much it means to them. It was a pretty cool moment.

2) I was trying to explain to a young person the other day what basketball was like before the shot clock; in short, it wasn’t as fun. Coaches could dominate the game; the game could have almost no flow at all. The shot clock and 3-point shot have made basketball a way better game.

Example: February 22, 1980— While the US Olympic hockey team was beating the Russians in the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid, my college team was playing in the semifinals of their conference tournament, in Buffalo. People in the corner of the small gym were watching the hockey game on Canadian TV in the corner of the gym.

We lost the game that night in four overtimes; the team that won the tip of all four 5:00 OT’s held the ball for the last shot. I’m not kidding, it was that boring— tense is a better word.

In 1979, a North Carolina-Duke basketball game was 7-0 at halftime. Seriously.

1— Watching college hoop games this weekend, one thing is clear; people are tired. Season is a long one; players, coaches, and maybe most of all the officials are tired. Getting to Champ Week gives everyone a little jolt of energy.

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

13) Florida State 76, Clemson 74— Seminoles won first meeting this year, 109-61; Clemson is a huge disappointment- they’re 1-9 in ACC games that were decided by 6 or less points.

12) Kentucky 76, Florida 66— De’Aaron Fox didn’t play for the Wildcats but they won anyway, taking a one-game lead in the SEC. Malik Monk scored 30 points in the second half; Kentucky had a 22-4 edge on the foul line in this game.

11) Iowa 83, Maryland 69— Young Terrapins have now lost five of their last seven games after a 20-2 start; they’re going to be a fashionable pick to be upset in the first round of the NCAA’s.

10) UCLA 77, Arizona 72— Road team won both regular season meetings; would be fun if there was a rubber match in Las Vegas in two weeks, at the Pac-12 tourney.

9) Providence 73, Marquette 69— Friars won their last four games to even their Big East mark at 8-8; they swept Marquette this year, with two wins by total of five points.

On Selection Sunday, Providence’s #277 non-conference strength of schedule could haunt them.

8) Miami 55, Duke 50— Grayson Allen (ankle) didn’t play. Blue Devils went 5-21 on the arc, with Luke Kennard going 6-20 from the floor.

Duke freshman Harry Giles played 19:00 and scored two points; mock drafts have him going around 10-12th in the NBA Draft. if he gets picked that high, someone is going to get fired; the kid has had two major knee operations and hasn’t played very well this year. Maybe he turns out to be a great NBA player someday, but what visual evidence is there right now to point that way?

7) Upsets of the Day:
— BYU (+20) 79, Gonzaga 71
— The Citadel (+13) 102, Samford 96
— Mercer (+8.5) 64, Chattanooga 54
— Iowa (+8) 83, Maryland 69

6) Oregon 75, Stanford 73— Ducks swept Bay Area trip, but wins were by a total of five points- they didn’t look that great in either game. If I’m looking for potential Final Four teams, I’m not looking for teams getting taken to the wire by Stanford.

5) Western Michigan 80, Ball State 55— Surging Broncos have won their last six games after they started season 7-15. WMU point guard Wilder is a very good player.

4) Oklahoma 81, Kansas State 51— Lon Kruger gets career win #600; he might be the most underrated coach in the country.

3) Belmont 68, Tennessee State 63— Belmont finishes 15-1 in the OVC, will have ton of pressure on them to win the conference tournament next weekend.  Bruins are 66-14 in OVC games; they won the OVC tournament twice in their first four years in the league.

2) BYU 79, Gonzaga 71— Sports are fun; unusual things happen. This is third year in a row that BYU has won in Spokane. Joe Lunardi’s computer had to be working overtime after this result. As for the Zags, not a great time to have your confidence shaken.

1— Indiana 63, Northwestern 62— Hoosiers ended first half on a 22-0 run that ended with a 70-footer banked in at the buzzer. Game ended with Indiana’s Bryant’s scoring 3-point play with 0:02 left for the win. If you’re a Northwestern fan, it is time to get queasy.

Saturday’s List of 13: Some baseball prop bets…….

Baseball prop bets for 2017; over/unders on HR’s, pitching wins:

13) Giancarlo Stanton home runs: 34.5— Usually has trouble staying healthy.

12) Clayton Kershaw wins, 16.5— Last six years, he is 100-37 in 180 starts.

11) Mike Trout home runs, 32.5— Five full years: 30-27-36-41-29 homers.

10) Felix Hernandez wins, 12.5— Was on DL last year for first time in eight years.

9) Nolan Arenado home runs, 35.5— Hit 42-41 homers last two years, in 157-160 games.

8) Noah Syndergaard wins, 13.5— Is 23-16 in 54 starts in his first two seasons.

7) Josh Donaldson home runs, 30.5— Hit 41-37 HR’s his first two years in Toronto.

6) Sonny Gray wins, 10.5— Had a dismal 2016; is he healthy? Will he get traded?

5) Miguel Cabrera home runs, 30.5— Has played in 148+ games 12 of last 13 years.

4) Masahiro Tanaka wins, 12.5— Is 39-16 in 75 starts in his first three years in MLB.

3) Evan Longoria home runs, 26.5— Hit 36 HR’s LY; has never hit 30+ in consecutive season.

2) Kyle Hendricks wins, 13— Is 24-15 the last two years, in 62 starts.

1— Yoenis Cespedes home runs, 29.5— First five years in MLB: 23-26-22-35-31 HR’s.

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

13) UCLA 87, Arizona State 75— Sun Devils didn’t sub in the whole first half; they went 14-34 on the arc, fought like hell, but they don’t have many tall players, which is a problem.

12) Michigan State 88, Nebraska 72— Joe Lunardi has the Spartans as a 10-seed right now, opposite Oregon in a second round game. No matter what, some really high seed might play Michigan State in that second round and they’re going to be very nervous about it.

11) Georgia 60, Alabama 55— Dawgs are 8-0 vs spread as an SEC road underdog this year; JJ Frazier had 28 of their 60 points here. Georgia played without injured star Maten.

10) Northeastern 105, Elon 104, 2OT— Teams combined to go 30-70 on the arc, with only 13 turnovers in the whole game. Elon had won six in a row at home.

9) Texas-El Paso 60, FAU 55— UTEP was 2-10 in non-conference games, but now they’re 10-5 in Conference USA. Not sure if they’ve improved a lot or if C-USA is not so good.

8) South Dakota 92, Western Illinois 81— Coyotes have won five games in row, own a half-game lead over North Dakota State in Summit standings; conference tourney is a neutral site, so not as big a deal as in other leagues, but this is South Dakota’s best season since 2010.

7) Arizona 90, USC 77— UCLA comes to Tucson Saturday; big weekend for the Wildcats.

6) Cal-Davis 96, Northridge 85— Aggies are tied for first in Big West with Cal-Irvine.

5) IUPUI 83, Fort Wayne 82— Revenge for IUPUI, which lost first meeting this season with the Mastodons 103-73.

4) Rice 72, Southern Miss 71, OT— Owls are 19-9, 9-6 in C-USA; this is their first winning season since 2012, their first winning conference season since ’05.

3) Eastern Washington 82, Weber State 72— EWU knocks Wildcats out of a tie for first in Big Sky tournament; these teams are now tied for second, could meet again in Big Sky semis.

2) Rockets 129, Pelicans 99— Houston’s bench outscored New Orleans’ bench 79-26. Cousins/Davis combined for 56 points; look at the rest of their squad— not lot of top-flight talent there.

1— New Orleans 82, Central Arkansas 65— Privateers dropped basketball for two years, are in fifth year back in D-I, are in first place in Southland Conference. Good story.

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

13) Last year, there were 932 intentional walks in 2,430 major league games. This year, you’ll be able to walk a batter without throwing any pitches, just say you want the guy on first base.

Move is designed to quicken the pace of play; the automatic intentional walk has been a rule in amateur ball for a long time. I’m not convinced it’ll shorten games any.

12) From The Sporting News: In the three-year period from 1992-94, 27 of the 30 players who were top 10 picks in the NBA Draft averaged double figure scoring as rookies.

The last three years, only seven of 30 top 10 picks int he draft averaged double figure scoring as NBA rookies.

Players entering the NBA now are less ready to contribute immediately, part of why the growth of D-League has happened. Pretty soon every NBA team will have a D-League affiliate, because players who leave college too early need to develop their skills before they’re good enough to be NBA players.

11) One of Magic Johnson’s first acts as Lakers’ boss was to trade Lou Williams to Houston for Corey Brewer and a 1st-round draft pick.

Lakers are +16 with Williams on the floor this year, -380 with him on the bench.

10) Maryland lost big man Michal Cekovsky (ankle) for the season.

9) NHL teams had a “bye week” added to their schedule this year for the first time. So far, teams coming off their bye week are 4-16.

8) University of Texas baseball coach David Pierce is brother-in-law with former Broncos’ coach Gary Kubiak.

7) Butler 74, Villanova 66— Bulldogs sweep season series with the national champs. Butler used an 18-0 run in second half to take control of the game.

6) Oregon 68, California 65— Ducks trailed by 10 with 4:10 to go in a game where they played as badly as they’ve played in a long time— but they won. Dillon Brooks nailed a 3-ball with 0:00.2 left for the win that tore Cal’s hearts out.

I’m not a big fan of Cuonzo Martin as a coach- he’s got an NBA player starting at center and he only took 11 shots in this game.

5) North Carolina 74, Louisville 63— Tar Heels were 21-29 on foul line, Louisville 4-13. Cards were also 5-20 on the arc. Mitchell scored 21; no other Louisville player was in double figures.

4) Syracuse 78, Duke 75— At least we won’t have to listen to everyone campaigning for Syracuse to get into the NCAA’s (like last year); this win puts them in. Orangemen scored last five points of the game, all in transition. Duke didn’t score in last 1:34 of the game. Syracuse is 7-1 at home in the ACC- their last seven games were all decided by 6 or less points or in overtime.

3) Minnesota 89, Maryland 75— Young Terrapins are starting to falter; you get the feeling they could play a mid-major with lot of older players in first round of the NCAA’s and it could be an upset.

As for Minnesota young Pitino’s team has six wins in a row- would the committee put the Gophers up against Louisville in the first round?

2) Weird night in the Big East: favorites of 8, 10 and 13 points all lost straight up; Villanova lost at home to Butler, DePaul won at Georgetown, Providence won at Creighton.

1— Judge Judy makes $47M a year? And we think athletes are overpaid????

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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