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????