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

13) For the first time this July, all 30 NBA teams will be represented at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. If you like the NBA, its worth your while to spend a week or so in the desert and watch the summer league in person. I highly recommend it.

Worst case, you pay $30 to watch ball all day in an air conditioned arena when it is 110 degrees outside. Plus, the arena has good hot dogs.

12) Vikings losing in the NFC title game was actually a financial boon to hotels/businesses in the Twin Cities, since now more out-of-towners will be visiting Minnesota this week.

When Georgia Bulldogs made the national title game in Atlanta last month, it cost businesses some money to have Georgia in the game, meaning less out-of-state people would be taking up room in local hotels/restaurants.

11) FOX paid the NFL an average of $660M a year to televise 11 Thursday night games each season for the next five years.

10) Things I learned watching the news today; when an AMTRAK train is going full speed, it takes the train a mile to stop.

9) NFL game in Mexico City next season: Chiefs-Rams.

8) January 31 is solid day for baseball birthdays: Nolan Ryan, Ernie Banks, Jackie Robinson.

7) Three officials working in Sunday’s Super Bowl at one point spent time officiating in the Arena League.

6) In the NHL, some teams have road trips where the players’ moms or dads go on that trip with their sons. Pretty cool idea. LA Kings’ eastern road trip now is a dad’s trip.

5) Field for the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands next November:
Eastern Kentucky, Kansas State, Kennesaw State, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Old Dominion, Oregon State and Penn.

4) Catcher Alex Avila gets two years, $8.25M from the Diamondbacks.

3) Good day for Mookie Betts; he won his arbitration case with the Red Sox, will make $10.5M this season. Boston wanted to pay Betts $7.5M this season.

2) If you’re Kirk Cousins, which team is the your most attractive destination for 2018?
Jets? Broncos? Browns? Bills?

1— In this day and age, with so much technology, how do the Clippers not at least text Blake Griffin and tell him he’s been traded? Its big business and all— the owner of the Clippers used to be the CEO of freakin’ Microsoft. How does Griffin find out about the trade via Twitter?

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

13) West Virginia’s basketball team got thrown under the bus by their athletic department when the school joined the Big X six years ago.

You look at their nine basketball road trips; the closest Big X rival to Morgantown is Iowa State, which is 860 miles away. Lot of long road trips in the cold of winter, all so the football team would have a good league to play in. Hope it is worth it.

Basketball team would’ve been fine playing in the Big East or the A-14, or even the ACC. Look at a map and plot the 10 teams in the Big X; it is weird to see how far West Virginia is from everyone else.

12) Two things about the Blake Griffin-to-Detroit trade:
a) I wouldn’t be too eager to trade with any team Jerry West works for (Clippers)
b) Blake Griffin has missed 84 games the last three years, and this year isn’t over.

11) 18 players on the Patriots’ 53-man roster are undrafted players, which is a lot. Eagles have nine undrafted players on their roster.

10) There is a new Arena Football team here in Albany this spring; 300 people showed up for an open tryout Saturday, at an indoor facility in Halfmoon. Wonder if any of them will make the squad, which starts play April 14.

Think it might actually be harder to make an Arena League team as a walk-on, since there really aren’t special teams the way there are in the NFL.

9) Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles played all season with a wrist injury that needs surgery; the team knew this before the season— looks like Bortles will play for $19M next year, the $$ the Jaguars to give him if he is on the roster March 14.

8) Washington Wizards star John Wall is having his knee scoped, will be out 6-8 weeks. Right now, Wizards are #6 seed in the East- can they stay there?

7) I’m a big fan of the TV show Suits on USA Network; one of the actresses on the show is a woman named Meghan Markle who will soon marry Prince Harry in England, so she’s leaving the show after this spring’s episodes.

Read Tuesday that Patrick Adams will also leave the show after this season; his character (Mike) is one of the two main characters in the show, so interesting to see how they’ll proceed moving forward.

6) Former New Mexico basketball player Hugh Greenwood now plays Australian Rules Football for the Adelaide Crows in the AFL. Tough sport.

5) Carolina Hurricanes just got sold to a guy who says the team might play some games in Hartford Whalers throwback uniforms— the Hurricanes moved to Raleigh from Hartford 21 years ago. Whalers had green uniforms with an awesome logo; this is a good idea.

4) Doug Pederson is bringing Brett Favre in to speak to the Eagles Saturday night. Pederson was Favre’s backup for seven years in Green Bay.

3) Milwaukee is the smallest TV market in the major leagues; they averaged 31,282 fans a game last year because they were smart enough to build a retractable dome in a cold-weather city, so fans don’t have to suffer while they’re watching the game.

2) Arkansas is paying former football coach Bret Bielema $11,395,000 as a going away present; if he gets 36 monthly payments thru 2020, that works out to $316,527.78 a month.

1— I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Tuesday was the 18th anniversary of the greatest NFL game ever played: Rams 23, Titans 16 in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Think about Falcons-Patriots last year and SB XXXIV was a similar game, except the team that stormed back from behind fell just short of winning……thank God.

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

13) Big NBA trade: Clippers dealt Blake Griffin to Detroit for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a 1st-round and a 2nd-round pick. Detroit also gets Brice Johnson and Willie Reed in the deal.

Griffin is on a 5-year, $171M contract that doesn’t have a no-trade clause in it.

12) Griffin’s contract has $150M of guaranteed money in it; no NFL contract has more than $70M guaranteed.

11) There are murmurs that if UConn changes basketball coaches this spring, Bobby Hurley will be one of the names on their list. My question is this and I don’t know what the answer is:

Is UConn a better basketball job than Arizona State? I’m not sure it is.

Hurley is from New Jersey, so coming back east would be a plus for his family, but expectations are very high in the Nutmeg State. Is Hurley in waiting for the Duke job? Mike Krzyzewski is 70, so that job will be opening up in the not-too-distant future.

10) New England Patriots have played in seven Super Bowls under Bill Belichick; obviously, they’re 5-2 in those games, but they also didn’t score in first quarter in any of the seven games.

9) New England is going to have two new coordinators next season, which should be fun to watch.

8) I watch a lot of football, but rarely the Pro Bowl; not even sure why it exists. Of all the all-star games, basketball should be the best, but the players don’t try so I’m thinking baseball’s is.

7) Arkansas gave basketball coach Mike Anderson a 2-year contract extension thru 2022.

6) UNLV is 4-4 in the Mountain West; they’re 4-0 when PG Jordan Johnson takes less than 12 shots from the floor, 0-4 when he takes 12+ shots. Rebels are a better team when Johnson sets up his teammates up for shots. Other teams try to get him to shoot the ball more.

5) Wyoming Cowboys are 14-7, 5-3 in the Mountain West Conference; they’re 5-0 in overtime games this season, which doesn’t happen much.

4) Very expensive torn achilles for DeMarcus Cousins, who is a free agent this summer, along with Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Paul George.

3) Milwaukee Bucks’ interim coach Joe Prunty was Luke Walton’s high school coach in San Diego.

2) Watching NBA games over the weekend, it dawned on me the immense impact Stephen Curry is having on the game, in a positive way. Curry is so skilled, such a great shooter, and he wasn’t born that way- he’s had to work his butt off to become this great.

That sends a message to kids, that if they work on their skills, they can become great players, too. Size isn’t everything; smaller players can make a big impact, if they put the ball in the hoop.

Instead of practicing useless stuff or just playing an endless amount of meaningless pickup games, more kids are practicing shooting and it is paying off.

1) Phoenix Suns have made at least one 3-pointer in 1,109 consecutive games, an NBA record.

Monday’s List of 13: A small sampling of Super Bowl prop bets

Some of the many, many prop bets on the Super Bowl:
13) Simple one: Patriots are -5, with a total of 48.5

12) You can get 8-1 odds that the Eagles will score exactly 20 points; same for 21 points.

11) You can get 8-1 odds that the Patriots will score exactly 27 points; same for 28 points.

10) Odds on player to score first points:
7-2— Both kickers
10-1— Rob Gronkowski
12-1— Jeffery, Ajayi, Blount, Lewis, Amendola
14-1— James White

18-1— Brandin Cooks
25-1— Clement, Torrey Smith

9) Exact magic of victory:
Eagles by 1-6 points: 4-1
by 7-12 points: 7-1
by 13-18 points: 10-1
by 19-24 points: 25-1
by 25-30 points: 12-1
by more than 30 points: 100-1

8) Exact magic of victory:
Patriots by 1-6 points: 5-2
by 7-12 points: 4-1
by 13-18 points: 11-2
by 19-24 points: 8-1
by 25-30 points: 12-1
by more than 30 points: 20-1

7) Over/under receiving yards for Brandin Cooks: 63.5

6) Over/under for Tom Brady’s longest completion: 40.5 yards

5) Over/under for Tom Brady’s first completion: 8.5 yards

4) Over/under for Donnie Jones’ longest gross punt: 54.5 yards

3) Over/under receiving yards for Zach Ertz: 60.5

2) Over/under for Nick Foles’ longest completion: 38.5 yards

1) Largest lead in game: 13.5. Over -$150, Under +$135

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

13) NC State 95, North Carolina 91 OT— Wolfpack was 15-30 on the arc; Tar Heels were 4-19, and 11-20 on line. Kevin Keatts is 2-0 vs Duke/UNC in his first year with the Wolfpack.

12) Virginia 65, Duke 63— Blue Devils scored 22 points in first half, 41 in second, but it wasn’t enough. Cavaliers are the best team in the ACC.

Today was the first time since 1973 Duke/North Carolina both lost at home on the same day.

11) Kentucky 83, West Virginia 76— Wildcats were down 17 points, rallied for road win. West Virginia has now lost four of its last five games.

10) Ball State 111, Akron 106, 2OT— Akron’s Jimond Ivey scored 48 points, made 9-12 on the arc, including a 35-footer that forced a second OT, but his teammates were 6-32 on the arc for the game. Ball State was 33-42 on the line, 10-18 on the arc, and still needed two OT’s to win.

9) Auburn 95, LSU 70— Auburn is 19-2 and two of their best players never became eligible this season- they were winning this game by 19 at the half- they made 14-32 on the arc.

8) UNLV 88, San Diego State 78— Rebels snap an 11-game losing streak to the Aztecs; only four of those 11 losses were in San Diego.

7) Upsets of the Day:
Citadel (+17) 76, Mercer 74
NC State (+13) 95, North Carolina 91 OT
Sacramento State (+12.5) 71, Portland State 61
Tex-San Antonio (+12.5) 82, UAB 70
Utah State (+9.5) 65, Fresno State 62
Elon (+9) 76, Towson State 67
VMI (+8.5) 70, Chattanooga 69
Kentucky (+8) 83, West Virginia 76
Niagara (+8) 105, Canisius 89

6) Mentioned earlier that 1973 was last time Duke/North Carolina both lost at home on same day; when was last time VMI/Citadel both won on the road on the same day?

5) Butler 70, St John’s 45— Johnnies are 0-10 in the Big East; I’m advising St John’s to hire Bruce Pearl as its coach, and ESPN to hire Chris Mullin— he was very good on TV.

4) Clippers’ Lou Williams had 40 points, 10 assists Friday; he is first NBA player with a game of 40+ points, 10+ assists since Brian Winters of the Bucks in January 1982.

3) Wyoming 90, San Jose State 86 OT— Cowboys upset Nevada in double OT Wednesday, then went on road here and avoided an upset in overtime. Justin James scored 64 points in those two games, playing 77:00.

2) Next November’s Maui Classic is loaded: Gonzaga, Arizona, Duke, Xavier, San Diego State, Iowa State, Illinois, Auburn. Chaminade will only be in every other Maui Classic from here on in.

1) Big X-SEC tally: SEC wins 6-4; home teams won seven of the ten games.

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

13) First time the Eagles played in the Super Bowl, 36 years ago, the tickets cost $40. Now you can add a couple zeroes to the end of that.

12) Lot of big-time money-line bets on the Eagles this week; as of 4pm Friday. CG Technology said it had a 7-figure liability on the Eagles’ money line. Interesting.

Just can’t envision someone taking $700,000 and betting on New England to lose SU, but that is what makes gambling so fascinating— you and I look at the same things in different ways.

11) NCAA is investigating UConn’s basketball program, so speculation can begin on who will take Kevin Ollie’s job. Huskies are struggling badly, so Ollie will get told to take a hike pretty soon, if there is anything at all to the NCAA’s probe.

If he was winning, they’d take a deep breath and stay the course.

There is no real logical successor at UConn; Steve Pikiell? Jim Calhoun worked wonders in the Nutmeg State— it wasn’t a very good job before he took it.

10) College football coaches are nomads: Dan Enos was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas the last three years, but the Razorbacks changed coaches, so Enos signed on with Michigan Jan 8th, but this week, Enos quit and will now be the quarterbacks’ coach at Alabama.

Seeing how Alabama’s football program turned a $45M profit LY, they can pay their coaches really, really well and with a freshman and sophomore QB battling for playing time next fall, Nick Saban needs a QB coach who can develop at least one of them— chances are one will also transfer, eventually.

9) When Dick Vermeil took the Eagles’ head coaching job in 1976, he took a family vote on whether to move from UCLA to the Eagles— he was the only person to vote yes. That must have been a fun first couple of years, when the kids were cold as hell in winter and the team sucked.

Everything turned out well; the Eagles wound up in the Super Bowl, then coach Vermeil retired and went into TV work— he stayed in TV for 14 years before coaching the Rams, by which time his kids were all grown up.

8) TNT announcers were killing the Washington Wizards during their first half of their game in Oklahoma City Thursday night;  phrases like “Going through the motions” and “Maybe they should have another team meeting” were heard more than once. All this and the Wizards are tied for 5th seed in the East.

All this drama surrounding NBA teams lately, and most of it involving good teams; what the hell must the bad teams be like? They must really hate playing with each other.

7) Billy Donovan has gone from being one of the best college basketball coaches in the country to coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the NBA’s better teams. I’d love to know if he enjoys it, or if he would ever go back to coaching in college? I’m just curious, thats all.

6) If someone doesn’t name a racehorse “Secret Society” this summer, I’m going to be very disappointed. Catchy name.

5) Stormy Daniels will be on the Jimmy Kimmel Show Tuesday night, after the State of the Union address. Asking for a friend: when was the last time a porn star/escort was a guest on a network TV talk show? Again, I’m just curious.

4) Former NFL QB Tarvaris Jackson signed up to be a graduate assistant football coach at Alabama State— he hopes to coach in the NFL someday. He played 10 years in the NFL.

3) The Earth doesn’t take 24 hours to rotate the sun; it takes 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4 seconds.

2) Pelicans beat Houston last night, but DeMarcus Cousins limped off with an achilles injury late in the game and it didn’t look good. New Orleans has been on a roll lately, was moving up the ladder in the Western Conference, but if this is a serious injury, then sayonara to that.

1) Miami Marlins’ GM Michael Hill is going to try to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days starting next week, which takes him off the grid. No wonder the Marlins always suck; when baseball isn’t your GM’s priority just before spring training starts, what do you expect?

But hey, the guy went to Harvard, so who cares if he is running a marathon in Antartica when someone wants to call about a potential trade for JT Realmuto?

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

13) Miami Marlins had the best outfield in baseball last year; now they’re all gone. Christian Yelich got dealt to Milwaukee Thursday, for OF Lewis Brinson and three minor leaguers.

Marlins might as well fire all their ushers; ain’t going to be lot of fans in their home ballpark this year. Looking forward to seeing what the Marlins’ over/under win total will be.

12) Vince McMahon is bringing the XFL back in January 2020; eight teams, 10-game schedule. Sounds like it is going to be more mainstream this time around, unlike 2001, when there were lot of gimmicks involved.

There are rumors on the Interweb that McMahon is using this as a way to tell NFL owners he wouldn’t mind buying the Carolina Panthers when Jerry Richardson sells them.

Some college basketball thoughts from the past few nights:
11) Penn State 82, Ohio State 79— Tony Carr scored 28 points, nailed a 40-footer at the buzzer to hand the Buckeyes their first conference loss. Penn State is much-improved.

10) Wyoming 104, Nevada 103,  2OT— Great game late Wednesday night; high altitude got the Nevada kids in the overtimes- they don’t have a lot of depth because they have several transfers sitting out for next season. First conference loss for the Wolf Pack.

9) Oklahoma 85, Kansas 80— Lon Kruger made sure the shots were more spread around for this game; Trey Young only took nine shots, had nine assists, playing the whole 40:00.

8) Fresno State 69, UNLV 63— Very bad beat if you took the Rebels, +4.5; they fouled a Fresno player with 0:03.5 left, down 2- the kid made both foul shots. UNLV then threw a pass to mid-court, but the passer stepped over the line before he threw the pass, Fresno got the ball under the hoop and UNLV fouled again, wound up losing by six.

7) South Carolina 77, Florida 72— When an SEC team beats Kentucky, there is a hangover; Gators actually had a revenge motive over South Carolina here after losing to Gamecocks in Elite 8 last year, but they lost to Carolina at home.

6) Miami 78, Louisville 75 OT— Two really good teams here; Louisville is little underrated because Pitino is gone, but they’ve still got really good players.

5) USC 69, Stanford 64— Trojans avenged their loss in Palo Alto when Stanford nailed a shot from half-court at the buzzer. Cardinal started season 6-8, but they’re healthier now and aren’t an easy out in the Pac-12.

4) Loyola, Chi 80, Drake 57— Ramblers take over first place in the Missouri Valley.

3) Richmond 77, Duquesne 73 OT— Spiders won their last four games after starting season 3-13.

2) Santa Barbara 70, Cal State-Fullerton 65— Titans lost by 18 in the Thunderdome eight nights ago, but jumped out to a 14-point lead in this game before the Gauchos stormed back late and swept the season series. Max Heidegger scored 28 for UCSB— he was 12-12 on foul line.

1) Bad Beat of the Night— Towson State (-7) 96, William & Mary 82 OT— Tribe led by 10 at the half, by 6 with 3:39 left, but got outscored 17-3 in overtime- they were 16-37 on arc but they did not cover. Tigers shot 64.6% inside the arc- they’re 15-7 now.

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

13) ESPN officially named Matt Vasgersian and Alex Rodriguez to join their Sunday Night Baseball crew; unusual that they went outside ESPN for their play-by-play guy, but they did. My initial reaction: think A-Rod will do a fine job. Vasgersian is very good, though Jon Sciambi is an ESPN guy who is just as good.

12) Golden State has played 48 games this year; they’re 38-10. Kevin Durant sat eight of those games out with injuries; he’s been thrown out of four other games, most in the NBA.

So he was thrown out of 10% of his team’s games that he played in, finished only 75% of their games overall. $25 million doesn’t buy as much as it used to.

Just seems like there are an awful lot of unhappy people in the NBA, and yet everybody makes a boatload of money. Its not a good look for the league.

11) Dick LeBeau has been in the NFL for 59 consecutive years, but now that Mike Vrabel is the new head coach in Tennessee, LeBeau is out of a job and he’s 80- kind of doubtful he’s going to get another job. End of an era, for sure.

Funny thing is, Titans hired Vrabel as their new head coach- he was Houston’s DC this past season and Tennessee had a better defense than Houston, but is LeBeau is the guy out of a job. Go figure.

10) Last three years, the NFC champ was a team that was at .500 or under the year before.

9) Think about how great a year Jacksonville Jaguars had; they were up 10 in 4th quarter in AFC title game— Jags were 22-74 the last six years before this one. Quite a leap they made.

8) Disappointing that Lou Williams didn’t make the NBA All-Star Game; he deserves it.

7) Irrelevant Stat of the Day: 12 of the last 13 Super Bowl winners wore white jerseys; Patriots chose to wear white next week- Brady is 3-0 in Super Bowls with white jerseys.

6) Oklahoma’s Trae Young has an irrational fear of birds, otherwise known as Ornithophobia.

5) With the Senior Bowl this week and NFL Network devoting most of the next three months to the 2018 NFL Draft, keep in mind that Antonio Brown was the 195th player taken in the 2010 Draft. Tom Brady was also a 6th round pick. Kurt Warner wasn’t drafted.

In other words, despite all the man-hours spent on this important part of the league, it is still an inexact science and it always will be, which is a big part of why it is so fascinating.

4) Alabama’s football program made a $45.9M profit last year; I feel sorry for the poor bastard who replaces Nick Saban when he leaves Tuscaloosa.

3) Villanova loses one of its starters, Phil Booth with a broken hand. Booth is shooting 43% on the arc this season. Wildcats’ bench is #289 in minutes played; this is a big blow.

2) In the first minute the Super Bowl odds were up on the board, Golden Nugget took a $10K money line bet on the Eagles. Spread is 5 right now, though there are 4.5 and 5.5’s out there.

1— Richmond 77, Duquesne 73 OT— Third Dukes home game in a row that went to overtime.

Wednesday’s List of 13: some college knowledge……

Some college basketball notes for a winter Wednesday (thru Monday’s games)
13) Most experienced teams in country:
1) Tex-Arlington (13-8)
3) Idaho (13-6)
4) Tennessee Tech (13-8)
5) Missouri State (15-6)

12) Teams with best defensive eFG%:
1) Michigan State
2) Virginia
4) Cincinnati
5) Purdue
6) San Diego

11) Teams that force the highest %age of turnovers:
1) Stephen F Austin 28.5%
2) West Virginia 26.1%
3) St John’s 24.5%
5) Portland State 24.1%

10) San Diego State is only 11-7 in Brian Dutcher’s first year as coach; they’re 3-4 in Mountain West games, after going 152-56 the previous 12 years under Steve Fisher. How is it different?

— Aztecs are playing faster; pace #116- they were under 300th the last four years
— Teams are shooting 40.1% on arc vs San Diego State; their defensive rating is lowest it has been since 2006. Their offensive numbers are actually slightly better than usual this year.
— Aztecs lost last three games, by 3-4-4 points; their point guard play could be better.

9) Best 3-point shooting teams in country:
1) Purdue 43.7%
2) Wofford 42.6%
3) Wm&Mary 42.5%
4) Idaho 42.5%

8) Teams that get highest %age of their points on 3-pointers:
1) Washington State 47.5%
2) Belmont 45.4%
3) Elon 43.4%
4) Davidson 42.7%

7) Best free throws shooting teams:
1) Wm&Mary 80.8%
2) Central Michigan 80.2%
5) Marquette 79.3%
6) Oregon 79%

6) Teams that get highest %age of their points on free throws:
1) Cal-Fullerton 26.7%
2) Northern Arizona 25.4%
T3) South Carolina/Wyoming 24.6%

5) The Big X is totally loaded; Baylor/Iowa State are the lowest teams and they’re good. Kansas is 6-1 in Big X, with zero wins by more than six points.

4) Only five of the first 37 Big East conference games were decided by 4 or less points.

3) Home teams are only 20-19 SU in Mountain West games so far this season.

2) Top teams vs spread this season:
1) South Alabama 13-3
2) Belmont 14-5
3) Montana 13-4
4) East Tennessee State 12-3-1

1— Worst 3-point shooters in country:
351) Sacred Heart 27.2%
349) East Carolina 27.5%
346) Fordham 28.2%
344) Memphis 29.1%

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

13) Whats with NBA teams and drama? Milwaukee Bucks fired coach Jason Kidd, who was 139-152 in 3.5 years, but 22-21 this year. News of Kidd’s firing got out before the team told Kidd, and star Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t happy about it, which is never good for an NBA team, when your star player is ticked off.

Antetokounmpo called the coach and asked him if he wanted him to help save his job, which apparently was before Kidd knew he was losing his job. Oy.

If the season ended as I type this, the Bucks would be the #8 seed in the East.

12) Washington Wizards players recently had a players-only meeting; here are two quotes about that event:

First, John Wall:
“We had our team meeting. A couple guys took it the negative way and it hurt our team. Instead of taking it in a positive way like we did in the past and using it to build our team up, it kind of set us back a little bit.”

Second, Bradley Beal:
“It was tough. I try to keep all our stuff as personal as possible but I think in a way not everybody got a chance to speak whenever they wanted to. They didn’t want to bring up an issue or something they had a problem with on the team. Regardless of what may be going on, as men we’ve got to be able to accept what the next man says, be respectful about it and move on from it. I think it was one of those situations where we didn’t necessarily get everything that we wanted to get accomplished.”

Coaching an NBA team is serious money, but it can’t be great fun.

11) In the last 16 Super Bowls, underdogs are 11-5 against the spread.

10) This will be 4th Super Bowl in last five years with two #1 seeds. From 1994-2012, #1 seeds met in only one of 19 Super Bowls.

9) In their last five games, New England has been called for nine penalties for 110 yards; their opponents have been called for 29 penalties for 390 yards.

8) Tom Brady has more wins (27) and passing TDs (68) in postseason than Nick Foles has wins (24) and passing TDs (66) in his entire NFL career.

7) Minnesota Vikings last made the Super Bowl after the 1976 season, when I was a senior in high school; since then, they’re 0-6 in NFC championship games.

6) Last years, $138.5M was wagered on the Super Bowl, just in Nevada- thats a record, one that is expected to be broken this year.

5) Knicks/Rangers both played in Staples Center Sunday; it is first time Knicks/Rangers played road games in the same arena on the same day since 1957.

4) Miami Heat’s James Johnson scored five points in 0:04 Sunday night, as Heat erased a 105-100 deficit in the last minute at Charlotte, eventually winning 106-105. Not easy to score five points in 0:04, but layup-steal-3-pointer did the trick.

3) Carolina Panthers hired Carolina DC Steve Wilks as their new head coach; he was only a coordinator for one year, but has been a coach in college/NFL since 1995.

Cleveland Browns hired Todd Haley as their new offensive coordinator; hopefully he got promised that the Browns will draft a quarterback in April.

2) From Christopher Kamka, NBC Sports, Chicago: In 2017, Chris Gimenez was the first major leaguer to catch 5+ games and also pitch in 5+ games in the same season since the Phillies’ Bill Harman in 1941. Gimenez pitched in five games, caught in 59 games last year.

1— New Jersey Giants hired Pat Shurmur as head coach; he’ll keep DC Steve Spagnuolo, since he was Spagnuolo’s OC in St Louis is 2009-10. Rams improved from 1-15 in ’09 to 7-9 in ’10, then Shurmur became the head coach of the Browns in ‘11, which obviously didn’t go well (9-23).

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

13) Patriots 24, Jaguars 20— Tom Brady went to the same high school as Barry Bonds, Lynn Swann— Serra HS in San Mateo, CA; their booster club must have a boatload of money.

Despite all that, my favorite Serra HS alum is former big league infielder Tim Cullen, who won a World Series ring as a reserve infielder with the ’72 Oakland A’s.

Looking up Cullen’s career, which lasted seven years, in February, 1968 he was traded from the Senators to the White Sox, then in August that same year, he was traded back to Washington. In both trades, infielder Ron Hansen went the other way. No idea why.

12) Patriots’ WR Danny Amendola played the first four years of his career with the St Louis Rams; he missed 22 of 64 games in those years, when the Rams went a combined 17-46-1. Amendola was productive when he played, but he missed way too many games.

In five years since moving on to New England, Amendola has played in 69 of 80 games, for a team that went 63-17— are the Patriots’ trainers that much better than the Rams’ trainers?

11) Maybe this happens a lot and I’ve just never seen it, but when the Patriots’ game ended and Brady was shaking hands with a guy on Jacksonville, referee Clete Blakeman patted Brady on the back, got his attention, then said something quick to him before he left.

Since when do the referees congratulate players after they win?

10) In 266 NFL games this season, only 12 times has a team been called for zero or one penalty in a game— New England became the 12th team Sunday.

Last time an NFL team had only one penalty in a playoff game? The Patriots, back in 2011.

9) Two years ago, for whatever reason, ESPN went out of its way to promote LSU’s freshman star Ben Simmons, to the point where you almost rooted against Simmons, especially when LSU didn’t make the NCAA tournament. It became sickening that ESPN would promote a kid who had no resume— it was all hype.

This year, they’re doing the same thing with Oklahoma’s Trae Young, to the point where the kid has 28 turnovers in his last three games but you feel like ESPN thinks he is the best college ballplayer since Michael Jordan, or at least Simmons. Enough already; let the season play itself out. At least Oklahoma will be in the NCAA’s.

8) How many movies has Dwayne Johnson made? Seems like The Rock is working his butt off, making a ton of cash. According to IMDB.com, Mr Johnson has made 70 movies/TV shows, not counting all his WWE stuff and he is only 46 years old.

He has 10 projects that have either been completed or announced but not released yet. Have to give him credit, he is making a lot of money while the proverbial iron is hot.

7) When Nick Foles went to the Pro Bowl after the 2013 season, his OC with the Eagles was Pat Shurmur, who is Minnesota’s OC now and is expected to be named head coach of the Giants Tuesday. Foles could win the Super Bowl, then go back to being the Eagles’ backup next year.

6) What the hell do the Vikings do now? Bad enough they have to go home and have the Super Bowl played in their own ballpark, but their offseason will really be interesting.

Which of the three QB’s stays in Minnesota? Keenum? Bridgewater? Bradford? Do two of them stay and if so, which one takes a hike? Lot of hard questions need to be answered.

5) Clemson Tigers are 16-3 and appear headed to the NCAAs, but they lost 2nd-leading scorer Donte Grantham with a torn ACL Saturday— he is out for the year.

4) Man if you don’t like football, Sunday was a rough day for sports on TV; a few, but not many college hoop games- no real good ones, some golf, the Australian Open, but just a lackluster TV day, except for the conference championship games.

3) Eagles 38, Vikings 7—During the regular season, Vikings were only team not to allow a defensive TD against them- whoops. Patrick Robinson’s first quarter pick-6 changed all that, and turned the tide in a game that Minnesota led early, 7-0.

2) NFL trivia— Case Keenum could’ve become the second undrafted QB to start a Super Bowl, but the draft today is only seven rounds— John Unitas was a 9th round pick of the Steelers in 1955, though there were also a lot fewer teams then. Unitas was the 102nd player taken in the ’55 draft, which would put him in the 4th round these days.

Kurt Warner remains the only undrafted QB to start a Super Bowl.

1) Early line on the Super Bowl: Patriots, -5.5 or 6, bet down already from -7. Some experts are predicting it’ll get back to 7 or 7.5 in the next two weeks.

It is unusual that the Eagles just KO’d the Vikings and now head to Minnesota for the Super Bowl, where it is doubtful they’ll get a warm reception.

2018 handicapping note: Vikings return to Philadelphia in the 2018 regular season.

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

13) Oklahoma State 83, Oklahoma 81 OT— Trae Young scored 48 points, but it took some effort- he was 8-20 on the arc, 6-19 inside the arc, 12-12 on the line. He had 8 assists, 7 turnovers— no other Sooner scored in double figures.

In his last three games, Young is 20-48 on the arc, 17-39 inside the arc, 17-23 on the line, with 21 assists, 28 turnovers. He has the ball a lot.

Sooners were down 25-6 in this game, fought back to force OT, but Cowboys win to split the Bedlam series this season.

12) Fresno State-Air Force basketball game was postponed because of the government being shut down— all athletic activities at the Air Force Academy were postponed.

11) Auburn 79, Georgia 65— Dawgs led 40-26 at halftime, but Auburn started second half on a 31-4 run and won going away.

10) Kansas freshman Billy Preston isn’t at Kansas anymore; he signed up to play in the Bosnian pro basketball league, figuring he was never going to become eligible to play for the Jayhawks this season, after he was in a car accident and questions arose over who bought the car he was driving.

9) UNLV 79, Colorado State 74— Rebels scored the last 14 points of the game; if you took five points with the hometown Rams in this game, a push wasn’t what you had in mind. UNLV is 3-0 on road in Mountain West, but 0-3 at home. Go figure.

8) USC 74, Oregon State 67— Trojans sweep their Oregon trip for first time since 2008.

7) Thunder 148, Cavaliers 124— Cleveland is 3-18-1 vs spread at home; they’ve lost nine of their last 12 games overall.

6) I’m totally convinced that in college basketball, one of the most important skills for a player to have is getting loose balls. Not rebounds over the rim, but long rebounds off missed 3-pointers, and deflected passes. There are so many of those in college ball now- the ability to anticipate where those loose balls are going to go often decides who wins games.

5) Kansas 70, Baylor 67— Jayhawks outscored Baylor 9-0 over last 2:51 to pull this game out; they are 6-1 in Big X, with no wins by more than six points.

4) Florida 66, Kentucky 64— Wildcats lost three of their last five games, are just 4-3 in SEC.

3) St Mary’s 72, Pacific 69— Gaels had bit of a hangover after winning at Gonzaga, but they got by the surging Tigers, who had their 5-game winning streak snapped.

2) Upsets of the Day:
NC-Wilmington 73 (+8), Towson State 71 OT
Iowa State (+7) 70, Texas Tech 52
Coastal Carolina (+7) 74, Troy State 73
New Mexico (+6.5) 79, San Diego State 75
Portland (+6.5) 72, LMU 65
Ohio U (+6) 72, Eastern Michigan 66
Washington (+6) 72, Colorado 62

1) Oregon 94, UCLA 91— Bill Walton insinuated that the Bruins have internal problems; don’t forget they suspended those two players from the shoplifting debacle in China, and one of those kids was supposed to be a starter.

UCLA was down big in this game, but stormed back and damn near won the game, but instead they’ve lost three games in a row— Bruins are only 4-4 in the Pac-12.

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

13) There is too much anger and bad news in the world, so I give you this:

Former NFL running back Warrick Dunn’s mom was a policewoman in Baton Rouge; she was killed by a gunman when Dunn was 18. Dunn went on to star at Florida State, and then played for 12 years in the NFL.

To honor his late mother, Dunn started a foundation that built homes with Habitat for Humanity for single-parent families. He is still doing that.

Last month, Dunn’s foundation gave away their 158th and 159th homes, one in Detroit, one in Atlanta. You don’t think this makes a difference?

12) In 2006, Dunn’s foundation built a home in Gainesville, Ga; the family had an 11-year old boy who you may have heard of.

Deshaun Watson, now QB for the Houston Texans.

Who knows what would’ve happened to that family if they hadn’t been given a home in 2006. Sometimes all people need is a chance.

11) 106 college football players are leaving school early to apply for the NFL Draft- there were 74-95-95 such players the last three years. 26 of the players come from SEC schools, 24 more from ACC schools.

Florida State, LSU, Texas all lost six players each.

10) If JD Martinez can’t play ball for $25M a year, then the Red Sox should tell him to take a hike and Martinez should go find a real job, where he won’t make $25M a year.

Enough already; he’s had only two great years and will be 31 in August. Martinez has played more than 123 games in a season twice in his career.

9) They re-sodded the middle of the field in Philadelphia this week, after lot of players slipped in last week’s game. Re-sodding a field in the Northeast in January can be dicey, but Doug Pederson said the field is in great shape, so we’ll take his word for it.

8) There are murmurs on the Interweb that Tom Brady has multiple stitches in his passing hand, which is why he wore gloves to his news conference Friday.

Betting line has dropped from 9 to 7.5 points; if somehow Brady didn’t play Sunday, the line with Brian Hoyer playing QB for New England would be Patriots, -2.

7) Alabama hired former New Mexico coach Mike Locksley as its offensive coordinator; he was OC at both Illinois and Maryland, but is considered a better recruiter than a tactician.

6) Michigan State 85, Indiana 57— For some reason Alex Rodriguez was at this game last night, sitting in the student section, wearing an “Izzone” t-shirt. He’s been on TV a lot lately; he was at a Laker game with JLo and the kids, and was also at another game with his famous wife. Haven’t heard if ARod is going to get the Sunday Night Baseball gig on ESPN, but he’d be good at it.

5) Eagles-Jaguars will meet in London next fall; game could be a Super Bowl rematch, if both underdogs win Sunday. NFL fans in London deserve better games than they gotten recently.

4) NFL has an interesting way of staying in the news 24/7; ESPN started the other day with Mel Kiper’s first mock draft for 2018— he had the Browns taking Wyoming QB Josh Allen with the #1 pick, and then the Giants taking UCLA QB Josh Rosen with the #2 pick.

3) Le’Veon Bell showed up five minutes before the END of the Steelers’ walk-through the day before their playoff game, which may be part of why some of the limited partners in the team want a coaching change. Apparently he wasn’t the only player who had a trouble with being on time, and also an assistant coach or two was in that group.

Can remember Troy Aikman telling Joe Buck in an interview program how he retired from the NFL because discipline on the Cowboys slipped badly under Barry Switzer, and it drove him nuts. Aikman was a perfectionist, and he couldn’t stand sloppy preparation.

2) Have you seen the commercial on TV where the guy in the baseball cap adopts a dog at the shelter and brings him home in his truck? Didn’t notice until about the 70th time it was on, but the guy who adopts the dog has an artificial left leg. Just noticed it, thats all.

1) I’ve been scolded by some for talking about politics on here, but I will say this: if the government shuts down, then no politician should receive a penny of pay until it starts up again, and then no retroactive paychecks. If you want to get paid, do your damn job.

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

13) Bill Belichick got his first NFL head coaching job in 1991, when he was 39; he interviewed 85 coaches for assistants’ jobs that winter- the first one he hired?

Guy named Nick Saban. Wonder whatever happened to him?

12) Six of the top 21 college basketball teams lost Wednesday night. Been a weird year.

11) I see that they’re moving up the start of college basketball season next year, up three days to November 6, which will also be Election Day. They’re trying to get the start of college hoop out of football’s shadows— hopefully there won’t be any MAC football games on TV that Tuesday.

10) NBC television is advertising the Olympics a lot- one of the ads has an athlete saying how every kid’s dream is to be in the Olympics. I can honestly say, not once did I ever dream of being in the Olympics, especially the Winter Olympics. Good thing, since I was a lousy athlete, but my idea of fun isn’t slalom skiing or anything to do with cold weather.

9) Funny story on Twitter this week about how a Vikings fan named Sara Zeigler got so excited when Stefon Diggs caught that pass at the end of the game Sunday night, she jumped on her couch and landed on her remote control, which changed the station on the TV before Diggs scored, so she didn’t see the winning TD she was so excited about, until one of the 1,000 replays after the game.

Moral of story: Remote controls are very valuable; never jump on them.

There have been numerous stories about people waiting for the PAT to be tried/not tried after that Minnesota touchdown, since the pointspread hung in the balance. Had to be fun to be in Las Vegas sportsbook for that.

8) Philadelphia Eagles went for it on 4th down 26 times this year, most in the NFL- they made the first down/TD on 17 of those 26 tries.

7) Shohei Ohtani is both a pitcher and a hitter; the Angels’ newest free agent acquisition has caused the folks at CBSSports.com some grief this winter, as they worked to figure out how Ohtani will be dealt with in the fantasy league website’s stats column.

Apparently the problem has been resolved; doesn’t sound like Ohtani will be in the lineup enough to merit his inclusion as a fantasy league hitter. Albert Pujols DH’s for the Angels, so it Ohtani is the DH, Pujols has to play first base? Not ideal.

6) Cavaliers 104, Magic 103— Cavaliers blew a 23-point lead but survived the dismal Magic. Cleveland is 16-5 at home, 3-17-1 against the spread.

5) Surprising stat: Of the last eight Stanley Cup champs, only one of the eight (’17 Penguins) finished higher than 15th in NHL in power play efficiency during the regular season.

4) Creighton F Martin Krampelj will miss the rest of the season with a major knee injury; he’s started every game for the Bluejays, scoring 11.9 ppg, grabbing 8 rebounds a game- a big loss.

3) When I was a little kid 100 or so years ago (late 60’s), they built a restaurant near our house— Valle’s Steakhouse. Place had this huge, Vegas-like sign in front of it, and it was a fancy place. Cloth napkins, all that.

Valle’s went out of business a long time ago; the building is a college now, Bryant & Stratton College, and I found out this week that Bryant & Stratton is starting a basketball program. They haven’t said where they’re going to play their games. If I remember right, Bryant & Stratton used to be called Albany Business College, and it was located in the city of Albany.

I’m not 100% sure that ABC became Bryant & Stratton, but one came to being when the other closed its doors.

2) Anyway, Albany Business College had a good junior college basketball team back in the day; Willard Rice was the coach— I went to a camp once run by Coach Rice and his son Steve. They had a team when I was in college (late 70’s)- they used to play the Albany JV team every year, so this is life coming full circle. From looks of things, Bryant & Stratton is a 4-year school now.

1) One last story about Valle’s Steakhouse; one summer, my dad’s family was in town to visit and we all went to Valle’s for dinner. Probably 12-14 people, so a big group. The waitress brings a lot of dinners out at the same time, and a small dish slipped at the top of her load— she went to grab it………and there was a very loud noise. Food scattered everywhere.

I’m pretty sure the waitress was fired before the dishes stopped spinning around; as an annoying 10-year old, I was sure it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen, even if I did have to wait to eat a while longer. It was tremendous- stuff like that didn’t happen at Carroll’s Hamburgers. my preferred place to eat when I was 10.

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

13) Webster’s defines scapegoat this way: “a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency.”

Pittsburgh Steelers lost a home playoff game 45-42 Sunday; there was much unrest in Steelers’ Nation, so a scapegoat was found— offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

You would think defensive coordinator would take some grief, but no. Maybe when the QB, a future Hall of Famer, tells the media that he isn’t allowed to audible to a QB sneak, maybe that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

12) Speaking of quarterbacks not being allowed to audible, when Mike Martz ran the Rams’ offense, his QB’s, Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger, weren’t allowed to audible either. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, especially when you have a veteran QB, but coaches have big egos, too.

11) TCU’s best guard, Jaylen Fisher, is out indefinitely after hurting his knee in practice. TCU is 2-4 in Big X, with five of the six games decided by 5 or less points- 3 of the 5 games went to OT.

10) Shaquille O’Neal’s son Shareef is a 6-7 power forward who is committed to play for Arizona next year- he is considered a 4-star (out of 5) recruit.

9) South Carolina 76, Kentucky 68— Wildcats led by 14 points with 11:30 left, lost in Columbia brickfest Tuesday where teams combined to go 6-34 on arc. Kentucky used nine players; six freshmen (five of them started) and three sophomores.

8) Thru Tuesday’s college basketball games, the national average on free throws was 70.9%, which would be the highest it has been the last 17 years, and 3rd year in row it has gone up.

Some conference championship game trends:
7) Over last four years, favorites are 7-1 vs spread in conference championship games.

6) In Belichick/Brady era, Patriots are 7-4 in AFC title games (6-5 vs spread), 5-1 at home (3-3 vs spread).

5) Last 12 years, road favorites in conference title games are 1-2-1 vs spread.

4) According to ESPN Stats, the last five NFL teams that won playoff games with a walk-off TD lost their next game, by an average of 23 points.

3) Gene Steratore will be the referee in the Super Bowl; he’s also worked 24 D-I basketball games this winter, 22 of them involving Big 14 teams.

Steratore wound up working 60 basketball games last year, 63 the year before.

2) Teams are averaging 70.2 possessions per game this season, most in the last 17 years. Teams are playing a little faster, but the shot clock was 0:35 most of that time, not the current 0:30.

1) Teams are scoring 73.6 ppg, most in the last 17 years; five years ago, teams averaged only 66.9 ppg, so that is positive change. People like to watch good offense, even if it is really bad defense.