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

13) St Bonaventure 117, Davidson 113, 3OT— Probably the best college hoop game this season was played Tuesday night; five players scored 30+ points. Six players fouled out. These teams are lined up to meet again in the A-14 semi-finals next week in Washington, DC.

12) Speaking of which, this is a year where several conference tournaments are in unusual places; ACC is in Brooklyn, Big 14 is in Manhattan, A-14 is in Washington, SEC is in St Louis.

11) One of the things about college basketball is that once you beat a team, you need that team to do well, so it helps your power rating.

Case in point: Boise State will be a bubble team if they don’t win the Mountain West- they’ve got a win at Oregon, so it would greatly help the Broncos if Oregon could work its way into the top 60 or even higher.

10) NIT will have some experimental rules this season; games will be four quarters, and 3-point arc will be moved out a little bit. The four-quarter thing looks like it will happen at some point in men’s basketball, maybe 2019-20— the women’s game already plays four quarters.

9) All-time major league record for pinch-hit home runs:
Matt Stairs 23, Cliff Johnson 20, Jerry Lynch 18.

Stairs is the new hitting coach for San Diego- he was the Phillies’ hitting coach last year.

8) Shareef O’Neal (Shaq’s son) quickly moved on from Arizona to UCLA for his college choice.

4) Took the NFL about 90 minutes to move on from Papa John’s to Pizza Hut as official pizza of the league; best thing about this? Lot fewer Peyton Manning commercials.

7) Mark Few makes $1,934,104 a year at Gonzaga; he is happy where he is, and you can’t buy happy, but he is leaving a lot of money on the table. If Few let it be known that he wanted to be a much higher-paid coach, lot of the big-money schools would be lining up pretty quickly.

6) Chicago Bears will cut backup QB Mike Glennon after only one year and four starts; Glennon made $18.5M for his time in the Windy City, so hard to feel bad for the guy.

5) There were two upsets in the NEC tournament last night; #2-seed Mt St Mary lost to Robert Morris, and #3-seed St Francis PA lost to FDU, first time since 2003 that the #2-3 seeds both lost in the first round.

3) If you’re Sam Darnold, why wouldn’t you throw at the NFL Combine? Quarterbacks shouldn’t back away from any challenges/competition.

2) Random question: if UConn hired Geno Auriemma to be its men’s basketball coach next year, how would he do? Huskies will probably make a coaching change; their program is a mess right now, going 30-33 the last two years.

1— Someone ran a poll on Twitter the other day, asking who was the most influential teacher they have ever had. It got hundreds of responses, some of which were “none” but it was cool to see that most people were grateful to teachers who helped them when they were younger.

Lot of time kids graduate and go on their way and never thank the people who helped them.

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

13) Starting today, the first of some changes here at the website will take place.

No more daily NHL write-ups; I’ve decided to concentrate on basketball between football and baseball seasons. For now, everything else here stays the same.

12) I’m not making this up: A Pittsburgh-area family is suing Steelers’ safety Sean Davis because he posted a Snapchat video about how slow the service was at the drive-thru window at a Chick-fil-A, where their son works- the son was then “bullied” at school because of the video.

The lawsuit contains claims for libel, cyberbullying, intentional infliction of emotional distress and slander. Davis offered to invite the teenager and two friends to be his guest at a Steelers’ practice, and to go to Davis’ summer football camp in Washington, but the family declined.

Good grief, our country is getting soft.

11) I mentioned Sunday how Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley was going after the refs as they left the floor in Corvallis after the Sun Devils lost to Oregon State Saturday- the Pac-12 nailed him with a $10,000 fine for those shenanigans.

10) If Bronx Bombers’ GM Brian Cashman is so bleeping smart, let him go be the GM of the Pirates or the Rays or the A’s and see how many freakin’ games his team wins. Gets old hearing media types praise Cashman all the time— he is playing checkers with more pieces than most of his opponents- he should win. Since 2001, Cashman’s team has one World Series title, after a run of four titles in five years in the late 90’s.

9) Speaking of Tampa Bay, they may not have an excuse to be cheapskates for too much longer; Rays and Fox Sports Net are nearing a long-term extension to their broadcast deal. From

“Fox’s payout is expected to increase to around $50 million in 2019 under the new contract. Over the 15-year life of the deal, which would run through the 2033 season, Fox would pay, on average, around $82 million per year.”

8) Several NBA personnel types told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that they would advise Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr to play this season, rather than just sit out and wait for the NBA Draft. Porter played 2:00 in the opener and hasn’t played since because of a back problem.

7) Texas declined to sign free agent P Seung-hwan Oh because he failed his physical; Toronto then signed Oh- you wonder what the difference is in the physicals between the two teams.

6) Three US cities with the best TV ratings for the Winter Olympics: Salt Lake City, Denver and Minneapolis.

5) Former big league reliever Andrew Bailey retired from playing and will be the Angels’ instant replay coordinator this season. I’m a curious guy; wonder how much that job pays?

4) Why is Russell Wilson in spring training with the Bronx Bombers? How does his presence there help them prepare for this season? Does he still get paid by the Seahawks if he tears an ACL playing baseball?

3) 20 or so years ago, I bowled in a Thursday night league; had never done it before, haven’t done it since. It was kind of fun, but I was in over my head and didn’t do very well— I didn’t even own my own bowling ball, just used an alley ball every week. But hey, I could watch college games on TV and eat pizza in between my turns.

One night, a guy on the lanes to my right bowled a 300— it was a different league, really good bowlers, and I remember how casual the guy was about bowling a 300. I was excited, I mean the guy just bowled a freakin’ perfect game- couldn’t understand why he just smiled, and got ready for his next game. Best I ever did was a 212; anything over 170 was cause for celebration.

2) According to San Francisco Giants already have $127M in salary obligations for 2020; Minnesota Twins have $0 on the books after 2019.

1— If you’re a kid in West Virginia this week, you were on an unscheduled vacation— teachers went on strike for better pay/benefits, but they’ll be back at work on Thursday.

When I was a junior in high school, our teachers were on strike when school started— problem is, teachers at two other local schools were also on strike, so the teachers would go to the other two schools and be subs to make some $$$, which kind of defeated the whole purpose.

We had a different teacher for every class every day for the whole week; it was chaotic; some kids marched to the district offices to “protest for the teachers” – they just didn’t want to go to class. For those lazy people like me who had no desire to walk anywhere, we just sat in class, did very little and stayed out of trouble. Good times.

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

13) There are reports out of Los Angeles that the Dodgers are having $$$ problems and are looking for minority investors (25%??). You’d think the Dodgers are one team that wouldn’t have money problems, but these are weird times– you never know.

Dodgers paid over $48M last year to players who never played for them, otherwise known as dead money.

12) Thinking ahead; since the NCAA’s went to 68 teams, the 11-seeds who advance with Tuesday/Wednesday play-in wins are 8-6 vs spread in their first-round games that they play on short rest. 13 of those 14 teams were underdogs; Tennessee (-4) covered as the lone favorite in the next round, back in 2014.

11) Red Sox were 15-3 in extra inning games last year, most extra inning games played in the major leagues last season.

10) Five major leaguers played every game last season:
Joey Votto, Freddy Galvis, Rougned Odor, Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar.

Galvis and Hosmer left their 2017 teams and will be teammates on the Padres this year.

9) Golfer Justin Thomas has won 7 of the last 31 PGA tournaments he entered.

7 of the last 15 PGA tournaments went to a playoff, but hey, Eldrick Woods finished 12th.

8) Quinnipiac lost seven of its last eight games heading into the MAAC tournament, but three of those seven losses were in double overtime. Mike Dunleavy’s son Baker is the coach there; this is his first season. Teams are shooting 40.8% behind the arc vs Quinnipiac this year, 4th-highest %age against any team in the country.

7) JD Martinez will make $22M a year for the Red Sox; he has played more than 123 games in a season ONCE in his career!!!!

If JD Martinez spends 120+ days on the DL with Boston, Red Sox will get some salary relief later in his contract. Martinez knocked in 104 runs in 119 games for Detroit/Arizona LY, which is a lot of production, but he does get hurt a lot.

6) Conference tournament knowledge: #1 seed has won the last seven Big Sky tournaments. Last four Atlantic 14 tournaments were won by teams seeded #3 or worse.

5) NC State won its last four basketball games; in those games, backup G Sam Hunt made 14-17 behind the arc. Hunt has had an interesting career; he played a year at Jacksonville, then two years at North Carolina A&T- in those three seasons, he made 34.3% of his 3-pointers. This year, playing as a senior in the ACC, Hunt is making 41.8% (46-110) behind the arc.

4) Los Angeles Rams got CB Marcus Peters from the Chiefs, sending 2nd/4th round picks to KC. Rams also get a 6th-round pick in the deal.

3) It is weird to me that the Big 14 tournament is this week instead of next week; having it in New York City doesn’t matter much to me, since TV is TV, but having it at the same time as Arch Madness and the MAAC tourney and the WCC is just so different.

2) Doing some conference tournament research: over the last six years, in the semis/finals of the OVC tournament, the underdogs are 12-5 vs spread- one game had no line. Favorites are 15-8-1 vs spread in the first two rounds.

1— Colleges who have already fired their basketball coach:
Colorado State
East Carolina
Eastern Kentucky
Ole Miss

Monday’s List of 13; Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) I’m still kind of wondering how Aaron Boone lands a job managing a major league baseball team in New York City, when he has never managed anywhere before, ever.

Dealing with the NYC media is a task in itself; maybe I question that part of it more than the actual X’s and O’s of baseball, which I‘m sure Boone will handle just fine.

Same thing goes for Davey Martinez in Washington, who are expected to make the playoffs again this season. Wouldn’t you want a more experienced guy to handle a really good team?

12) One of the best parts of March is that there is almost constant baseball on TV, mostly replays of spring training games from earlier in the day. Season is starting earlier this year, so exhibition games started earlier too. Excellent.

It does bug me when TV guys appear bored to have to work these games. I know they don’t mean anything, obviously the real games aren’t for another month, but John Kruk on the Phillies’ TV games is a big disappointment, and FP Santangelo on Nationals’ game is like an 8-year old with a live microphone. Its your job, pretend you care about doing it well.

11) New Mexico 91, UNLV 90- Very fun game to watch; Rebels were only 4-7 on arc, 28-40 on foul line. Very bitter loss when you miss 12 foul shots and lose by one. #10 on New Mexico hit the game-winning 3-pointer; he is 31-61 on the arc for the season.

On New Mexico’s last possession, UNLV took freshman star McCoy out and put Diong in, because Diong is a better defender. When McCoy is deciding whether or not to go to the NBA this spring, the fact that his team takes him out on defense on the most important possession of the game should tell him that he’ll make a lot more money (eventually) if he stays in school for another year and gets bulkier/stronger before he gets drafted into the NBA.

10) Duke beat Syracuse 60-44 Saturday night, but were just 2-18 on arc against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. Blue Devils had been 30-72 on the arc in their previous three games.

9) Last year, the Dodgers played only 45 games where their starting pitcher was working on 4 days’ rest, the fewest in the majors. Next fewest were Bronx (53), Astros/Padres (64) and the Nationals (67).

8) Red Sox/Tampa Bay play 10 times before May 1st this season; Boston TV guys were pretty much assuming on air Saturday that the Red Sox will kick their butts and get off to a fast start this season. Tampa Bay dumped a lot of its better players this winter.

7) There are 15 big league teams training in Arizona, 15 in Florida, so at least one team has to play split squad games every day, to even the schedule out.

6) Logan Morrison turned down $20M for two years from the Indians, winds up signing a 1-year, $6.5M deal with Minnesota that best-case, could become two years, $16.5M. Brilliant!!!!

5) Houston 109, East Carolina 58— Houston led this game 62-13 at halftime. East Carolina will be hiring a new coach soon; sounds like it is a difficult rebuilding job.

4) Unfortunate news from the WCC: San Diego Toreros are having a terrific season this year at 18-12, finished .500 in WCC for first time in 10 years, but coach Lamont Smith was arrested at the Oakland Airport Sunday on three counts of domestic violence.

3) Championship Week is actually two weeks and it starts tonight with the Atlantic Sun tournament being played at campus sites. Florida Gulf Coast is favored to win the tournament.

2) One of the most interesting bubble teams for March Madness is Nebraska; they’re 22-9, 13-5 in Big 14, but the league is down this year and the Cornhuskers’ non-conference schedule is #281, which makes them likely to miss the NCAA tournament.

Lot of interesting debate on Twitter about Nebraska; no one has ever been 13-5 in the Big 14 and missed the NCAA’s. Until maybe now.

1– Sunday night in Iowa City, Jordan Bohannon intentionally missed a foul shot, ending his streak of 34 consecutive made free throws, which was tied for the school record with Chris Street, who was killed in a snowy car accident January 19, 1993 during his junior season. Street is an Iowa legend; his parents still have season tickets to Hawkeye games.

Bohannon did this with 2:15 left and Iowa leading Northwestern 73-65 in their regular season finale. He left the shot short, off the front rim, and pointed to the sky. Pretty cool gesture.


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

13) Oregon 89, Arizona 83 OT— Most intense regular season college basketball game I’ve seen in years; Arizona was out to win for its suspended coach, with an us-against-them mentality, but they ran out of gas in overtime,  and lost despite 28 points, 13 rebounds from Deandre Ayton.

Sean Miller has a weird contract at Arizona; he gets $10.3M if he is fired for cause, but only $5.15M if he is fired without cause. Either way, if Arizona fires him because of this mess, he ain’t gonna have to work anymore.

With all this FBI stuff going on, will the IRS go after the families who took payoff money and didn’t pay taxes on it? If coaches are losing their jobs, I hope they do go after the families.

12) Shaquille O’Neal’s son is a big time high school recruit this year who had committed to play at Arizona. He de-committed Saturday, which is probably good news for LSU, Shaq’s alma mater.

11) Virginia 66, Pitt 37— Halftime score: Virginia 30, Pitt 7. I’m not making that up. 30-7. Pitt was 1-22 from the floor in the first half. One basket, 22 shots. No bueno.

Sean Miller is a Pitt alum and from the Pittsburgh area. You wonder if they would hire him once Arizona shows him the door, which could happen soon. Given Arizona’s NCAA troubles, probably not.

10) Kansas 74, Texas Tech 72— Jayhawks clinched at least a tie for their 14th consecutive Big X title, which is extremely impressive. Don’t think they had the best team in the league this year but that does not matter, since they’ve won the most games.

9) Creighton 89, Villanova 83 OT— The huge grin Creighton coach Greg McDermott wore in the last few seconds of this game said a lot; the Bluejays are going to the NCAA’s.

Villanova split its last six games; they’ll be a shaky #1 seed when NCAA tournament brackets come out in two weeks.

8) If you read this space regularly, you know I’m a big fan of the Showtime series Billions. Learned last night that Paul Giamatti, the actor who plays prosecutor Chuck Rhoades, is the son of the late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti.

Has to be a way they can work Pete Rose into an episode to bust Chuck’s chops.

7) William & Mary 114, Charleston 104 OT— Cougars scored 1.30 ppp and lost, which almost never happens. Teams combined to shoot 21-47 on arc. W&M blew a 16-point second half lead but made 33-38 on the foul line.

If seeds hold in CAA tourney, these teams would meet in the semifinals.

6) So far this season, 105 of 351 D-I teams have taken 40%+ of their FGA’s from behind arc; eight years ago, only 33 teams took 40% of their shots behind the arc.

279 of 351 teams have taken 33.3% of their shots behind the arc; eight years ago, only 149 teams did. College basketball has largely become a 6-6 and under sport.

The increase in 3-pointers means more long rebounds, more loose balls— success in shooting 3-pointers is tough to sustain from game-to-game. It creates hugely erratic performances from more and more teams. Makes the sport much harder to handicap.

5) Oregon State 79, Arizona State 75— Beavers led by 9 with 2:36 to go, ASU tied it with about a minute left, but never scored again. Bobby Hurley was going off on one of the refs as the game went off the air. Sun Devils are 7-9 in the Pac-12, after a 12-0 pre-conference mark- they have no inside game, and their guards played lot better in December than they are now.

4) Seton Hall 81, St John’s 74 OT— Red Storm played six guys in an overtime game; four of their five starters played more than 40:00— their only sub played 23:00.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars gave QB Blake Bortles a 3-year, $54M contract, so they’re out of the market for a new quarterback.

2) Upsets of the Day:
Wyoming (+9.5) 78, Fresno State 68
Creighton (+7.5) 89, Villanova 83 OT
Tenn-Martin (+7) 72, SE Missouri 66
Indiana State (+6) 66, Bradley 64
Valparaiso (+5) 69, Drake 64
Arkansas (+5) 76, Alabama 73
Louisville (+4) 75, Virginia Tech 68

1— Baseball streak that will never, ever be topped; in 1980, Oakland’s Rick Langford threw 22 straight complete games, one of which went 14 innings. He went 19-12, 3.26 for the season in 35 starts, throwing 290 innings.

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

13) There is a high school QB in Alabama named Paul Tyson who has 18 college offers, but people are pretty much assuming that he will sign with the Crimson Tide.

Paul Tyson is Bear Bryant’s great-grandson. Alabama royalty.

12) I heard a schoolteacher say this on TV Thursday night:

“Red pens are traumatizing. I make corrections with purple ink.”

I’m hoping she was kidding; if kids aren’t spunky enough to get over having their work criticized with red ink, what chance will they have in the real world? It is probably best that I don’t have any kids; they’d be traumatized every 10 minutes.

Good grief, part of growing up is developing some thick skin to get through life’s ups and downs. Red ink from a high school teacher shouldn’t be much of an obstacle.

11) A Canadian women’s hockey player took off her silver medal as soon as it was placed around her neck this week; she wanted to win the gold medal, just like everyone else, but she couldn’t stand to have that reminder of her team’s losing around her neck.

That reminded me of something I read a long time ago; Hugh Durham was a basketball coach at both Florida State and Georgia; he made the Final Four at both stops, but his team finished 2nd in a Christmas tournament one year, and when someone handed him the 2nd-place trophy in the locker room, he fired it against the wall and smashed it to bits.

I was probably 10 years old when I read that; remember thinking, “Wow, that guy is serious.” I understand it better now, but it was eye-opening back then.

10) Kentucky Fried Chicken had to close 800 of its 900 stores in the UK/Ireland for a few days last week, and for a very good reason.

They ran out of chicken. Seriously, they did.

KFC changed its delivery company, and the new company fowled up (ha!!!) its delivery schedule big-time, leaving most of the stores without chicken, which is a problem.

9) Interesting article on about how Tom Crean spent the first few months after being fired by Indiana last spring. He has gone around and visited teams in all sports, and learned from them, on different/better ways to do things.

Crean visited the Patriots, the Chargers, with Tony LaRussa and with his ESPN broadcasting duties, a lot of college basketball teams. The theme of all this is that you should never stop learning, and can always get better at your job.

8) 76-year old Jerry Glanville, who coached the Atlanta Falcons from 1985-93, is the new defense coordinator of the CFL’s Hamilton TigerCats, who are coached by June Jones III. There is a chance that Johnny Manziel might be the TiCats’ QB this season, which would put them in the running to be North America’s most interesting pro football team.

7) Purdue is a really good basketball team, but they’re 0-8-1 vs spread in their last nine games, same way that Gonzaga is 2-10 vs spread in its last twelve games.

6) A’s/Mariners will open the 2019 season in Tokyo; my initial reaction to stuff like this is most always negative, but last time the A’s opened the season in Japan was 2012 and they went on to have a fantastic second half of the season and made the playoffs, so we’ll see.

5) Corey Dickerson hit .282 with 27 HR’s for Tampa Bay LY, so of course they traded him to the Pirates Thursday, for Daniel Hudson and a minor leaguer.

4) There is an agent named Jimmy Sexton who represents 11 of the 14 head football coaches in the SEC. Pretty influential guy.

3) Right now, the SEC basketball race has a 6-way tie for 3rd place at 8-7, with Kentucky one of those teams. I’m guessing the selection committee is going to have a headache sorting out all these teams with similar resumes.

2) Charles (Peanut) Tillman, an NFL cornerback for 13 years with Chicago/Carolina, is making good use of his post-NFL time. He is now an FBI agent, becoming one at age 37, the latest you can become an FBI agent. Good for him.

1– They broke ground in Las Vegas Friday on a new ballpark for the AAA Las Vegas 51’s, up in the northwest part of town, in Summerlin; Mets are leaving town after this season- they haven’t said who the new team will be.

It also snowed in Las Vegas Friday; not sure if there is a connection there or not.

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

13) Drexel 85, Delaware 83— Dragons trailed this game 53-19 with 2:36 left in first half; this is the biggest comeback ever in D-I college basketball, beating out a Duke-Tulane game from way back in 1950, when the Green Wave blew a 32-point lead.

12) Arizona 75, Oregon State 65  OT— Wildcats lost Allonzo Trier earlier in the day to a failed drug test, rallied late to win here, as Beavers scored only one basket in last 14:08 of game. Trier was suspended for 19 games last year for a similar offense. Bad beat if you had the Beavers, +5.

11) Memphis 91. Houston 85— Cougars’ 5-game win streak ends; three of their six losses are to teams outside top 100. Memphis won its last three games after a 5-7 start in AAC play.

10) This was the 1970 Final Four:
UCLA (in between the Alcindor/Walton eras)
St Bonaventure (Bob Lanier at C, but he got hurt in regional final)
Jacksonville (Artis Gilmore at C)
New Mexico State (Sam Lacey at C)

Imagine those three schools making the Final Four today, all with centers who would have good pro careers? Times have changed a lot.

9) South Dakota State 76, South Dakota 72— Jackrabbits clinch regular season title in Summit League, which doesn’t mean all that much, since tournament is played at a neutral site. State outscored South Dakota 19-11 over the last 6:04 of this game.

8) Utah 84, UCLA 78— Utes played without Sedrick Barefield but won anyway; it is their fifth win in a row- their home game with USC Saturday is a big bubble-type game. UCLA won six of last eight games but lost four of their last five road games.

7) Seton Hall 89, Providence 77— Game that started Wednesday in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was finished Thursday afternoon, in the Friars’ on-campus gym, because of condensation on the court in the big arena. Pirates went 24-35 on foul line in a big road win for them.

6) Upsets of the Day:
Green Bay (+10.5) 96, Oakland 90
Rice (+7.5) 79, Florida Atlantic 76 OT
Memphis (+7) 91, Houston 85

5) Florida International 69, North Texas 68— Nine of North Texas’ 15 C-USA games have been decided by 4 or less points, or in OT. All 15 games were decided by 7 or less, or in OT.

4) Virginia will be the #1 seed in the ACC tournament for the third time in five years next month; in the 60 years before that, Virginia was #1 seed in the ACC tournament once.

3) Dick Vitale has season tickets to the Tampa Bay Rays, right near the 3rd base dugout, but he called on Rays’ owner Stu Sternberg to sell the Rays this week.

“If you don’t want to own a team and give the fans a chance (to see competitive baseball), sell the team. There’ll be a buyer in a heartbeat.”

2) Oregon 75, Arizona State 68— ASU was 12-0 on Christmas, but now they’re 7-8 in Pac-12, in 8th place in a 12-team league.

1) One of the things I’ve learned in retirement is that weekday television is incredibly bad, but not in March. Spring training games start today, and that is…..tremendous.

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

13) Seton Hall @ Providence— Pirates led 56-47 with 13:03 left when condensation on the court forced officials to suspend this game until Thursday afternoon. It was very warm Wednesday in New England, and the hockey ice under the basketball floor caused the problems.

12) San Antonio Spurs are paying Kawhi Leonard $18,868,625 this season, which puts him over the $60M mark in career earnings, all from the Spurs, but Leonard has played in only nine games this season, because of a right quad tendinopathy injury.

Spurs’ doctors have cleared him to return to play, but Leonard has decided he isn’t ready to play yet. Leonard will be a free agent after next season; wonder how much he’ll play next season?

11) North Carolina 78, Syracuse 74— UNC wins its sixth game in row, shooting 8-22 in Carrier Dome, a tough place to shoot. Tar Heels are shooting 37.2% behind the arc this season, their best mark in five years. Three Syracuse players went the whole 40:00.

10) Duke 82, Louisville 56— What will Louisville do this spring? Will they keep interim coach David Padgett, or will they try and attract a big-name coach to carry on the school’s tradition, which could be difficult, seeing as probation is likely in the program’s future.

9) Stephen F Austin 97, Central Arkansas 62— Lumberjacks are 23-5, 12-3 in Southland, but how good are they? They lost by 5 at Mississippi State, lost by 1 at Missouri, won by 1 at LSU, so they’re good enough to hang middle-rung SEC teams, so they’re probably good enough to compete with a big-name school next month. SFA forces turnovers on 26.9% of its opponents’ possessions, tops in America, so you better have experienced guards against them.

8) Auburn 90, Alabama 71— Tigers avenged an earlier loss in Tuscaloosa; Auburn is down to seven rotation guys, thanks to injury/eligibility issues- none of those seven guys are seniors. Both teams took the exact same number of 3-point shots as 2-point shots.

7) There was a 3-way trade in baseball Tuesday; it went this way:
Tampa Bay got P Anthony Banda and three other minor leaguers
Arizona got OF Steven Souza Jr
Bronx Bombers got 3B/2B Brandon Drury

6) Upsets of the Night:
George Mason (+8) 79, St Joe’s 76
Bradley (+6) 82, Missouri State 78
Cal-Riverside (+4) 69, Cal-Fullerton 65
Oklahoma State (+3) 79, Texas Tech 71
Michigan (+3) 72, Penn State 63

5) Grand Canyon University in Phoenix is the only Division I basketball program that is attached to a for-profit university. This is the first year the Antelopes are eligible for the NCAA’s; they’re 17-10 right now, 6-5 in the WAC, in 4th place in the 8-team league.

From “More than 19,000 students attend the GCU campus, and another 70,000 students pursue degrees online, which creates a fruitful revenue stream — the school generated $218 million in the second quarter of 2017 alone, $4 million more than professional wrestling giant WWE’s earnings in the same period — for a school that earns 79 percent of its revenue from federal student financial aid, per

4) NBA fined Mark Cuban $600,000 for talking about his Mavericks tanking games, which he probably did to distract attention from the Sports Illustrated story that talked about a couple of bad guys who worked for the Mavericks on the business side of things.

3) Eagles’ WR Alshon Jeffery played the whole NFL season with a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. Jeffery caught 57 passes for 789 yards and nine TD’s this past season, and helped the Eagles win their first Super Bowl title.

2) Oklahoma State 79, Texas Tech 71— Kansas is back in first place in Big X; they visit Lubbock Saturday, for a first-place showdown with the Red Raiders.

1) Fairfield 70, Siena 69— Three of Saints’ last four games were decided by one point or in OT; they’re 8-22, 4-13 in MAAC, turning ball over 22.1% of time with the 8th-least experienced team in the country.

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

13) Last time an NFL team was sold, the Buffalo Bills went for $1.4B; when the Carolina Panthers are sold, they’re expected to go for around $2B.

A billionaire hedge fund trader who currently owns 5% of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the favorite to buy the Carolina team.

12) Josh Donaldson is a free agent after this season and he naturally wants a long-term deal from Toronto, but he’ll be 33 in December and he ain’t going to get one. Teams are looking at back-loaded deals that ARod, Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols got and they’re not going to be tossing that kind of money around anymore.

11) Gonzaga won its last nine first round games in the NCAA tournament; last time they lost a first round game? To Davidson in 2008; Davidson had a pretty good guard named Curry.

10) Big 14 tournament is a week earlier than normal this year because it is in New York City, so those teams that make the NCAA’s will have an extra week before the tournament begins. Will it be an advantage to have that extra week off? Gonzaga coach Mark Few says that it is good for his team to have some time off before the NCAA’s.

9) Middle Tennessee State’s basketball team is ranked in the top 25 for the first time ever.

8) Los Angeles Angels lowered their fence in right-center field from 18 feet to 8 feet high.

7) Kentucky 87, Arkansas 72— Razorbacks jumped out to an 11-0 lead, but Kentucky rallied for a solid road win.

6) Citadel 84, East Tennessee State 82— Not often a 20-point underdog wins, but it happened here.

5) Ole Miss 90, Missouri 87— Mizzou was favored by 9.5 points, first time in four years they were favored by 9+ points in a conference game. It didn’t go well against an Ole Miss squad that had lost seven games in a row coming in.

4) New Mexico 119, Wyoming 114— Zero defense was played in this game, but there was a lot of fouling— 81 free throws were taken in this game.

3) This is first time since 2011 there will be no teams who go unbeaten in conference play.

2) With spring training starting, that also means fantasy baseball season is underway. I’ve had Giancarlo Stanton on my dynasty league team since he was an 18-year old in the Florida State League. I got a trade offer this week; two minor leaguers for Stanton, who hit 59 HR’s last year.


1) With March Madness around he corner, it bears repeating that the last five college basketball national championship games were all decided by 6 or fewer points.

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

13) NBA should have an “ABA Day” once a year, a Friday night with a full schedule where all the games are played with red, white and blue basketballs and the four teams who came from the ABA (Nets-Pacers-Spurs-Nuggets) wear throwback uniforms from the mid-70’s.

12) One thing I saw on the Interweb when I was in Las Vegas but forgot to mention here; when the Eagles had their victory parade after winning the Super Bowl, a guy named Dennis who was 50 or so was there watching the parade while holding a metal urn.

Turns out the urn held the ashes of Dennis’ late wife, who was an avid Eagle fan.

“She was a diehard Eagles fan. I had to make sure she was here for this.” Pretty cool.

11) Pretty good weekend for golfer Bubba Watson; he played in the celebrity basketball game at the All-Star Game Friday night, then won the Genesis Open Sunday, his 10th PGA Tour win. Watson joins Phil Mickelson as the only lefties with 10+ Tour wins.

Watson’s wife played in the WNBA, therefore the connection to basketball; he lost 45 pounds last year with an undisclosed illness, dropped out of the top 100 ranking but obviously is doing better this year.

10) Bill Walton was saying on ESPN Saturday night that 27,000 people apply for the 800 spots in UCLA’s School of Engineering; you have to have a perfect 4.0 GPA to have a shot to get in.

9) St Mary’s PG Emmett Naar sprained his ankle in Portland Saturday night, didn’t play in the second half. If he cannot play, Gaels will have a short March, but one thing in their favor is the two weeks off they’ll have between the WCC tourney and the NCAA’s.

8) This from ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian:
Hank Aaron his 755 home runs but never hit 50 in a season.
Eddie Murray hit 504 homers but never hit 40 in a season.
Al Kaline hit 399 homers but never hit 30 in a season.
Ron Fairly hit 215 homers but never hit 20 in a season.

7) Memphis Tigers are last team to go undefeated in conference play two seasons in a row; they did it from 2007-09.

6) Looks like Seattle is going to get an NHL franchise; they never should’ve lost their NBA team, they got screwed over by the league because they wouldn’t be extorted into building a new arena, so the team moved to Oklahoma.

5) Six top 10 college basketball teams lost to unranked teams this past weekend. Strange season.

4) JD Martinez finally signs with the Red Sox for $22M a year for five years. Hope he can get by on that paltry sum.

3) Good news: there is spring training baseball on TV Friday. In three days.

2) How great a job is NBA commish Adam Silver doing? With all the issues the NFL had with national anthem-related issues, somehow the NBA kept all that under wraps and dodged that controversy. Has to be an interesting story behind how he did all that.

1— There are people on the Interweb who want teachers to carry guns: in 10th grade, I had a biology teacher who threw erasers at kids who weren’t paying attention (I’m old enough that I went to school when chalkboards were still a thing).

One day, the teacher throws an eraser at a kid named Nick who was screwing around, but instead he drills the girl sitting next to him, who breaks into tears as everyone else either laughed or stared in disbelief.

Would I have wanted this genius to have been packing heat? Ummmm……no.

Monday’s Den: Conference tournament records, last 10 years

Duke 19-6 (four titles)
North Carolina 17-8 (two titles)
Louisville 15-5 (four titles, in Big East/AAC)
Notre Dame 13-9 (one title)
Miami 12-9 (one title)
Florida State 11-9 (one title)
Pittsburgh 9-9 (one title)
Virginia 8-9 (one title)
NC State 10-10 Syracuse 8-9
Virginia Tech 8-10 Georgia Tech 7-10
Boston College 5-10, Clemson 5-10, Wake Forest 2-10

Big East (only last 4 years, since they refigured)
Villanova 8-2 (two titles)
Seton Hall 6-3 (one title)
Providence 5-3 (one title)
Xavier 11-10 Creighton 5-4
Marquette 2-4 Georgetown 2-4
St John’s 1-4 DePaul 1-4 Butler 0-4

Big 14
Michigan State 17-7 (three titles)
Ohio State 17-7 (three titles)
Wisconsin 11-7 (two titles)
Michigan 15-9 (one title)
Purdue 8-9 (one title)
Minnesota 10-10 Illinois 9-10
Maryland 8-10 Penn State 8-10
Northwestern 5-10 Indiana 4-10 Nebraska 4-10
Rutgers 4-9 Iowa 2-10

Big X
Kansas 19-5 (five titles)
Iowa State 10-7 (three titles)
West Virginia 11-9 (won a Big East title)
Texas 11-10 Baylor 10-10 Oklahoma State 8-10
Kansas State 6-10 TCU 5-10
Oklahoma 4-10 Texas Tech 3-10

Big West
Cal-Santa Barbara 10-7 (two titles)
Cal-Irvine 13-9 (one title)
Long Beach State 12-9 (one title)
Cal-Davis 6-6 (one title)
Hawai’i 6-8 (one title)
Cal Poly 6-8 (one title)
Cal State-Fullerton 6-8 (one title)
Cal State Northridge 4-5 (one title)
Cal-Riverside 1-8 (only team in Big West without one)

NC-Wilmington 9-7 (two titles)
Northeastern 9-9 (one title)
Delaware 8-9 (one title)
James Madison 6-9 (one title)
Charleston 14-10 Wm & Mary 12-10
Elon 9-9 (mostly in SoCon) Hofstra 7-10
Towson State 6-9 Drexel 4-10

Conference USA
Western Kentucky 21-6 (four titles)
Middle Tennessee 16-7 (three titles)
Old Dominion 12-7 (two titles)
North Texas 12-8 (one title)
Tex-San Antonio 8-9 (one title, in Southland)
UAB 7-9 (one title)
Southern Miss 10-8 UTEP 12-10 Marshall 9-10
Louisiana Tech 8-9 FIU 5-8 Charlotte 5-9
Rice 4-10 Florida Atlantic 2-9

Iona 16-7 (three titles)
Siena 16-7 (three titles)
Manhattan 11-7 (two titles)
St Peter’s 7-9 (one title)
Monmouth 4-4 (in MAAC) Fairfield 9-10
Rider 8-10 Niagara 7-10 Canisius 6-9
Quinnipiac 6-10 Marist 5-10

Akron 24-7 (three titles)
Ohio 14-8 (two titles)
Kent State 11-8 (two titles)
Buffalo 11-8 (two titles)
Western Michigan 11-9 (one title)
Eastern Michigan 11-10 Toledo 6-9
Miami 6-10 Bowling Green 5-10
Central Michigan 4-10 Ball State 3-10 Northern Illinois 3-10

Mountain West
New Mexico 11-7 (three titles)
San Diego State 20-7 (two titles)
Utah State 10-8 (two titles)
UNLV 12-9 (one title)
Nevada 10-9 (one title)
Boise State 7-9 (one title)
Wyoming 5-8 (one title)
Colorado St 8-10 San Jose St 3-9 Air Force 3-10

Arizona 15-8 (two titles)
Oregon 14-8 (two titles)
UCLA 13-8 (two titles)
Washington 9-8 (two titles)
Colorado 13-9 (one title)
Utah 10-9 (one title)
USC 8-8 (one title)
Cal 8-10 Stanford 8-10 Arizona St 5-10
Oregon State 4-10 Washington State 2-10

Kentucky 20-5 (five titles)
Florida 12-9 (one title)
Georgia 12-9 (one title)
Missouri 10-7 (two titles, both in Big X)
Vanderbilt 11-9 (one title)
Mississippi State 10-9 (one title)
Ole Miss 8-9 (one title)
Tennessee 11-10 Alabama 9-10 Texas A&M 8-10
Arkansas 6-10 South Carolina 5-10
LSU 5-10 Auburn 4-10

Gonzaga 21-3 (seven titles)
St Mary’s 12-8 (two titles)
San Diego 8-9 (one title)
Pacific 6-8 (one title, in Big West)
BYU 13-10 LMU 8-10
San Francisco 6-10 Santa Clara 6-10
Pepperdine 5-10 Portland 5-10

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a college hoop Saturday

13) Kansas 77, West Virginia 69— Jayhawks were 26-35 on foul line, West Virginia was 1-2, in a game the Mountaineers led by 12 with 10:18 left. To say they got hosed is an understatement.

This is third straight series game Mountaineers had a double-digit lead over Kansas but lost.

12) Michigan State 66, Northwestern 60— Spartans were down 27 in first half, 22 at the half. This was one of those scores, when I saw it, thought it was a girls’ score or a mistake, but then State rallies for an unlikely win.

11) South Carolina 84, Auburn 75— Tigers split their last four games after a 21-2 start. Auburn lost 6-7 McLemore, a solid rebounder, with a severe leg injury.

10) Idaho 79, Montana 77 OT— Vandals made 12-19 on arc as Grizzlies went 0-2 this weekend after starting the week unbeaten in Big Sky play. Big Sky is ranked as the 18th-best conference this year, highest it has been rated since 2010- they were 25th or lower the last six years.

9) Marquette 90, Creighton 86— Marquette lost five of its last seven games; they allowed 85-86 points in the two wins. Not a strong defensive team.

8) Villanova 95, Xavier 79— Wildcats were only 3-5 on foul line, 16-34 on arc- this is not the way to get to a Final Four— you need some kind of inside presence and production. This is obviously a good win, but unless Villanova gets more scoring inside, they’ll have a short March.

7) Upsets of the Day:
Eastern Kentucky (+11.5) 72, Tennessee State 59
Santa Clara (+9) 72, Pacific 68
James Madison (+8) 69, Towson State 66
Marquette (+7.5) 90, Creighton 86
Cal-Davis (+7.5) 71, UCSB 54
VMI (+7) 75, Citadel 71
Texas (+6.5) 77, Oklahoma 66

6) UCLA 86, Oregon 78 OT— Tough weekend in LA for the Ducks, who lost at the buzzer at USC in last game Thursday. Bruins were 16-33 on the arc; they’re a surprising bubble team.

5) There was a triple OT game Thursday and one on Friday; if you wagered against all four teams in their next game Saturday, you would’ve won three of four bets.

4) A kid on Arizona State wore one maroon sneaker, one gold sneaker in the ASU-Arizona game Thursday. A player on Alabama wore one crimson sneaker, one white one in the Tide’s loss at Kentucky Saturday. Not sure if this is a growing trend, but if it is, you know each kid has another pair of sneakers at home, just like the mismatched pair.

3) Texas 77, Oklahoma 66— Sooners lost five in row, 8 of last 10 games, as the Trey Young bandwagon is stuck in reverse. ESPN’s hype machine did this to the Ben Simmons-LSU team couple years ago; they put a target on the kid’s back by talking about him endlessly, then looked on in wonderment when the team suffers.

2) Nebraska Cornhuskers won their last six games, covered 13 of their last 14 league games.

1— Shout out to the fine folks at Albany Park & Ride; when I go to Las Vegas, often leave my car there, and they shuttle me to the nearby airport. When I come back, they have the car waiting for me in their lot and it is all very convenient, especially in winter time. Good place.

Saturday’s List of 13: Random thoughts, mostly about Las Vegas

13) My favorite dinner place in Las Vegas is Battitsta’s, a hole-in-the-wall place behind the Cromwell and next to Bally’s. Very good Italian place; old school, with checked tablecloths and an older guy who walks around playing the accordion.

Runner up place to eat is the Mirage, where they have the Carnegie Deli, with the biggest sandwiches ever. I order extra bread and make two sandwiches out of it.

Another good restaurant is in the Stratosphere, but I can’t remember the name of it; it is an Italian place downstairs and it is really good- lighting is dark and reminds you of scenes in different movies.

12) If you like basketball, Las Vegas is a fun place to live; UNLV hoops are lot of fun to go to; they’re having a resurgent year this season- little disappointed the public hasn’t caught on to them that much yet, but part of that is how well the new hockey team is doing.

11) In July, NBA Summer League is at UNLV for a good part of the month; for $30, you can sit in an air conditioned arena all day long and watch guys try to make the NBA.

Later in July, the best high school players in the western US play in tournaments all over Las Vegas. All the college coaches you see on TV all winter are there at one time or another— lot of good basketball.

10) Then in March, the WCC, WAC, Mountain West and Pac-12 all have their conference tournaments in Las Vegas. Lot of good action to choose from.

9) There is a Pinball Museum on Flamingo Road; you can go in and play these old-time pinball machines for a quarter. its a quirky fun way to spend a couple of hours.

8) There is a never a shortage of shows, concerts to go to in Las Vegas; plus the Golden Knights have 41 home games a year now. Jewel is playing at the Wynn in late March; Donnie and Marie play in Vegas all the time. Carrot Top has his comedy act there all the time. Lot of stuff going on.

7) Best sportsbook in Las Vegas is definitely the Westgate, where I stayed the last 11 days; huge place, good bar, three food options, just by the sports book and tremendous TV screens to watch almost anything you want. On NFL Sundays, the Westgate opens their theater to show NFL games.

6) The Neon Museum downtown has a lot of old neon signs from old casinos that don’t exist anymore; its an oddly cool piece of history, especially at dusk, when they light some of the signs.

5) They play AAA baseball at Cashman Field downtown in the spring/summer; this will be the last year for the Mets’ AAA team in Las Vegas. They’re also building a new ballpark out in the northwest section of town, up in Summerlin. No word on whose AAA team will move in, with the Mets’ team moving to Syracuse in 2019.

4) One thing about the Las Vegas airport; people arriving at the airport most always look happier than people flying out of Las Vegas.

3) Had a 3.5-hour layover in Baltimore’s airport Friday night, which would’ve been lot more palatable if they had decent WiFi there. They do have Chick-fil-A though and Chick-fil-A is tremendous.

2) St Bonaventure 77, Rhode Island 74— Rams’ 16-game winning streak is over. Bonnies have won eight games in a row.

1) I’m back in my palatial suburban estate after 11 days in the desert; Las Vegas is great fun to visit- there was a magic convention at my hotel while I was there (no, things didn’t keep disappearing) and I went to a UNLV game (NHL tickets are too expensive since the Knights are doing so well). A full 11 days of fun, plus I missed a snowstorm. Worth it!!!!

Friday’s List of 13: Random stuff on a winter day

13) Arizona 77, Arizona State 70— Pretty intense rivalry game. An Arizona male cheerleader was tossed by the refs for taunting an ASU player.

Arizona coach Sean Miller sweated thru his suit jacket. Sweating thru your dress shirt is one thing, but if you sweat so much it soaks thru your suitcoat too, thats some serious stress.

Solid win for the Wildcats; ASU is now 7-7 and in 7th place in the Pac-12.

12) USC 72, Oregon 70— Trojans survived 5-12 shooting on foul line and snapped a 3-game skid, scoring on an alley-oop pass for the game-winner with 0:00.6 left.

11) Wichita State 93, Temple 86— Owls led 56-42 at the half, but scored only 30 points in the second half, as their 5-game win streak ended. Temple beat the Shockers in Philly, so Wichita might want to avoid the Owls in the A-14 tournament.

10) Houston 67, Cincinnati 62— Bearcats’ first loss since December 9 to Florida; I’m guessing on Selection Sunday, someone will interview a smiling Kelvin Sampson after his Cougars make the Field of 68— this win should get them in.

9) Pacers-Pelicans NBA game that was postponed last week because of a leaky roof in New Orleans has been rescheduled for March 21.

8) Seattle’s new 1B Ryon Healy has a real injury; he had an operation to have bone spurs taken out of his hand— he’ll be out 4-6 weeks.

7) Orioles signed pitcher Andrew Cashner for two years, $16M; he ain’t going to like the short dimensions at Camden Yards.

6) Wisconsin 57, Purdue 53— Badgers retired Frank Kaminsky’s number 44, and then went out and handed Purdue its third loss in a row. First half of this game was amazingly ugly.

5) Denver 134, Milwaukee 123— Nikola Jokic had a triple-double….in the first half!!!

4) Penn State 79, Ohio State 56— Nittany Lions were up 24 at the half. Impressive.

3) Bengals’ backup QB AJ McCarron won a grievance with the league, will become an unrestricted free agent next month, which means he’ll be really rich fairly soon.

2) Football players must hate baseball; Dodger pitcher Alex Wood “tweaked his ankle during calisthenics” Thursday, so he’ll be out a few days. Someone in the NFL “tweaks his ankle” and it doesn’t exactly make the injury report. Plus all baseball contracts are guaranteed.

I’m 58 years old; there’s a fair-to-midland chance I could get thru calisthenics without tweaking my ankle. As long as calisthenics didn’t include any running 🙂

1) Minnesota Timberwolves’ starting five players are all in the top 38 in the NBA in minutes played, which is part of why Minnesota is so improved this year (36-25).

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

13) 17 innocent people died Wednesday in Florida, in a school shooting. In this country so far in 2018, there have been 18 school shootings in 35 school days; something needs to be done about crazy people having assault rifles, which is what this lunatic had.

12) 50 years ago Wednesday was the first NBA game in the new Madison Square Garden in NYC; Knicks beat the San Diego Rockets 114-102. San Diego had a sub named Pat Riley who scored a basket off the bench; Knicks had a player named Phil Jackson score 14 points for them— wonder whatever happened to those two guys?

11) Wizards 118, Knicks 113— Washington trailed by 27 with 2:41 left in the first half, by 21 at the half, but they rallied for an unlikely win. Knicks have now lost eight games in a row.

10) Providence 76, Villanova 71— Wildcats lost for the second time in their last three games.

9) Former Florida coach Jim McElwain is the new offensive coordinator at Michigan.

8) Last four years, Oregon is 22-0 SU in Pac-12 regular season games, from Valentine’s Day until the end of the regular season.

7) North Texas hosts Western Kentucky in a Conference USA game tonight; Mean Green is 7-5 in C-USA this year, after being 30-60 the last five years. All 12 of North Texas’ conference games this season have been decided by seven or fewer points.

6) Scary car accident in Los Angeles Tuesday night, where a Ferrari clipped a SUV while apparently going very fast; the driver of the Ferrari died when the car overturned- his passenger was pro golfer Bill Haas, who is in serious but stable condition in the hospital. Actor Luke Wilson was driving the SUV; a woman passenger in one of the cars was injured.

5) If/when the Raiders cut Sebastian Janikowski in the next few days, Tom Brady would be the only NFL player drafted before 2003 who is still with the team that drafted him.

4) 16 of 30 NBA teams have a guy from Duke; 15 of 30 have a guy from Kentucky.

3) Last college player to shoot 40%+ from the arc and average 10+ rebounds a game was Kevin Durant; North Carolina’s Luke Maye has a chance to do that this season.

2) Auburn has trailed by double figures in eight games this season; they’re 5-3 in those games.

1) RIP Tito Francona, Terry Francona’s dad, who passed away at age 84. Tito Francona played in the majors for 15 years for nine teams, hitting .272 with a .343 on-base %age.