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

13) Michigan 69, Loyola 57— Ramblers were up 7 at the half; other than Wagner, Wolverines were 4-23 in first half, but Michigan scored 47 points in 2nd half, after only 22 in first, and they move on to the national championship game Monday night.

Loyola shot 39.8% on the arc for the season; they were 1-10 in this game.

12) Villanova 95, Kansas 79— With 6:52 left in first half, Villanova led by 14 and already had seven guys who made at least one 3-pointer- this game was 22-4 at one point, and was reminiscent of Villanova’s dismantling of Oklahoma in the national semis two years ago.

11) I’ve thought a lot about this, asked lot of people about it and still cannot find a decent reason to bat the pitcher 8th. Mets/Phillies are doing it this year with new managers.

Tony LaRussa used to do it, Joe Maddon has done it, which gives the idea credibility, but they did not do it in playoff games, which makes me a skeptic.

10) Scheduling quirk: AL West Houston Astros/Texas Rangers do not play this season after July 29th. All 19 of their meetings are before then.

9) Asdrubel Cabrera is the first ballplayer in 103 years to bat cleanup on Opening Day, then bat leadoff in the second game of the season.

Only one instance Interweb folks could find where a guy batted leadoff on Opening Day, then batted cleanup in the second game of the year— Hall of Famer Tim Raines, in 1989.

8) Obscure Stat of the Day: White Sox pitcher James Shields is the first pitcher since 1908 to allow four 1st-inning runs on Opening Day, but then go on to win that game.

7) Baltimore Orioles won in walk-off fashion in their last three Opening Day games.

6) Sporting News basketball writer Mike DeCourcy is from Pittsburgh; when Jeff Capel got the Pitt Panthers coaching job earlier this week, DeCourcy wrote an article about the Pitt job, and wrote about how Pittsburgh “….isn’t a basketball town.” Uh oh.

Why would you want to coach in the ACC at a school that isn’t in “a basketball town”?

5) Gonzaga will stay in the WCC next season, instead of bolting to the Mountain West.

4) A guy at SouthPoint Casino in Las Vegas risked $130,000 on Michigan to win SU; he got $50,000 for his trouble; after the Wolverines won, he quickly put the $50,000 on Kansas, +5.

3) Seems like the Arizona Diamondbacks wear a different uniform every night; I’m thinking it has to be at least a little distracting, especially early in the season.

2) Phillies’ rookie manager Gabe Kapler took his starting pitcher out in the 4th inning last nite in Atlanta, but there didn’t seem to be anyone warming up when he did it. The reliever took a long time to get to the mound and Braves manager Snitker got tossed when he objected to the pitcher being allowed his eight warmup tosses even after taking forever to get on the field.

1) Xavier Silas got signed by the Celtics this week; its been six years, over 2,100 days since he last played in the NBA. I remember seeing him play in an AAU tournament in Orlando when he was in high school— his dad James Silas was a terrific player in the ABA.

Imagine how great it must be to wait over six years and finally get that call again to play in the NBA? There had to be times he thought it would never happen, but it did.

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

13) Aaron Calixte scored 17 ppg for a Maine basketball team that went 6-26, playing in a weak America East Conference, the #25 Division I conference (out of 32) in America.

Joe Cremo scored 18 ppg, David Nichols 14.5 ppg for an Albany team that went 22-10, but only 10-6 in America East- they lost in first round of AE tourney two of last three years, but the Great Danes have made the tournament five times since 2006.

All three of these players have bolted their schools before their senior years, looking for greener pastures. Maine fired their coach after the season; Calixte has been pursued by big-name schools such as Florida State.

Albany has had four players transfer in the last week; something is amiss. Great Danes have won 133 games the last six years; when four players bolt a winning program at the same time, there is stuff going on that the general public can’t see.

12) I’m an Albany graduate (yes, I graduated from college!!!); I put myself thru school as student manager of the basketball team, but we were D-3 back then. Very good team, but D-3 is worlds apart from D-1. To see the Great Danes become a successful team at the D-1 level has been fun- coach Will Brown is a good guy who has built a consistent, winning program, but this isn’t good.

When your two best returning players jump ship at the same time, its not a good sign.

11) 29% of major leaguers on Opening Day (254 players) weren’t born in this country.

10) A 36-year old accountant who hadn’t played in anything but beer league hockey games in over a decade played the last 14:01 for the Blackhawks Thursday, after both Chicago goalies got hurt in the game, a 7-2 win over Winnipeg. Scott Foster stopped all seven shots he faced.

9) Oakland Raiders released P Marquette King, the 4th-highest paid punter in the NFL.

8) Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy will step aside after next season and be succeeded by current assistant Aaron McKie, who played for the Owls.

7) Guy who owns a casino in Las Vegas has a $25,000 bet on Michigan to win the national title, which nets him $1,000,000 if the Wolverines win the championship. Derek Stevens owns the D Casino in Las Vegas and is a Michigan alum— he made the bet at the Golden Nugget.

Funny thing though, I know a guy who is a very knowledgeable sports bettor and Golden Nugget won’t let him bet more than $1,000 on a game. Go figure.

6) Makes no sense to me that Ron Gardenhire is a major league manager and Joe Girardi isn’t.

5) Cincinnati International Airport is actually located in Kentucky.

4) Rusty Staub is the only major leaguer who got 500+ hits for four different teams.

3) Houston Astros have used four outfielders on defense this spring, when lefty hitters Jay Bruce, Logan Morrison and Justin Bour were batting. This defense leaves the entire left side of the infield open- it apparently will only be used when the bases are empty.

2) Royals lost C Salvador Perez with a knee injury that he got while carrying luggage up stairs. He is expected to be out 6-8 weeks

1) ESPN reported how the Las Vegas Raiders opened negotiations with a guy who owns the 7,000-yard Bali Hai golf course in Las Vegas, so they can convert the golf course into stadium parking for the new domed stadium in the desert. That guy is Billy Walters, who is currently in federal prison on insider trading charges. Complicated.

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up Opening Day and other stuff

13) I used to be a minor league official scorer, long time ago (back when I had hair); if I kept score of games today, I’d code the field 3-9 instead of players, to account for shifting in the field.

For instance, Houston used four OF’s vs Joey Gallo Thursday; he flied out to 3B Alex Bregman, who was playing in left field. Traditional scoring would say F5, since Bregman plays 3B, but I’d say F7, since Gallo hit the ball to left field.

I’d supplement my scorebook with written notes on who actually caught the ball, but thats how I’d score a game now. Just think it would be more accurate.

12) Rays 6, Red Sox 4— Chris Sale allowed no runs, one hit in six IP (92 PT), then the Boston bullpen blew the lead in the 8th inning, allowing four walks, two hits, with Denard Span’s 3-run triple the big hit.

11) Dodger TV guy Joe Davis said there were 90 mound visits (90!!!) in Game 7 of the World Series last year. the limit this year will be six per team; ummm, thats a little different.

10) Cubs 8, Marlins 4- Roof was open at Marlins’ Park Thursday; it was open for six home games out of 78 LY and Miami was 0-6 in those games. Marlins are not a MLB-quality team right now- they’re going to lose a lot of games.

For the record, Ian Happ was the first batter this season and he hit a home run.

9) If you care about such things, Josh Donaldson led MLB last year, 15 1st-inning homers. Giancarlo Stanton was next, with 14. Stanton hit one in the first inning in Toronto Thursday, and then he hit another one in the 9th inning.

8) Astros 4, Rangers 1— When Joey Gallo batted with bases empty, Houston played four guys in OF with no fielders on left side of the infield. Actually, Altuve was in the OF too, in short RF, so they had five guys in the outfield.

7) McDonald’s All-American Darius Bazley decommitted from Syracuse, becoming the first top high school prospect to choose turning pro in the G League, where he’ll make $26,000, instead of spending a few months in college. Maybe he’ll get a small shoe contract.

Bazley is a 6-9 kid from the Cincinnati area; he’ll sign a pro contract when he turns 18 in June. Big gamble on his part— if he were to get hurt, then what? If he gets hurt in college, he’s still in college and has the school’s resources at his disposal. He won’t be property of an NBA team next year, just the G-League team. He’ll be eligible for the 2019 NBA Draft.

6) White Sox 11, Royals 4— Matt Davidson hit three homers for Chicago; maybe I should’ve picked him up in my fantasy league, back when he was available. Whoops.

5) RIP Rusty Staub 73, who played 23 years in the big leagues, breaking in with the Houston Colt .45’s in 1963. Le Grand Orange, as he was known in Montreal, made six All-Star teams and had a career OB% of .362 with 292 career homers. He owned a popular restaurant in Manhattan for years after he retired from playing.

Think about how times have changed; in 1963, there was a baseball team named after a gun and an NBA team called the Baltimore Bullets.

4) Braves 8, Phillies 5— Phils led this game 5-2 in 8th, but Atlanta rallied, and Nick Markakis hit a walk-off homer to send Braves fans home happy.

Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers is the first player this season to leave a game with an injury— he suffered an oblique injury in the second inning.

3) Orioles 3, Twins 2 (11)— Not 100% sure, but Zach Duke may very well be the first pitcher ever to strike out four batters in an inning on Opening Day- he struck out four Orioles in the 7th inning.

Adam Jones hit a walk-off homer in the 11th inning to send everyone home happy, after Orioles blew a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning.

2) Brewers 2, Padres 1 (12)— Bill Schroeder is a former big league catcher who is a really good analyst; Padres had two on, one out in the 7th inning Thursday with Milwaukee leading 1-0, and Schroeder says more than once (three times??) that reliever Josh Hader can get Austin Hedges out with a slider, almost like he is trying to use telepathy to get him to throw it.

Eventually, Hader throws the slider and strikes Hedges out.

1— Louisville QB Lamar Jackson threw 59 passes, took snaps under center in front of reps from all 32 NFL teams Thursday, but he wouldn’t run a 40-yard dash, because everyone knows he is fast enough to play QB and he ain’t interested in being a wide receiver. Good for him.

Thursday’s List of 13: 13 of my favorite sports movies…….

I do this list once a year or so; feel free to make your own list.

13) Major League— Still maintain that Bob Uecker should’ve won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Harry Doyle, the Indians’ radio announcer. To this day, when a pitcher throws a really terrible pitch to the backstop, chances are the TV guy will say “….juuuust a biiiit outside…” like Harry Doyle did when Wild Thing Vaughn was on the mound.

12) He Got Game— The only Spike Lee movie I’ve ever seen; its a good one, with Denzel Washington getting released from prison by warden Ned Beatty, on one condition— that he can get his son (Ray Allen) to play basketball at the warden’s alma mater, Big State.

Anyone who was surprised by Louisville’s problems last year didn’t see this movie.

11) Rocky— If only they hadn’t made all those awful sequels. Rocky is a classic; a fighter down on his luck gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot to fight for the heavyweight title back when boxing was a big thing. If you’re at a game in Philly now and they cue up the Rocky music, people still get fired up— its pretty cool.

10) Hoosiers— I’ve had this argument with a friend of mine for years, that Norman Dale was a horrible coach saved only by Jimmy Chitwood not missing a shot in the whole damn movie. Hickory High finished the first game he coached with four guys on the court; even his assistant coach, who wound up in alcohol rehab, knew enough to always give Jimmy the ball when it mattered. They did nail the scene at the end when Hickory wins the state title.

9) Any Given Sunday— Lawrence Taylor and Jim Brown as actors? Yes!!! Al Pacino coaches his Miami Sharks against four teams, all coached by NFL Hall of Famers.

8) Moneyball— The good guys lose in the end, but not before they win 20 games in a row and surprisingly make the playoffs. I won’t embarrass myself by telling you how many times I’ve seen this movie, but if you guess, chances are your guess is too low.

7) Bull Durham— Pitching coach Robert Wuhl delivered this inspirational piece of advice on a visit to the mound:

“……candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she’s registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern. Okay, let’s get two!”

6) Friday Night Lights— Of all the sports movies, Billy Bob Thornton does the best job of portraying a coach, in this case a west Texas high school football coach who gets his best player KO’d for the season by leaving him in a blowout too long. The townspeople aren’t pleased.

5) Blue Chips— Nick Nolte did his research for this by hanging out with Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers for a year, so the thrown chairs and punted balls make more sense. Jerry Tarkanian’s cameo and Bob Cousy’s portrayal of the school’s AD are the underrated parts of this movie.

4) Invincible— True story about Vince Papale, who was a 30-year old bartender that tried out for and wound up playing special teams for the Eagles for three years in the 70’s. Mark Wahlberg plays Papale; Greg Kinnear plays Dick Vermeil.

3) Fast Break— Gabe Kaplan’s character quits his job in a New York City deli to become the basketball coach at a small Nevada college. The team he puts together is interesting- Bernard King and Michael Warren are two of the players.

2) One on One— Robby Benson plays a flashy small school point guard who gets recruited by a big time college program, but once he gets on campus, the coach thinks he made a mistake and tries to run him off the team.

1— For Love of the Game— Kevin Costner pitches for the Tigers, but is at the end of his career. JK Simmons is his manager; John C O’Reilly his catcher, Kelly Preston his girlfriend. Vin Scully is in effect the narrator of the movie.

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

13) I love numbers, but the analytics revolution in baseball is overdone. There is no way you can quantify a player’s value to the team with a single number— too many variables are involved that cannot be and never will be able to be measured. Here is one example that actually happened:

Two years ago, Player A and Player B were teammates; Player A was getting paid to wear a certain make of spikes, but he wasn’t wearing them. One day, while Player A was talking to the sales rep from the company that was paying him, Player B comes over and tells the sales rep that Player A isn’t wearing his company’s spikes. A fight ensues in the clubhouse.

Player B gets his ass kicked and goes on the DL; Player A gets suspended and the team suffers, since they weren’t very good to begin with and they were now without two decent hitters.

So, analytics people, quantify that for me; make that a part of WAR, when a guy is such a cruddy teammate that his teammate is provoked into kicking his butt!?!? These players live/travel together from March-September. Being a good teammate is an underrated variable.

12) March 22, 2014, the Astros released JD Martinez, just let him walk. He’s hit 128 HR’s in the four years since, and now makes $22M a year in Boston. Astros are now World Champs, despite giving away a player of Martinez’ ability- they’ve won 271 games the last three years. Go figure.

11) Pitt Panthers named Duke assistant Jeff Capel their new head basketball coach; he was previously head coach at VCU, Oklahoma before spending seven years as a Duke assistant. Capel was 79-41 as VCU’s coach (50-22 in conference), 83-69 at Oklahoma (33-43 in conference).

10) Detroit Lions team president Rod Wood said a main reason Detroit didn’t win its bid to host the NFL Draft this year was a date conflict at Ford Field with a robotics convention. Oy.

Detroit also has to start the 2018 season on the road because Ford Field is booked for a concert on September 9— Ed Sheeran, whose concert tour is messing with the first half of the NFL schedule in several cities.

9) When basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton was in high school/college, he once went 5.5 years without losing a game. His HS team won its last 16 games his junior year and he didn’t lose again until the second half of his senior year at UCLA.

8) Las Vegas Golden Knights were 500-1 to win the Stanley Cup when their first NHL season started back in October. Now they’re 7-1 to win the Cup. Best expansion season ever in any of the four major sports.

St Louis Blues made the Stanley Cup finals in 1968, but that was when the league expanded from 6 to 12 teams and the six new teams were all in the West, so one of them had to make the finals.

7) Interesting quirk to this year’s baseball schedule; A’s visit San Francisco the last three games before the All-Star break, then the Giants visit Oakland the first three games after the break.

6) Louisville paid a search firm $150,000 to find its new athletic director- they wound up hiring the guy who was the interim AD. So they gave a search firm $150K to hire the guy who was already in the job. Something is amiss…….

5) Speaking of the Cardinals, Louisville hired Xavier coach Chris Mack as its new basketball coach, which is a kick in the teeth to the Big East. Mack is a Xavier alum who was a 2-year captain of the Musketeers, but as the saying goes, “Whenever you don’t think its about the money, remember: Its always about the money.”

Mack was making just under $1.7M a year at Xavier; he’s making $4M now. His wife is from Louisville, but the $4M was the deal-maker, for sure.

4) Does New Jersey Giants coach Pat Shurmur have special insight into college players in this year’s draft? His son Kyle is Vanderbilt’s quarterback, who played against NC State LB Bradley Chubb in the 2016 independence Bowl. Giants may very well draft Chubb next month.

3) Butler/Florida will play a home/home basketball series the next two years; the series was negotiated by the two head coaches……on Twitter. Welcome to 2018.

2) ESPN had a mike on Mookie Betts while he was playing right field for the Red Sox Tuesday; as a ball was hit over his head into the corner, he says, “I ain’t getting this one, boys.” They were talking to him in between pitches while the game was going on. Good TV, but one more example of how spring training might be a little too long.

1) Former major league catcher Paul Loduca was on TVG as a horse race handicapper; he likes gambling. Here are his over/under team win total picks for 2018:
Twins, over 83.5 wins
Red Sox, over 91.5 wins
Rockies, over 81.5 wins
Cardinals, under 86 wins

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

13) Allow me to start today with a rant……

Texas-Arlington’s basketball team went 72-33 the last three years, 37-19 in conference games, but they didn’t win the Sun Belt tourney in the last 10 years- their only NCAA appearance was in 2008, which was the second year as head coach for Scott Cross, a UTA alum.

Tex-Arlington fired Cross Monday, after a 21-13 season when the Mavericks had the most experienced team in America, starting five seniors. Why?

Firing a mid-major coach who is an alumnus and is an honest guy (the school’s statement went out of its way to say so) and who won 72 games the last three years? No bueno.

You wonder why coaches break the rules so they can win? Stuff like that is why……

12) Whoever the next coach is at Arlington has a full rebuild on his hands; of the eight players who played in the Sun Belt final vs Georgia State, seven were seniors.

11) I saw this on Twitter Monday night and I’m borrowing (stealing) it. The only seven players who hit 2+ homers in an Opening Day game more than once:

Adam Dunn, Juan Gonzalez, Eddie Mathews, Raul Mondesi, Xavier Nady, Albert Pujols, Joe Torre.

10) Bronx 1B Greg Bird is out 6-8 weeks because of an ankle injury that requires surgery; they could move Neil Walker to 1B and play young Tyler Wade at 2B.

9) I’m watching Billions on Showtime (a great show) Sunday night and one of the characters goes into a New York City deli and orders an egg cream, which looks like a milkshake but I have no idea what it really is. It looked good, so I did some research.

Several people I asked had no idea what I was talking about, but my cousin hooked me up with some knowledge: 1/2 cup of whole milk, one cup of seltzer, two tablespoons of chocolate syrup.

I’ll report back when I have one of these and let you know if they’re any good. My cousin says they’re great.

8) There are 32 NFL teams, two coordinators per team. Of those 64 high-paying jobs, 31 of them have changed hands since last season ended. Football coaches are nomads.

7) Los Angeles Rams signed Ndamukong Suh to a 1-year, $14M deal; Rams had 6th-most cap space in the league before this signing- their defensive line should be really good.

6) ESPN’s Chris Mortensen predicts the college QB’s will be drafted in this order next month:

“Darnold, Allen, Mayfield, Rosen”

Surprising to me that Mayfield passed Rosen, since Rosen is considered the best pure passer of the rookie QB’s right now. As always, the draft will be interesting.

5) NASCAR race got snowed out in Virginia Sunday; weird having a car race live on TV at 2:00 on a Monday afternoon.

4) RIP Wayne Huizenga, 80; he founded three Fortune 500 companies (Waste Management , Blockbuster and AutoNation), and also owned the Dolphins-Marlins-Florida Panthers.

RIP Zeke Upshaw 26, a player in the G-League who collapsed during a game last week and later passed away, apparently due to heart failure.

3) Sounds like Tubby Smith will surface as the coach at High Point, his alma mater. Panthers fired former North Carolina player Scott Cherry after nine years as coach, despite his going 68-36 in Big South games the last six years.

2) According to the Associated Press, the average salary in major league baseball is on track to be around the same as last year’s $4.45 million, maybe slightly higher.

1— Daytime television is horrendous, except for March, when MLB Network shows spring training games every day. With baseball season starting Thursday, that’ll be the end of good daytime TV for 11 months. Unless you like politics, but I’m not one of those people.

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

13) Kansas 85, Duke 81 OT— Jayhawks were 13-36 on arc in this game, 17-33 inside the arc; Newman scored 32 points and Kansas is headed to the Alamo for the Final Four.

Grayson Allen went 3-13 in his last college game; Mavin Bagley was 5-9 in 44:00- if you’re coaching Duke, you’re sick that Bagley got only nine shots in a game this close, especially since he’ll never play for Duke again.

12) Villanova 71, Texas Tech 59— Wildcats were 29-35 on foul line; Tech was 14-18 in game where teams combined to go 9-44 on arc. Villanova is in Final Four for second time in three years; they’re 11-1 in last 12 NCAA tournament games.

11) Final Four pointspreads:
Michigan (-5.5) over Loyola-Chicago
Villanova (-5) over Kansas

10) Since 1987, when two #1-seeds play in the national semifinals, the underdogs are 8-2 against the spread.

9) Was thinking about Gonzaga’s potential move to the Mountain West; I have no idea why they would do that. Gonzaga doesn’t have football, so their TV deal for basketball would only net them an additional $375,000 a year— not much at all.

Mountain West is a better league, but hardly a power league; only reason they got two teams in the NCAA’s this year is because Nevada got beat in the conference tournament. Gonzaga is the king of the WCC; its good to be the king- they’re like UNLV was in the Big West during the peak years of Jerry Tarkanian’s coaching tenure in Las Vegas.

To me, adding Gonzaga would really help the Mountain West, not sure how it helps Gonzaga.

8) Saturday night, Florida State was down 58-54 in the last 0:15; they missed a 3-pointer, then didn’t foul in the last 10 or 11 seconds, and Michigan ran out the clock.

The non-foul occurred right in front of the FSU bench; it seemed like someone on the bench told the Seminole player not to foul, so they let the game end, despite a foul giving them a (very small) chance to win the game. A small chance is still a chance; it happens. Ask Louisville.

As you know, I spend a ridiculous amount of time watching college basketball; can’t remember a situation like this happening before, especially a team whose season ends with a loss. Why give up?

Leonard Hamilton wasn’t happy when he was asked about it after the game. If I was the AD at Florida State, I’d be asking him about it again when we met back in Tallahassee.

7) Duke was down five with 0:11 left in OT Sunday; unlike Florida State, they fouled.

6) Atlanta Braves cut P Scott Kazmir, eating $16M he is owed this year. Kazmir had a rough outing Saturday, blamed it on a 90-100 bullpen session he threw Wednesday, saying he didn’t know he’d be pitching Saturday. Now he is out of a job, though he still gets paid.

5) Phillies gave 2B prospect Scott Kingery a 6-year, $24M contract, which eliminates service time as an issue in making Kingery a major leaguer right now.

Lot of teams delay bringing their prospects up to the majors, to delay their arbitration years from kicking in.

4) Then there is Arizona, which sent OF Yasmany Tomas down to AAA, despite owing him $46M over the next three years. RF Stephen Souza is on the DL and they still sent Tomas down, which tells us they’re pretty sour on him.

3) Twins’ coach Howard Johnson, the old Mets’ 3B, broke bones in his face this weekend when he was hit by a foul ball in the Minnesota dugout. Hope he is feeling better soon.

2) I’m still wondering why the Red Sox fired Terry Francona; Boston averaged 93 wins a year under Francona, winning two World Series with no losing seasons- they were 90-72 his last year, albeit with some off-field hijinx that had people saying Francona ran too loose a ship.

They’ve won one World Series in six years since he left and now have an entry-level manager in Alex Cora. Curious decision.

1— Mets manager Mickey Callaway is the 49th major league pitcher who later became a major league manager. Pitching is obviously the most essential element of baseball; you’d think more former pitchers would’ve become managers.

Sunday’s List of 13: Random weekend stuff…..

13) Loyola, Chi 79, Kansas State 62— Much like #11-seeds George Mason in 2006 and VCU in 2011, who both came from the CAA, Ramblers come from the relative obscurity of the MVC to make the Final Four. No one saw this coming.

Not only has Loyola won four NCAA tourney games, they had to win the MVC tournament or they would’ve been playing in the NIT.

Ramblers didn’t have to play #2-seed Cincinnati after the Bearcats blew a 22-point lead to Nevada. #1-seed Virginia lost to a damn #16-seed, and Loyola took advantage of all that.

Loyola’s first three NCAA tournament wins were by total of four points:
— Ramblers were down 60-55 with 2:46 left in first round vs Miami.
— Loyola needed a lucky bounce on a jumper with 0:03.6 left to nip Tennessee, 63-62
— Loyola was down 20-8 early against Nevada, hung on at the end of its 69-68 win.

12) By way of comparison, two of George Mason’s four NCAA tourney wins in 2011 were by double figures- they were an underdog in three of the four games.

VCU had to win an additional play-in game, but four of their five NCAA tourney wins were by double figure margins- they were an underdog in all five of those wins.

11) A final question on the George Mason/VCU thing; does Porter Moser jump for bigger money? He’ll be in demand. Neither coach at Mason/VCU bolted right away.

In 2006, Jim Larranaga was coach at George Mason; he went 107-59 at Mason the next five years, then jumped to Miami, the ACC and a lot more money.

In 2011, Shaka Smart was VCU’s coach; he went 109-35 the next four years before going to Texas and the big $$$ of the Big X.

10) Michigan 58, Florida State 54— Seminoles went 8:00 without a basket down stretch, then made some questionable decisions on who to foul in last 1:30.

Unusual stat; in the West Region final the last 21 years, underdogs are 17-4 vs spread.

9) I love a good coincidence; USC just hired an assistant basketball coach who has two sons, both of whom are 6-10 or taller and are both in high school. Go figure.

Trojans hired Eric Mobley, an AAU coach for the last 11 years. From

“His oldest son, Isaiah, is a 6-foot-10 high school junior and the No. 44-ranked prospect in the Class of 2019, while his youngest son, Evan, is 6-foot-10 and considered one of the top players in the country in the Class of 2020.”

I wonder where they’ll go to college?

8) Steph Curry is out with Grade 2 MCL sprain; he might be back for the start of the playoffs.

7) Ferris State 71, Northern State 69— Fun game to watch, for the D2 national title.

Ferris State’s president played the clarinet in the school band during this game. I’m guessing the university president at Kentucky or Duke doesn’t still play in the school band.

Ferris State’s mascot is a bulldog; I’m disappointed they’re not the Ferris Wheels.

6) Dustin Johnson hit a golf ball 489 yards Friday; seriously, he was on a 573-yard par-5 and was 84 yards from the hole for his second shot.

5) It bothers me when baseball teams shift and leave third base totally uncovered; they’re just giving up a base hit to anyone with the basic ability to bunt.

I can see doing it against powerful lefties like Bryce Harper or Freddie Freeman, but against guys who aren’t so great, to me it is just overthinking something that is fairly simple. Maybe the analytics people are trying to justify their position by micromanaging too much.

4) Apparently it costs $30 to park at A’s games this season; for their four home games with the Giants, it’ll cost $50 to park unless you say “Go A’s!!!” at the gate. Trolling Giants’ fans seems a little immature. Paying $30 to park seems a bit excessive.

3) There are rumors around that Gonzaga will be jumping from the WCC to the Mountain West as early as next season, which would give the MW an even dozen teams. Gonzaga is supposed to announce their decision in the next two weeks.

2) #1-seed Kansas is an underdog to Duke today; the previous nine #1-seeds who got points in the regional final went 2-7 SU, 3-6 against the spread.

1) Few years ago, I was at an AAU basketball tournament at Bishop Gorman HS in Las Vegas; I’m sitting in bleachers watching this game when one of the coaches takes his cellphone out while play was going on, looks at a text message, then glares at the couple sitting in front of me and says:

“If you text me again, he’ll never get in!!!!”

Can’t make stuff like that up.

Saturday’s List of 13: Wrapping up the Sweet 16

13) Here is our Elite 8: Both #1-seeds won Friday, are now 10-1-1 vs spread in this round the last four years. Rest of the Elite 8? Two #9-seeds, an 11-seed, two 3-seeds and 2-seed Duke.

12) Duke 69, Syracuse 65— Duke won first meeting 60-44; teams combined to go 8-43 in that game. This game snuck over total; teams combined to go 9-39 on arc, but Duke was 20-28 on foul line as they held on at the end.

Turns out that Jim Boeheim’s last game as a Syracuse player was a 91-81 loss to Duke in the NCAA tournament back when the game were televised in black-and-white. Boeheim played at Syracuse with the great Dave Bing, who was a really good player with the Detroit Pistons.

11) Villanova 90, West Virginia 78— Mountaineers went 7-28 on the arc; they lost seven of last nine games this season when shooting less than 35% on the arc. Villanova plays better defense than you’d think. And they have multiple guys who make 3-pointers- they were 13-24 here.

10) Kansas 80, Clemson 76— If you had the Jayhawks (-5), this was brutal. Clemson rallied back from a 62-42 deficit with 11:00 left and cut lead to 4 with 0:04.5 left, called timeout, but never fouled after Kansas inbounded the ball. Very bad beat for Kansas backers.

Bill Self is 8-2 in Sweet 16 games at Kansas; he is 2-5 in regional finals.

9) Texas Tech 78, Purdue 65— Teams that make the Final Four sometimes make it because they get lucky; Purdue big man Haas couldn’t play because he broke his elbow last week, which made the Boilermakers a far less formidable opponent.

Purdue made 11-24 on arc when they beat Butler without Haas; they were 7-18 in this game, and took only six foul shots the whole game.

8) How #11-seeds (or lower) have done in regional finals:
2017— Xavier (+8.5) L83-59 vs Gonzaga
2014— Dayton (+10.5) L52-62 vs Florida
2011— VCU (+11.5) W71-61 over Kansas
2006— George Mason (+8) W86-84 over UConn
2002— #12-seed Missouri (+6.5) L75-81 vs Oklahoma
2001— Temple (+6.5) L62-69 vs Michigan State
1990— LMU (+5) L131-101 vs UNLV

4-3 vs spread, all as underdogs, with two SU wins.

7) Random trend; over last 20 years, in the West Region final, underdogs are 16-4 against the spread. Michigan is -4.5 over Florida State in Staples Center tonight.

6) Generally, if an 8 or 9-seed gets this far, they had to beat the #1-seed to get here, but not this year because UMBC pulled their upset. Here is how #8 or #9-seeds have done in the Elite 8:
2014: Kentucky (-2.5) W75-72 vs Michigan
2013: Wichita State (+6) W70-66 vs Ohio State
2011: Butler (+3.5) W74-71 Florida OT
2004: Alabama (+8.5) L87-71 vs UConn
2000: North Carolina (+2.5) W59-55 vs Tulsa
2000: Wisconsin (+1) W64-60 vs Purdue
1998: Rhode Island (+4.5) L79-77 vs Stanford
1994: Boston College (+1.5) L74-66 vs Florida

6-2 vs spread, 5-3 SU

5) Dayton Flyers went 14-17 this season, its first losing season in 12 years; they had only one senior, but since the season ended, five other players have left the program, two to explore pro possibilities, three others to transfer to other schools.

Next season’s Flyers will be very young, and will take time to get to know each other.

4) Took the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins 25 years to get 100 points in a season; Las Vegas Golden Knights have done it in their first year in the NHL, a tremendous accomplishment.

3) As you know if you read this space at all, I watch a ton of sports on TV, but one thing I’ve lost my appetite for is pre and post-game shows and halftime shows. Mostly they just exist to amuse the people who are on the show, and usually, there are too many people on them anyway.

Highlight shows late at night? Still enjoy them.

2) Traded Marcell Ozuna for Madison Bumgarner in my fantasy baseball league this winter; Bumgarner broke his left pinkie Friday when he was hit by a line drive. Bleepin’ awesome.

Of course, guy who hit the ball that broke his finger is on my team, too. No bueno.

1) On a happier note, Sunday night is the last Sunday night in 2018 without football or baseball, so thats a good thing.

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

13) Kansas State 61, Kentucky 58— Kansas State is capitalizing on the first-ever #1-16 upset in the NCAA’s; they get to a regional final in large part because they got to play a 16-seed UMBC in their 2nd round game, instead of #1-seed Virginia.

In this 3-point game, Kentucky’s PJ Washington was 8-20 on the foul line. He also grabbed 15 rebounds and had three steals, but 8-20 on the line in a 61-58 game is no bueno.

12) Loyola 69, Nevada 68— Ramblers made their first 13 shots in the second half, mostly on reverse layups. Nevada led 20-8 early but didn’t score for the last 8:00 of the first half- their lack of depth, foul trouble and refusal to play zone defense doomed them here.

Loyola’s three NCAA tournament wins have come by a combined four points; it is funny that Wichita State, Creighton bolted the MVC for bigger leagues, but Loyola (which took Creighton’s place in the Valley) is in the Elite 8 after winning its first MVC title.

11) Florida State 75, Gonzaga 60— Seminoles tied Louisville for 8th place in the ACC; Cardinals didn’t get in the tournament. FSU played 12 guys in first half of this game— 10 guys played 10+ minutes, which in this day and age of thin rosters, is really unusual.

10) Michigan 99, Texas A&M 72— Complete no-show by the Aggies, who trailed 52-28 at the half. Wolverines made 14-24 on the arc.

A&M’s Robert Williams declared for the NBA about 90 seconds after this game ended; he scored in double figures twice in his last seven games. Good luck in the G-League.

9) Johnny Manziel was at the A&M-Michigan game, after he threw at U of San Diego’s pro day during the afternoon. Johnny Football might play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL this summer, unless some NFL team gets goofy and offers him a tryout.

8) Reminder to fans drooling over Sam Darnold; no USC QB has ever started in a Super Bowl. Not that he can’t be the first, but I’m just sayin’…….

7) Bidding for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers is up to $2.5B; thats billion, with a B.

6) Minnesota Twins’ #1-4 hitters Thursday were all switch-hitters, which is very unusual.

5) College basketball coaching carousel:
— UConn hired Danny Hurley away from Rhode Island
— Evansville hired Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty
— Missouri State hires Dana Ford away from Tennessee State

4) There was another coaching move which annoys me a little; Colorado State hired Niko Medved away from Drake. Medved went 62-71 in four years at Furman, going 42-28 his last two years there, then bolted to Drake at this time last year.

Senior-dominated Drake (#7 experience team in country) was only 17-17 this year, 10-8 in the MVC, but with four senior starters graduating, Medved bolt$ for greener pa$ture$ after only one season in Des Moines. Not the classiest thing to do.

3) Sounds like there is some drama in San Antonio, with Spurs players trying to convince star Kawhi Leonard to actually play ball, so the Spurs can make the playoffs. Leonard injured his quad last year, came back and played nine games this season, but has been out since December 12, despite his being cleared by the Spurs doctors.

Leonard will make $60M combined between this year and the next two years; would be nice if he actually tried to earn it.

2) Kansas City Royals’ over/under win total this year is 67.5; that sound you heard was the Royals’ “window of opportunity” to win another championship slamming shut.

1— You don’t have to be Columbo to deduce that the Giants trading Jason Pierre-Paul to the Buccaneers means there is a strong probability Big Blue will draft NC State linebacker Bradley Chubb with the #2 pick in the draft next month.

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

13) It is likely that three NFL teams will start their 6th different Opening Day QB in six years when they open the season in September.

Vikings will be starting newly-signed Kirk Cousins; Houston and Cleveland have dealt away their Week 1 starting QB from last year, so Deshaun Watson will go for Houston if healthy and who knows what the Browns will do at QB, but it’ll be someone new.

It is really hard to win when you have no continuity; Vikings are strong at every other position, but their decision to let Case Keenum walk after he played so well LY will be highly scrutinized. Houston seems set at QB for the next decade if they can keep Watson healthy.

12) Dodgers won 40 more games than the Giants last year, which is eye-opening. San Francisco adds Longoria/McCutchen this year, but neither one of them pitches, although Bumgarner was not healthy last year, and now he is, so that’ll help.

Once your nucleus of talent gets old, it is tough to re-boot and stay a contender without a total rebuild. Will be interesting to follow the Giants this season.

11) Damn, the Red Sox hit only 168 homers last year, least in the AL. My A’s hit 234 and they were a bad baseball team. Will JD Martinez help that correct their power shortage?

10) Speaking of Boston, they’ve got $30M of dead money on their payroll this year, most in the major leagues— Rusney Castillo and Pablo Sandoval account for all of that.

9) Three NFL teams proposed a rule that would limit the amount of early games a western team can play during the regular season. Under the proposal, no team would be scheduled “to play more than three away games with a scheduled kickoff time prior to 1:00 p.m. in the time zone of their home stadium (without consent).”

For instance, during the 2017 season, the 49ers played five road games that kicked off at 1pm ET, which feels like a 10am game to them. Couple years ago, the Rams played a 9:30am game in England, which is a 6:30am start if you’re on West Coast time.

8) Cubs’ 1B Anthony Rizzo has been hit with 70 pitches the last three years, seven more than anyone else in the major leagues during that time.

7) Graceland 83, LSU-Alexandria 80— NAIA national title game drew 6,377 fans in Kansas City, as Graceland, from Lamoni, IA won the championship. Tough loss for Alexandria, which lost in the national semifinals by a basket last year.

6) Louisville sent interim basketball coach David Padgett packing; he’ll be fine eventually, but where do the Cardinals go from here?

If you’re Chris Mack, do you really leave your alma mater (Xavier) for a job where the team is likely to go on probation? Louisville might be a lucrative job, but the fanbase is spoiled and the chances of winning right away are almost nil, which won’t please the fanbase.

5) Western Kentucky 92, Oklahoma State 84– Hilltoppers are headed to New York City for the NIT semifinals next week- they won at USC, then 46 hours later, won in Stillwater, OK. Not an easy thing to do.

4) This made me feel old; Bobby Orr turned 70 this week.

For my 9th birthday, friend of my parents gave me a subscription to Sports Illustrated; the first issue that came in the mail had Bobby Orr on the cover and I became a huge Bruins fan- their loss in OT in Game 7 of the ’79 Stanley Cup semifinals remains one of my saddest moments as a sports fan.

Got to meet Bobby Orr at a minor league baseball game in the mid-80’s; nice man with really bad knees. He was playing in a celebrity softball game and he purposely hit fly balls so he didn’t have to run.

Do a search on Bobby Orr rushing the puck and you’ll see a guy who revolutionized the sport; he was so exciting to watch. Hard to believe he is 70 years old; to me, he’ll always be the guy flying thru the air after scoring the game-winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Happy birthday!!!!

3) There are no instant replays in spring training baseball games; I’m pretty sure the umpires have adopted a “When in doubt, call him out!!” mentality.

2) Since 2004, the defending national champ is 8-19 vs spread in NCAA tournament, and Florida went 4-2 when they repeated in 2007, so it is 4-17 without the ’07 Gators.

1— Combined seeds for the teams in the Sweet 16 this year is 85, the highest total since 2000.

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

13) Basketball trivia: a regulation hoop is exactly two basketballs wide. Its a pretty good coaching point to show that to kids- the hoop looks smaller because it is ten feet up in the air, but if you show kids that two basketballs can fit in a rim, it can help their confidence.

12) Arizona 75, USC 61— If you made me tell you who the best team in the country is, I’d tell you Arizona, though Virginia is close. All the chaos at Arizona this season may help them this month, since they’re used to the limelight- it may have brought the team closer together.

Pac-12 will have an interesting day, with UCLA/Arizona State on the bubble. It is possible that the AAC gets more teams in the tournament than the Pac-12.

11) UMBC 65, Vermont 62— Retrievers win the America East title- this was a great game. This league has found a niche with the 11am Saturday slot in Champ Week. No matter where their championship game is played, the gym is always packed.

Senior guard Jairus Lyles drained a straight-away 3-pointer with 0:00.6 left to give UMBC its first NCAA berth since 2008. This was UMBC’s first win over Vermont in their last 24 meetings.

Ryan Odom is UMBC’s coach; his dad is Dave Odom, who was Tim Duncan’s coach at Wake Forest.

10) How great was Pistol Pete Maravich? He played at LSU from 1967-70, long time ago, but there are still eight college gyms in this country where Maravich holds the scoring record for a visiting player. Pistol Pete scored 44.2 ppg in his three-year varsity career, and that was before 3-pointers were in the game.

9) Marshall 67, Western Kentucky 66- Thundering Herd is in NCAAs for first time since 1987; they’re coached by Dan D’Antoni, Mike’s brother.

8) LIU won the NEC tournament this week; they’re 18-16 this year, against the #335 schedule in the country (out of 351). Only 5 of their 34 games were against teams ranked in the top 200.

7) Coaching carousel: UConn fired Kevin Ollie, Georgia fired Mark Fox.

UConn won the national championship four years ago, but in this “What have you done for me lately?” world, they’re 30-35 the last two years, so Ollie was told to take a hike.

Georgia is 58-50 in SEC games the last six years, but Dawgs only made the NCAAs twice in nine years under Fox. Some smart mid-major team will hire Fox and will be glad they did.

Also being rumored that Fresno State coach Rodney Terry will be leaving for the UTEP job, which I am told pays better than Fresno.

6) Mookie Betts started out spring training 0-16; I’ve always wondered if players get stressed out over spring training slumps. When Betts got his first hit of the spring the other day, an infield hit, he smiled and pointed to the skies, so apparently, the 0-16 start stressed him out.

5) Cal-Fullerton 71, Cal-Irvine 55— Big West has nine teams in it; the last eight years, 8 of those 9 teams won the Big West tournament once each, which may help explain why Cal-Riverside will be hiring a new coach this spring.

4) Houston 77, Wichita State 74— AAC semifinal was a terrific game; dawned me during second half that Jim Nantz went to college at Houston, but you’d never know it listening to him call the game. Nantz, Raftery and Grant Hill make a good broadcasting team.

3) Villanova 76, Providence 66 OT— Bubble teams everywhere exhale; Friars would’ve been a bid-stealer. Internet pundits keep speculating about Chris Mack or Ed Cooley leaving for other schools, but why would you leave a Big East job?

Not only is the Big East a really good league, there is no football involved at those schools, so your team is king at your school, and thats a big thing.

2) Every bubble team in the country will be rooting for Rhode Island against Davidson today; if Davidson wins, it knocks another team off the bubble. Nevada losing in the Mountain West already knocked one bubble team off.

1— Today is one of the longer days of the year, and not because we turned the clocks ahead an hour last night; NCAA brackets come out at 6:00 tonight. Once the brackets come out, then it is a full night of research and handicapping. Sleepy day, very busy night.

Friday’s List of 13; Wrapping up a full day of hoop

13) C-USA— Southern Miss 71, Middle Tennessee 68 OT— Potentially bad news for bubble teams all over the country; Blue Raiders are 24-7; they lost to USC by 5, to Miami by 3- they don’t have any really great non-conference wins. the next 48-72 hours will be very long for them.

12) ACC— Virginia 75, Louisville 58— Cavaliers are 29-2 and they’re underrated; they don’t have any big stars for ESPN to over-hype, and they fly under the radar. Excellent team.

Duke 88, Notre Dame 70— Have the Irish done enough to make the NCAA’s? They’re 20-14, but Bonzie Colson missed 15 games; lot of teams have injuries, though. Duke won seven of its last eight games.

North Carolina 82, Miami 65— Miami started game on a 14-0 run, but trailed 32-31 at the half. Luke Maye had a weird game; he grabbed 13 rebounds, had a couple assists, but he was 1-15 from the floor, 0-5 on the arc. Tar Heels have rubber match with Duke in ACC semis tonight.

11) A-14— George Mason 80, UMass 75— Patriots beat UMass three times this year, twice in overtime. Mason won six of its last eight games; an improving young team.

Saint Louis 70, George Washington 63— Billikens were down 11 at the half; they’re 17-15 and getting better under Travis Ford.

10) Big X— Kansas State 66, TCU 64 OT— Kid on TCU hit a 3 at the buzzer to force OT, but a shaky instant replay reversal gave K-State the last possession in overtime, and they cashed it in.

Kansas 82, Oklahoma State 68— Jayhawks are 26-5 in last 31 Big X tourney games. Cowboys are on the bubble, and most people don’t think they should be.

9) Big East— Butler 75, Seton Hall 74— Bulldogs get first Big East tourney win in five tries, scoring with 0:03.6 left in a wild final 0:30. Butler-Villanova in the semis tomorrow night.

Providence 72, Creighton 68 OT— You wonder how these teams from the midwest like trudging to Manhattan every March for their conference tournament. Long trip after a long season, especially when Bluejays already have their NCAA bid in order, despite going 3-6 in their last nine D-I games.

8) Big Sky— Southern Utah 92, Idaho 78— 10th-seed Thunderbirds are in Big Sky semis; they eliminated an Idaho team here that is the 2nd-most experienced team in country.

Montana 84, North Dakota 76— Top-seed has won last seven Big Sky tournaments, but Griz trailed by 6 with 15:48 left, before restoring order down the stretch. Montana will play Northern Colorado in the semis; the Bears crushed Weber State 80-55.

7) Sounds like Mike Moustakas will return to the Royals and Carlos Gonzalez will go back to Colorado, which is bad news for my fantasy team, and bad news for those two guys’ wallets. Not a lot of appetite for teams to spend big money on 30-ish free agents.

6) Big West— Fullerton 76, Long Beach 74— Tough game to ref; very physical. Allman played whole game for the Titans- they need to win next two days to win the tournament. He’ll need some rest eventually.

Fullerton-Davis play in semis Friday; Titans won both meetings during season. Head coaches had words after the first meeting; Fullerton coach Taylor is a Cal-Davis alum.

5) AAC— None of the eight AAC teams who played today will make the NCAA’s unless they win this AAC tournament. Scanning Twitter this week, it is amazing how many people put up their fields of 68 online, as if any of that means anything. Only thing that matters is what we see at 6:00 Sunday on TBS.

Memphis has quietly won six of its last seven games, as rumors about Penny Hardaway being the next Tigers’ coach float around. Memphis is 20-12 and plays Tulsa on Friday.

4) MAC— Buffalo signed coach Nate Oats to a 5-year contract extension; good for him. Bulls are 61-38 under Oats, 36-18 in conference games.

Toledo 71, Miami 69— Rockets avoid an upset here, surviving 4-23 shooting on the arc.

3) Mountain West— Utah State 78, Boise State 75— Big upset puts Broncos on the bubble and maybe in the NIT. Boise does have a win at Oregon, but not much else on its resume.

Nevada 79, UNLV 74— Wolf Pack have lot of injury issues, but they shot 12-25 on arc in this game and came back from 12 down in second half. UNLV PG Johnson got his 4th foul early in second half and Wolf Pack went on a run after that.

2) Pac-12— Arizona-UCLA play in Pac-12 semis Friday; teams met only once this season, with Bruins winning 82-74 in Tucson. Does UCLA need a win to make the NCAA’s?

1) SEC— Alabama 71, Texas A&M 70— Collin Sexton went length of court and hit a runner at the buzzer for the walk-off game-winner. Back in December, Aggies were thought to be Final Four caliber; they were 11-1 at Christmas, but finish 20-12. Could they be going to Dayton? Aggies’ last three games were decided by total of four points.

Georgia 62, Missouri 60— Star freshman Michael Porter Jr played in this game, after missing the whole season except for the first 2:00. Porter was 5-17 from floor in 23:00, which is an awful lot of shots for a kid who hasn’t played since November. You wonder how his presence affected team chemistry.

Thursday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a winter Wednesday

13) ACC— Louisville 82, Florida State 74— Louisville’s interim coach David Padgett turned 33 last month; I’m guessing the last five months have been a blur for him, but his Cardinals played a great first half, leading 41-22 before hanging on at the end for their 20th win. Louisville will likely go on probation; has Padgett does enough to earn the full-time coaching gig?

Boston College upset NC State 91-87; they play Clemson Thursday.

12) Pac-12— Colorado 97, Arizona State 85— Sun Devils beat Xavier, Kansas before Christmas, were ranked 3rd in country at one point, but they lost five of their last six games, went 8-11 in Pac-12 play, and have zero right to bitch if they get left out of the Field of 68. Their RPI was 65 after this loss to Colorado, which made 13-21 3-pointers in this game.

Oregon State and Oregon both advanced with overtime wins; Beavers’ three games with Washington this season were decided by total of 8 points.

11) A-14— UMass upset LaSalle 69-67; Explorers were 1-16 on arc, Minutemen 10-23.

10) Big X— Oklahoma State 71, Oklahoma 60— Sooners lost eight of their last 10 games, losing their last 10 games away from Norman. Bracketology people still have Oklahoma in the field of 68, but they’re not a very good team right now.

9) Mountain West— UNLV 97, Air Force 90 OT— Huge sigh of relief from the desert, as Rebels snap a 5-game losing skid and get their 20th win of the season. UNLV-Nevada Thursday; Wolf Pack crushed UNLV 101-75 in Las Vegas last week, but the Rebels won earlier in Reno.

8) Kansas center Udoka Azubuike won’t play in this week’s Big 12 tournament in Kansas City after he sprained the MCL in his left knee during practice Tuesday.

7) Los Angeles Rams are having an interesting offseason; they traded MLB Alec Ogletree to the Giants Wednesday for 4th and 6th-round draft picks- the move clears $5M in cap room, which begs the question as to just how much money they’re going to pay Aaron Donald this spring.

Ogletree was the quarterback of the defense, so it’ll be interesting to see who the new MLB will be and where that $5M in cap space is used. I’m pretty sure the Rams have five picks in the 6th round of the draft— they must think this draft is deep with talented players.

6) Missouri’s star recruit Michael Porter Jr was supposed to be America’s best freshman, but he played 2:00 in the season opener, then left with a back injury, hasn’t played since. He returns today in St Louis for the SEC tournament; how will his presence change the Tigers’ chemistry?

5) Big East— St John’s 88, Georgetown 77— Hoyas beat St John’s twice during the season, but Red Storm shot 67% inside arc in this game and move on to play top-seeded Xavier Thursday. Hoyas lost their last five games; they took 32 3’s, only 30 2-point shots in this game.

4) C-USA— Tex-San Antonio 71, UTEP 58— Roadrunners went 11-7 in C-USA this year, after going 26-61 the previous five years; they’re 9-2 in last 11 games and play Marshall today.

3) SEC— South Carolina 85, Ole Miss 84— Gamecocks made 12-21 on arc, only 19-34 on foul line. Ole Miss buried a 3 from deep in left corner to cover the spread at the buzzer.

2) Sun Belt— Texas State 73, Coastal Carolina 66— Bobcats snapped a 9-game losing skid with win here; six of those nine losses were by 4 or fewer points or in OT.

1) For me, today and tomorrow are just as much fun as the first round of the NCAA tournament; dozens of games all over the country, teams either positioning for seeding next week, or trying to shock the world and get in the field of 68.

Today is 14 or 15 hours of great action; enjoy!!!

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

13) One of the most underestimated facts in sports; over the last five years, Tom Brady has earned $74,784,964, “only” $14,956,993 a year. That allows New England more flexibility in paying other players. Not many quarterbacks or any athlete would willingly take less money to help the ballclub win— you think a member of the Manning family would do that?

Since 2013, Eli Manning has earned $97,660,004, 3rd-most in NFL.

Lot of people think Brady is the best quarterback ever; for him to be in the middle of the pack salary-wise is ludicrous and absurd.

12) Since 2013, Baltimore Ravens have spent $119,584,094 on the QB position, most in the NFL; Tennessee Titans have spent $38,280,713, the least.

11) Matthew Stafford has earned $111,008,969 over the last five years; he has an 0-3 career record in playoff games, which is part of why the Lions changed coaches this winter.

10) St Mary’s lost in the WCC tourney and their non-conference strength of schedule is #290; I don’t know if they’re getting in NCAA’s or not, but I do know this will be the longest week of their lives, as they wait for 6:00 Sunday night, to see if their season is a success or a failure.

9) Maine fired its basketball Monday and hired the former women’s coach, who sat out last year on medical leave. Then Maine’s best player announced he would transfer; Aaron Calixte scored 17 points a game this season. New coach’s job just got a little tougher.

8) Random baseball fact: last year, Joey Votto had a streak of 20 games in a row where he reached base 2+ times. That is the longest such streak since 1981. Barry Bonds had a 19-game streak in 2004.

7) Ed Hochuli retired as an NFL referee; he gave the best explanations for penalties. Long time ago, Hochuli was a linebacker at Texas-El Paso. Hochuli’s son Shawn is one of two new NFL refs, replacing his dad and Jeff Triplette, who also retired.

6) Charleston 83, Northeastern 76 OT— CAA final was one of best games of Champ Week so far. Huskies led by as many as 17 points in second half. This tournament is usually played in Richmond, but has been in Charleston last couple years- that sure helped the Cougars in this game. Charleston is in NCAA’s for first time since 1999.

Northeastern +2.5 is a very tough beat.

5) Wow. University of Memphis is seriously considering firing Tubby Smith and replacing him with Memphis legend Anfernee Hardaway, who is currently a high school coach in Memphis.

Rumors are that Hardaway would bring Larry Brown in as an assistant coach. Brown will be 78 in September; he is the only coach ever to win an NBA title and an NCAA national title.

4) Arizona Diamondbacks are bringing the bullpen cart back for this year; not sure if it’ll help pace of play at all, but bullpen carts are very cool. Now that just about all the bullpens are off the field and behind the OF fence, you might see more teams do this.

3) Gonzaga 74, BYU 54— Orleans Arena in Las Vegas has a great coffee shop; am guessing it is filled with happy Gonzaga fans after this rout of a BYU team that emptied its bucket when they upset St Mary’s Monday nite.

There is talk of Gonzaga moving to a better basketball league; that would be a really interesting decision. Gonzaga is kind of like UNLV was in the late 80’s when they ruled the Big West, but once they moved to the Mountain West, things haven’t been as good for the Rebels. Sometimes it is better to be the big fish in a smaller pond.

2) South Dakota 97, South Dakota 87— Jackrabbits are headed to NCAA’s for 3rd year in row and fifth time overall. They have a 6-8 kid named Daum who is an NBA player- he can shoot the 3-ball (42.8%) but when he got in foul trouble in this game, they still stretched out their lead- their freshman Jenkins is also a really good player.

1— In 1985, Mike Schmidt was the highest paid baseball player, at $3,125,000 a year.

This year, even a cheapskate team like my Oakland A’s have six guys who make that much. Trust me, none of those six guys could touch Mike Schmidt’s shoelaces. If Schmidt was playing today, you’d have to add on a zero to the end of that $3,125,000 to pay his tab.