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.

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.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Some college knowledge…….

13) Over the last 15 years, of the 60 teams who made the Final Four, 26 won their conference tournament. Over last six years, only 7 of 24 Final Four teams won their conference tourney; from 2004-11, 19 of 32 Final Four teams did.

12) 7 of the last 15 national champs won their conference tourney, but only one of the last six.

11) Since 2003, only 8 of 60 Final Four teams lost their first conference tourney game: Here are those teams:
2003— Marquette, Texas
2005— Michigan State
2007— UCLA
2009— UConn
2010— Michigan State (only team to do it twice)
2016— Syracuse
2017— South Carolina

10) Since 2006, two CAA teams have made the Final Four; George Mason in ’06 and VCU five years later. Weird thing is that neither of those teams won the CAA tournament that year. CAA ain’t getting more than one team in NCAA’s anymore, but they did as recently as 2011.

9) In 2011, UConn did something that will never be surpassed; not only did they win the NCAA tournament, winning six games, they had to win another five games to win the Big East tournament— they weren’t getting into the NCAA’s unless they won that tournament.

8) In 2006 and 2007, Florida finished the season by winning both the SEC tournament and the NCAA tournament— thats a very underrated accomplishment- 9-0 finishes both years.

7) In the last 15 years, 2008 was the only Final Four where all four teams won their conference tournament; in 2003 and 2009, none of the Final Four teams won their tournament.

6) Not putting pressure on Montana or anything, but the #1 seed won the last seven Big Sky tournaments. Most of those were at the home court of the #1 seed; they play the tournament on a neutral floor in Reno these days, but still…….

5) Fairfield has basketball players from nine different countries, plus Puerto Rico.

4) Eastern Washington’s Bogdan Bliznyuk has made 74 foul shots in a row, which is an NCAA single-season record.

3) Since the NCAA tournament went to 64, and then 68 teams, #2 seeds are 124-8 in their first round tournament games; here are the eight #2 seeds who lost in the first round:

1990— Richmond (+9) 73, Syracuse 69
1993— Santa Clara (+20) 64, Arizona 61
1997— Coppin State (+17) 78, South Carolina 65
2001— Hampton (+17.5) 58, Iowa State 57
2012— Lehigh (+12) 75, Duke 70
2012— Norfolk State (+21.5) 86, Missouri 84
2013— Florida Gulf Coast (+13.5) 78, Georgetown 68
2016— Middle Tennessee State (+18) 90, Michigan State 81

2) Since 2003, Big Sky teams are 1-14 in first round NCAA tourney games; over the last 11 years, they’re 2-8-1 vs spread in first round games.

1— Big West teams have also had problems in the NCAA’s recently; since 2006, Big West teams are 2-0 in play-in games,  but are 1-11 in first round games, 4-8 vs spread.