Friday’s Den: Ranking the months of the year……

1) March— Conference tournament basketball, March Madness, spring training games on TV every day, plus winter is winding down. March is a good time of year. 

2) November— Lot of football going on, plus college basketball starts

T3) June/July/August— Summer months are all good in upstate New York; hot weather, the horses are up in Saratoga in late July/August, baseball on the tube every night.

6) December— I spend 10 days in Las Vegas every December, wrapped around Christmas, so that ramps up this month’s ranking a lot. Walking on the Strip and seeing all the Christmas decorations is a little unique. 

College basketball games, the NFL stretch run, bowl games- good stuff.

7) September— When I was a kid, this was the worst month of the year, going back to school and all, but as an adult, football season starts, the pennant races in baseball, plus the weather is mostly still summer-ish. 

8) October— Slowest month for this website, which usually means a trip to the desert, never a bad thing. Football Sundays at the Westgate Theater are really good. 

9) May— Really the same month as April, except one more day and the weather is usually a little bit warmer. 

10) April— Baseball season starts, which is very good and winter is replaced by mostly rain, but the NBA/NHL playoffs start

11) January— 31 days of cruddy weather offsets the NFL playoffs and conference play in college basketball. There are no bad months of the year, but January is a damn cold month. 

12) February— Only 28 days (usually) but the same cruddy weather, plus only one football game, though the new AAF could start making February a little better. 

Wednesday’s 2nd list of 13: Catching up on college hoop

If you spent all of November watching football and you missed the start of college basketball season, here is some of what you missed…….

13) Gonzaga 89, Duke 87— Finals of Maui Classic was a terrific game; Duke led 2-0, but that was it- they were down by 16 with 15:54 left, before tying game late. Zags made 10-19 on the arc, and they were playing without Tillie, who made 47.9% of his 3’s last year. 

12) Virginia 53, Wisconsin 46— Predictably slow-paced game (58 possessions) in final of the Battle for Atlantis. Teams combined to go 6-28 on arc; Badgers only got to foul line three times and forced only five turnovers (-8). If you bet the under, this was a rocking chair game. 

11) Kansas 87, Tennessee 81 OT— Vols start three seniors, two juniors, led by 8 early in 2nd half, but three Jayhawks played 40:00+ in this OT thriller. Kansas made 44% of its 3’s in its 5-0 start. Tennessee is #36 experience team, Kansas #283. 

10) Virginia Tech 89, Purdue 83— Finals of Charleston tourney elevated Hokies into the top 25, which they may have floundered by losing at Penn State last night. Tech outscored Purdue 19-7 on foul line. Both teams made over 40% of their 3’s. 

9) Duke 118, Kentucky 84— Result like this in a season opener distorted everyone’s view of the season; did Duke become a little overrated because they played so well in this game? If you’re John Calipari, how do you restore the young Wildcats’ confidence- they were down 91-54 at one point. 

8) Louisville 82, Michigan State 78 OT— Chris Mack has a tough job, following Rick Pitino at a place where the fanbase isn’t exactly patient, but this win gets him off on the right foot.

7) San Diego 70, Colorado 64— Toreros are #6 experience team in America; they’re 5-1 with a 3-point loss at Washington. The middle of the WCC is better this season than it has been for a few years. San Diego starts four seniors, so this is a big year for them. 

6) Buffalo 99, West Virginia 94 OT— Bob Huggins has young guards this year, which isn’t a good thing, but Buffalo is really good and should dominate the MAC. Bulls were down 69-56 with 8:05 left in regulation, but they forced 19 turnovers (+8) and got a great road win. 

5) UConn 83, Syracuse 76— Orangemen don’t leave home before Christmas too much; they made only 23.3% of their 3’s in their first five games. This was Danny Hurley’s first statement win as the new UConn coach, coming in New York City, where it was like an old Big East conference tournament game. 

4) Michigan 73, Villanova 46— Wildcats graduated four guys from LY’s national champs, and Michigan took its frustrations out for losing the national title game to Villanova eight months ago- this game was 49-17 at one point. Another early season brickfest, with teams combining to make only 8-32 on the arc. 

3) Ohio State 64, Cincinnati 56— Good road win for Buckeyes squad that is experience team #281, while Cincy is #131 in experience. OSU led 55-39 with 5:23 left, before Bearcats made a late run but fell short. Buckeyes also have a road win at Creighton already. 

2) Seton Hall 83, Miami 81— Finals of Wooden Legacy tournament in Fullerton; when they announce the Field of 68 in March, games like this will carry some weight, even though it was played almost four months before Selection Sunday. Pirates are #233 experience team; this is a great win for them. 

1) Texas 92, North Carolina 89— Longhorns look to be improved this year, after going 30-37 the last two years. Texas lost to Michigan State the next night, but they’ve got this win and a neutral court win over Arkansas- the #256 experience Longhorns hope to be a factor in March. 

Wednesday’s List of 13: College basketball knowledge…….

13) Top four rated conferences so far this season:

Big X, Big 14, ACC and the Big East. 

12) Teams with least experience in country, among teams in the betting rotation:

Kentucky, UCLA, Cal State-Northridge, Maryland, Chattanooga and Duke

One of those six teams has a lot more talent than the other five. 

11) Minutes Continuity measures how much guys have played together more than their experience- teams cobbled together by transfers are rated low in this metric:

Highest: Washington, Kansas State, Brown, Cal State-Fullerton, George Mason

Lowest: Tex-Arlington, Chattanooga, Idaho, Wichita State, Oakland

10) Teams who used their bench the most so far this year:
Denver, Manhattan, Georgia, Princeton, NC State

Teams who used their bench the least:
San Diego, Furman, Georgia State, St John’s, Boston College

9) Challengers to Gonzaga’s dynasty in the WCC are changing a little. St Mary’s is only 3-3 to start the season, but San Francisco and LMU are both still unbeaten. Conference seems to be a little deeper this season; BYU is still pretty good and San Diego seems improved, too. 

8) Mike Davis is the guy who replaced Bob Knight as the basketball coach at Indiana, which was an enormous job for a rookie coach. That was 18 years ago. 

18 years and three jobs later (he has won at all his coaching stops) Davis is now the coach at Detroit Mercy in the Horizon League. His son Antone is a freshman for the Titans, and the kid can shoot a basketball- he’s made 24 of his last 38 3-point shots. 

Horizon League has slipped of late (ranked #24 LY, were as high as #10 in 2011) and Davis got this job because the Titans are 16-47 the last five years. Detroit’s last winning season was in 2013, when their best player was the then-coach’s son (Ray McCallum Jr). 

Detroit starts young Davis and four seniors, so they’ll be an interesting follow this winter. They also have five true freshmen, six JC transfers and two graduate transfers. 

7) Rough start to the season for the Pac-12; Oregon is their highest-rated team, but the Ducks lost at home to Texas Southern Monday, as a 24-point favorite. Not looking good right now for the Pac-12 to get a lot of at-large spots in the NCAA’s. 

6) Texas Southern uses November/December to fund its program, playing a ridiculous number of road games for guarantee fees. Here is who they’ve played so far:

Nov 6, won 72-69 at Baylor
Nov 10, lost 104-67 at Gonzaga
Nov 12, lost 85-73 at Iowa State
Nov 14, lost 103-64 at San Diego State
Nov 18, lost 85-63 at Evansville
Nov 26, won 89-84 at Oregon

Their first Division I home game is January 19th. January freakin’ 19th. 

5) Teams who have taken the highest % of 3-point shots:
Drake, Eastern Washington, Villanova, Siena, North Dakota State

4) Teams who have made the highest % of 3-point shots:
Indiana State, New Mexico, Detroit, South Dakota State, Creighton

3) Teams playing the fastest tempos so far this season:
FIU, Marshall, Eastern Kentucky, Citadel, Rider, Green Bay

Teams playing slowest tempo so far this season:
Virginia, Siena, Marist, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Houston

2) As of Monday night, there were still 15 kids in the country who’ve taken 2+ foul shots per game and made all of them, led by Oakland’s Jaevin Cumberland, at 26-26. 

1) Oakland’s Braden Norris was leading the country in 3-point %age, making 12 of his 14 shots behind the arc. Ian Sistare of Dartmouth was next, at 11-14. 

Wednesday’s Den: Wrapping up Opening Night in college hoop

13) Kansas 92, Michigan State 87— Jayhawks led this game the whole way, were up 50-36 at halftime, but Spartans fought back late and made the Kansas fans sweat. 

Dick Vitale started his 40th season on ESPN with this game; he surprised me by saying that he thinks college basketball season starts too early, and shouldn’t begin until after Thanksgiving Day. Don’t think I agree with that; after Thanksgiving would be too late. 

I liked the early season basketball marathon ESPN used to run for 24 hours, but they’ve done away with it now. That would’ve been early next week. Who needs sleep? 

12) Duke 118, Kentucky 84— Blue Devils led this game 34-13 at one point, and then it got worse; impressive display by a very young Duke team- game was 59-42 at halftime, 85-52 with 12:22 left. Wildcats don’t get whacked like that very often. 

11) Texas Southern 72, Baylor 69— When you pay an opponent to come to your gym and play, they’re not supposed to win. Last year, Texas Southern played its first 13 games on the road- their first home game was New Year’s Day. TSU started last year 0-13, lost by 31 at Baylor, but the Jonny Jones era gets off to an excellent start here. 

10) Arizona State 102, Cal State-Fullerton 94 2OT— Titans made NCAAs LY but weren’t given a big chance here; Ahmad/Allman combined for 64 points, but no other Titan scored more than 11 points- they’ll need a third scorer to emerge. 

ASU was only 26-44 on foul line; they took 18 more FT’s than Fullerton. 

9) North Carolina 78, Wofford 67— This game was tied 46-all with 10:30 left, but reality set in down the stretch. Credit to Roy Williams for going to Wofford’s gym and playing a real road game— it’ll make the Tar Heels better. Wofford has to be encouraged by this game. 

More teams need to have some guts and play some true road games. 

8) Georgia State 74, East Tennessee State 68— Couple of solid mid-majors hooked up here; ETSU had 27 offensive rebounds, but were just 4-23 on arc, 17-27 on charity stripe. Four Georgia State starters played 35:00+, so not a lot of depth there. 

7) Bills-Jets total this week is 36.5; it is the lowest NFL total since 2012. 

6) Penn 72, George Mason 71— Quakers win a nail biter despite going 6-18 on the foul line. 

5) Stony Brook 77, George Washington 74 OT— GW led this game 22-0 but lost; not exactly the best way to start your season. Stony Brook’s first points came 10:14 into the game; they were only 6-26 on arc, 17-27 on foul line, but they out-rebounded the Colonials 46-38, who were 16-34 on the foul line in at overtime loss. 

4) Providence 77, Siena 67— Friars made 13-25 on arc, Saints 12-28 in relatively foul-free game; only 20 FT’s were tried in this game. Siena started a soph and two frosh in coach Christian’s Siena debut; they have to be somewhat encouraged by this game. 

3) There are now 353 Division I basketball teams; Cal Baptist (WAC) and North Alabama (Atlantic Sun) are the two new teams this season. 

2) Boston College 73, Milwaukee 53— BC was down 10 at the half in this game; they outscored the Panthers 46-16 in second half. 

1) Louisiana Tech 71, Wichita State 58— Could be more of a rebuilding job than people thought for the Wheatshockers- they were a 10-point favorite here.