Thursday’s List of 13: Happy Opening Day, everyone!!!!

13) So far this spring. UNLV fired Marvin Menzies and Vanderbilt fired Bryce Drew, both after their third season at that school, after seasons where their best player didn’t play after Christmas. Here are the details:

— Menzies was 48-52 in three years at UNLV, 23-31 in Mountain West.
— Drew was 40-59 in three years at Vanderbilt, 16-38 in SEC.

By way of comparison, here is how another coach did in his first three years at his current job:

— Unnamed coach: 38-47 at School A, 13-29 in conference games.

In other words, if Duke had hired Mike Krzyzewski three years ago, he’d be fired by now. 

12) A person who has money to burn bet $500 on the Baltimore Orioles to win the World Series this year at 1,000-1 odds. Orioles were 47-115 last year, so good luck with that.

11) How is it Opening Day and Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are still free agents? 

10) Coaching carousel:
— Alabama hired hoop coach Nate Oats, who 13 days ago signed an extension with Buffalo.
— Stetson hired former UCF head coach Donnie Jones.
— UNLV hired South Dakota State coach TJ Otzenberger.
— Jackrabbits then replaced Otzenberger with assistant coach Eric Henderson
— San Francisco promoted assistant Todd Golden to replace Kyle Smith as HC. 

9) Alabama guards John Petty, Kira Lewis, Jr. and Dazon Ingram all announced that they’re transferring out of Alabama’s program; this was before the Crimson Tide hired Oats.

8) Eight different major league teams used a 4-man outfield at least once LY, all against left-handed hitters. Hitters that saw it the most? Lucas Duda and Joey Gallo (7 games). Overall, hitters were 10-37 (.270) when the defense had four OF’s. 

7) Last year, 42 different major league players played 5+ different positions. 

6) Random golf stat: 2018 European Ryder Cup golf team went 11-1 Thursday in the Match Play tournament in Texas. The guys on the American team went 4-5-2 (Rickie Fowler isn’t playing this week). 

5) Teams with best win %age in Sweet 16 games (minimum 12 games):
— Michigan 13-3, last in 2018
— Oklahoma State 11-3, last in 2005
— North Carolina 27-8, last in 2017

— Kentucky 36-12, last in 2-18

4) Charlotte Hornets were 2-0 against the Spurs this season, first time they swept the season series with San Antonio since 1996-97. 

3) Oakland A’s traded minor league IF Jesus Lopez, international signing bonus pool space to Toronto for 1B/DH Kendrys Morales. 

2) Fernando Tatis Jr. will be 20 years, 85 days old on Opening Day; if he plays, he will be the youngest player to play on Opening Day since Adrian Beltre in 1999. 

1) Today is Opening Day in baseball, always a day full of optimism- if you can’t be optimistic when you’re 0-0, when can you be? Not every team has realistic hopes of making the playoffs this year, but you never know. At this time last year, I had zero hope of the A’s making the playoffs, but they wound up winning 97 games!!! Enjoy the season. 

Bonus List of 13: College basketball prop bets

13) Will Auburn make the Sweet 16: No -$130, Yes even

12) Will Texas Tech make the Sweet 16: Yes -$180, No +$150

11) Will Buffalo make the Sweet 16: Yes +$220, No -$300

10) Will Villanova make the Sweet 16: Yes +$170, No -$200

9) Will Houston make the Sweet 16: Yes -$115, No -$115

8) Will Virginia Tech make the Sweet 16: Yes -$145, No +$115

7) Will Iowa State make the Sweet 16: Yes +$160, No -$190

6) Will Marquette make the Sweet 16: Yes +$230, No -$310

5) Will Purdue make the Sweet 16: Yes -$135, No +$105

4) #1-seeds to make Final Four: over/under 1.5: Over -$190, Under +$160

3) Will a Big 14 team win the national title? Yes +$325, No -$450

2) Will a #2-seed win the national title? Yes +$325, No -$450

1) Will a #1 seed win the national title? Yes -$170, No +$140

Monday’s List of 13: Quick thoughts on the field of 68……

13) If you look at the last 13 national champs, those teams went 12-1 against the spread in their first round tournament game. Only exception was Kentucky in 2012, who won 81-66 (-26). UConn won its first round game in OT in 2014, but covered 89-81 (-5). 

12) Bobby Hurley coached Buffalo for two years (42-20), then bolted western NY for Arizona State; his Sun Devils have to beat St John’s in Dayton, and if they do, Hurley and Buffalo will be re-united Friday in Tulsa. Buffalo spanked ASU’s rival Arizona by 21 in first round last year. 

Since replacing Hurley, Nate Oats is 95-42 in four years at Buffalo, but before the Bulls get to play Arizona State, the Sun Devils still have to beat St John’s. 

11) Richard Pitino’s Minnesota Gophers playing Louisville, the school that ran his father out of town two years ago, is classic sidebar material. Rick Pitino won the national title with Louisville six short years ago. Lot of stuff has happened since then. 

Rick Pitino is coaching pro ball in Greece now; UCLA, UNLV have jobs open, which lends itself to speculation, but for now Richard’s Gophers vs Louisville is the main event. 

10) Tennessee Volunteers are a #2-seed in the South Region, but they can’t be very happy about the prospects of a second round game against Cincinnati………in Columbus, OHIO. 

9) Montana-Michigan play in the first round for the second year in a row; I’m thinking that could’ve been avoided. 

8) Clemson, NC State and Texas are the highest-rated teams that didn’t get in the NCAA’s; Lipscomb, Furman and NC-Greensboro also have to be pretty disappointed. 

7) No team has ever lost its first conference tournament game, and then gone on to win the national championship. Texas Tech, LSU, Purdue, Maryland fall into that category. 

6) Virginia Tech’s star PG Justin Robinson missed the last 12 games with a foot injury, but he’ll be back for the NCAA tournament. Hokies play Saint Louis in the first round Friday. 

5) If you care about such things, over the last five years, the underdog is 12-8 vs spread in first round 4-13 games. Over last six years, underdogs are 14-10 vs spread in 3-14 games. 

4) Last four years, the 11-seed is 7-5 SU in the first round against the 6-seed; the 11-seed was the underdog in all seven of their wins. 

3) Over the last 23 years, in the West Region final, the underdog is 17-6 against the spread. During that time, when the #1-seed in the West got to the regional final, they’re 4-8 SU in that regional final. 

2) Over the last 16 years, in the Midwest Region final, the underdog is 12-4 against the spread. #1-seeds have fared better in this regional final, going 10-7 SU in their last 17 tries. 

1) My pick for the national title? I’ll take Virginia. 

Saturday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a frenetic Friday…..

13) Duke 74, North Carolina 73— Tar Heels were 4-27 on the arc, and lost by a point. 

12) Seton Hall 81, Marquette 79— Three players were ejected after a pushing/shoving thing early in second half. Seton Hall player also got a technical with 1:58 left; for the game, Pirates were 26-44 on foul line, Marquette 29-41. Tough game to officiate; very physical. 

Markus Howard was shooting 90.7% on the foul line before this game; he was 18-24 here, and was 1-15 from the floor. 

All in all, seven players either fouled out or were ejected. 

11) Southern Miss basketball coach Doc Sadler coaches in sweats, which is a good thing, just a much different thing than most college coaches. I’m sitting on my couch Friday watching his team play, having lunch I bought at Wendy’s and I’m dressed better than he is, and I don’t dress well. Go figure. 

10) Memphis 79, UCF 55— Its good to play the conference tournament on your home court. Tigers host top-seeded Houston today. Bubble teams are rooting for Houston. 

9) Former NFL QB JP Losman is 38 now and is an assistant coach at Clemson; he threw the ball so well at the school’s Pro Day, throwing to WR’s/DB’s, that an NFL team asked Losman if he was interested in coming back to the NFL. Losman hasn’t played in the league since 2011- he declined. 

8) Rhode Island 75, VCU 70— #1-seed goes down in the A-14; VCU’s best player Marcus Evans got hurt while VCU had a decent lead in the first half- they went in the dumper after that. 

7) There was a clip on Twitter Friday of Rockies’ 3B Nolan Arenado shooting hoops outside Colorado’s spring training facility, and his teammates react when he makes a couple of 3-pointers in a row, but the unusual thing is, Arenado shoots the ball left-handed. He plays baseball right-handed. 

6) One of my favorite NBA players to watch is Montrezl Harrell of the Clippers; he works so hard, gives great effort. In four years in the NBA, he’s worked his way up from 3.6 ppg three years ago to 16.2 ppg this year. Not the most skilled player, but he works his butt off, and lot of time, great effort means more than skill. 

Another player like that is Steven Adams of the Thunder; its fun to watch guys play hard. 

5) Detroit Tigers met with Players’ Union reps this week, but they insisted on having the meeting outside on a ballfield, instead of in the clubhouse. Players are apparently concerned that their clubhouse would be bugged for the meeting. Not a lot of trust for the front office there. 

4) In case you were wondering (you weren’t), Jerry Blevins had 20 appearances LY where he faced only one batter, most in the major leagues. MLB-wide, only seven relievers had 15+ one-batter appearances. 

3) Winner of the Home Run Derby gets $1 million now? No pressure on the guy who is throwing the pitches. Hopefully the pitcher will get at least 10% of the winner’s share.

2) Coaching carousel:
— George Washington fired coach Maurice Joseph.
— Appalachian State fired coach Jim Fox.
— Texas A&M fired Billy Kennedy; he was in Sweet 16 two years ago.
— UNLV fired Marvin Menzies; he really didn’t get a fair shake there. He inherited two players his first year, and this year, his 3rd year, their best player got hurt and didn’t play. 

1) I respect the job ESPN’s Joe Lunardi does with Bracketology, but I try not to look at it that often, because he isn’t the committee. We’ll find out the brackets Sunday night. Until then, just need to sort out all the teams that are earning their way into the tournament. 

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a busy basketball day……

Recapping the busiest basketball day of the year:
13) Noon-2pm:
— Virginia 76, NC State 56— Going to be a long 72 hours for the Wolfpack.
— Ohio State 79, Indiana 75— Hopefully this pops the Hoosiers’ bubble; they tied for 8th in a 14-team league, then lost their first conference tourney game- take a hike.
— Villanova 73, Providence 62— Wildcats are 12-1 in last 13 Big East tourney games. 

12) 2-4pm:
— Florida State 65, Virginia Tech 63, OT— Seminoles hit a 3-ball with 0:04 left to force OT, then hit a difficult, leaning shot on the baseline with 0:01.8 left for the win.
— Xavier 63, Creighton 61— Musketeers won seven of their last eight games.
— Nebraska 69, Maryland 61— Terps are 6-9 in last 15 games after a 7-1 start in Big 14. 

11) 4-6pm:
— Nevada 77, Boise State 69— Wolf Pack takes lot of bad shots for a good team.
— Auburn 81, Missouri 71— Tigers move on to play South Carolina next.
— Washington 78, USC 75— Tough week for Trojans, on and off the court. 

10) 6-8pm:
— Marquette 86, St John’s 54— Golden Eagles avenge couple of losses during regular season.
— Cal-Fullerton 75, Cal-Davis 71 OT— Titans outscored Davis 23-4 on foul line.
— Alabama 62, Ole Miss 57— Crimson Tide was down 14 at the half; held Ole Miss to 19 points in second half. 

9) 8-10pm
— West Virginia 79, Texas Tech 74— #10-seed is in Big X semis for first time since 1998.
— Minnesota 77, Penn State 72 OT— Nittany Lions led by 8 with 4:57 left.
— Southern Miss 82, Marshall 73— Golden Eagles won nine of their last 11 games. 

8) 10pm-midnight
— Utah State 91, New Mexico 83— Aggies survived 24 turnovers; game was tied at half.
— Arizona State 83, UCLA 72— Bruins’ coaching search will be very interesting.
— Seton Hall 73, Georgetown 57— This game was 53-28 at the half; Pirates won last three games, beating Villanova/Marquette last week- they play Marquette again tonight. 

7) Upsets of the Day:
— West Virginia (+13) 79, Texas Tech 74
— Southern Utah (+7.5) 83, Northern Colorado 64
— Northern Illinois (+6.5) 80, Toledo 76
— Nebraska (+5.5) 69, Maryland 61

6) Wow, the announcers on the Big 14 Network are incredible shills; every game is great, every kid is wonderful, never is heard a discouraging word. 

Near the end of the Penn State-Minnesota game, couple kids start jawing at each other, and one of Penn State’s subs walks off the bench to join the fray. He winds up getting tossed out of the game for it, but the TV analyst is defending the kid. Seriously. 

5) Marquette’s Markus Howard scored 30 points against St John’s Thursday; it was his 6th career game against the Johnnies. In the first five games:
— He was 5-34 inside the arc.
— He was 12-31 on the arc
— He scored a total of 55 points (11 ppg) in those games.
— This game was a whole lot better. 

4) Washington State fired basketball coach Ernie Kent Thursday. Here is the record of the last few Cougar basketball coaches:
— 1999-2003: Paul Graham 31-79
— 2003-06: Dick Bennett 36-49
— 2006-09: Tony Bennett 69-33
— 2009-14: Ken Bone 80-86
— 2014-19: Ernie Kent 58-98

If that doesn’t prove that Tony Bennett is a great freakin’ coach, not sure what does. 

3) Bowling Green 99, Ball State 86— This game was 54-51 at the half; you don’t see that much, a game where both teams have 50+ at halftime. 

2) San Diego State 63, UNLV 55— Since 2006, Aztecs are 8-0 vs UNLV in the Mountain West tournament; seeing how the tournament is almost always in Las Vegas, thats quite a streak. 

1) Utah State-Fresno State figures to be a very good game in the Mountain West semi-finals tonight; teams split a pair of one-point decisions this season, with road team winning both of them.