Friday’s 6-pack, Quote, Quiz of the Day

College hoop information is posted daily
Week 4 XFL info is posted…….

Friday’s 6-pack
NBA knowledge for a Friday night:
— Minnesota is 3-7 ATS in its last ten road games.
— Atlanta is 1-4-1 ATS in its last six games.
— Hornets are 2-6-1 ATS in last nine road games.
— Over is 14-8 in last 22 Dallas games.
— Sacramento is 5-2-1 ATS if it played night before.
— Thunder are 8-0 ATS if they played the night before. 

Quote of the Day:
“Penny has lost two of his three best players for huge, huge, huge chunks of the season and they’re still gonna win 20 games. But it’s Memphis; people just see that they lost. Nobody actually reads between the lines, sees the mitigating factors.”
An opposing coach, talking about Memphis Tigers

Friday’s quiz
When was last time Duke won the ACC’s regular season basketball title?

Thursday’s quiz
ABA/NBA great Julius Erving played college basketball at UMass.

Wednesday’s quiz
The great comedian Bill Murray has a son who is an assistant basketball coach at Louisville. 

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

13) Most important part of the NFL Combine are the interviews teams do with prospective draft picks. The running and workouts and measurements have their value, but game tape means more than any workout ever will. Workouts can trick people into making draft mistakes.

That said, Arizona State punter Michael Turk beat all 33 WR’s and all the tight ends but one in weightlifting Thursday at the Combine. Very, very unusual.

12) USC 57, Arizona 48— Our Bill Walton non-basketball facts of the night:
— Thursday was the great writer John Steinbeck’s birthday.
— USC has more graduate students than non-graduate students.
— USC’s campus is 226 acres, smallest campus in the Pac-12.

11) Purdue 57, Indiana 49— This was an awful game to watch, tons of effort, no offense, but the most interesting thing here was Hoosiers coach Archie Miller having a VERY animated talk with assistant coach Bruiser Flint on the bench, during the game.

Rough night for the Miller family, with neither Arizona/Indiana scoring 50 points.

Indiana is only 8-9 in conference and they got swept by their rival here, but it is very unusual to see coaches jawing at each other during a game.

10) North Dakota State 71, South Dakota State 69 OT— These teams are now tied for first place in Summit League, clearly best teams in league; league tournament is at a neutral site, so not a huge deal, but sharing the regular season title means something.

9) Wichita State 72, Temple 69— Shockers ended game on a 14-4 run, giving coach Marshall a win on his 57th birthday; they’re 21-7 and a bubble team.

8) Wisconsin 81, Michigan 74— Badgers won five of seven games since starting G Kobe King quit the team; there is such a thing as addition by subtraction. Badgers scored 76.3 ppg in their last three games.

7) California 76, Colorado 62— Red flag for a veteran team like Colorado, getting squashed on the road by a scrappy but sub-par Cal squad.

6) Upsets:
— California (+9) 76, Colorado 62
— Towson (+7.5) 76, Hofstra 65
— Cleveland State (+7) 70, Milwaukee 68
— Wisconsin (+6.5) 81, Michigan 74
— SIU-Edwardsville (+5) 90, Tenn-Martin 75

Some notes on NBA teams playing back/back nights:
5) Best teams ATS when playing for 2nd night in a row:
Thunder 8-0, Bucks 7-1, Lakers/Wizards 6-1

4) Worst teams ATS when playing for 2nd night in a row:
Pistons 2-8, Hawks 2-7-1, Wolves 1-5-1, Knicks 1-5-2, Pacers 1-4-1

3) Milwaukee is 7-1 ATS if they played the night before, but they won all eight games; their only non-cover was a 137-129 (-14) win over Portland November 29.

2) New Orleans hasn’t had any back/backs since Zion Williamson started playing; am curious how they’ll handle that when they play next Tuesday/Wednesday.
1) League-wide, road dogs who played at home the night before are 27-21-2 ATS.

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) Maryland 74, Minnesota 73— Terps have won 10 of their last 11 games; they were down 16 at halftime in this game. Maryland outscored Minnesota 5-0 over final 0:31. Terps led this game for all of 0:24, but they were the right 0:24.

Richard Pitino has been Minnesota’s coach for seven years; they’re 125-106 under Pitino, but only 47-80 in conference games, 1-2 in NCAA tourney games.

If Minnesota/Pitino part ways, the Gophers have to hire Louisville assistant Luke Murray, just so his father, the great comedian Bill Murray, would finally have to root for the Gophers.

12) I think ESPN’s work has mostly gone downhill the last several years, but one thing that remains a quality product is when Scott Van Pelt does the late SportsCenter; his “Bad Beats” segment is an  one, especially if you enjoy handicapping.

Couple of years ago, I’m waiting for a friend to finish work at a sportsbook in Las Vegas; it is just before midnight on Christmas Eve, so there were maybe ten of us scattered about sitting there, watching the late SportsCenter, when Bad Beats came on.

When you’re sitting by yourself in a casino on Christmas Eve, it ain’t exactly the highlight of the social season, but the next few minutes were filled with laughter and a few groans as Van Pelt went over some agonizing wagering losses from the past few days. One guy starting yelling about the coach who cost him one big wager; his buddies laughed at him. Good stuff.

11) Arkansas 86, Tennessee 69— Razorbacks have Isaiah Joe back in lineup; they went 0-5 when he was out hurt. Joe scored 22 in this game, going 12-12 on foul line.

10) Penn State 65, Rutgers 64— Nittany Lions blew a 21-point lead, then won the game on a 3-pointer with 0:28 left. PSU was only 14-22 on foul line; Rutgers was 6-11. Scarlet Knights lost six of their last eight games, look like they’re headed to the NIT.

9) South Carolina 94, Georgia 90 OT— I once walked past Gamecocks’ coach Frank Martin at an AAU tournament in Florida; the guy looks like he has a set of NFL shoulder pads under his skin, he is that big. Very large, strong-looking person.

During games, Martin has a scowl that makes me straighten up in my chair sitting at home in my living room. I would not want Frank Martin to be mad at me. Ever.

South Carolina won this game, despite going 23-37 on foul line, which made Martin frown a few times; Gamecocks are 9-4 in their last 13 games- they can see the bubble from where they are, but they’re not quite there yet.

8) Much like the swallows returning to Capistrano each spring, Giancarlos Stanton is hurt again, and will likely miss Opening Day. He has a calf strain now. Oy.

Stanton is making $26M this year; he played in 18 games LY. He’s played in 130+ games four times in his 10-year major league career.

Does he train properly? Does he lift weights too much? One of the great abilities is availability, and Stanton is unavailable way too often.

7) Upsets:
— Binghamton (+9) 76, UMBC 74
— Hartford (+7.5) 65, Stony Brook 54
— UMass (+5.5) 60, VCU 52
— Lehigh (+5) 57, Boston U 55
— Duquesne (+4.5) 81, St Bonaventure 77 OT
— Furman (+4.5) 81, NC-Greensboro 67

6) Florida 81, LSU 66— Florida’s coach is Mike White, whose dad is the AD at Duke. White’s family moved around a lot when he was a kid, as his dad kept getting better jobs. They said on this broadcast that when he was a kid, Mike White lived in 14 different states!!!!

I’ve lived in four houses/apartments my whole life, all within 20 miles of each other.

5) UNLV 76, Boise State 66— Rebels are hot, winning last four games, including giving San Diego State its only loss of the season. You watch UNLV play; their players are moving well without the ball, creating easy baskets. A much improved team that is now in 4th place in the Mountain West.

By the way, they moved the Mountain West tournament up a week this year; it is next week, possibly to avoid competition with the Pac-12 tournament at T-Mobile Arena.

4) Furman 81, NC-Greensboro 67— Road team won both series games this year; these teams are likely to meet again, in SoCon semi-finals. SoCon is an underrated league that needs more TV time.

3) Cavaliers 108, 76ers 94— Joel Embiid (shoulder) left this game early; with Ben Simmons already out, going to be.a rough few weeks for the Sixers if Embiid’s injury is serious.
2) One sportsbook posted an over/under of 83.5 for Astros hitters getting drilled by pitches this season; in their first five spring training games, seven Houston batters were plunked.

Take the over.

1) Mets have a minor league OF named David Thompson who wears #44; am wondering if #44 has anything to do with the great college basketball player David Thompson, who wore #44 when NC State won the college hoop national title in 1974.

Thompson wore #33 as a pro in the ABA/NBA for the Denver Nuggets. 

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

13) Flash back to October 20, 1991—Rams lose a tough game 20-17 to the Raiders; I wasn’t happy about the loss, which dropped the Rams to 3-4 at the time.

I announce right then that I will not have another soda, piece of cake/pie or candy/chips until the Rams win again, which I assumed would be the next week. Wrong. 

Rams lost their last 11 games of the season, finished 3-13, and didn’t win another game until September 13, 1992. Not my finest moment.

12) You have to realize; when I worked for New York State, I’d usually be good for three 16-ounce Cokes a day, plus lot of Doritos or Fritos; I freakin’ loved Doritos, but for 11 long months, I didn’t have any. Drank a lot of water, ate lot of pastries. No bueno.

11) I remember on Thanksgiving 1991, I’m at a family dinner with my future ex-wife’s family, and one of her nieces, a 5 or 6-year old girl, walks in the room and hands me a piece of pumpkin pie on a plate. It looked really good, but I explained to her how the Rams hadn’t won yet so she had to bring the pie back to the kitchen. She gave me a strange look.

10) When the Rams finally won the next year, I was 26 pounds lighter than I was 11 months earlier. Learned my lesson; no more stupid statements when I’m ticked off.

9) King McClure is a TV analyst on ESPN; he is only 23 years old, having quit basketball at Baylor because he has the same heart condition that wound up killing Hank Gathers 30 years ago. McClure is a good analyst no matter what his age, but for age 23, he is really, really good.

8) New baseball rule:
— Disabled list is still 10 days for position players, but 15 days for pitchers.
— Same thing with the minor leagues; a position player has to stay in the minors for 10 days, and pitchers have to stay down for 15.

7) Upsets:
— Wake Forest (+10.5) 113, Duke 101, 2OT
— Northern Illinois (+3.5) 73, Eastern Michigan 71
— Oklahoma (+3) 65, Texas Tech 51

6) If the people who run college basketball really want more scoring, a simple way to do that would be to put the NBA’s continuation rule into play. Makes the game more exciting, creates more highlights, and there really isn’t a downside to it.

5) Bronx P Luis Severino needs Tommy John surgery, will miss all of 2020.

4) Wake Forest 113, Duke 101 2OT— Blue Devils led by 9 with 1:21 left, but blew the game, as Demon Deacons end an 11-game losing streak against Duke.

Wake Forest became first Division I team in 19 years to have all five starters score 15+ points and grab 5+ rebounds in the same game.

3) Steph Curry will be back on the court when Golden State plays Washington this Sunday; Curry has been out since October 30 with a hand injury.
2) New Jersey Giants are talking about trading down from the #4 slot in the NFL Draft; since 1967, they’ve traded down in the first round once, so not real likely.

1) ESPN suspended a radio host in Cleveland after the guy called Baker Mayfield a “bleeping midget” when he didn’t know his mike was live on the air.

Apparently “midget” is now an offensive term; not really sure which one got the guy some time off, dropping an f-bomb on the air or insulting a really short person, but he is suspended. 

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

13) Major League Baseball needs to promote its product better; they’ve become arrogant/entitled and don’t promote their great sport to younger people.

They also need to get rid of TV blackouts, so more people can see the game and learn to enjoy it.

12) Another thing baseball needs is a Hard Knocks-type program in spring training, where HBO would focus its cameras on one team every year during exhibition games, the way an NFL team does it every year. For the first year, I’d pick the Astros as that team, as part of their punishment for the whole sign-stealing thing.

11) Wisconsin Herd (G-League) head coach Chase Buford was suspended for two games after his epic rant about the officials Saturday night. After posting his quote in this space yesterday, I became curious who Buford was, where he came from.

I mean, his team is 28-9, as the best record in the league; why was he so mad?

10) Buford is 30, went to high school in the San Antonio area:
— He scored 9.2 ppg in his junior year of HS, as a 6-3 guard
— He didn’t play as a senior; he had mononucleosis. 

— Despite that shaky resume, he landed at Kansas as an invited walk-on, where he almost never played for three full seasons.


9) Turns out that Buford is the son of RC Buford, GM of the San Antonio Spurs, who was a Kansas assistant in the Larry Brown era. His mother played college golf at Kansas.

8) Young Buford has worked his way up the ranks in his pro coaching career:
— 2012-14— Regional scout, video intern for the Atlanta Hawks
— 2015-17— Coordinator of player development, Chicago Bulls
— 2017-18— Assistant coach, Erie BayHawks, G-League
— 2018-19— Assistant coach, Delaware Blue Coats, G-League

His dad got his foot in the door, but he is earning his stripes the right way.

7) Florida State 82, Louisville 67— Seminoles are 24-4, 14-3 in the ACC; they’ve got a legit chance at making the Final Four. Louisville lost three of its last five games after 21-5 start; they don’t play again until Sunday, which helps at this time of year.

6) Scott Cochran is joining Kirby Smart’s staff as Georgia Bulldogs’ new special teams coach; he had been the strength coach at Alabama since Nick Saban took over in Tuscaloosa in 2007.

Cochran was making $595,000 at Alabama; I’m assuming he makes more now, plus this will be his first job as an on-field coach. Alabama-Georgia meet on September 19.

5) ESPN televises cornhole tournaments, which isn’t compelling TV. I’d much rather watch guys play poker or bowl than play cornhole.

4) You watch NBA games and guys travel and lot of times it doesn’t get called, partly because they have a different, more liberal interpretation of what traveling is.

What is traveling everywhere else in the world isn’t always a travel in the NBA; I think it hurts their product, but no one asked what I think.

3) 76ers star Ben Simmons is out with lower back tightness, and is expected to miss an extended period of time.
2) Kansas 83, Oklahoma State 58— OSU is 4-11 in Big X, in 9th place in a tough 10-team league. Cowboys were 10-3 out of conference, beating Houston, Syracuse, Texas A&M, but they’re not good enough to beat the big guys in one of the country’s best leagues.

1) Orioles have 69 guys on their roster right now, Red Sox have 66. Part of the HBO series they should have would be showing the logistics of getting all these guys at-bats, innings on the mound, as teams pare their rosters down to 26 before Opening Day.

Sending guys down to the minors wouldn’t be as emotional as cutting guys the way NFL teams do, but it would still be good television.

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

13) Is this the weirdest rule in pro sports?

At every NHL game, an emergency goalie is available to either team, should both their goalies get hurt in that game. It is actually possible for the emergency guy to play for both teams in the same game.

Saturday, both of Carolina’s goalies left the game with injuries, so 42-year-old Dave Ayres came in as the emergency backup goaltender — and stopped 8 of 10 shots to get credit for the Hurricanes’ 6-3 win over the hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. Ayres was paid $500 for the game and was allowed to keep his game-worn jersey.

Ayres is a Zamboni driver and arena maintenance worker for the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. Now he is a celebrity with a great story to tell.

12) Chicago Cubs are starting their own TV network this season, the Marquee Sports Network, which signed on for the first time Saturday afternoon.

The Cubs owning their own TV channel has been a cornerstone of the Ricketts family’s plans to improve the Cubs’ revenue flow since they acquired the ballclub, Wrigley Field and associated properties in 2009.

11) Virginia Commonwealth lost its last four basketball games, is 17-10, 7-7 in A-14 and has slid off the NCAA bubble, for now. This is VCU’s first four-game losing streak in 20 years.

10) Arizona Diamondbacks must be thrilled about this; newly acquired pitcher Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeo events under the alias Mason Saunders and even won $26,560 in a team-roping competition in December.

What could possibly go wrong?

Bumgarner agreed to an $85M, five-year contract with the Diamondbacks in December; he injured his pitching shoulder in 2017 in a dirt bike accident and missed three months of San Francisco’s season. He hasn’t been quite the same since then.

9) An 84-year old lady at an Ole Miss basketball game made a 94-foot putt the length of the basketball court during a timeout in the Rebels’ basketball game, and won herself a new car in the process, as part of an auto dealer’s promotion in the arena.

Was cool how excited the other fans in the arena were for her.

8) One unexpected by-product of the longer 3-point arc in college basketball; decent amount of kids step out of bounds on the sideline as they try to stay behind the arc to catch a pass, or drive to the basket.

7) Upsets:
— Wagner (+6) 75, St Francis 71 OT
— Loyola Md (+4.5) 70, Lafayette 68
— Canisius (+3.5) 57, Manhattan 56

6) Best wishes to Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who had a knee replaced recently and won’t be at the NFL Combine this week.

5) I’ve said this before, but when you listen to really good announce teams, it is like you’re eavesdropping on two friends having a conversation.

In the case of ESPN’s NBA broadcasts with Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, that would be three friends having a conversation. The three pf them are great together.

4) Colorado Buffaloes hired Karl Dorrell as their new football coach; The 56-year old Dorrell was an assistant for the Buffs for six years back in the 90’s, under Bill McCartney, Rick Neuheisel.

3) XFL teams have both white/dark jerseys, unlike the AAF last year, where teams had only one color, which made the league seem like a cheapskate league, which it was.

The point-after conversion options continue to be fascinating; no one knows what the right thing to do is. I’m thinking that going for three points from the 10-yard line is the right play, unless you have a QB who is a good runner, then I might prefer the 2-point option from the 5-yard line.
2) XFL trend; Over is 3-0 in Houston games, 1-8 in all the other games.

1) Was listening on TV the other night and Wally Szczerbiak was talking about when he played in the NBA All-Star Game; he mentioned how guys on the winning team make more money than guys on the losing team.

Turns out that guys on the winning team make $100,000 each; guys on losing side make $25,000 each. I did not know that.

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a basketball Saturday…….

It was an eventful day of college basketball, to be sure……
13) UNLV 66, San Diego State 63— These teams played twice; Aztecs won by 4, then lost by 3, which given UNLV’s 15-14 overall record, is very surprising.

My question is this; does losing a game get a monkey off of San Diego State’s back? They were the last unbeaten team in the country, now the national media will forget about them for a few weeks, until the brackets come out. Over the long haul, maybe that helps them.

12) Kansas 64, Baylor 61— Jayhawks avenge an earlier loss to Baylor; they’ve won 12 games in a row, are tied with Bears atop Big X standings. Both of these teams will probably be #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. Baylor was only 8-15 on foul line in this game which obviously hurt.

11) Oregon 73, Arizona 72, OT— Peyton Pritchard played all 45:00, scored 38 points, making 6-14 on arc. Ducks are one of three teams that are half-game behind Arizona State atop the Pac-12 standings.

Arizona missed two foul shots with 0:02 left in regulation, two more with 0:01 left in OT; you go 10-23 on the foul line in a one-point loss, thats not good. 

10) BYU 91, Gonzaga 78— Cougars made 11-25 on arc, Gonzaga 5-25. Corey Kispert has made 43.3% of his 3’s for Gonzaga this season, but was only 1-10 in this game.

9) Memphis 60, Houston 59— Tigers were 21-30 on foul line, Houston 9-12, in game that Cougars led 8-0 out of the gate. Memphis is least-experienced team in country; they’ve won four of last five home games- their last five games were all decided by 5 or fewer points, or in OT.

8) Hofstra 78, Delaware 62— Hofstra leads CAA by two games, but in 19 years in the CAA, they’ve never won the conference tournament. Pride is experience team #7 whose bench plays the fewest minutes in America, which could be a problem when playing consecutive days in the tournament.

Jay Wright had the Pride in the NCAA’s his last two years at Hofstra, but they were in America East back then, a much lesser conference.

7) Upsets:
— Md-Baltimore County (+16) 66, Vermont 64
— Hampton (+16) 87, Winthrop 81
— UNLV (+15.5) 66, San Diego State 63
— Wyoming (+8) 78, Air Force 72
— Tulane (+7.5) 75, Central Florida 74
— Charlotte (+6.5) 72, Western Kentucky 70
— New Orleans (+6.5) 82, McNeese State 77
— NC-Wilmington (+6) 68, Charleston 55
— Mercer (+6) 85, Chattanooga 80

6) Auburn 73, Tennessee 66— Tigers avoid a 3-game losing streak by rallying back from a 54-37 deficit with 13:27 left to play. Tennessee turned ball over 24 times (-11).

5) Eastern Illinois 83, Austin Peay 80, OT— Quite a week for the Panthers, who upset Murray State in last game after trailing by 27 in second half. EIU trailed this game by 13 with 11:11 left in game, but rallied for their second consecutive dramatic win- their last four games were decided by a total of nine points.

4) Montana 59, Montana State 54— Grizzlies lead Big Sky by a game at 13-3; not sure what it says about a league when the first place team was 4-7 out of conference, but Grizzlies have now won six games in a row, are peaking at right time.

3) Wright State 81, Cleveland State 74, OT— Wright coach Scott Nagy got his 500th career win; Raiders blew a 10-point lead with 9:52 left, but escaped Cleveland with an OT win.
2) Texas State 86, Georgia State 76— Bobcats won four in row, 11 of last 13 games, have risen to 2nd place in Sun Belt, two games behind Little Rock.

Last time Texas State made NCAA Tournament was 1997, when their coach was Mike Miller, who is now coaching the New York Knicks.

1) Saturday was February 22nd, the birthday of two of my favorite people.

My Aunt Jo was also my godmother; she had a great laugh, was extremely nice and always had a piece of pie ready when I visited her house. Probably a good thing she lived in Brooklyn; if she lived closer to here, I’d weigh 300 pounds.

I’ve written about my dad here before; he passed away in 2015, and I miss him every day. His middle name was George, sharing a birthday with George Washington. He loved golf, baseball and going to the racetrack. Am hoping Aunt Jo and my dad had a drink together today and had some fun, assuming they have drinks in heaven. 

Saturday’s Den: Trends that could help you fill out your brackets…….

13) Over last decade, 40 teams made the Final Four; 19 of those won their conference tournament that year. Four of the 19 teams had to win more than three games to win the conference tourney:
2011— UConn 5-0
2012— Louisville 4-0
2018— Michigan 4-0
2019— Auburn 4-0

12) Only four of the 40 teams lost their first conference tourney game:
2010— Michigan State
2016— Syracuse
2017— South Carolina
2019— Texas Tech

7 of 40 teams went W-L in their conference tournament.

11) Seven of last ten years, a #1 seed won the NCAA Tournament.
— In 2016, Villanova won the title as a 2-seed.
— UConn won as a 3-seed in 2011, as a 7-seed three years later.

10) The last seven years, eight teams ranked lower than a 4-seed reached the Final Four; in 2014, UConn was a 7-seed, Kentucky an 8-seed.

9) Last team to win the national title after going unbeaten in conference play? Kentucky in 2012, one of four teams over last decade to make Final Four after going unbeaten in conference games.

8) Last eight years, 27 of 32 Final Four teams were ranked in KenPom’s top 20 before the NCAA Tournament started. 2014 UConn was only one of the five to win the national semifinal; they also won the national title- they were #23.

In 2011, the Final Four had seeds 3-4-8-11, only time in last decade there wasn’t a #1 or #2 seed in Final Four.

7) Only nine of 40 Final Four teams were in top 100 in experience; 12 of 40 teams were outside top 200. Talent outweighs experience.

6) Looking at continuity instead of experience, only 12 of 40 teams ranked in top 100; 14 of 40 teams ranked outside top 200.

5) 14 of 40 Final Four teams ranked in top 100 in forcing turnovers; another 14 ranked outside the top 200.

4) eFG% defense seems like an important category; 33 of last 40 Final Four teams were in top 100 in eFG% defense. 21 of those 33 teams were in the top 50.

3) NCAA Tournament has longer TV commercials, which means that depth isn’t as important; only four of last 40 Final Four teams had benches in top 100 of minutes played. 26 of 40 teams had teams that ranked outside top 200.

They don’t call as many fouls in the NCAA tournament.
2) Some in-tournament trends about the eventual national champ:
— Last 14 years, national champ was 12-2 ATS in first round
— Last 18 years, national champ was 16-2 ATS in second round.
— Last 12 years, national champ was 10-2 ATS in regional semis.

1) Of the last 20 defending national champs, 2007 Florida Gators were only team to return to Sweet 16; Florida won consecutive national titles.

Since 2004, the defending national champ is 2-8-1 ATS in its first round game, 3-7 in its second round game, 0-5 ATS in regional semifinals. 

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

13) Eastern Illinois 63, Murray State 60— Racers led this game 50-23 with 11:45 left to play, and lost; they led by 24 with 8:33 left. Panthers outscored Murray 35-10 over last 10:00 of game, as Racers lose for third time in last five games, and slip into a tie for 2nd in OVC with Belmont.

12) Gonzaga 71, San Francisco 54— USF was up 31-22 at half; first time they met, Gonzaga was down 43-35 at halftime, but won 83-79. Gonzaga was 25-32 on foul line in first meeting, only 4-5 on arc. Last night, they were 5-13 on arc, 8-15 on foul line.

San Francisco might be the best 17-11 team in the country; whoever draws Gonzaga in the NCAA’s is going to watch film of these two games, for sure.

11) Four games in the WCC Thursday, favorites won all four, but none of them covered.

10) Arizona State 77, Oregon 72— Bill Walton’s random fact of the night: Tempe, AZ is the #1 drop-off destination in the country for U-Haul vehicles.

Frank Caliendo joined the broadcast for part of the first half; his impersonation of Walton is spot-on. Having two guys on a broadcast who talk like Walton was a bit much.

9) Temple 93, UConn 89 2OT— Owls were 27-35 on foul line, UConn 18-20, in game where the Huskies led by 12 early on. Temple won three of its last four games, with all three wins by 4 or less points, or in OT.

8) 3-pointers became a permanent thing in college basketball in the fall of 1986; since then, only two teams (UNLV, Princeton) have made a 3-pointer in all their games.

Vanderbilt was also on this list, until they went 0-25 on arc against Tennessee January 18.

7) Indiana State 67, Northern Iowa 64— Minor upset in MVC, but Panthers lose in Terre Haute for fifth year in a row, so not as big an upset as the standings would suggest.

6) Hawai’i 56, Cal-Riverside 55— Rainbows blew a 17-point lead, but won and snapped their 4-game losing skid in what was an oddly entertaining game. Not often Riverside gets national TV exposure; both teams played their hearts out, but neither team is very good.

5) Stanford 72, Washington 64— This is how fragile teams are in today’s college basketball, even really good teams. On January 5, Washington pounded USC 72-40; they were 11-4, ranked #50 in country by KenPom. Then point guard Quade Green flunked out of school.

Since then, losing one player, Washington is 1-11, and has dropped into last place in Pac-12. Huskies would be a lock for the NCAA’s if they had better tutors (kidding, kind of).

4) Upsets:
— Denver (+6.5) 100, Oral Roberts 96 OT
— Wm & Mary (+6) 61, Towson State 51
— Youngstown State (+6) 88, Wright State 70
— UMBC (+5) 69, Albany 50
— Eastern Illinois (+4.5) 63, Murray State 60

3) Surprising stat of the day: Patrick Mahomes played for three years at Texas Tech; they went 16-21 in those three seasons.
2) 76ers 112, Nets 104 OT— If you had Brooklyn +6.5, this was a bitter defeat; Nets led by 20 at one point. Ben Simmons didn’t play; Embiid scored 39, grabbed 16 rebounds.

1) All winter long, I’ve read about the Cubs trading Kris Bryant; all of a sudden, Bryant is going to be their new leadoff hitter. Go figure.

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

13) NC State 88, Duke 66:
— Sunday, Wolfpack lost to a sub-par Boston College team
— This game, they ran the Blue Devils off the floor.
— Saturday, they host Florida State, another top 25 team.

To win the national title, you have to win six games in a row; not sure how many teams there are in this year of incredibly erratic play that can play well six games in a row.

12) Seton Hall 74, Butler 72— Pirates scored on a lob pass on an out-of-bounds under play with 0:00.6 left to win this game, after they blew a 5-point lead with 0:35 left. Butler lost for fourth time in last six games, despite shooting 58.8% inside arc.

11) Sounds like the NFL is expanding the playoffs to 14 teams next year, so the #1 seeds in each conference will be the only teams to get a first-round bye.

10) Mississippi State 79, South Carolina 76— Bulldogs won eight of last 11 games, are 8-5 in SEC as they try to get off the NCAA bubble.

Miss State coach Ben Howland got UCLA to the Final Four three years in a row, from 2006-08, never won the national title, and wound up getting fired after a 25-10, 13-5 season in 2013. He’s a really good coach; Starkville ain’t the easiest place to win. Would be impressive if Miss State makes it to the NCAAs this year, with experience team #287.

9) East Tennessee State 75, Furman 66— Buccaneers improve to 12-3 in SoCon, lead Furman and NC-Greensboro by game. In five years under Steve Forbes, ETSU is 124-47, 68-19 in conference games. How the hell has some big $$$$ team not hired this guy?

8) Stephen F Austin could be a very nervous team on Selection Sunday, unless they win the Southland Conference tournament. Lumberjacks are 23-3, have run away with the regular season title in Southland, and they won 85-83 in OT at Duke Nov 26. Big win.

But SF Austin is ranked #110 on KenPom, nowhere near the bubble; they lost by 12 at Rutgers, by 10 at Alabama, two losses that look better now than they did then- they also lost a league game in Corpus Christi, a bad loss.

If the Lumberjacks were to get upset in the Southland tourney, I’d still much rather see them in the NCAAs than the 10th or 11th place team in the Big 14. Don’t think it’ll happen, though.

7) Upsets:
— Central Florida (+11) 89, Cincinnati 87, 2OT
— Texas A&M (+10.5) 74, Alabama 68
— George Washington (+10) 70, Duquesne 67
— Lamar (+8.5) 77, Sam Houston State 65
— Tulane (+8) 80, SMU 72
— VMI (+8) 74, Western Carolina 71
— NC State (+7.5) 88, Duke 66
— Indiana (+6.5) 68, Minnesota 56
— Incarnate Word (+6.5) 65, McNeese State 59

6) Michigan 60, Rutgers 52— Scarlet Knights are much improved at 18-9, 9-7 in conference, but they look like they practice without a basketball. Rutgers is shooting 29.8% on arc (#318), 65.2% on arc (#320). No bueno. 

5) Miami 102, Virginia Tech 95, 3OT— Kameron McGusty scored 21 points in 44:00 for Miami, and he didn’t start. Teams combined to make 53 of 60 foul shots. Hurricanes led by 12 early in second half, needed 3 OT’s to break their 6-game road losing streak.

Tech led by 7 with 4:35 left, but lost for sixth time in last seven games.

4) Someone posted a video on Twitter Wednesday; Bogdan Bogdanovic of Sacramento Kings, making 90 foul shots in a row at practice- they actually just showed him missing the 91st foul shot, but you get the idea. The skill level of NBA players is underrated, how hard they work to become as good as they are.

3) Drake 77, Valparaiso 75 OT— Bulldogs were up 18 at the half, survive in OT and improve to 18-10, 8-7 in Missouri Valley. Drake is on its fifth head coach in eight years; they’re 20-13 in MVC in two years under Darian DeVries.
2) ESPN runs a promo for SportsCenter during the NC State-Duke game, what is their big promo? Lebron James? Astros? Drew Brees? The Wilder fight this weekend?

Nope, they hype an interview with Zion Williamson, who would be on the network less if his mother ran ESPN. Enough already with the kid, at least for a while.

1) They called a flagrant foul on a Duke player early in the 2nd half last night; players were under the basket, jockeying for position, nothing major, but the NC State kid got slapped in the face, and they called it a flagrant foul. Rule makers are making basketball a much softer game, and I don’t think it helps the game— too many whistles, too many replay reviews. 

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

13) Baylor 65, Oklahoma 54— Bears have won 23 games in a row, longest win streak in history of the Big X; Baylor played without starting G MaCio Teague; they’ve now held onto the #1 spot in country longer than anyone since Kentucky five years ago.

12) Creighton 73, Marquette 65— Bluejays sweep Marquette, have won eight of their last nine games. Creighton is shooting 37.9% on the arc (#17).

11) John Beilein is expected to leave the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers today, after less than a year on the job; if he wants to return to college coaching, that will make some coaches who are having bad years queasy. Beilein is a very good coach whose experiment with the NBA was a failure, but colleges will line up to hire him. NBA is obviously way more of a players’ league.

10) William Hill sportsbooks have posted 83.5 as the over/under for number of times Houston Astro batters will get drilled by pitches this season.

Astro batters were hit 66 times LY; only nine times in last five years has a team been hit by more than 83 pitches in a season.

9) St Joe’s 73, Davidson 72— Wildcats led by 19 at half, lose to a St Joe’s team that was 0-12 in conference coming in. Davidson had won six of their last eight games before this.

8) Someone at The Mirage in Las Vegas wagered $500 on San Diego State to win the national title when the Aztecs were 500-1, so they’re sitting on a quarter million bucks if that happens.

7) Upsets:
— St Joe’s (+11.5) 73, Davidson 72
— St Francis (+7.5) 87, LIU 77
— Illinois (+6.5) 62, Penn State 56
— Central Connecticut (+5.5) 76, FDU 75

6) Drew Brees announced he is coming back to the Saints next year, which means backup Teddy Bridgewater will be moving along to another team, a team that will be lucky to have him. 

5) UNLV 80, Colorado State 56— This was best game the Rebels have played in several years; they just hammered a Colorado State team that beat UNLV 95-77 in Fort Collins 17 days ago.

4) When Virginia coach Tony Bennett worked at Washington State, his Coogs went 32-22 in Pac-12 games. Pullman is a tough place to recruit to. 32-22 is a very good record.

Since Bennett left the Coogs for Virginia, Wazzu is 56-137 in conference games.

3) Last five years, Gonzaga is 69-3 in conference games!!!! 69 and freakin’ 3!!!!!
2) Pretty cool that former NBA star Marques Johnson, posted a video on Twitter Monday of him dunking a basketball in his driveway. Johnson is 64, so thats cool.

I’m 60; only dunking I’ve ever been able to do involves a donut and some hot chocolate.

1) There will be actual baseball games Saturday so we’ll have something to talk about other than the BS of the last couple months. They’re only exhibition games, but thats good enough for now. 

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

13) Random idea to raise money for charity in the summer:
— A 64 player 1-on-1 tournament.
— Two players from each NBA team, with four Wild Card additions.
— When they show the brackets, it would be highly-anticipated TV.
— Each player picks a charity of his choice and earns $$$ for that charity.
— Games are to 20, have to win by 3 points (shots outside arc are 2 points).

Would be difficult to get all the star players on board, but it would be great fun.

12) XFL observations:
— Home teams won six of the first eight games.
— Home favorites are 3-2 ATS, home underdogs 1-2
— Six of eight games stayed under the total.

11) Much like the AAF last year, quarterback play in this spring league is sub-par; thinking back to the USFL in the 80’s, they had Jim Kelly, Doug Flutie, Doug Williams, Steve Young, Bobby Hebert, Brian Sipe, John Reaves— NFL quarterbacks, which is part of what made it so good.

The XFL has been fun to watch so far, but it ain’t the NFL, which is fine.

10) Most interesting part of the XFL so far is the extra point; you cannot kick a PAT, you have three options:
— A one-point conversion from 2-yard line (6-22)
— A two-point conversion from 5-yard line (3-14)
— A three-point conversions from 10-years line (1-2)

So a 9-point game is still a one-possession game; there is no set-in-stone strategy on what is the smart thing to do. Coaches are learning on the fly, which is interesting to observe.

9) XFL teams are running an average of 61.4 plays per game; New York ran only 45-47 plays in their first two games, St Louis ran 71-83 plays in its two games.

8) Defenses are usually ahead of offenses early in any season; we’ll see if the scoring goes up as the season moves along.

7) Xavier 77, St John’s 74— Fast-paced, fun game to watch; Musketeers get their 11th straight win over St John’s. Xavier improves to 17-9, 6-7 in Big East play.

6) In his Hall of Fame career, Tony Gwynn his .302 in at-bats after he had two strikes on him. From 1974-2019, the next best average in that situation? Wade Boggs, at .262. 

Some college basketball notes…….
5) Pac-12: Four teams are tied for first in loss column, with four losses. USC/UCLA are both 8-5, a game out of first place. Arizona-Colorado-Oregon look like locks for the tournament; rest of the league is beating each other up.

4) Big 14: If you had a Maryland/Penn State exacta to win the league, you’re looking good right now. Rutgers is trying for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1991; they could use a road win or two to strengthen their case.

3) Selection Sunday figures to be more dramatic than usual; the bubble is overcrowded, Lots of mediocre/pretty good teams. 15-20 teams can legitimately win the national title, but most of those teams could also lose their first round games. It is that wide open.
2) I’ve said this before, but no conference should get more than eight teams into the NCAA Tournament; if you finish 9th in a league, you don’t deserve to play for the national title, no matter how good your league is.

1) Notre Dame 77, North Carolina 76— Tar Heels are having the season from hell; they had a 15-point lead with 8:39 left in this game, but lost on a 3-pointer with 0:01.6 left. UNC is 3-12 in ACC games, they’re in last place- six of their last seven losses were by 6 or fewer points. 

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

13) Four years ago, James Madison fired basketball coach Matt Brady after consecutive seasons of 19-14/21-11, when they went 23-13 in conference games. Brady coached the Dukes for eight years, making the NCAA Tournament once. Apparently, that wasn’t enough.

In four years since, JMU is 43-80 overall, 21-47 in conference play. Maybe they should bring Brady back as coach.

12) It has been 20 years since a Big 14 team won the college basketball national title; Michigan State in 2000 was the least team to do that.

11) If you’re a college basketball coach and you have several sons of former NBA players on your team, I’d say thats a pretty good endorsement for your program.

This year, Cal-Irvine has Collin Welp, Jeron Artest; last year, they had Spencer Rivers, Max Hazzard, JC Butler. Russell Turner is a former NBA assistant coach who has built the Anteaters into the best program in the Big West, 95-30 in conference games the last eight years.

10) New Red Sox acquisition Alex Verdugo is still rehabilitating from a stress fracture in his lower back, an injury that sidelined him for the lasttwo months of 2019 and the playoffs. He will likely start 2020 on the injured list.

I’m guessing Red Sox fans aren’t overly excited by this news; Boston’s front office did know about the injury before they made the big trade.

9) Season flies by; on Saturday Elon was the first D-I team this season to have their Senior Day. Conference tournaments will be starting in a couple of weeks.

8) Texas Tech has a basketball player named Jahmi’us Ramsey who is making 45.5% of his 3-point shots, but only 62.5% of his foul shots. How is it possible that a kid can be so prolific on the arc, but so erratic on the charity stripe?

7) Upsets:
— Ill-Chicago (+9) 73, Northern Kentucky 43
— Iowa (+5) 58, Minnesota 55
— Loyola Md (+5) 84, Colgate 80
— Boston College (+4.5) 71, NC State 68
— Niagara (+3.5) 77, Monmouth 72
— Missouri State (+3.5) 71, Indiana State 58

6) Shaquille O’Neal’s son Shareef is transferring from UCLA to LSU; not sure why it didn’t work out for him at UCLA, but LSU is Shaq’s alma mater, and I’m guessing he’s a big donor to the school, so what happens if the young man doesn’t play well at LSU? Could be very awkward.

5) On March 13, a new basketball league starts in Africa, with 12 teams representing six countries on that continent. NBA is sponsoring the league, as they work towards growing the game world-wide.

4) NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have a good TV commercial on their local TV channel; fathers of players reading mean tweets from “fans” while the son sits there and listens. Solid stuff.

3) Won’t be posting any prop bets on home runs this season; will the baseballs be juiced like they were last year? Will they be normal again? Important information to have for prop bets.
2) They moved the bullpens off the field in San Francisco to behind the fence in right-conter field, so the dimensions there are a little shorter this year. Miami also moved its fences in a little bit this season. If the Marlins wanted more home runs, maybe they should’ve kept Stanton, Ozuna and Yelich. Just a thought.

1) UConn 64, Memphis 61— Tigers are least-experienced team in country; they’ve lost three games in a row, are 17-8, 6-6 in AAC, and are quickly falling off the bubble, despite having the best eFG% defense in country. 

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

13) 12 of college hoop’s top 25 teams played on road Saturday; eight of them lost.

12) Maryland 67, Michigan State 60:
— Terps outscored MSU 14-0 over final 3:24 of game.
— Maryland led by 15 in first half.
— Spartans lost four of their last five games.

11) Cal-Fullerton 105, Cal Poly 101, 4OT:
— First time they met, Cal Poly won 101-100 in OT.
— Fullerton was 37-53 on foul line, Cal Poly 29-36
— Titans made 10-19 on arc, still needed 4 OT’s to win.

10) Kentucky 67, Ole Miss 62— Rebels led by 7 with 9:58 left, but had their 3-game win streak snapped, as Wildcats won despite going 2-22 on arc. Kermit Davis is a very good coach; Ole Miss was 1-7 in SEC at one point, but Davis has made the #251 experience team a much better team.

9) Mississippi State 78, Arkansas 77— Bulldogs blew a 17-point lead, then put a rebound back in for game-winning hoop with less than a second to play. Miss State is an old school team; they took 44 2-point shots, were only 3-7 on the arc. Only senior who played for State was Tyson Carter- he gave them 26 points off the bench.

8) Florida State 80, Syracuse 77— Seminoles bounced back from Duke loss, winning game they trailed by 11 in with 12:11 left. Syracuse played six guys basically; a 7th guy played only 7:00. None of the seven guys are seniors; only Hofstra’s subs play less than Syracuse subs.

7) Upsets:
— Georgetown (+11) 73, Butler 66
— Incarnate Word (+10) 67, New Orleans 66
— LMU (+7.5) 65, Santa Clara 59
— George Washington (+7) 73, George Mason 67
— Maryland (+7) 67, Michigan State 60
— Bowling Green (+7) 77, Ball State 71
— Md-Eastern Shore (+6.5) 66, Bethune-Cookman 58
— Clemson (+6) 77, Louisville 62
— Western Carolina (+6) 80, Wofford 74

6) Colorado State 77, Wyoming 70— Rams outscored their rivals 14-0 over final 2:26 to get out of Laramie with win, after they trailed by 19 with 14:06 left. State was 26-40 on foul line; not often a road team takes 40 foul shots in a game.

5) Loyola 82, Northern Iowa 73 OT— Loyola butchered end of regulation, not fouling when they led by 3 and still had fouls to give in last 0:05— UNI hit a 3-pointer to tie game, but Ramblers had a strong overtime and closed to within one game of the Panthers atop the MVC standings.

4) Virginia 64, North Carolina 62— Virginia tore the Tar Heels’ heart out of their chest, making a 3-pointer with 0:00.6 left in game. Carolina lost its last five games, is 3-11 in the ACC.

3)  Richmond 77, VCU 59— Spiders avenge an earlier loss to their crosstown rival; they’ve won four games in row, are up to 19-6 this season, 9-3 in A-14.
2) Florida 84, Vanderbilt 66— They named the court in Gainesville after Billy Donovan last night; think about it- since 2001, the ’07 Gators are the only defending national champ to get to the Elite 8. They won consecutive national titles, very difficult in this era of college ball, where kids bolt to pro basketball as soon as they make two layups in a row.

1) Providence 74, Seton Hall 71— Friars led this game 34-9….34-9!!!! Lot of people are picking Seton Hall to get to the Final Four, but they’ve lost three of last five games. NCAA Tournament is going to be very difficult to predict. Lot of wildly erratic teams out there. 

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

13) Most teams from one conference in one NCAA tournament?

2011 Big East had 11 teams in the tournament; the teams went 7-4 in first round, 2-5 in second round; Marquette lost in the Sweet 16, UConn won the national title, after going 9-9 in the Big East regular season.

2012 Big East and 2018 ACC had 10 teams each; sounds like this year’s Big 14 is going to challenge that record of 11.

12) Cleveland Indians’ P Mike Clevinger had meniscus surgery on his knee, is out 6-8 weeks, so he’ll probably miss Opening Day.

11) Indians also signed OF Domingo Santana, who had an OPS of .850 in the first half of the season, but only .468 in the second half, while playing for the Mariners last year.

10) Funny how Vanderbilt sucks at football/basketball, but they probably have the best baseball program in the country. Makes no sense.

College baseball is a little different; in a 1-1 game vs Michigan Friday night. Vandy executed a squeeze play on an 0-2 count. That would never happen in the major leagues.

9) NHL’s LA Kings, Colorado Avalanche are playing an outdoor game at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs today. NHL struck gold with these outdoor games; no way did they know how popular they would become.

8) Siena 73, Rider 64— Rider’s senior G Stevie Jordan wears #23; any similarity between him and the other Jordan who wore #23 is purely coincidental.

Siena is 11-0 at home, 1-10 on the road; conference tournament moves to Atlantic City this year, after usually being in Albany, good news for the rest of the MAAC.

7) Manhattan signed basketball coach Steve Masiello to a 3-year contract extension; Jaspers are 11-11 this year, as they try to avoid their fifth losing season in a row. Manhattan is 35-51 in MAAC games the last five years, after going 28-12 from 2013-15. 

6) CB Josh Norman is getting released by the Redskins, who recently hired Ron Rivera as their head coach. Norman played four years in Carolina under Rivera; not a good sign that they dump him as soon as Rivera is on board. Why should another team want Norman if Rivera doesn’t?

5) University of Washington’s softball team has a left-handed catcher; you don’t see those every day. Last lefty catcher in the major leagues was Mike Squires of the White Sox in 1980, who was a first baseman most of the time.

4) A Northern Iowa student had his prize money reduced from $10,000 to $2,000 after some unclear rules determined that the half-court shot he made went in after time on the clock had expired. Watching the replay, there was no running clock visible, so it was a little cheesy when they wouldn’t pay the kid his $10K. He made his only try from halfcourt.

3) Eight NHL coaches have already been fired this season; seems like a lot.
2) Dartmouth 65, Columbia 63— Lions led 61-53 with 7:53 left, then scored two points the rest of the game and lost, their sixth defeat in a row.

1) Yale 88, Princeton 64— Bulldogs take over first place in Ivy League at 6-1; top four teams make Ivy tournament.