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

Our daily college basketball preview is on the Hoops page
College football bowl previews have been posted

The Bunker is a golf simulator with two locations; one on Route 20 near Western Turnpike in Guilderland, the other in Clifton Park, 19 Clifton Country Rd. You can work on your golf game there, or hang out with friends and make fun of them while they work on their games.

Monday’s 6-pack:
Some of the teams forcing the most turnovers this season:
26.3% of possessions— Texas
26.2%—VCU
26.2%— Iowa State
25.9%— LSU
25.4%— Texas A&M
25.3%— Tennessee

Quote of the Day
“You can shear a sheep many times but you can only skin him once.”
Amarillo Slim

Monday’s quiz
Who was the Steelers’ QB before Ben Roethlisberger?

Sunday’s quiz
Before Saturday, Cincinnati’s last playoff win was in 1990; Boomer Esiason played QB for the Bengals that day.
(Really obscure trivia: Cody Carlson played QB for Houston that day)

Saturday’s quiz
Michigan Wolverines were in the Final Four four years ago; John Beilein was their coach. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Sunday……..

13) Buccaneers 31, Eagles 15:
— Tampa Bay led 31-0 after three quarters.
— Eagles in first three quarters: 45 plays, 154 yards, no points.
— Brady is 35-11 in playoff games. 

12) 49ers 23, Cowboys 17:
— San Francisco led 23-7 after three quarters.
— Dallas had ball in 49ers’ territory when time ran out.
— Cowboys had 14 penalties for 89 yards. 

11) Chiefs 42, Steelers 21:
— Game was scoreless after the first quarter.
— Steelers took 7-0 lead with a defensive score. 
— Kansas City then scored a TD on its next six drives. 

10) Spreads for next week’s playoff games:
— Bengals @ Tennessee (-3.5)
— 49ers @ Green Bay (-5.5)
— Bills @ Kansas City (-2.5)

9) Dak Prescott holds an NFL record, throwing for 974 yards in consecutive games LY (Weeks 3-4). Problem is, he got hurt in Week 5 and was lost for the rest of the season.

Dallas won the NFC East this year, Prescott had a good season, but now he is 1-3 in playoff games, and there are rumblings that coach McCarthy’s job is on thin ice.

Prescott threw for 254 yards Sunday, was sacked five times; Dallas had 14 penalties. Whose fault is that? It is debatable, but Jerry Jones may not want to lose OC Kellen Moore, and may promote him to head coach at a fairly young age. That would make McCarthy the fall guy for Sunday’s loss. 

8) Las Vegas Raiders made the playoffs this year, despite a minus-9 turnover ratio, and with a defense that gave up 35 touchdowns on 43 red zone drives. Tons of distractions, on and off the field, but the interim coach kept the group together- they won six games on last play of the game, an NFL record. 

Doesn’t Rich Bisaccia deserve a shot at the fulltime head coaching job? 

7) I’m guessing the fine folks at NBC were grumbling about the lousy Sunday night game; had the Chargers won/tied last week, they would’ve knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs, and the Sunday night game this week might’ve been more competitive. 

6) Cincinnati 61, Wichita State 57— Shockers are off to a disappointing 0-4 start in AAC.

5) St John’s 88, Georgetown 69— This is Patrick Ewing’s fifth year coaching the Hoyas; his record in Big East conference games? 26-47.

At what point does Ewing go on the hot seat? He’s the school’s most prominent basketball alumnus, but 26-47 is 26-47.

4) Iona 78, Niagara 55— I hear this Pitino guy is a pretty good coach; Gaels are 6-0 in the MAAC- they’re 26-9 in 1.5 years under the Hall of Fame coach.

3) Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant sprained his knee, is out 4-6 weeks.

2) If you like high school basketball, ESPNU has four consecutive games on Monday, starting at 11am. Teams from all over the country facing off.

1) If you coach/teach basketball to kids, do this demonstration; show them that a basketball hoop is exactly two basketballs wide. This surprises most everyone; with the rim ten feet high, it doesn’t look that big, but you can place two basketballs in a hoop— sometimes that makes a shooter more confident. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Bengals 26, Raiders 19:
— Raiders were in Cincinnati territory six times, scored only 19 points.
— Last time Bengals won a playoff game (1990), only four current Bengals were alive.
— Bengals are at Tennessee next week. 

12) Bills 47, New England 17:
— Buffalo scored a TD on their first seven drives.
— Bills averaged 8.9 yards per play, converted 6-7 on third down.
— Buffalo goes to Kansas City next week.

11) Joe Burrow sat on Ohio State’s bench before he transferred to LSU, where he led the Bayou Bengals to a national title. We should’ve realized back then that Urban Meyer wouldn’t be much of an NFL coach, with Burrow sitting behind JT Barrett and Dwayne Haskins. 

10) Friday night, I’m watching the Iona-Manhattan game, with Rick Pitino coaching the Gaels, then little later on, the movie Blue Chips comes on, one of my favorite all-time movies.

Nick Nolte coaches fictional Western U; their first game in the movie, which was made in 1994, is against fictional Texas Western, coached by Rick Pitino.

28 years later and he’s still one of the best coaches in the game. 

9) My all-time favorite movie scene in early on, with Nolte talking to his athletic director (Bob Cousy), while the Hall of Famer shoots free throws in shirt-and-tie. Cousy goes 10-for-10, and people who were there say the scene was filmed in one take. Cousy made the last foul shot with his left hand. 

8) Someone on Twitter posted an old NFL Today clip, with Brent Musburger talking about a Lions-Patriots game in 1979; sitting in for Jimmy the Greek that day was Pete Rose.

I’m not making this up; Rose was handicapping NFL games on TV, seven years before he retired as one of the best baseball players ever, before his gambling exploits became a huge deal. 

7) Eagles visit Tampa Bay Sunday; Philly is 0-6 this season against playoff teams.

6) Another trend that makes me queasy; Arizona is 6-0 SU this season as an underdog.

Another trend that makes me queasy; Arizona is 6-0 SU this season as an underdog.

6) Baylor/USC were the last two unbeaten teams in the country, but they both went 0-2 this week.

Something to set aside for March; Oregon swept the LA schools this weekend, which very seldom happens, and that will give them a big bump in the seeding, but there were no fans at either game. To me, that diminishes the feat somewhat. Ducks could become overrated. 

5) College basketball upsets:
— Oklahoma State (+14) 61, Baylor 54
— Boston College (+10.5) 70, Clemson 68
— Northwestern (+9.5) 64, Michigan State 62
— South Florida (+8) 75, UCF 51
— Arkansas (+6.5) 65, LSU 58
— Oregon (+6.5) 79, USC 69
— Murray State (+6) 82, Belmont 60
— Portland (+6) 82, Pepperdine 63

4) Gonzaga 115, Santa Clara 83:
— First three WCC games, Zags scored 117-110-115 points.
— Gonzaga is shooting 63.7% inside arc this season. 

3) East Carolina 72, Memphis 71:
— When season began, Memphis was a top 20 team; now they’re #42.
— Tigers are 4-7 in their last 11 games; they’re 1-5 in games decided by 6 or less points.
— Memphis is turning ball over 24.3% of time (#354 of 358 teams)

2) Pittsburgh 65, Louisville 53:
— Cardinals lost third straight game; as I type this, they’re #100 in country.
— Last time Louisville finished outside top 100 was 2001, Denny Crum’s last season. 

1) TCU 59, Oklahoma 58 OT
— Sooners tied game on OB under play for layup at the buzzer of regulation.
— Teams combined to go 9-38 on the arc.
— TCU survived 5-11 shooting on foul line. 

Saturday’s Den: Trends for college basketball conference games…….

Following stats are for conference games only:
(thru Thursday’s games)
Pac-12
— Double digit home favorites are 1-6 ATS
— Single digit home favorites are 6-2 ATS
— Home underdogs are 4-1 ATS

Big 14:
— Home favorites of less than 12 points: 14-6 ATS
— Home favorites of 12+ points: 0-4 ATS

SEC home favorites are 11-6 ATS

Summit League:
— Single digit home favorites are 3-6 ATS
— Double digit home favorites are 4-1 ATS
— Home dogs of 6 or less points are 1-5 ATS
— Home dogs of 7+ points are 5-0 ATS

Big Sky
— Home favorites 6-10 ATS
— Home underdogs are 2-5 ATS

AAC home favorites are 5-11 ATS.

Southern Conference:
— Home favorites are 9-4 ATS
— Home underdogs are 4-2 ATS

C-USA home favorites are 12-6 ATS

ACC home favorites are 9-20 ATS.

MAAC:
— Home favorites are 3-8 ATS
— Home underdogs are 5-3 ATS

A-14 home favorites are 5-9 ATS, home dogs are 0-2. 

Big X single digit home favorites are 6-3 ATS

Big East:
— Home underdogs are 4-9 ATS
— Home favorites are 6-5 ATS

Big West home teams are 6-4 ATS. 

CAA:
— Home underdogs are 5-1 ATS
— Home favorites are 3-4 ATS

Horizon home favorites are 10-14 ATS

Ivy League home teams are 5-3 ATS

MAC:
— Home favorites are 7-5 ATS
— Home underdogs are 5-4 ATS

Missouri Valley
— Home favorites are 5-7 ATS
— Home underdogs are 4-1 ATS

Mountain West home teams are 6-4 ATS

Sun Belt home favorites of 5 or less points are 9-5 ATS

WCC favorites are 8-2 ATS

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with the weekend here……..

13) NFL Playoffs start this weekend; Rams play Monday night, with QB Matthew Stafford looking for his first playoff win in his 13 NFL seasons.

Stafford played his first 12 seasons for Detroit, which hasn’t won a playoff game in 30 years. All three of Stafford’s playoff games were on the road.

Monday night, the NFC West champ Rams are at home and there is a lot of pressure on Stafford to get a win. He’s had a good season: 4,886 yards, 41 TD passes, a division title- his first.

Here is the narrative that the talk show morons will go with Tuesday morning:
— Rams win: They’ll blame Kliff Kingsbury and speculate on his job security.
— Rams lose: Stafford is a fraud and LA screwed up trading for him.

Thats what talk show morons do; really wish ESPN would go back to showing poker during the day, instead of their annoying talk shows. No one learns anything listening to them; they just yell at each other, kind of like pro wrestling interviews. 

12) Rams’ safety Jordan Fuller hurt his ankle, is done for this season; Rams brought Eric Weddle out of retirement to play in Fuller’s place.

Weddle played 13 years in NFL, played in six Pro Bowls, but he hasn’t played in two years.

11) Oregon 84, UCLA 81:
— Dana Altman gets his 700th career win.
— Ducks blew a 6-point lead in last 0:36 of regulation.
— Game was played in a mostly-empty arena (family only) with UCLA shutting down their campus to the public until at least January 21, because of COVID.

Non-basketball thing I learned from listening to Bill Walton: Snoop Dawg and Billie Jean King went to the same high school.

10) Florida Gators are 0-3 in the SEC, first time since 1981 they’re 0-3 in conference play.

9) Las Vegas Raiders have won six games this season on the final play of the game, the most by any team in NFL history.

8) Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman had shoulder surgery Thursday and is expected to miss at least two games; he hurt his shoulder during practice few weeks ago, when he collided with a player during a drill.

Assistant coach Keith Smart is the interim coach. 

7) Today is January 14, and there are several college basketball teams who haven’t even played a conference game yet.

George Mason, Portland, Wyoming, Tennessee Tech, among others. There weren’t too many games cancelled last night; hopefully things are getting closer to normal now.

6) Houston Texans fired coach David Culley after only one season; Texans went 4-13, playing without Deshaun Watson. Where they go from here is anyone’s guess.

Culley is 66 years old; he had only been a coordinator once in his career, and that was in 1990, at Texas-El Paso. Not really sure why they hired him, but the Texans played hard all year but with a rookie QB— those teams rarely win— not sure why they fired him, either.

Texans will have an interesting offseason:
— what will they get for Watson?
— who will their next coach be?
— who will they draft with all the picks they get for trading Watson? 

5) Major League was on TV the other night; one of my favorite movies. Still think Bob Uecker should’ve been nominated for best supporting actor for his role as Harry Doyle, the Indians’ radio announcer. 

4) I don’t know anyone who bets a lot of NBA games; this season, performances have been so erratic, not sure how you would handicap them.

Bulls won by 46 the other night, then lost by 26 the next night. Golden State was down 77-38 at halftime against the Bucks Thursday. Bulls/Warriors are good teams and they’re erratic as hell.

3) One team that is much-improved is Cleveland; so far this season, the Cavaliers:
— won in Miami for first time since 2010.
— won in Portland for first time since 2013.
— won in Utah for first time since 2014. 

2) Jon Lester retired Thursday, after pitching in the big leagues for 16 years; he won 200 games, had a postseason record of 9-7, 2.51 in 26 games (22 starts).

1) Batman the TV series started 56 years ago this week; still remember the animated opening sequence, when they showed the credits. Whap!!! Pow!!! Biff!!!

When you’re six years old and your name is Biff, seeing that name on TV every week was a big deal. Batman was weird but it was a fun; lot of famous actors played villains on the show, and Adam West wound up with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Obscure trivia:
Six actors/actresses who appeared in both Batman and Magnum PI:
— Cesar Romero (Joker on Batman)
— Jill St John
— Alan Hale (Skipper on Gilligan’s Island)
— Barbara Rush
— Howard Duff (he played Magnum’s grandfather)
— Elisha Cook (Icepick in Magnum PI)

Thursday’s Den: Baseball stuff on a winter day…….

Before starting today, I’d like to wish Mattie Clune a (belated) happy 100th birthday…..

Mrs Clune lives in Oneonta; I met her 44 years ago, went to college with her son Rob, who was a great ballplayer for the Albany Great Danes. Mr/Mrs Clune came to lot of our games, which wasn’t an easy trip (75-80 miles to Albany, and in winter, it is often a tough drive).

She is a terrific lady; happy birthday, Mrs Clune!!!

We’re talking baseball today; my driveway is an icy mess, so have to think warm thoughts……
13) Last year in Baltimore, there were 277 home runs hit in Oriole home games, 176 in thei road games. Baltimore’s baseball people decided they wanted to help the pitchers some, so they’re raising the left-field fence five feet and moving it back as much as 30 feet in some places.

Orioles have some solid pitching prospects on their way up the ladder; when they get to the majors, Camden Yards will be a more pitcher-friendly ballpark. 

12) Fenway Park has a short left-field fence, but it is more of a doubles park than a homer park. Last year, there were 884 doubles hit in 81 games at Fenway, 652 in Boston road games. 

There were 494 home runs hit in Red Sox home games, 540 in their road games. 

11) Cincinnati is another hitters’ ballpark; Reds scored 861 runs at home (44-37) last year, 685 on the road (39-42). Reds’ offense was rolling until Jesse Winker got hurt; Nick Castellanos is a free agent. If he signs elsewhere, that’ll hurt. 

10) Last year, Colorado Rockies were 48-33 at home, 26-54 on road; they used the same guys in all those games, so how does that happen? Rockies hit .280 at Coors Field, .217 on the road. Not going to win many games when you hit .217.

9) Oakland Coliseum has more foul ground than any ballpark; LY, there was 169 foul outs in A’s home games, 125 in their road games. Foul outs help pitchers, hurt hitters. 

8) Matt Olson probably won’t be with Oakland much longer; he hit 22 homers vs lefties LY, 17 vs righties. I laughed when teams would bring in some mediocre southpaw to face him. He’s a great hitter, no matter who the pitcher is.

It’ll be a cruddy day when the A’s trade him, so they don’t have to pay him (This is what annoys the players’ union, by the way)

7) Avasail Garcia signed a pretty big contract with the Marlins; you need to pay attention when he goes to the plate. Garcia swung at the first pitch 256 times, took the first pitch 259 times, by far the highest first-pitch swing %age in the majors.

Garcia hit .353 when he put that first pitch into play, hitting seven home runs in 85 AB’s. 

6) Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino hit .342 vs lefties last year, only .151 vs righties; how does this happen? Zunino is a catcher, he must see the ball well. If he is good enough to hit .342 vs lefties, how can he not hit .200 vs everyone else? 

For his career, Zunino hits .223 for lefties, .194 vs righties. 

5) Players who had the most lead-changing RBI last year:
40— Salvador Perez, KC
38— Matt Olson, A’s
37— Kyle Seager, Sea
36— Ozzie Albies, Atl

4) Players who hit the most home runs on the road LY:
25— Pete Alonso, Mets
24— Aaron Judge NYY/Fernando Tatis SD
23— Marcus Semien, Tor

3) Batters who got the most intentional walks:
23— Juan Soto, Wash
20— Shohei Ohtani, LAA
15— Freddie Freeman, Atl

2) Pitchers who got the best run support LY:
AL:
— Steven Matz, Tor
— Hyun Jin Ryu, Tor
— Dylan Cease, CWS

NL:
— Julio Urias, LA
— Wade Miley, Cincy
— Max Fried, Atl

1) Only five times LY did a pitcher throw 120+ pitches in a game:
129— Gerrit Cole
126— Trevor Bauer
124— Jordan Lyles
122— Blake Snell
121— Shane Bieber

Little more than six weeks until the first spring training games. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) Stanford 75, USC 69
Texas Tech 65, Baylor 62:

Night started with two unbeaten teams left in the country; now there are none. 

12) St Bonaventure 80, LaSalle 76 OT:
— In a 45:00 game, Bonnies’ subs played a TOTAL of 3:00. Three kids played all 45:00.
— Bonnies outscored LaSalle 18-2 on the foul line.
— Explorers led by 12 with 13:50 left to play. 

11) Marquette 87, DePaul 76— FS1 had both coaches miked for this game, with very few commercial breaks. Excellent broadcast; you got to see parts of the halftime talks, huddles during timeouts, a good peek behind the curtain of what goes on. 

10) The term “student-athlete” makes my skin crawl; it seems so phony, so patronizing. Coaches don’t get fired if players get bad grades, they get fired if the team loses too much. The kids, like it or not, are athletes first, then hopefully students, but except for probably the Ivy League, it isn’t an equal thing. 

9) Speaking of coaches getting fired, Giants told Joe Judge to take a hike; they were 10-23 in his two seasons as coach. Now the new GM, whoever he is, will pick the new coach.

In the last three days, three NFC coaches have already cleaned house, firing the coach and GM; Chicago, Minnesota and now the Giants. 

8) There was an interesting thread on Twitter Tuesday about a guy who once made the baseball team’s traveling squad at USC because he could steal signs. Seriously.

USC got to the College World Series that year, and the guy, who was a marginal player, wound up in the major leagues, pitching five years in the majors. His dad was a good major league pitcher and now this guy is Director of Pitching for the San Francisco Giants, so he made a career for himself, because he had a knack for stealing signs when he was 20. 

7) Hey, baseball labor negotiations are starting up again Thursday, six weeks after the lockout started. Hopefully these people, who all make a boatload of money, can agree how to divide it up to everyone’s satisfaction, so we can start thinking about the 2022 season. 

6) Orioles are moving the left-field wall at Camden Yards back, and they’re raising it from 7-feet high in some spots, to 12-feet high, which will hurt hitters/help pitchers. 

5) College football ended Monday night, but for the coaches, their work continues; Signing Day is three weeks from today, February 2, so from then until now, recruiting becomes the thing to do, because recruiting is a 24/7/365 thing in college football. 

4) Alabama had seven players enter the transfer portal Tuesday, including Paul Tyson, one of their backup quarterbacks. Tyson has three years of eligibility remaining.

3) So far this recruiting season, 37 of the top 101 recruits who have signed chose either Texas A&M, Alabama or Georgia; the SEC is crushing recruiting, which is why they’re reluctant to expand the college football playoff to 12 teams. Why wreck a good thing? 

2) Meanwhile, the Pac-12 hasn’t had a team in the 4-team national playoff since 2016, so they want/need the playoff to be expanded. Pac-12 teams have also lost 11 consecutive bowl games; I’m thinking this is bad karma because the Pac-12 Network isn’t on DirecTV, but that’s just me. 

1) Alabama WR Jameson Williams tore his ACL Monday night during the national title game; unsure if he go to the NFL, where his draft status has to have suffered, or if he’ll go back to Alabama and play next year.

You wonder if his injury becomes a cautionary tale for other pro prospects; lot of money out there to be had. 

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but……..

13) Georgia 33, Alabama 18:
— Dawgs win their first national title in 41 years.
— Game was 9-6 Alabama at halftime; all field goals.
— Georgia ended game on 20-0 run over last 8:04 of game.

— Alabama was 9-20 on third down, Georgia 4-12.
— Crimson Tide threw 57 passes, ran ball 28 times.
— 79-yard pick-6 salted game away with 0:54 left. 

12) Georgia QB Stetson Bennett was a walk-on at one point, which seemed surprising; found out last night his dad owns seven pharmacies in Georgia, which is why he turned down offers for scholarships elsewhere to be a walk-on at his preferred school. 

11) The day after the NFL regular season ends is a rough day for coaches who lose their jobs; this year was no exception.
— Vikings fired Mike Zimmer
— Bears fired Matt Nagy and their GM
— Dolphins (surprisingly) fired Brian Flores
— Broncos fired Vic Fangio
— Lions fired offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.
— Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman either retired or was fired. 

10) Patrick Mahomes/Aaron Rodgers are bad for coaches’ job security:
— Over last 18 months, every other team in AFC West has fired its coach.
— Over last 18 months, every other team in NFC North has fired its coach.

In other words, its kind of important to have a good quarterback. 

9) Dallas Cowboys went 13-4 ATS this year, after going 5-11 ATS last year. 

8) When Raiders made the playoffs Sunday night, they became the first team since the 1961 Houston Oilers to make the players after an in-season coaching change.

Back in ’61, Oilers fired Lou Rymkus after starting 1-3-1; they promoted Wally Lemm to head coach and went unbeaten the rest of the way, beating the San Diego Chargers 10-3 in the AFL title game. 

7) Seattle Seahawks went 0-5 this season in games decided by 3 or less points; they could jump back into contention. Teams that win/lose lot of close games one year, tend to go the other way the next season. 

6) If you know me or read this site a lot, you know I like trends, but this one makes me queasy, very queasy.

Last five times divisional rivals met in this round of the NFL Playoffs, the road team won every time, with the underdog covering all five games.

Like I said, very queasy. 2012 was last time the home side won a divisional rematch in a Wild Card game.

5) Last three years in this round of playoffs, #6-seeds are 5-1 SU vs #3-seeds; #5-seeds are 4-2 SU vs #4-seeds.

4) Was good to see Klay Thompson play basketball Sunday night; he scored 17 points in 20:00, his first NBA game in 941 days. Golden State is already 30-9; now they figure to get even better with Thompson back in the rotation.

3) In college basketball, Baylor Bears are 15-0, the first national champ to be 15-0 the following season since 2011. 

2) Sunday night’s Raider-Charger game was fascinating, an overtime game with both teams’ seasons on the line, with the Steelers dreading a tie game from 2,000 miles away. The tie game damn near happened; Raiders could’ve screwed the Steelers big time by taking a knee, playing for the tie, but then they would’ve had to play the Chiefs this week.

Raiders played Kansas City twice this year, lost 41-14/48-9. No way they wanted to play them again. Playing Cincinnati will be a tough game, obviously; they lost 32-13 to the Bengals in Week 11.   

1) One thing for sure, Chargers/Bengals are both set at QB for the next 10-12 years, which is very good news for Brandon Staley/Zac Taylor. Coaches with really good QB’s have very excellent job security, although Staley may have to stop going for it on 4th-and-2 from his own 18-yard line, if he wants a long head coaching career.

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday…….

Jacksonville 26, Indianapolis 11:
— Colts get knocked out of playoffs with this loss.
— Colts lost in Jacksonville 7th year in a row.
— Indy averaged 4,0 yards/pass attempt, were minus-2 in turnovers.
— Colts’ only TD came with 4:26 left in game.

— Jaguars still get #1 pick because Detroit won, too.
— Jacksonville snaps an 8-game losing skid SU/ATS.
— Jaguars outgained Colts 318-233.
— Home side won last eight series games.

Pittsburgh 16, Baltimore 13 OT:
— Steelers won game on FG with 1:56 left in OT.
— Pittsburgh’s only TD put them ahead 13-10 with 2:54 left.
— Last four games, Steelers are +9 in turnovers (12-3)
— Steelers won four of last five visits to Baltimore.

— Ravens lost last six games, five of them by 3 or less points.
— Baltimore forced OT with 46-yard FG with 1:13 left.
— Baltimore turned ball over on first two drives.
— Ravens also threw INT in red zone late in third quarter.

Las Vegas 35, LA Chargers 32 OT:
— Chargers had a 20-play, 86-yard TD drive to send game to OT.
— Chargers were down 29-14 with 5:00 left in regulation.
— LA was 4-18 on third down, 6-7 on fourth down.
— If game had ended 32-32, both teams would’ve made playoffs.
— Raiders winning game puts Pittsburgh in playoffs.

— Raiders make playoffs for only second time in last 19 years.
— Las Vegas won last four games by total of 12 points.
— Raiders ran ball for 174 yards, converted 8-17 on third down.
— Jacobs carried ball 26 times for 132 yards.  

San Francisco 27, LA Rams 24:
— 49ers make playoffs, visit Dallas next week.
— SF won/covered four of their last five games.
— SF drove 88 yards in five plays to tie game with 0:26 left.
— 49ers outgained last four opponents by 100+ yards each.

— Rams win NFC West with the Arizona loss, host Arizona next week.
— LA led 17-0 just before halftime.
— 49ers outgained the Rams 449-265.
— LA’s running backs ran ball 26 times for 46 yards. 

Seattle 38, Arizona 30:
— Seattle had TD plays of 43-25-62 yards.
— Seattle outgained the Cardinals, 431-305
— Seahawks are 9-4-1 ATS in last 14 games as road underdogs
— Seahawks scored 30+ points in last five wins.

— Arizona lost its last five home games SU.
— Cardinals scored defensive TD on first play, later had a 1-yard TD drive.
— Last four weeks, Arizona was outscored 53-29 in first half.
— Cardinals visit division rival Rams in playoffs next week.

Detroit 37, Green Bay 30
— Rodgers played first half, threw for 138 yards, two TD’s.
— Green Bay was 8-14 on third down, Detroit 4-11.
— Packers turned ball over three times (minus-3)
— Detroit outscored Packers 13-0 in last 2:00 of each half.

— Lions would’ve had #1 pick in draft had they lost this game.
— Detroit scored TD on 75-yard pass thrown by a WR.
— Lions drove 75 yards in six plays, scored winning TD with 1:54 left.
— Lions covered seven of their last nine games.

Minnesota 31, Chicago 17:
— Chicago led game 14-3 at halftime.
— Bears in second half: 40 plays, 146 yards, 3 points, 2 turnovers.
— Four of last five Chicago road games went over the total.
— Bears are 7-11 ATS last 17 games as a road underdog.

— Vikings first four drives: 18 plays, 28 yards, zero points.
— Vikings in 2nd half: 26 plays, 240 yards, three TD’s.
— Minnesota ended game with pick-6 with 4:54 left to play.
— Minnesota averaged 9.1 yards/pass attempt. 

Miami 33, New England 24:
— Jones threw first quarter pick-6 that put Miami ahead 14-0.
— Miami also scored defensive TD on last play of game.
— New England outgained the Dolphins, 379-298
— Patriots are 2-7 ATS in last nine visits to Miami.

— Dolphins won eight of last nine games (7-2 ATS).
— Miami won its last five home games SU.
— Miami is 17-10-1 ATS in last 28 games as a home underdog.
— Miami won six of last ten games with New England SU.

Buffalo 27, NJ Jets 10:
— Jets had only four first downs, were outgained 424-53.
— Jets had 45-yard TD drive, had only 53 total yards the whole game.
— Jets lost five of their last six games SU.
— Jets are 4-11 ATS last 15 games as a road underdog.

— Buffalo wins AFC East title for second year in row. 
— Bills won last four games, scoring 31-33-29-27 points.
— Buffalo is 8-2-2 ATS in last 12 games as home favorite.
— Last four games, Bills converted 27-56 third down plays.

Tampa Bay 41, Carolina 17:
— Carolina lost 12 of last 14 games after a 3-0 start.
— Carolina is 0-12 if it allows more than 14 points.
— Darnold threw for 219 yards and two TD’s.
— Bucs won/covered last five series games, scoring 34.0 ppg.

— Buccaneers trailed 7-0 early, led 10-7 at halftime.
— Tmapa Bay scored 4 TD’s, kicked FG on first six drives of second half.
— Tampa Bay hosts the Eagles in playoffs next week.
— Bucs are #2 seed; if they beat Eagles, their next game is also at home.

Tennessee 28, Houston 25:
— Tennessee led 21-0 at halftime, scoring two TD’s in last 1:34 of half.
— Titans get #1 seed in AFC, have next week off.
— Titans were held to 13 or less points in 4 of their 5 losses.
— Tennessee converted 32 of last 62 third down plays.

— Texans in first half: 25 plays, 69 yards, no points.
— Texans in 2nd half: 31 plays, 286 yards, 25 points.
— Houston averaged 8.3 yards/pass attempt.
— Houston was +10 in turnovers in its four wins (minus-8 in losses).

Washington 22, NY Giants 7:
— Washington outgained the Giants, 325-177.
— Washington ran ball for 226 yards.
— Neither team threw the ball for 100 yards.
— Washington is 6-3 ATS last nine games as a road favorite.

— Giants lost seven of their last eight games (1-7 ATS)
— Last six games, Big Blue was outscored 80-19 in first half.
— Giants scored seven TD’s on their last 75 drives.
— Giants are 7-18 ATS last 25 games as a home underdog.
— Giants were outscored 101-19 in last 2:00 of each half.

New Orleans
30, Atlanta 20:
— New Orleans’ season ended when the 49ers won.
— Kamara carried ball 30 times for 146 yards.
— QB Hill left game with a foot injury; Siemian threw for two TD’s.
— Last five games, opponents were 25-85 on third down.

— Falcons’ last six losses were all by 10+ points.
— Last four games, Atlanta was outrushed 723-267
— Atlanta was 0-4 ATS as a home underdog this year.
— Last four games, Falcons were held to 275-254-265-257 total yards. 

Cleveland 21, Cincinnati 16:
— Cincinnati won AFC North last week, plays at home next week.
— Bengals’ only first half TD was scored by their defense.
— Cincy’s only offensive TD came with 2:26 left.
— Cleveland outgained the Bengals, 376-182.

— Cleveland won both of Keenum’s starts this season.
— Browns won last five series games, scoring 32.2 ppg.
— Cleveland went 0-5 ATS in last five home games.
— Under was 7-0 in Browns’ last seven games.

Sunday’s First Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Chiefs 28, Broncos 24:
— Chiefs ran a fumble back 86 yards for game-winning TD with 7:42 left.
— Denver kicked FG with 4:37 left; they never got ball back.
— Chiefs have beaten Denver 13 games in a row.
— Tennessee has to win Sunday to clinch #1-seed in AFC. 

12) Cowboys 51, Eagles 26:
— Game was 17-17 at one point.
— Prescott threw for 295 yards, five TD’s. 

11) You watch NBA games and see how incredibly skilled those guys are; then you watch college games and realize there is a very large talent gap. Thats why NBA teams have skill development coaches, because very few players coming out of college are NBA-ready.

If you like the NBA, I highly recommend a trip out west in the summer, to the NBA Summer League at UNLV. Lot of good reasons to do this:
— For $30 or $35, you can watch great basketball all day long, for several days.
— You see how many great basketball players there are who aren’t in the NBA.
— Lot of NBA players are there, watching; all the coaches, some of the owners are there. You can meet some people just hanging out in the lobby outside the two arenas.
— Arenas are air conditioned; it will probably be over 100 degrees outside.
— Going to Las Vegas is never a bad thing.

10) North Carolina hired former Auburn HC Gene Chizik as its new offensive coordinator; Chizik spent the last few years working for the ACC Network. He won the national title as Auburn’s head coach in 2010, when Cam Newton was his QB.

9) Hawai’i’s football program had 19 players enter the transfer portal; school held a 3-hour meeting Friday, to discuss coach Todd Graham’s future. Not too many people had nice things to say about the coach. 

8) Upsets of the Day:
— Miami (+14.5) 76, Duke 74
— Missouri (+14) 92, Alabama 86
— Rice (+8.5) 85, UAB 80
— South Carolina (+6) 72, Vanderbilt 70
— Duquesne (+5.5) 78, UMass 74
— NC-Greensboro (+5.5) 72, VMI 56
— Northern Iowa (+5.5) 85, Missouri State 84

7) Pitt 69, Boston College 67— Pitt is 1-3 in ACC games; the four games were decided by total of seven points.

6) Seton Hall 90, UConn 87, OT
— UConn led by nine with 16:01 left.
— Huskies made 14-23 on arc, still lost.
— Seton Hall shot 59.1% inside arc. 

5) Miami 76, Duke 74:
— Miami won its ninth straight game.
— Miami was +12 in turnovers (5-17)
— Duke played only six guys more than 7:00. 

4) Missouri 92, Alabama 86— This was Missouri’s biggest upset win in the last 25 years.

3) Baylor 76, TCU 64— Baylor is first defending champ in 11 years to start following season 15-0. TCU led 40-31 early in second half. 

2) Understood that certain people get paid to do Bracketology stuff on the Interweb, but right now, those ratings mean nothing, nada, zilch, bupkis. Waste of time.

It is January 9th; 50-60 teams either are or were just in a COVID pause. By time March gets here, things will take shape but right now, it is just people making up stuff, trying to get as many clicks as possible from people who surf the Web. Nonsense.

Start Bracketology after the Super Bowl.

1) You hear a lot about job interviews with football coaches at this time of year; back when Al Davis owned the Raiders, he would sometimes interview people he had no intention of hiring, he just wanted to pick their brains, to learn from them.

Lot of times, younger coaches must know they don’t have much of a chance of being hired for a particular job, but they need the experience of going thru interviews, so they’re well-prepared when an interview comes up for a job they really want., or can really get. 

Bonus List of 13: Baseball knowledge on a cold, winter day

It is cold out; I can’t stand winter, and a good way to feel warmer is to think about baseball. The Bill James Baseball Handbook was delivered yesterday. Here is some stuff I learned from that book, which is filled with numbers and knowledge.

Disclaimer: There are still several really good free agents on the market, so when the labor stuff is resolved, teams are going to add key players before the season starts. At least the teams who care about winning will add players.

13) Does the shift help or hurt and by how much?

Last year, teams shifted on 59,062 at-bats: shifts took away 4,802 hits, but there were 3,946 hits that happened BECAUSE of the shift, so the shift took away 856 hits for the season.

I’m hoping they ban shifts this year; hitters, especially guys with little less power, will go back to being gap hitters/line drive hitters, which makes for more action.

Padres were putting 3B Machado in right field when they shifted vs lefties last year; it is smart under the current rules, but the game is more fun to watch with more balls in play, more guys running the bases. 

12) Seattle Mariners went 90-72 last year, had a really good season, but they were 33-19 in one-run games. Seattle actually allowed 51 more runs than they scored, but still won 90 games- that is very unusual. 

May help explain why the Mariners added Robbie Ray, Adam Frazier to fortify their roster; they will have to be a better team than they were last year, just to win 90 games again. 

11) Seattle’s AL West rival Angels went 25-14 in one-run games last year, and still finished only 77-85; loss of Mike Trout/Anthony Rendon to injury was obviously a problem, but their pitching isn’t good, even when healthy.

Noah Syndergaard pitched two innings the last two years; Halos added him and Michael Lorenzen to improve their pitching. It also gives the Angels another two-way player (Lorenzen) and Jared Walsh used to be a pitcher, too.

Here’s the thing: teams that excel in one-run games one seasons tend to regress the next year- LY’s 25-14 record will be hard to match. Can a healthy Trout/Rendon make up the difference?

10) San Francisco beat the Dodgers by a game last year; Giants were 31-17 in one-run games, Dodgers 24-24. Giants had oldest roster in MLB last year; can they do it again this year? 

9) There were 63 home runs taken away by outfielders last year. Thats one of the most exciting plays in baseball; should more stadiums have outfield fences that are 8 or 9 feet high? 

8) A’s bullpen fell apart late last year; for the season, they blew 28 of 67 save opportunities, and that was despite fact that Oakland relievers threw only 539 innings, less than any other team. 

7) Toronto Blue Jays missed playoffs by one game LY; they went 3-9 in extra inning games. 

6) Joey Gallo either walked (111) or struck out (213) in 324 of his 616 plate appearances LY. 

5) If the universal DH happens and pitchers never hit again, the last hit by a pitcher (other than Shohei Ohtani) was Julio Urias in last year’s playoffs.

4) Eyebrows were raised when Marcus Semien signed with Texas for $25M a year, but one of the best abilities is availability, and Semien is always available.

He’s played 155+ games in five of last six full seasons, played 162-162 the last two. He hit 33-45 homers the last two full seasons; he is plus-hitter as a middle infielder.

Semien also sees lot of pitches; he saw 2,923 pitches LY, 106 more than any other player, and that helps every other hitter on his team. 

3) Minnesota Twins were 53-53 vs right-handed starters last year, 20-36 vs lefties; they gave Buxton a boatload of money this winter, they’ll need a hell of a lot more than 61 games out of him this year. Miguel Sano has to hit better than .223. Josh Donaldson is 36; how much does he have left int he tank?  

2) Arizona Diamondbacks converted only 44% of their save chances last year, lowest %age in last 20 years (other than the shortened 2020 season). Arizona added Mark Melancon and JD Wendelken to shore up the bullpen.

1) Colorado Rockies were 48-33 at home last year, 26-54 on road; how does that happen?

Over the last ten years, this was the 2nd-biggest difference between home/road records; the biggest difference?

2014 Rockies were 45-36 at home, 21-60 on the road. Go figure. 

Saturday’s Den: Clearing out a cluttered mind……

13) Once upon a time, it was hard to get into the NCAA basketball tournament.

In 1973-74, Maryland went 23-5, 9-3 in the ACC; they had great players; John Lucas, Tom McMillen, Len Elmore. They were ranked #4 in the country, but they didn’t get into the tournament. The NUMBER 4 team in the COUNTRY didn’t make the tournament.

Back then, only conference champions made the tournament, and the ACC decided its champ with a conference tournament, back when most leagues didn’t have one.

Maryland lost the ACC title game 103-100 in OT to NC State, one of the best college games ever played. NC State had David Thompson, Tom Burleson, Monte Towe; they wound up winning the national title that year, but they, obviously, almost missed the tournament.

12) 1970-71, USC Trojans went 24-2, 12-2 in the Pac-8; they were ranked 5th in the country, but they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament either- their two losses were both to perennial national champ UCLA, who beat USC 64-60/73-62 in their two meetings.

Trojans had Paul Westphal, Dennis Layton, Ron Riley; they played on the west coast, ten years before ESPN existed, so none of us knew much about them.

UCLA went 29-1 that year, the season in between Kareem and Bill Walton; they won the 1971 national title, in a Final Four with Kansas, Villanova and Western Kentucky. 

11) How are kids any good at geography these days? 

Friday night, a Big East basketball game on FS1, Xavier at Buter. Big EAST rivals.

Problem is, Butler is in Indianapolis, Xavier is in Cincinnati. Neither of these cities is in the east; as recently as 2013, both teams were in the Atlantic 10, another misnomer.

The last five years before they refigured, Big East was never ranked lower than 3rd nationally; last four years, they’ve been ranked 5th-3rd-6th-4th. Having schools without football programs has hurt the Big East. 

10) Thursday night in Boulder, Colorado was leading Washington State 78-72 with 1:13 left; coming out of a timeout, the Buffs got a technical foul for having six guys on the floor. You don’t see that very often.

Colorado has a player (Evan Battey) a 6-8 center, whose grandfather was Earl Battey, a catcher who played 13 years in the major leaguers, mostly with Minnesota.

Earl Battey was the Twins’ catcher in the 1965 World Series; he made four All-Star teams, had a .757 career OPS with 104 home runs.

Evan Battey has been a regular all four of his seasons with the Buffaloes, who are 10-3 so far this season, 2-1 in Pac-12 games. 

9) College football transfers:
— QB Zach Calzada bolts from Texas A&M to Auburn
— QB Casey Thompson bolts from Texas to Nebraska
— QB Connor Bazelak bolts from Missouri to Indiana. 

8) All in all, last time I checked there were 1,428 players in the college football transfer portal. With 130 D-I teams, that’s ten players per team. 

7) Louisville is 4-0 in ACC basketball games; all four wins were by 5 or fewer points; Pitt Panthers are 0-3, with the three losses by total of five points. 

6) USFL named its first four head coaches; the 8-team league kicks off in April:
— Kevin Sumlin (Houston Gamblers)
— Mike Riley (New Jersey Generals)
— Bart Andrus (Philadelphia Stars)
— Todd Haley (Tampa Bay Bandits)

Riley has now been a head coach in the NFL, CFL, WLAF, college football, AAF and USFL. 

5) NFL tidbits:
— Bears will start Andy Dalton at QB; Chicago is 4-2 with Dalton/Foles starting.
— Ravens will start Tyler Huntley at QB; Lamar Jackson (ankle) misses his 4th straight game.
— Aaron Rodgers will start for Green Bay; no guarantees how long he plays in a meaningless game for the Packers. 

4) Raptors 122, Jazz 108— Utah had its 10-game road winning streak snapped; impressive to win ten in a row anywhere, but especially away from home.

3) Boston Celtics have blown four leads of 19+ points this season, more than any NBA team. 

2) ESPN re-did its Sunday Night Baseball TV crew; David Cone/Eduardo Perez are the new analysts, Karl Ravech will do play-by-play. Cone can be very funny; he should be a good addition to Sunday night games.

1) Iona-Saint Louis cobbled together a matchup for Saturday; Saint Louis coach Travis Ford played point guard for Rick Pitino at Kentucky. This should be a pretty good game.

Friday’s Den: NBA trends…….

NBA trends (thru Wednesday’s games)
Hawks (17-20):
— 5-10 SU last 15 games.
— lost last eight home games.
— 0-9 ATS last nine home games
— 8-4 ATS last 12 home games. 

Celtics (18-20):
— 5-9 last fourteen games SU.
— 1-4 ATS last five road games.
— 1-4 ATS last five as a home favorite.
— under 10-4-1 last 15 road games

Nets (24-12):
— 1-3 SU last four games.
— 2-10 ATS last 12 home favorite
— 6-1-1 ATS last 8 games on the road.
— over 8-2 last ten home games.

Hornets (20-19):
— covered 10 of last 11 home games.
— won four of last six games SU
— 6-4 ATS last ten road games
— over 5-2-1 last eight home games

Bulls (25-10):
— won their last eight games SU.
— 5-2 ATS last seven home games.
— 7-4 ATS as a road favorite.
— six of last nine games went over.

Cavaliers (21-17):
— lost four of last five games SU
— 1-6 ATS last seven games.
— 14-6 ATS at home (0-3 last three)
— over 4-1-1 last six games

Mavericks (20-18):
— won five of last six games SU.
— 5-1 ATS last six home games
— 6-3 ATS last nine as a road underdog.
— Under 14-4 last 18 games

Nuggets (18-18):
— 4-5 SU their last win games
— 3-6 ATS last nine games as a favorite
— under 6-1 last seven games. 
— 1-5 ATS if they played night before.

Pistons (7-29):
— Lost 19 of last 22 games SU
— 5-3 ATS last eight as a home underdog.
— 3-2 ATS if they played night before
— over 4-2 last six games.

Warriors (29-8):
— won eight of last 11 games SU
— 14-5-1 ATS as home favorites.
— 4-6 ATS road favorite, 4-2 road underdog.
— over 6-3 last nine games.

Rockets (11-28):
— lost eight of last nine games SU.
— 0-4 ATS last four hone games.
— 1-6 ATS last seven games as road underdogs.
— over 11 of last 15 games overall.  

Pacers (14-25):
— lost last six games SU
— 7-3 ATS as a road underdog
— 6-2-1 ATS last nine home games
— 0-7 ATS as a road favorite
— under 12-3 last fifteen road games

Clippers (19-19):
— lost seven of last ten games SU 
— over 4-1 last five games.
— 1-7 ATS last eight games as a home favorite.
— 1-5 ATS if they played night before

Lakers (20-19):
— won four of last five games SU
— 5-12 ATS as a home favorite.
— 2-5 ATS as a road favorite.
— under 6-2 last eight road games

Grizzlies (25-14):
— won last six games SU (5-1 ATS).
— won/covered 10 of last 11 on road.
— 8-4 ATS as road underdogs.
— over 6-0 last six road games

Heat (24-15):
— won eight of last 12 games SU
— over 7-1 last eight games.
— 4-0 ATS as home underdogs.
— 5-8 ATS as as road favorites

Bucks (25-15):
— 7-5 last twelve games SU.
— 6-11 ATS as home favorites, 10-3 ATS as road favorites
— 2-7 ATS as underdogs.
— five of last six games went over.

Timberwolves (18-20):
— 7-5 last 12 games SU
— 3-6 ATS last nine home games
— 6-2 ATS last eight road games
— under 5-1 last six games

Pelicans (13-25):
— won six of last ten games SU
— 1-5 ATS last six road games
— 4-1 ATS last five home games
— over 6-2 last eight games

Knicks (18-20):
— won six of last 10 games SU.
— under 5-1 last six games
— 6-11 ATS at home 
— 3-9 ATS as an underdog. 

Thunder (13-24):
— lost four of last five games SU.
— 9-2 ATS last 11 games overall.  
— 12-5 ATS as home underdog, 11-7 as road dog
— under 4-0 last four games

Magic (7-32):
— lost last seven games SU
— over 5-0 last five home games 
— 3-13 ATS as a home underdog
— 11-5 ATS last 16 road games. 

76ers (21-16):
— won last five games SU
— last seven of last ten home games SU
— 5-10 ATS at home
— four of last five games went over. 

Suns (29-8):
— won 8 of last 11 games SU (7-4 ATS)
— covered four of last five road games
— 16-15 ATS as a favorite
— over 5-1 last six home games 

Trailblazers (14-23):
— lost five of last six games SU
— 3-12 ATS on the road
— 2-9 ATS last 11 home games.
— over 4-1 last five games

Kings (16-24):
— lost six of last nine games SU
— 10-13 ATS at home
— over 6-2 on road since coaching change
— 3-5 ATS if they played night before.

Spurs (15-22):
— lost four of last five games SU
— 10-5 ATS as road underdogs.
— 10-7 ATS at home
— over 13-3-1 at home

Raptors (18-17):
— won last four games SU.
— 11-2 ATS last thirteen games
— 1-4 ATS as home underdogs, 8-6 as road dogs.
— over 9-0 last nine games

Jazz (28-10):
— won 8 of last 9 games SU
— 0-7 ATS last seven home games
— 10-5 ATS as road favorite
— under 5-0-1 last six road games

Wizards (19-19):
— lost ten of last fifteen games 
— 5-2 ATS as home underdogs, 6-8 as road dogs.
— 1-6 ATS as road favorites
— over 6-2 last eight road games.

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

13) If you like comedy, especially if you’re a little older, HBO/HBO Max has a 90-minute show that is like a history lesson into comedy in the 80’s/90’s.

The Super Bob Einstein movie goes thru the career of the actor/comedian who played Super Dave Osborne on his own show; he also had roles in Modern Romance, Oceans Thirteen and Curb Your Enthusiasm, among others.

When Steve Martin, David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld and Rob Reiner are touting you as a comic, that’s a huge compliment. This was an excellent show. 

12) Alabama-Georgia play for the college football national title Monday; since 2007, there have been 54 in-season rematches in college football. Team that won the first game was 29-25 SU in the second meeting. Alabama beat Georgia 41-24 in the SEC title game December 4th. 

11) Liam Shanahan plays football for LSU; he played three years at Harvard before transferring to LSU; he majored in Economics at Harvard, with a minor in Celtic language (that has nothing to do with Larry Bird or Bill Russell). Anyway, he is really smart.

Liam had a very interesting summer job; he was on the grounds crew at Fenway Park, and has a World Series ring from last time the Red Sox won the World Series. Not lot of college football players have a World Series ring. 

10) Murray State and Belmont are bolting from the Ohio Valley Conference to the Missouri Valley, starting next season. Murray won 20+ games nine of the last 12 years; Belmont has won 20+ games 11 years in a row. 

9) NFL notes:
— Bengals won’t play QB Joe Burrow (knee) or RB Joe Mixon (COVID) this week.
— Rookie QB Justin Fields is starting for the Bears this week; Chicago is 2-8 in his starts. 

8) Vikings’ QB Kirk Cousins has a $45,166,668 salary cap hit next year; Cousins is 58-59-2 as an NFL starter, 1-2 in playoff games. 59-61-2 isn’t exactly $45M worth of production. 

Cousins’ 2022 salary is $35M guaranteed; there is no sense is cutting him, his cap hit would stay the same. For $35M, the least the guy could do is get vaccinated, so he wouldn’t miss any games. 

7) Mountain West Conference went 5-1 in bowl games this season, the best record of any league. Boise State/Hawai’i didn’t get to play their bowls. Nevada was only MW team that lost its bowl. 

6) SEC is 5-7 in bowl games, not a good record for a league that promotes itself as the best football league in the country, but the national title game is Alabama-Georgia, so there’s that. 

5) Sometime in the near future, Big 12 is going to lose Oklahoma/Texas to the SEC, but this season, the Big X was 3-0 in bowl games against the SEC. 

4) Then there is the Pac-12, which went 0-5 in bowls this season; the league has now lost its last eleven bowl games.

Memo to the people who run the Pac-12; could you put the Pac-12 Network on DirecTV? Would that be too much to ask?

3) Miami 88, Florida 87:
— Syracuse led 44-26 late in first half.
— Miami won its 8th straight game.
— Syracuse lost despite making 17-32 on the arc.
— Syracuse is 7-7, 2-5 vs top 100 teams. 

2) Notre Dame 78, North Carolina 73:
— Tar Heels are 1-4 against top 100 teams.
— 6-10 kid on Notre Dame made 6-7 behind the arc.
— This score hurts ACC’s chances of getting 2nd team in top 25. 

1) Missouri State 71, Bradley 69:
— Mosley hit a contested 3-pointer at 0:00 for the win.
— Missouri State blew an 18-point second half lead.
— Bradley lost despite making 11-25 on the arc. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) LSU 65, Kentucky 60:
— Kentucky is 0-2 in true road games, losing by 4-5 points.
— Wildcats lost PG Wheeler early in this game; he didn’t return.
— Just third win for LSU in last 11 series games. 

12) Heard John Calipari say the other day that he has an Italian passport and has dual citizenship. Didn’t know that. 

11) Duke is only ACC team in the basketball Top 25 this week; no other team even got one vote, which is really unusual. 

10) Mentioned few days ago how games are going to emerge on the schedule that weren’t there when the season started. Thursday in Salt Lake City, Loyola Chi will play San Francisco; two good teams that need quality non-conference games to improve their NCAA at-large prospects.

Long Beach State-UCLA also added a game for Thursday. UCLA hasn’t played since December 11; they beat Long Beach 100-79 on November 15. 

9) No one in the WCC (Gonzaga/San Francisco’s league) has played a game since Christmas. 

8) Not only have the Philadelphia Eagles clinched a playoff spot, they have three picks in April’s draft, so they should have a better team next year. They have to decide if Jalen Hurts is their franchise QB moving forward. 

7) Kansas State 42, LSU 20:
— LSU had only 38 scholarship players for this game.
— K-State outgained Tigers 442-308, converted 8-12 on third down
— LSU didn’t have a scholarship QB; they used senior WR Kirklin at QB- he was a QB in high school in Lutcher, LA. He has also played 12 games on defense for LSU.

6) Trey Young had 56 points, 14 assists in the Hawks’ 136-131 loss in Portland Monday. No one in NBA history has had that many points/assists in the same game. 

5) Baker Mayfield will have his left shoulder operated on, won’t play against the Bengals Sunday. Cleveland is out of playoff contention; the Browns have a deal with Mayfield for $19M next year, but nothing after that— curious to see what they do with their QB situation.

Case Keenum gets the nod Sunday; Cleveland won his only start this year. 

4) Chicago Bulls are 25-10; they’ve taken the fewest 3-pointers in the NBA, but also made the highest percentage of the shots they did take. 

3) Fanatics is spending $500M to buy the Topps trading card company, which began selling baseball cards in 1951. 

2) MLB Network should go to color bars until they settle the labor deal. They’ve put the kibosh on all their talk shows— old games are fun to watch, but talking hot stove transactions would be a hell of a lot better.

Figure this out people; there is NBA all spring and a spring football league is starting up that people will be glad to watch if there is no baseball.

1) We end today with a quick story:

I’m sitting in the MGM Grand sportsbook in Las Vegas during the NCAA Tournament, think it was 2010 and Northern Iowa is playing. Game is early; they weren’t even to the second TV timeout yet, and a kid on Northern Iowa makes a jumper- the three young guys to my left go nuts, start hugging each other, high 5’s and the whole deal.

I had no idea why., but they were really happy.  “Is that guy your brother or something?” I ask one of them.

I didn’t know there was a “first to 15” prop bet, where you could bet on which team got to 15 points first— that jumper put Northern Iowa over 15, and they won their bet.

MGM sportsbook is very good, a fun place to watch games, plus there is Bonanno’s pizza around the corner— Bonanno’s has tremendous pizza. I highly recommend getting a skybox in the MGM sportsbook; what a great place to watch/bet on games.

MGM is where I once bet on the Seahawks, just so I could find out what it was like to root FOR Russell Wilson. He drives me nuts when he plays against the Rams, but he won me money that day, which is always a good thing.