Friday’s Den: Baseball knowledge on a chilly day

Here is baseball knowledge, with help from the guys at CBS Fantasy Sports

13) Players who hit 31+ homers with 16+ stolen bases last year:
— Javier Baez
— Adolis Garcia
— Shohei Ohtani
— Jose Ramirez
— Fernando Tatis

12) Three players hit 300+ with 20+ stolen bases:
— Nicky Lopez
— Starling Marte
— Trea Turner

11) Of all the players with 300+ plate appearances last year, the guy who hit the most home runs per plate appearance was surprising— Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino. 

10) Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez led the major leagues LY in home runs and RBI, the last catcher to do that was Johnny Bench, in 1972. 

9) Washington’s Juan Soto had a .465 on-base %age last year, .525 in second half of the season. Curious to see how the Nationals rebuild their team around him. 

8) Reds’ ace Luis Castillo had a 7.22 ERA in April/May LY, but had a 2.73 mark from June 1st on. 

7) Pitchers with the most innings per start last year:
Zack Wheeler, Adam Wainwright, Walker Buehler

6) Oakland is expected to deal Frankie Montas sometime this year, as their cheapskate owner slashes the payroll. Last year, Montas had a 4.63 ERA in his first 17 starts, 2.11 in his last 15. 

5) They’re moving back the left-field fence at Camden Yards in Baltimore, raising it from 7 to 12-feet high in some places, but that shouldn’t impact Cedric Mullins much. None of Mullins’ 30 home runs last year went to the opposite field. 

4) Nick Castellanos is still a free agent, one of several outstanding free agents; he should really consider staying in Cincinnati.

Castellanos hit .359 at home, with a 1.109 OPS and 23 homers
On the road, he hit .260, with 11 homers and a .772 OPS. 

3) Also in Cincinnati, Joey Votto hit 36 homers last year, despite missing 33 games with a broken thumb. He his 31 of those 36 homers from June 8th on, after his thumb healed. Last year was Votto’s best OPS since 2017. 

2) Miami 2B Jazz Chisholm got lot of hype early last year, when he hit .311 in April with a .969 OPS, but after April, he hit only .236 with a .681 OPS. Flashy player, runs really fast, but maybe a little overrated. Marlins traded P Zac Gallen for him; not sure how smart that was. 

1) Last July 22, Tampa Bay traded for Nelson Cruz, trying to bolster their lineup to make the playoffs; at the time of the trade, Cruz was hitting .294, with a .904 OPS.

After the trade, Cruz hit .226 with a .725 OPS; he is a free agent, will be 42 in July. Which team is going to take a chance and sign Cruz as a DH? 

Tuesday’s Den: NBA trends……

NBA trends (thru Sunday’s games)

Hawks (21-25):
— won/covered last four games.
— 3-6 ATS last nine road games.
— 3-5 ATS if they played night before
— over 5-1 last six games. 

Celtics (24-24):
— won six of last nine games SU.
— 2-6 ATS last eight home games.
— 5-4 ATS if they played night before
— over 7-4 last 11 road games

Nets (29-17):
— won three of last four games SU.
— 7-4 ATS last 11 road games.
— 2-4 ATS if they played night before
— over 5-2 last seven home games.

Hornets (26-21):
— won 7 of last 9 games SU.
— covered six of last seven road games.
— 2-6 ATS if they played night before
— under 7-1 last eight games

Bulls (28-17):
— lost six of last seven games SU.
— 3-7 ATS last ten road games.
— 5-3 ATS if they played night before
— last five home games went over.

Cavaliers (28-19):
— won six of last seven games SU
— 1-5 ATS last six road games.
— 4-3-1 ATS if they played night before
— under 6-3 last nine games

Mavericks (27-20):
— won 11 of last 13 games SU.
— 8-3-1 ATS last 12 home games
— 12-6 ATS last 18 road games.
— 4-4 ATS if they played night before
— Under 15-1 last 16 home games

Nuggets (24-21):
— 6-3 SU their last win games
— 2-5 ATS last seven road games 
— 1-6 ATS if they played night before
— last six games went over the total.

Pistons (11-35):
— Lost four of last five games SU
— covered six of last nine games.
— 4-3 ATS if they played night before
— over 9-5 last 14 home games.

Warriors (34-13):
— won nine of last 11 home games SU
— lost five of last six road games SU
— 3-4 ATS if they played night before
— under 4-1 last five home games.

Rockets (14-33):
— 0-7 ATS last seven home games.
— 5-1 ATS last six road games.
— 1-6-1 ATS if they played night before
— over 9-2 last 11 home games 

Pacers (17-30):
— covered four of last five road games.
— lost 11 of last 14 games SU
— 5-2-1 ATS if they played night before
— under 15-5 last 20 road games

Clippers (23-25):
— won/covered last three home games.
— 3-5 ATS last eight road games.
— 2-5 ATS if they played night before
— three of last four games went over

Lakers (23-24):
— lost five of last seven games SU
— 6-10 ATS last 16 home games.
— 2-2 ATS if they played night before
— over 7-2 last nine games

Grizzlies (25-14):
— won 13 of  last 16 games SU 
— covered 13 of last 16 road games.
— 6-3 ATS if they played night before
— under 7-1-1 last nine home games

Heat (30-17):
— won five of last eight games SU
— 6-3 ATS last nine road games.
— 4-3 ATS if they played night before
— 5over 10-5 last fifteen games.

Bucks (30-19):
— 2-5 ATS last seven home games
— lost last three road games
— 2-6 ATS if they played night before
— under 7-5 last 12 home games.

Timberwolves (23-23):
— 5-3 last eight games SU
— 0-4 ATS last four road games
— 3-3 ATS if they played night before
— over 7-1 last eight games

Pelicans (17-28):
— covered five of their last six games.
— 7-1 ATS last eight home games
— 3-4 ATS if they played night before
— under 6-1 last seven games

Knicks (23-24):
— won six of last 10 games SU.
— under 9-4 last 13 home games
— 4-2 ATS if they played night before
— under 10-5 last fifteen games. 

Thunder (14-32):
— lost five in row, nine of last ten games SU.
— 9-4 ATS last 13 road games.
— 4-3 ATS if they played night before
— under 4-0 last four games

Magic (9-39):
— lost 14 of last 16 games SU
— 2-8 ATS last ten home games 
— 4-6 ATS if they played night before
— under 3-1 last four home games. 

76ers (27-19):
— won 11 of last 14 games SU
— covered seven of last nine home games.
— 2-4 ATS if they played night before
— under 8-3 last 11 home games

Suns (36-9):
— won last six games SU (4-1 last five ATS)
— covered eight of last ten road games
— 2-4 ATS if they played night before
— under 5-1 last six games 

Trailblazers (20-26):
— won/covered six of last eight games.
— 4-10 ATS last 14 home games.
— 4-3 ATS if they played night before
— under 4-2 last six home games

Kings (18-30):
— 1-7 ATS last eight road games.
— 6-4 ATS last ten home games
— 4-5 ATS if they played night before
— four of their last five games went over

Spurs (17-30):
— lost 12 of last 15 games SU
— 12-6 ATS as road underdogs.
— 5-2 ATS if they played night before
— four of their last five games stayed under.

Raptors (22-22):
— lost five of last seven games SU.
— 15-6-1 ATS last 22 games
— 5-0 ATS if they played night before
— under 7-1 last eight games

Jazz (30-17):
— lost 7 of last 9 games SU
— 0-10 ATS last seven home games
— 3-5 ATS if they played night before
— under 4-0 last four games

Wizards (23-24):
— lost four of last five games 
— covered once in last ten games.
— 2-4 ATS if they played night before
— over 7-3 last ten road games.

Saturday’s Den: Looking at college basketball conferences

Big X:
— League has no bad teams; Kansas is only team with one league loss.
— Have four teams ranked in top 20 nationally.
— Worst ranking on Kenpom.com: Kansas State, #55
— Six teams look solid; Iowa State/TCU are bubble teams. 

Big 14:
— Figure to get eight teams in tournament.
— League has four teams outside the top 80.
— Illinois is likely the best team, if they can keep big man Cockburn healthy.
— League has 2nd-fewest turnovers of any league in country.

SEC:
— Last time league was ranked this high was 2007.
— Figure to get six or seven teams in; Miss State/Arkansas are on bubble.
— Most blocked shots, most offensive rebounds in country.
— South Carolina was in 2017 Final Four; since then, they’re 33-42 in SEC.

Big East:
— Teams from Nebraska and New Jersey in same league? Oy.
— Looking like six teams in NCAA’s; Creighton is on bubble.
— Butler is 1-5 in last six games, with all five losses by 15+.
— Marquette has jumped from #83 to #47 in last 18 days. 

ACC:
— League was #5 LY, is #5 this year, its worst ranking since 2013.
— Five teams are outside the top 100; only four are in top 50.
— Tempo in ACC games ranks 29th out of 32 leagues.
— Only three teams are sold for bid; Miami is a bubble team. 

Pac-12:
— Arizona is in first place; they’re 4th-least experienced team in country.
— Oregon State was in Elite 8 LY; they’re 3-14 this year.
— USC split its last four games, after a 13-0 start.
— Looking like four teams in NCAA’s, with Oregon the 4th team.

Mountain West
— Last five years, league had only 8 teams in NCAA’s.
— Last six years, Mountain West teams are 2-9 in first round.
— Boise St is 14-4, Wyoming 14-2; can they join San Diego State this year?
— 41.2% of shots in MW games are 3’s, 2nd-highest in country.

American:
— Looking like a one-bid league, if Houston wins AAC tournament.
— Last five years, AAC had 15 teams in NCAA’s.
— Houston is 16-2, despite losing two starters for season with injuries.
— Memphis was #17 on Thanksgiving; they’re 4-8 since then.

WCC
— Gonzaga is looking at its fifth #1 seed the last six years.
Saint Mary’s/San Francisco are bubble teams; can WCC get four teams in?
— Tempo in WCC games is 2nd-fastest in country.
— Last 10 years, WCC teams other than Gonzaga are 2-8 in NCAA’s.

Atlantic 14:
— Davidson is 15-2, has won 14 in row; they’re shooting 42.2% on arc (#2)
— St Bonaventure/VCU are looking like bubble teams.
— League doesn’t have anyone ranked in top 40, which hurts.
— Today is January 22; George Mason has played one league game.

Missouri Valley:
— Last five years, Valley has had only six NCAA Tourney teams.
— It’ll be another one-bid year for MVC, if Loyola wins Arch Madness.
— Last five years, Loyola is 113-38, 61-16 in conference games.
— Only two of ten MVC teams are ranked in top 100.

Conference USA:
— League hasn’t had an at-large bid since 2011.
— Last eight years, C-USA teams are 6-2 in first round of NCAA’s.
— Louisiana Tech is 15-3, 6-0 in C-USA; they’re experience team #325.
— Home teams are 25-11 SU in C-USA, 2nd-best win% nationally.

Southern Conference
— Since 2003, league is 2-16 in first round of NCAA’s (wins in ’08/’19)
— Steph Curry’s ’08 Davidson team made Elite 8; they were in SoCon then.
— Chattanooga/Wofford are only top 100 teams right now.
— League looks to be wide-open this year; conference tourney should be great. 

Tuesday’s Den: What are Final Four teams made up of?

13) Last four national titles were won by a #1-seed; last national champ that wasn’t a #1-seed? Villanova, six years ago- they were a #2-seed. 

12) eFG% (FG%, but where a 3-pointer counts as 1.5 made baskets) seems to be a big indicator of NCAA Turney success.

Last four tournaments, nine of 16 Final Four teams were in the top 40 nationally in eFG%; 12 of 20 were in the top 100. Last three national champs ranked #1-19-7 on eFG%. 

11) Depth means very little; last four years, only one of 16 Final Four teams was in the top 150 in bench minutes for that season. Longer TV timeouts, refs calling fewer fouls fuels that theory. 

10) Last four Final Four’s teams, by seed #:
#1— seven
#2— two
#3— three
#5— one
#7— one
#11— two

9) Defensive eFG% is also a solid indicator:
— 13 of last 16 Final Four teams were in top 100 in eFG% defense
— 8 of last 16 were in the top 50.

There are always exceptions, which is what makes handicapping interesting; Baylor won the national title last year- their eFG% defense was ranked #121, but they ranked #4 in forcing turnovers.

South Carolina made the Final Four in 2017; I wouldn’t have bet on them with your money, but they got there as a #7-seed. Like Baylor, they were strong at forcing turnovers (#5)

I have 17 categories on my chart here; 14 of the last 16 Final Four teams were in the top 11 nationally, in at least one category. 

8) 3-point shooting has become more and more important; last three tournaments, 9 of 12 Final Four teams ranked in the top 50 in 3-point shooting %age. 

7) Teams that get a lot of their points on the foul line don’t get to the Final Four much, adding to the theory that refs call fewer fouls in March Madness.

Last four tournaments, only 1 of 16 Final Four teams (that 2017 South Carolina squad) ranked in the top 100 in %age of points scored on foul line. No other team ranked in the top 150. 

6) Strength of schedule is an indicator; 12 of last 16 Final Four teams ranked in top 50 in strength schedule; Gonzaga’s two Final Four trips are two of the four schedules that fell outside the top 50 (72-89).

Today’s Gonzaga program is like UNLV was thirty years ago; very big fish in a small pond. 

5) Does experience matter? 12 of last 16 Final Four teams were in top 100 of experience; only 6 of 16 Final Four teams were in the top 100 of continuity.

Sadly, there is no metric for TALENT; good/great players win championships, in any sport. 

So what teams, at this point, figure to be favorites in March:
4) eFG% leaders:
— Gonzaga
— Purdue
— Davidson
— Loyola, Chi

Also, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arizona, Kentucky

3) defensive eFG% leaders:
— Indiana
— LSU
— San Diego State
— Arizona

Also, VCU, USC, Gonzaga, UConn

2) 3-point %age leaders:
— South Dakota State
— Davidson
— Purdue
— North Carolina

Also, Colorado State, Michigan State, Loyola Chi, Murray State

1) Teams with most experience:
— Providence
— Florida
— Texas
— St Bonaventure

Also, Buffalo, Seton Hall, SMU, Drake

These numbers will change over the six weeks; we’ll keep an eye on them before we predict who will be in the Final Four

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.