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

College basketball knowledge is on the Hoops page
NFL knowledge is posted on the NFL page
NBA stuff is on the Golf page

Thursday’s 6-pack
Some of the college basketball teams who take the most 3’s:
1) Wofford 54.9% of their shots are 3’s; they make 37.1%
2) Evansville 53.7%, make 37.6%
4) Akron 51.7%, make 32.5%
5) San Francisco 50.8%, make 36.3%
7) Rice 50.0%, make 36.2%
9) St Joe’s 49.3%, make 30.2%
Americans who have died from COVID-19: 405,117
PLEASE wear a mask (over your nose/mouth) when you go out.

Quote of the Day
“Faith sees best in the dark.”
Sшren Kierkegaard

Thursday’s quiz
Where did Chris Paul play his college basketball?

Wednesday’s quiz
Of the 50 states in our country, Delaware was the first one. 

Tuesday’s quiz
Ben Simmons played his one season of college basketball at LSU. 

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

13) Georgia 63, Kentucky 62:
— Wildcats went 1-13 on arc, lost third game in a row- they’re 4-9.
— Georgia scored on an OB under play in last 0:03 for the win.
— Kentucky led by 6 with 1:50 left. 

12) They take college basketball very seriously in the state that somehow elects Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell all the time. To illustrate this, I’ll flash back to 1979:

In my college days, I was student manager for the Albany Great Danes; we were a D-3 team back then. We made the NCAA Tournament in ’79, but we get sent out of the region, to Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.

Four teams at each regional site; normally, the home team plays the nightcap, but Centre played the first game, and we played Savannah State in the nightcap. Centre had a high school-like gym, seated at most 1,000 people, but it was packed for Centre’s game.

Why did Centre play the first game? Kentucky had the 8:30 game in the SEC tournament that night, so when we came upstairs for our game, there were like 20-25 people left in the stands. Everyone went home to watch the Wildcats play on TV. 

11) Other random items from that weekend, 42 years ago:
— Danville was in a dry county; the drinking age was 18 back then. There were some disappointed people in our traveling party.
— We lost to Savannah State in OT;l their best player, Harold Hubbard, would up playing for the Harlem Globetrotters.
— Watching TV in the hotel Saturday afternoon, we saw Larry Bird play for the first time, in the Missouri Valley tournament. This was just before ESPN started, so lot fewer games on TV. 

10) NCAA Tournament schedule was announced today; it’ll be a little different, no idea if these changes will be permanent, or if they’re just trying something new this year:

Thursday, March 18— First Four games
March 19-20— First round
March 21-22— Second round, so there will be 8 games on a Monday
March 27-28— Sweet 16 games, Saturday and a Sunday
March 29-30— Elite 8 games on a Monday/Tuesday
April 3, 5— Final Four

9) Colts’ QB Philip Rivers retired Wednesday, after a 17-year career where he went 134-106 in regular season games, 5-7 in playoff games, with 66,435 passing yards, 421 TD passes. He is a lock for the Hall of Fame, though it may/may not be in his first year of eligibility. 

8) Still unclear if Drew Brees will retire; his wife posted something on Instagram Wednesday, saying how this season alone, he played with a torn rotator cuff, a torn fascia in his foot, and half his ribs broken. Tough freakin’ guy. 

7) Astros signed OF/DH Michael Brantley to a 2-year, $32M deal, but not before it was rumored that Toronto had signed him- FanGraphs even had Brantley listed in Toronto’s lineup when I was looking on my phone at lunch yesterday. 

6) NFL playoffs trend; last seven years, #1-seeds are 10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS in conference finals. Both #1 seeds lost at home in two years ago, when the Rams/Patriots both won. 

5) Odd fact that I learned this week; Once you’re President of the United States, you’re not allowed to drive anymore, ever, for security reasons. Secret Service guys drive you around. 

4) People were actually betting on how long Joe Biden’s inaugural address would last; 20-25:00 was the winning wager, at +$200. 

3) When teams get fined by a league, where does that money go? NHL’s Washington Capitols were fined $100,000 this week; who benefits from that? A charity of the Caps’ choice? 

2) Cavaliers 147, Nets 135, 2OT:
— Hey, Kyrie Irving showed up and played- he scored 37 points (15-28 FG)
— James Harden only took 14 shots, Kevin Durant took 25.
— Collin Sexton torched the Nets for 42 points.
— Cavaliers played only eight guys in a 58:00 game. 

1) Arkansas 75, Auburn 73:
— Tigers led by 19 at one point. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) Toronto Blue Jays signed OF George Springer to a 6-year, $150M contract Tuesday night; Springer played with Houston for seven years, has a .852 career OPS.

Blue Jays also signed reliever Kirby Yates to a 1-year contract. 

12) Baseball America published its list of the top 100 prospects; Vladimir Guerrero Jr is younger than 55 of the 100 guys on that list, and he already has 757 plate appearances in the big leagues. 

11) New York Mets acted quickly and fired GM Jared Porter, who held the job for 37 days or so; Porter lost his job when it became public that he had sent sent explicit pictures to a female reporter back in 2016, when he worked for the Cubs. Mets said they probably won’t replace Porter this year, just split up his responsibilities between the rest of the front office.

Mets’ president of baseball operations Sandy Alderson did a Zoom news conference Tuesday; he had a Sean Spicer-level of discomfort answering reporters’ questions. What had been a super winter for Met fans was, for now, derailed by this debacle. 

10) They were talking on MLB Network Tuesday, saying that lot of teams are likely to use a 6-man starting rotation this season, since pitchers didn’t throw as much last year, so they won’t to jump up their workload all in one year.

Spring training starts four weeks from today, by the way. 

9) We still don’t know if there will be a designated hitter in the National League this season; like I said, spring training starts in four weeks, would be nice if they figured it out soon.

Free agents Marcell Ozuna, Nelson Cruz, Mitch Moreland will bank lot more $$$ this season if the DH is in both leagues. 

8) Baltimore Ravens cut backup QB Robert Griffin III this week; RGIII was the #2 overall pick in the 2012 Draft, after the Redskins paid a ransom to the Rams for that pick.

Washington went 10-6 in Griffin’s rookie year, losing 24-14 to Seattle in their first playoff game, but it was all downhill from there. After going 9-6 as a starter that year, Griffin went 7-20 as a starter the rest of his career, a career that is now likely over. 

7) Northwestern Wildcats picked up a QB Tuesday; Ryan Hilinski will transfer to the Wildcats after bolting South Carolina. Hilinski started for the Gamecocks as a true freshman in 2019, throwing for 2,357 yards and 11 touchdowns, but he lost his starting job last fall and wound up as the #3 QB on the roster. 

6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers are first #5-seed to reach a conference final since the 49ers seven years ago; Tennessee made the AFC title game as a #6-seed last year.

5) Tennessee Titans WR AJ Brown had surgery on both knees Tuesday; Brown caught 70 passes for 1,075 yards and 11 TD’s— he is the first Tennessee WR with back-to-back seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards since Derrick Mason did it in 2003-04.

4) Not sure what it is about Staples Center, but Steph Curry has made only 6 of his last 32 3-point attempt in Staples, whether he was playing against the Lakers/Clippers. Curry has a career 3-point percentage of 43.3%, so 6-32 is quite a slump. 

3) Alabama 105, LSU 75:
— Crimson Tide made 23-43 3-pointers; they’re up to 35.9% on the arc for the season.
— Alabama has won eight games in a row; if their uniforms said “Kentucky” on the front, they’d be a top-5 team in the country. 

2) Pittsburgh 79, Duke 73:
— Duke is 5-4; their best win is over the #86 team.
— Duke is a thin team that is #344 in experience; they appear headed to the bubble and a nervous Selection Sunday. 

1) Villanova 76, Seton Hall 74
— Wildcats hadn’t played in 27 days; this was a good game.
— Villanova led by 9 with 7:21 left; game was decided a foul with 0:00.9 left that I’n guessing the ref wishes he hadn’t called.
— Seton Hall shot 65.6% inside the arc; both teams shot 40%+ on the arc. 

Tuesday’s Den: Random thoughts on a winter night

13) Florida State 78, Louisville 65:
— How the bleep is Florida State not in the top 25?
— Seminoles never trailed, led 40-16 at one point.

12) Baylor 78, Kansas 69:
— 13-0 Baylor has six top 100 wins.
— Bears are #4 in country shooting 3’s, #3 at forcing turnovers.

11) Warriors 115, Lakers 113:
— Golden State was down 19 in first quarter, 17 in third quarter.
— Warriors’ subs were a combined +43 in this game. 

10) Nets 125, Bucks 123:
— This looked a lot like a preview of Eastern Conference finals.
— Harden had 34 points, 12 assists in his 2nd game for Brooklyn. 

9) Portland star CJ McCollum (broken foot) is out for several weeks; he is scoring 26.7 ppg this year. 

8) Tennessee fired football coach Jeremy Pruitt Monday; AD Philip Fulmer was also told to take a hike— oh wait, he “retired” Uh-huh.

Pruitt was 16-19 overall at Tennessee, 10-16 in the SEC- Vols lost seven of their last eight games this season. There are stories that Pruitt got fired after an investigation into potential recruiting violations within the program— he really got fired for being 3-7 last year.

Everyone cheats at that level of college recruiting; if you don’t cheat, you finish last. If you cheat and you still finish last (or close to it), then you get fired.

Two ways to keep your SEC coaching job:
— Don’t go 3-7.
— Don’t get caught cheating after going 3-7. 

7) Oy. New York Mets were having such a good winter, with a new owner and all, “were having” being the operative phrase there.

Turns out that recently hired GM Jared Porter sent explicit, unsolicited photos to a female reporter in 2016, when he was working for the Cubs. This isn’t a good thing.

The woman was a foreign correspondent who had moved to this country to cover baseball; she has left journalism since then, and hadn’t commented publicly until now, because Porter was a nobody until now.

She has a limited grasp of the English language, but an interesting grasp of timing; might be difficult for the guy to keep the best job he was ever going to get. 

6) Porter and the Mets pulled off a 3-way trade Monday:
— Mets get lefty P Joey Lucchesi
— Padres get P Joe Musgrove
— Pirates get a boatload of prospects, one of whom is expected to be Hudson Head, an OF a lot of scouts think highly of. 

5) When the president of the United States leaves office, he gets a pension of $210,700 a year for the rest of his life.

Jimmy Carter was a president who is actually a decent person; he has written 14 books since he left office, as well as helping Habitat for Humanity build homes for people who need them.

4) St John’s 74, UConn 70:
— UConn led this game 21-7 early.
— Red Storm are still only 3-6 in Big East, and UConn’s best player didn’t play, but its an important win for their program. 

3) Other baseball stuff:
— Washington Nationals signed P Jon Lester for one year for undisclosed money.
— Los Angeles Angels signed C Kurt Suzuki for one year, $1.5M. 

2) From the Elias Sports Bureau: New Orleans Saints are first NFL team ever to win 49+ regular-season games in four-year span without reaching the Super Bowl during that time. 

1) This is the first week since December, 1982 that neither Duke/North Carolina is in the college basketball top 25. 

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

13) New Orleans Saints lost a home playoff game Sunday, third year in a row they did that, but they’ve got nothing on the Kansas City Chiefs. From 1995-2017, the Chiefs went 0-7 in playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium, an amazing display of playoff futility.

Over a 23-year period, they went 0-7 in home playoff games. Oy.

Last year’s Super Bowl title quashed those bad memories, but now all Chief fans can stress out this week about Patrick Mahomes’ concussion.

12) They mentioned a cool stat Sunday that I had never heard of before; from 2012-15, Seattle Seahawks led at one point or another in 70 consecutive games, which is the all-time record. Right now, Kansas City has led in 60 consecutive games, so the record is within reach. 

11) When I was a kid, I learned how to do math in my head by doing batting averages; if Sal  Bando went 4-13 for a weekend, I knew that was .308. if Catfish Hunter gave up two runs in seven innings, I knew that was a 2.57 ERA. Stuff like that; decades later, when I was an adult, I actually got a job promotion because of my math skills. For real, a big promotion.

So when I see the Big EAST Conference has five teams in the midwest, it saddens me; how can kids learn geography if they think Nebraska is in the east?

— Xavier is in Cincinnati
— Creighton is in Omaha
— DePaul is in Chicago
— Marquette is in Milwaukee
— Butler is in Indianapolis

None of those cities are close to the east; they’re midwestern cities.

Big East needs to find a better name for the league, for education’s sake.

10) Houston Cougars are 11-1, with a win over Texas Tech; all 15 of their players have already tested positive for COVID at some point this season. They’ve got a shot at going a long way in March/Mask Madness. 

9) Ivy League didn’t play basketball this winter, which means one less automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and one more at-large bid. Not sure what criteria will be used; some teams haven’t played in a while:

— 8-1 Villanova is a top 10 team; they haven’t played since December 23
— 7-1 Saint Louis hasn’t played a league game yet; they haven’t played since December 23.

When the bubble teams come more into focus, it’ll be fun to see how their resumes contrast.

8) College basketball upsets this weekend:
— Northern Arizona (+12) 62, Montana 58
— California (+11.5) 72, Utah 63
— Butler (+9) 70, Creighton 66
— Wm & Mary (+9) 69, Drexel 64 (Sunday)
— Georgia (+7.5) 78, Ole Miss 74
— IUPUI (+7) 65, Northern Kentucky 63

7) There are couple of very bad basketball teams in the Mountain West; so far this season, favorites of 15+ points are 8-1-1 ATS in conference games.

6) Odd Fact of the Day: Starting lineup for the Wisconsin Badgers is older than the starting lineup for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

5) James Harden made his debut for the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night; he put up 32 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists in the Nets’ 122-115 win over Orlando. Not a bad opening act. 

4) Sunday will be Aaron Rodgers’ 5th NFC title game, but the first one played at Lambeau Field; Green Bay lost the conference championship in Santa Clara LY to the 49ers. 

3) Los Angeles Chargers didn’t have to look far for their next coach; they hired Brandon Staley, who was the Rams’ defensive coordinator this past season. Staley is 38, was a coordinator for one season; he comes from the Vic Fangio coaching tree.

Curious who his offensive coordinator will be, seeing how Sean McVay runs Rams’ offense, so he’ll be poaching someone off another coaching staff. 

2) Kansas City 22, Browns 17:
— Mahomes (concussion) was KO’d in 3rd quarter; Chad Henne finished up at QB.
— Browns lost a goal-line fumble with 1:34 in first half, which turned out to be damaging.
— Chiefs outgained Cleveland 438-308; they host the Bills Sunday night. 

1) Tampa Bay 30, New Orleans 20:
— Saints are first team since ’86-’88 Bears to lose home playoff game 3 years in a row.
— Brees threw three INT’s; New Orleans was minus-4 in turnovers.
— Buccaneers go to Lambeau Field for the NFC title game Sunday. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Apparently someone in the NCAA has gotten a copyright on the phrase ”Mask Madness” for this year’s NCAA tournament,  which will be held entirely in Indiana. Sounds like there will be t-shirts sold. 

12) Jets hired Robert Saleh as their new head coach; he is expected to bring Mike LaFleur with him from San Francisco to be the Jets’ new offensive coordinator.

Because Saleh is a minority, 49ers get a 3rd round draft pick this year, and one next year. That is part of the NFL’s new minority hiring initiative.

11) UCLA swept their Arizona road trip this season; last seven times UCLA swept their Arizona trip, here is how they made out in the NCAA tournament that year:

— won NCAA tournament once
— lost in championship game once
— made two other Final Fours
— made two other Elite 8’s
— made Sweet 16 the other year

So they’ve won 2+ NCAA tournament games the last seven times they swept in Arizona.

By the way, this is the first time since 1994 that UCLA started out 6-0 in Pac-12 play.

10) Florida State 82, North Carolina 75:
— Tar Heels are 8-5, 3-3 in ACC games.
— Carolina is turning ball over 21.5% of time (#265).
— UNC is #284 in eFG%; they were #309 last year; in the five years before that, their average ranking in that category was 88.8. 

9) It is January 17 and Saint Louis hasn’t played a conference game yet, and they’re an NCAA-level team. Billikens are 7-1, with wins over LSU/NC State, but they haven’t played since two days before Christmas. They may wind up playing a lot of games in a short period of time. 

8) Auburn has a 6-1 freshman G Sharife Cooper who became eligible three games ago; Auburn won two of the three games he’s played, scoring 83.7 ppg. Much more dynamic team with him in there; even when he went 3-13 from floor like he did Saturday, he also had eight assists. 

7) There were 1,039 transfers in college basketball last year; there are 357 Division I hoop teams, so that works out to 2.91 transfers for EVERY team last year. College hoop is turning into baseball, with big $$$ schools pillaging the schools with fewer resources. 

6) The founder of Jersey Mike’s sub shops is a guy named Peter; go figure. 

5) Steph Curry is a very famous alumnus of Davidson College, but because he never graduated from the school, they’ve never retired his number. Wonder if that affects how much of a donation he gives them every year?

4) Portland Trailblazers’ C Jusuf Nurkic broke his wrist, is out eight weeks.

3) We posted these blind resumes yesterday:
One of these QB’s is in the Hall of Fame, one is not.

Player A: 62-63-4 career regular season record, 2-1 in playoffs. 173 TD passes, 220 INT’s
Player B: 72-72 career regular season record, 8-2 in playoffs. 164 TD passes, 198 INT’s.

Player A is Joe Namath, who is in the Hall of Fame; Player B is Jim Plunkett, who is not. 

2) Green Bay 32, LA Rams 18:
— Packers scored the first five times they had the ball.
— Green Bay outgained LA, 484-244, converting 8-12 third down plays.
— Packers host NFC title game in first game next Sunday

1) Buffalo 17, Baltimore 3:
— Taron Jackson had a 101-yard pick-6 for the Bills.
— Lamar Jackson was KO’d from this game with a concussion.
— Buffalo hosts next week if Cleveland wins Sunday; otherwise, they go to Arrowhead. 

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

13) Jacksonville Jaguars made some noise Thursday, hiring Urban Meyer as their new coach; it will be fascinating to see how this works out. 56-year old Meyer is 187-32 as a college coach, but has zero NFL experience, so who he hires as assistant coaches will be interesting.

Jaguars have four of the top 45 picks in April’s draft, have $74M in cap space, so they figure to get better fairly quickly.

Meyer seemed to have stress-related issues at Florida/Ohio State; can he deal with 9-7 or 8-8 being a great year with the Jaguars? Or 5-11 being a big improvement?

Again, Meyer was 187-32 in college; last three years, Jaguars are 12-36. This will be interesting. 

12) There were murmurs on the Interweb Thursday night that Scott Linehan would be the new OC in Jacksonville. Linehan was head coach of the Rams from 2006-08, then OC in Detroit from 2009-13 and OC for Dallas from 2015-18. He was the OC at LSU this past season. 

11) Detroit Lions hired LA Rams’ director of college scouting Brad Holmes as the team’s new GM; Holmes worked for the Rams for 17 years, starting out as a PR intern. He is the son of former Steelers’ lineman Mel Holmes, the nephew of Luther Bradley, who was the Lions’ first round draft pick in 1978.

Here’s what makes all this a little different; because Holmes is a minority, Rams will get two 3rd round draft picks, as part of the NFL’s new hiring initiatives- when one team hires a minority coach or a GM from another team, the other team gets two 3rd round picks as compensation. 

10) Texas Longhorns hired Jeff Banks as their new special teams coach; the guy was making $750,000 as special teams coach at Alabama, will make $1M for doing the same thing at Texas.

9) Atlantic 14 pulled its conference tournament out of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, will have it at a campus facility- they’ll be back in Barclays Center next year. 

8) Purdue 81, Indiana 69:
— Purdue won last eight series games, last five visits to Bloomington.
— Purdue’s last four games were on the road, the first time since 1960 they played four straight conference games on the road. One of their home games was postponed because of COVID.

7) 76ers 125, Heat 108:
— Shake Milton scored 31 points in 27:00 off bench; 76ers were +24 with him on the floor.
— Ben Simmons had 12 assists, 10 rebounds, took only 8 shots. He is a unique player. 

6) Something to look forward to: spring training for Korean baseball starts February 1st, two weeks from Sunday. Spring training for the major leagues starts February 17th. 

5) Baseball stuff:
— Mets signed 1B/DH Jose Martinez, a solid right-handed bat
— Phillies signed reliever Archie Bradley, who was most recently with Arizona.

4) Former Red Sox/Cubs GM Theo Epstein got a job this week in the commissioner’s office as a consultant. According to a MLB statement, Epstein will “work with baseball analytics experts from the Commissioner’s Office and the Clubs to determine the likely effects of various contemplated rule changes.”

3) Blind resume for the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
One of these QB’s is in the Hall of Fame, one is not.
Player A: 62-63-4 career regular season record, 2-1 in playoffs. 173 TD passes, 220 INT’s
Player B: 72-72 career regular season record, 8-2 in playoffs. 164 TD passes, 198 INT’s.

Which of these two resumes do you think belongs to a Hall of Famer? 

2) If you’re one of the morons who attacked the Capitol in Washington last week, and you had your cellphone with you, get ready to be arrested, since the phones have GPS tracking systems in them, so it is a matter of time until they find you and fingerprint you. 

1) I’m a little annoyed that the Secret Service was spending $3,000 per month to rent a studio apartment, just so they could have a bathroom available to use while they protected Jared Kushner and his cruddy wife. The Kushner’s didn’t let the Secret Service, the people who were PROTECTING THEM, use one of the SIX BATHROOMS in their house. Oy. 

Friday’s Den: NBA trends…….

It is still early in the NBA season, but here are trends to consider for each team:
(stats are thru Wednesday’s games)

Atlanta Hawks:
— Lost four of last five games.
— Last six games stayed under total.
— 1-4 ATS at home, 4-1 on road. 

Boston Celtics:
— Won their last four games, covered last three.
— 3-1 ATS at home.
— Underdogs covered all six of their road games. 

Brooklyn Nets:
— Won four of their six games.
— Covered three of last four home games.
— Last five home games went over total.
— How will team’s approach change with James Harden on board?

Charlotte Hornets :
— Won/covered four of last five games.
— Five of their last six games stayed under.
— Underdogs are 8-4 ATS in their games.
— Check status of Hayward, who hurt his hip Wednesday

Chicago Bulls:
— Covered five in row, eight of last nine games.
— Four of their last five games went over total.
— 6-1 ATS as a road underdog. 

Cleveland Cavaliers:
— Lost three in row, five of last six games.
— Lost last three home games, scoring 88 ppg.
— Their last ten games stayed under the total. 

Dallas Mavericks:
— Won/covered their last four games.
— Won/covered four of last five road games.
— Five of their last seven games stayed under. 

Denver Nuggets:
— 1-5 ATS at home.
— Nine of their 11 games went over.
— Favorites are 3-1-1 ATS in their road games.

Detroit Pistons:
— Lost five of their last six games.
— Covered five of last seven games.
— Under is 5-2 in their home games; over is 3-1 in their road games.

Golden State Warriors:
— Won/covered four of last six games, all at home.
— Last four games stayed under total.
— 1-3 ATS on road; their last road game was December 29.

Houston Rockets:
— Lost four of their last five games.
— 3-6 ATS this season; 2-4 at home, 1-2 on road.
— Under is 5-0-1 in their last six games.

Indiana Pacers
— 3-0 ATS as an underdog this season.
— Three of their four road games went over.
— 2-0 ATS if they played night before.

LA Clippers:
— Won three of their last four games
— Last four home games went over total.
— 0-3 ATS in last three home games.

LA Lakers:
— Won last four games, covered last three.
— Six of their seven road games stayed under total.
— 2-4 ATS as a home favorite, 5-2 as a road favorite.

Memphis Grizzlies:
— Won/covered their last three games.
— 1-5 SU at home, 4-1 SU on road.
— Four of their last five home games stayed under. 

Miami Heat
— Lost three of their four road games (underdogs 4-0 ATS)
— Three of their last four home games stayed under.
— 3-1 ATS in game after a loss; 1-3 ATS after a win.

Milwaukee Bucks:
— Won six of their last seven games.
— Last three games stayed under the total.
— 4-2 ATS as a home favorite, 3-3 as a road favorite.

Minnesota Timberwolves:
— Lost eight of their last nine games.
— Six of their last seven games went over.
— Karl-Anthony Towns is back from his injury.

New Orleans Pelicans:
— Lost their last four games (1-3 ATS)
— 1-4 ATS as a favorite, 3-2 ATS as an underdog.
— Underdogs covered all five of their home games.

New York Knicks:
— Lost their last four games (0-4 ATS)
— Last five road games stayed under total.
— 2-4 ATS at home, 3-3 ATS on road.

Oklahoma City:
— Lost all five of their home games.
— 1-4 ATS as home underdogs, 5-2 ATS as road dogs.
— Over is 3-2 in their home games; under is 4-2 in their road games.

Orlando Magic:
— Lost five of their last seven games.
— Last five home games stayed under the total.
— 4-1 ATS as a favorite, 2-4 ATS as an underdog.

Philadelphia 76ers:
— Lost three of their last four games.
— Last four games went over the total.
— Covered once in their last four games.

Phoenix Suns:
— 2-3 in last five games, after a 5-1 start.
— 3-0 ATS in game following a loss.
— Four of their last five games went over total.

Portland Trailblazers:
— Won their last four games (3-1 ATS)
— 1-4 ATS at home, 4-2 ATS on road
— Under is 3-2 in their home games.

Sacramento Kings:
— Lost six of their last eight games.
— 2-5-1 ATS at home, 3-2 on road.
— Five of their last six games went over.

San Antonio Spurs:
— Won four of last five games, all on road.
— 4-0 ATS as a road underdog.
— Lost three of their four home games.

Toronto Raptors
— Lost five of their last six games.
— 2-5 ATS on the road.
— Four of their last six games went over.
— Remember, they’re playing “home” games in Tampa, not Toronto

Utah Jazz
— Won/covered last three games, all on the road.
— Underdogs covered all three of their home games.
— Three of their last four games stayed under.

Washington Wizards
— Underdogs covered five of their six home games.
— Covered four of their five road games.
— Six of their last seven games went over total. 

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

13) Brooklyn Nets grabbed the headlines Wednesday when they traded for James Harden, in a 4-way deal that had to have the salary cap guys recharging their iPhones a couple times.

— Nets get James Harden
— Pacers get Caris LaVert and a 2nd round pick
— Cavaliers get Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince
— Rockets got four 1st round draft picks, four pick swaps with Brooklyn, plus:
Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurcus

Very unusual for a blockbuster like this to happen during the season. 

12) Harden and Kevin Durant have won 7 of the last 11 NBA scoring titles; Nets become the first team ever with two players who have won 3+ scoring titles each.

Why is that? Because there is only one basketball in a game; to win a scoring title, you have to have that ball a great deal of the time. It is going to take a lot of cooperation for this to work. 

11) Put yourself in Steve Nash’s shoes; after a Hall of Fame playing career, Nash is a rookie head coach at age 46, charged with coaching a team with:
— 32-year old Kevin Durant coming off an achilles injury
— 31-year old Kyrie Irving, who missed the last two weeks for personal issues
— and now a thinned-out roster after acquiring the prolific Harden, who is 31.

Nets need to add three more players before the playoffs start, in order to contend for a title. One has to be a backup center. 

10) Wednesday morning, Nets were +$550 to win the NBA title; now they’re +$300.

9) Texas Tech 79, Texas 77:
— High-level game, could’ve been an Elite 8 or Final Four game.
— Tech was 22-28 on foul line, Texas 18-31
— Longhorns led 48-38 at halftime.
— Texas had 15 turnovers, Red Raiders 7
— Teams meet again in the last regular season game, February 27

8) Saw something in that game I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a real game before; have seen it on the playground a few times, but never in a serious game.

Tech’s Mac McClung, who transferred to Tech from Georgetown, was driving towards the hoop, about 12 feet from the basket on the left side of the lane and he leaves his feet while throwing the ball off the backboard- to himself, where he grabbed it and got fouled trying to score.

You have to be pretty damn sure you’re not getting taken out of the game if you do stuff like that; McClung scored 22 points for the 11-3 Red Raiders, playing 36:00. He doesn’t come out often. 

7) UConn star James Bouknight is out indefinitely after having surgery on his left elbow; he hurt the elbow diving for a loose ball the other night. Bouknight is averaging 20.3 ppg. 

6) How are NBA teams on the second night of back/backs?
— Road team that played at home night before: 4-4-1 ATS
— Road team that also played on road night before: 11-8 ATS
— Home team that played at home night before: 10-6 ATS
— Home team that also played on road night before: 5-4 ATS

That adds up to 30-22-1 ATS, surprisingly good. 

5) JaKarr Sampson is a forward for the Indiana Pacers; at age 27, he is already on his fifth NBA team. This is another guy who must be good at packing:

2014-16: played 121 games for the 76ers, scored 5.2 ppg in 15.1 mpg.
2016: finished that season playing 26 games for Denver, scoring 5.2 ppg in 18 mpg
2016-17: Played in the G-League.
2017-18: Scored 4.7 ppg in 15.6 mpg in 22 games for Sacramento.
2018-19: Played only four games for Chicago.
2019-20: Scored 4.9 ppg in 13.6 mpg in 34 games for Indiana
2020-21: Is scoring 2.5 ppg in 6.7 mpg for Indiana.

Sampson played two years at St John’s, scoring 13.9 ppg; he played in the Chinese league a couple times too, for a team in Shandong. He is on his way to writing an interesting book. 

4) Dallas 104, Charlotte 93:
— Kristaps Porzingis made his season debut, scoring 16 points in 21:00.
— Charlotte’s Gordon Hayward strained his hip, left the game early. 

3) Florida State 105, NC State 73:
— Seminoles hadn’t played in 15 days; they played really, really well.
— FSU shot 72.5% inside the arc, made 12-18 shots on the arc.
— Seminoles’ 1.52 ppp is highest ppp I’ve ever seen. 

2) Why do people wear watches? Everyone carries cellphones, which obviously have clocks in them. Seems like a waste of money to buy a watch. 

1) If you’re a football coach for the Cal Bears, I’m guessing you’ll be on the phone making recruiting calls Saturday afternoon, seeing how the Rams-Packers playoff game has couple of Cal Bears playing quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff. Good advertising for the program. 

Two lists today: re-running my favorite Batman villains

My 13 favorite Batman (TV) villains

13) Chandell (Liberace)— The gifted piano player was both Chandell (the piano player) and his twin brother Harry who it turns out, was the real villain. 

Trivia: Two Batman villains also had roles in Magnum PI; Howard Duff (Cabala) played Magnum’s grandfather. Barbara Rush (Nora Clavicle) played Magnum’s Aunt Phoebe, a playwright who had Alzheimer’s, and was also in another earlier episode. 

12) Bookworm (Roddy McDowell)— Appeared in two episodes; Bookworm’s crimes were inspired by literary works, well, because he likes books.

McDowell also appeared in the Batman animated series in the early 90’s.

11) Colonel Gumm (Roger C Carmel)— He loved the color pink and was obsessed with stamps; Colonel Gumm appeared in the two-episode crossover with The Green Hornet, with Bruce Lee as Kato and Van Williams as the Green Hornet. 

Trivia: There were three different Mr Freeze’s; Eli Wallach, Otto Preminger, George Sanders. 

10) Siren (Joan Collins)— Played a sidekick to The Riddler’s devious plan to take over Gotham City’s boxing industry, but she also wanted to uncover Batman’s true identity. 

9) The Archer (Art Carney)— Ed Norton from The Honeymooners was also a Batman villain!!! 

Archer’s character was based (loosely) on Robin Hood; his henchmen were Maid Marilyn, Big John, and Crier Tuck.

8) King Tut (Victor Buono)— Appeared in eight episodes; Buono supposedly loved playing the character because it allowed him the chance to overact, one of the aspects of the character that made King Tut so beloved by fans. 

7) Marsha, Queen of Diamonds (Carolyn Jones)— Better known for playing Morticia Addams on The Addams Family, Ms Jones was in five episodes of Batman, joining Addams Family cast members John Astin, Ted Cassidy in making Batman appearances.

6) Egghead (Vincent Price)— When I was a kid, would often substitute (eggs-ellent) for excellent when talking to my family. For a little kid, that was eggs-citing. Vincent Price was awesome in this role, an egg-centric guy with a very strangely-shaped head. 

5) Mad Hatter (David Wayne)— This villain was obsessed with getting his hands on Batman’s cowl, which of course didn’t happen. 

Wayne also appeared in four movies with Marilyn Monroe. 

4) Penguin (Burgess Meredith)—Is more famous for playing Rocky Balboa’s trainer Mickey, but Meredith appeared in 20 Batman episodes, most of any villain. 

3) Catwoman (Julie Newmar)— Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt also played Catwoman, but Julie Newman was the best of the three; she was 5-11, a prima ballerina for the Los Angeles Opera who graduated high school when she was 15. 

in 2004, her next-door neighbor Jim Belushi sued her for $4M alleging harassment and defamation of character, as a result of a dispute over leaf-blowing. 

2) Joker (Cesar Romero)— Appeared in 19 episodes, 2nd-most of any villain. Romero refused to shave his mustache and you can see it under his white face paint. 

Romero had a long, excellent career; he appeared in the first Oceans Eleven (1960). 

1) Riddler (Frank Gorshin)— No one wore the green body suit with the big ???’s on it better than Gorshin, who had a long career as a TV guest star, appearing in CSI, Wonder Woman and the original Hawaii Five-O, among many other shows. 

John Astin played The Riddler for two episodes, but of course he was way more famous as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family.

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) Being the #1 seed in the NFL playoffs is a big advantage; Chiefs/Packers both got last week off, got to rest their players while everyone else fought like hell to get to this weekend.

Over last seven years, in the divisional round of the playoffs, #1 seeds are 11-3 ATS, 10-3 as the favorite. Three years ago, the Nick Foles-led Eagles were an underdog in all three of their playoff games, as they won an unlikely Super Bowl title. 

12) So far in the NBA this season, underdogs are 93-66 against the spread (58.5%).

Home underdogs are 37-32; home favorites are 34-56. 

11) When pro/college football teams fall short of their expectations, there are often scapegoats; Seattle Seahawks told offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to take a hike Tuesday. Seattle was 34-18 in his three years as OC, but 1-3 in playoff games. 

10) Chiefs play Cleveland this weekend, Patrick Mahomes vs Baker Mayfield.

In 2016, those two played in a college game; Oklahoma outlasted Texas Texas Tech 66-59. Mahomes threw for 734 yards (734!!!), ran for 85 more. Mayfield threw for 545 yards and seven TD’s. Imagine a team gaining 854 yards and LOSING- they converted 20-25 third down plays. 

9) After going 0-10 this season, Louisiana-Monroe hired Terry Bowden as its new football coach, which shows a seriousness about moving up in the Sun Belt standings. Tuesday, Bowden hired former Arizona/Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez as the WarHawks’ new offensive coordinator, also a good sign. Now all they need are a lot of good players. 

8) Alabama 85, Kentucky 65:
— Crimson Tide is off to its best start in SEC basketball since 1987.
— A 22-year old kid who was a walk-on for Kentucky last year passed away Monday night; he was very popular with his former teammates, which probably contributed to this score. 

7) Oklahoma State 75, Kansas 70:
— Cowboys are only 3-3 in Big X, but their three losses are by total of 7 points.
— OSU scored the last eight points in this game. 

6) Florida 72, Ole Miss 63:
— Gators ended this game on a 14-0 run, snapping a 2-game skid.
— Ole Miss lost five of its last seven games, after 4-0 start. 

5) Michigan 77, Wisconsin 54:
— Wolverines are 11-0, have only one win by less than 10 points.
— Opponents are shooting only 38.3% inside the arc (#1).

4) Virginia Tech 74, Duke 67:
— Duke lost four of its last five visits to Blacksburg.
— Blue Devils are 2-3 in top 100 games, beating Boston College/Notre Dame. 

3) USC 67, Cal-Riverside 62 OT:
— Riverside was 12-32 on the arc, Trojans 3-21.
— Riverside ran out to a quick 25-14 lead, damn near pulled a big upset here. USC blew a 65-59 lead with 0:59 left in regulation. 

2) Northern Illinois 67, Akron 65:
— Huskies pull a big upset, get their first MAC win.
— NIU played their starting guards 40/38 minutes; they needed this win. 

1) Tuesday was the 55th anniversary of the first airing of the classic TV show Batman, with Adam West as the caped crusader. I was six years old at the time; when you’re six years old and your name is Biff, the cartoonish opening credits “WHAP!!! BIFF!!! OOF!!!” were very cool.

Lot of famous people were guest villains; during the pandemic last spring, we ran thru our favorites. I’ll have to re-run that list soon. Anyway, if you can find Batman re-runs on TV, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it. Especially the opening credits. 

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

13) Alabama 52, Ohio State 24:
— Crimson Tide led 35-17 at halftime; Jones threw for 345 first half yards.
— Alabama WR Smith caught 12 passes for 215 yards and 3 TD’s, all in first half; then he broke his hand early in third quarter.
— Nick Saban wins his 7th national title, six of them at Alabama. 

12) Philadelphia Eagles fired coach Doug Pederson Monday; he won the freakin’ Super Bowl only three years ago. Pederson was 46-39-1 coaching the Eagles; he is rumored to be a strong candidate to be the next coach of the Jets. 

11) Dallas Cowboys hired former Falcons’ coach Dan Quinn as their new defensive coordinator; Quinn went 46-44 as head coach of the Falcons, winning the NFC title four years ago. Quinn was Seattle’s DC when they won their only Super Bowl title in the 2013 season. 

10) Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson is a unique quarterback; not the greatest passer, he threw for only 170 yards in the Ravens’ win Sunday, but he also ran for 136 yards. Key seems to be to contain him in the pocket, which is the opposite of how you defend most QB’s, and it is also way easier said than done. 

9) ESPN’s Chris Fallica pointed out that Tennessee Titans ran the ball on 12 of their first 16 first down plays Sunday; very predictable. Tennessee gained only 27 yards on those 12 running plays.

8) Nebraska’s best WR, Wan’Dale Robinson, is transferring, a big blow to the Cornhuskers; this past season, Robinson caught 51 passes for 461 yards. 

7) Closer Liam Hendriks gets $54M for three years from the Chicago White Sox. Hendriks was never a closer until two years ago; he saved 39 games for Oakland in 2019-20. 

6) We mentioned yesterday that Victor Rojas quit as the Angels’ TV voice, after working for the Halos for 11 years; it seemed weird- who gives up a gig like that?

Monday, Rojas was announced as the new president/GM of the Frisco Roughriders, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.Rojas applied for the Angels’ GM job last fall; now he is getting valuable experience in that area. 

5) Was watching a tribute to the late Paul Westphal on NBA TV Monday; they were showing highlights of his days playing for the Phoenix Suns. It was so long ago that the court didn’t have a 3-point arc on it. Westphal was an excellent guard who died way too early last week, at age 70.

4) UConn 60, DePaul 53— Huskies are off to a 7-1 start, 4-1 in the Big East, where they’ve returned to after seven years in the AAC. 

3) Colorado 65, Utah 58— Somehow, Utah went 2-11 on the foul line, in their own gym. Buffs are the #28 experience team and could make some noise in March. 

2) Bradley 75, Northern Iowa 73— UNI is off to an awful 3-8 start, 2-4 in Valley games. 

1) SMU 79, Temple 68— Mustangs made 11-28 on the arc, sweep the season series with Temple, which at 0-3, is the only AAC team winless in conference play. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Sunday

13) Ravens 20, Titans 13:
— Tennessee led 10-0 after the first quarter.
— Lamar Jackson gets his first playoff win (1-2).
— Ravens held Derrick Henry to 40 yards on 18 carries.

— Baltimore outgained Tennessee, 401-209
— Titans’ last six series: 31 plays, 103 yards, 3 points.
— Ravens visit Buffalo Saturday night. 

12) Saints 21, Bears 9:
— New Orleans outgained the Bears, 385-239
— 3rd down conversions: Saints 11-17, Bears 1-10
— Chicago’s only TD came on the last play of the game.

— Saints had 3 drives in 2nd half; they lasted 7:29, 8:51, 5:19 (38 plays)
— Chicago went 3/out on five of their ten drives.
— Saints host Tampa Bay Sunday. 

11) Browns 48, Steelers 37:
— Browns were +5 in turnovers, always a good thing.
— Cleveland led 28-0 after the first quarter, 35-10 at halftime.
— Roethlisberger was 47-68/501 passing, most completions EVER in any NFL game.

— Steelers started season 11-0, then lost five of their last six games.
— New Browns started up in 1999; this is their first playoff win.
— Old Browns, who moved to Baltimore, last won a playoff game in 1994.
— Cleveland visits Kansas City Sunday afternoon. 

10) Last three years, home teams went 4-10 SU in this round of the NFL playoffs. 

9) Washington QB Tyler Heinicke threw for 306 yards in his 2nd NFL start; he made himself a lot of money, proving to all 32 teams that he is good enough to be productive in a playoff game.

Heinicke went to college at Old Dominion, while the Monarchs were transitioning from I-AA football to I-A; he once started a game ODU lost 80-20 to North Carolina. Monarchs went 35-15 in Heinicke’s four seasons- starting in college for four years is solid experience.

We’ll see if Saturday’s effort was enough to make the Washington roster next fall. Either way, he’ll be on someone’s roster in 2021. 

8) Kyrie Irving has sat out the Brooklyn Nets’ last three games, apparently because he was upset by the attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington last Wednesday.

Here’s the thing: Irving’s salary works out to $405,452 per game, every game. Is he getting paid while he refuses to play? If not, then that’s on him. If he’s still getting paid, then what the bleep are we doing here? A guy gets $1.2M over five days for doing nothing, because he doesn’t feel like going to work? Nets aren’t saying much; they cannot be happy. 

7) In 2013-14, Zach LaVine played his only season of college basketball, for UCLA; he scored 9.4 ppg in 24.4 mpg, nothing amazing, but the NBA is a developmental league now, and he was taken with the 13th pick by Minnesota in the 2014 draft. Great pick.

LaVine has worked very hard on his game; last three years, he’s averaged 23.7/25.5/26.0 ppg; he is a legit star, because he got good coaching and he obviously worked his butt off to become a great player, which he now is.

Problem for Minnesota is, on June 22, 2017, they traded him to Chicago; here’s the trade:
— Minnesota got: Jimmy Butler, Justin Patton
— Chicago got: LaVine, Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen

Wouldn’t have been a terrible trade for Minnesota, but Butler/Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t get along, and one of them had to go- they’re 57-98 last 2+ seasons, with Butler traded elsewhere. 

6) Wichita State 82, Cincinnati 76— First seven fouls of the game were called on Cincinnati, which reminded me of a story.

March 2001, I was an assistant basketball coach at Schenectady High; we had great players, and won the public school state championship, our second title in four years.

We’re playing St Raymond’s from New York City in the Federation tournament- they had Julius Hodge, who went on to play at NC State, then in the NBA for a couple years. The game starts, and the first five or six fouls are called on our guys. No bueno.

There were lot of people at this game in Glens Falls; we were the local team and those people weren’t very pleased with the refs. Our coach says something to the ref, who has the onions to reply: “You should sit down. You don’t hear the other coach complaining!!!”

Well genius, you haven’t called a bleeping foul on his team yet!!! Go figure. 

5) You know the State Farm commercial where the guys are all getting their hair cut like Patrick Mahomes? On a table behind one of the guys, there is an old fashioned dial-up phone- don’t see a lot of those anymore. It just looks out of place in the commercial. 

4) Washington Nationals gave Kyle Schwarber a one-year, $10M contract; Schwarber hit only .188 in last year’s shortened season- he’s a career .230 hitter, but he’s also hit 105 homers the last four seasons. His career OPS is .816. 

3) Was surprised to see that Victor Rojas has walked away from his job as TV voice of the Los Angeles Angels; the son of former big leaguer Cookie Rojas, Victor interviewed for the Angels’ vacant general manager job last fall, but they hired someone else. Rojas worked for the Angels for the last 11 years. 

2) Week or so ago, MLB Network ran a replay of the Bronx-Boston playoff game from 1978, the Bucky Dent game. Seems like 1,000 years ago; I was still in college. A million things are different now than they were then, but these stood out:

— There were no ads on the Green Monster
— There were no graphics on the TV screen, except after each half-inning.
— The first baseman for Boston (George Scott) wore a batting helmet in the field.
— It was a day game; wouldn’t be today. TV would want the game at night.
— There were no (zero, none) mention of pitch counts.
— Bucky Dent only hit 40 homers in his MLB career; his homer in this game made him an iconic figure in New York sports.
— Bronx had acquired him for LaMarr Hoyt and Oscar Gamble. Hoyt won 43 games for Chicago in 1982-83.

1) If you’re on Twitter, and you want to follow someone who will make you smile nearly every day, follow former NBA player Rex Chapman. He posts all kinds of stuff, lot of unusual animal videos. Guaranteed he will make you smile at least once a day; these days, we can all use that.

Sunday, Chapman posted a video of a bear on a golf course, trying to get the flag out of a hole on one green, but instead the bear winds up dancing with the pole. Funny stuff. 

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

13) Bills 27, Colts 24:
— Indy outgained the Bills, 472-397; that doesn’t matter.
— Colts had two empty trips to the red zone; no bueno.
— 3rd down conversions: Colts 9-17, Bills 2-9

— Buffalo gets its first playoff win since 1995.
— Bills’ first four drives: 17 plays, 108 yards, 7 points.
— Bills’ last five drives: 43 plays, 293 yards, 20 points. 

12) Rams 30, Seahawks 20:
— Darious Williams had a pick-6 for the Rams.
— Cam Akers ran for 131 yards, caught passes for 45 more.
— Jared Goff came off the bench to lead the win after backup John Wolford got KO’d after getting kneed in the head while running the ball— he hurt his neck.

— Seahawks completed only 11 of their 27 passes.
— Third down conversions: Rams 3-15, Seattle 2-14
— Rams outgained Seattle, 333-278.

11) Buccaneers 31, Washington 23:
— Fournette ran for 93 yards and a TD.
— Brady threw for 381 yards in his 31st postseason win.
— Evans caught six passes for 119 yards.

— Washington was within 18-16 after three quarters.
— Heinicke threw for 306 yards; it was his second NFL start.
— Refs had right idea; total of five penalties were called in the game. 

10) Texas 72, West Virginia 70:
— Three years ago, Andrew Jones had leukemia; he hit the game-winning 3-pointer in this game, after West Virginia missed two foul shots with 0:10 left.
— Mountaineers led 54-45 with 13:08 left, 70-65 with 1:41 left.
— Longhorns are 10-1; they won their last six games. 

9) San Diego State 69, Nevada 67— Aztecs’ G Pulliam hit a runner off the glass at the buzzer to give San Diego State a walk-off home win, after they had blown a 10-point first half lead.

8) Santa Clara 66, Saint Mary’s 64— Herb Sendek has coached at NC State/Arizona State, but went 5-7 in NCAA tourney games so now he is at Santa Clara, where he has the Broncos on an upward path. Santa Clara is 7-2 this year, 27-15 last two years. 

7) College basketball upsets:
— Santa Clara (+9) 66, Saint Mary’s 64
— Rice (+8) 71, Texas-El Paso 68
— Miami (+6.5) 64, NC State 59
— Citadel (+6.5) 92, Chattanooga 87
— Rhode Island (+6) 83, VCU 68
— Eastern Michigan (+5) 71, Akron 59
— Kentucky (+4.5) 76, Florida 58
— Middle Tennessee (+4) 67, FIU 56
— Wofford (+4) 48, NC-Greensboro 45

6) USC 73, Arizona State 64— This is the first time ever that UCLA/USC swept the two Arizona schools in Pac-12 play. Sounds surprising, but USC hadn’t won in Tucson for a decade. 

5) In this day and age, how the hell do teams not score 50 points but still win?
— Wofford 48, NC-Greensboro 45— Greensboro was 1-2 on the line, for whole game.
— Manhattan 45, Quinnipiac 42— Teams combined to make 9-39 on the arc. 

4) Kentucky 76, Florida 58— Wildcats stumbled thru a 1-6 non-conference slate, but won their first three conference games. This was, by far, their best game of the season. 

3) Ohio State 79, Rutgers 68— Scarlet Knights were 6-0 at one point; people like me were just assuming that Rutgers would make the NCAAs for the first time since 1991, but now they’ve lost four of their last five games— they need to start winning again. Shooting better than 58% on the foul line would be a big help.

2) Cleveland State 74, Northern Kentucky 71 OT— Vikings are already 8-0 in Horizon League, after losing all three non-conference games. Previous five years, Cleveland State was 27-53 in conference games. Dennis Gates is doing an excellent coaching job. 

1) Little Rock 78, Louisiana 76, OT— Teams split pair of 2-point decisions this weekend; the end of Friday’s game was……..unique.

Louisiana was up a hoop with 0:10 left, Little Rock had the ball. Point guard was dribbling near midcourt when the lights in the arena went out, and the auxiliary lights went on, the ones used during player introductions.

Lights stayed off for two seconds, then came back on; the refs never blew a whistle, the guard never stopped dribbling; when the lights came back on, he jacked up a 3 that missed, the refs sprinted off the floor, along with the Louisiana team. Little Rock’s coach was not happy.

Trojans got their revenge Saturday with this OT win; they were down 10 at halftime. 

Saturday’s Den: Random stuff with weekend here…….

13) Houston Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson offered input on potential GM candidates to the team’s owner, but the Texans neither considered nor consulted with those people, and now Watson is annoyed, which isn’t good when he has a 4-year, $156M contract.

Watson was justifiably unhappy when the Texans traded WR DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona; when the team’s owner says Watson will have input on hiring decisions, then he has to be listened to, even if you don’t agree with his choices. But he wasn’t listened to, and now the team has a big problem on their hands. 

12) When the late Al Davis was running the Raiders and was looking to hire coaches, he would often interview coaches he had no intention of hiring, because he wanted to pick their brains. 

11) Dallas Cowboys fired DC Mike Nolan Friday, so they’ll have their third defensive coordinator in three years next season. 

10) Saw an amazing video the other day, of Steph Curry making 105 3-pointers in a row at a recent practice. Curry has made shooting cool, and has proven that you can really rich by being a great shooter, which has made basketball a lot more fun to watch. 

9) Get well soon to Curry’s brother Seth, who plays for the 76ers and recently tested positive for COVID. 76ers finally got out of New York Friday night; they’ll only have six guys available for their next game, Saturday against Denver. 

8) Xavier did something unusual Wednesday night; they beat St John’s 69-61, but were 0-12 on the arc. Not often does a team win when they go empty outside the arc. Xavier outscored the Red Storm 21-8 on foul line; Johnnies were only 8-15 on the charity stripe. 

7) Stat that surprised the hell out of me: Indiana Hoosiers have now lost 18 games in a row at Wisconsin. Then again, Indiana has been above .500 in conference play in only three of the last 12 seasons. Still think they should hire Steve Alford as coach. 

6) Purdue 55, Michigan State 54:
— Spartans lost despite leading 31-16 at halftime.
— Purdue won despite going 3-24 on the arc.
— Purdue outscored MSU 5-0 over the last 0:19. 

5) Dayton 89, Davidson 78, OT— High quality game in the Atlantic 14. Flyers had been stunned in their last game, losing as an 11-point favorite at Fordham, so this is a good bounce back. 

4) Green Bay 84, Oakland 81, OT— Green Bay started the season 0-9, but has now won its last two games, both in overtime. 

3) Quinnipiac 84, Manhattan 79, 2OT— Jaspers led 60-49 with 6:25 left in this game, but let it get away. Teams combined to make 11-49 on the arc, a total brickfest. 

2) As I type this, underdogs are 77-51 ATS in the NBA this season, with three games still going on Friday night. Thats 60.2%; not having crowds helps the road teams.

1) Last three years, in this round of the NFL playoffs, underdogs went 8-2-1 ATS; one game was a pick ‘em. This will be the first time #2 seeds don’t have a bye in this round.