Tuesday’s 6-pack, Quote and Quiz of the Day

NHL information every day on NHL page……college/pro basketball every day on Hoops page

Tuesday’s six-pack
Odds to win National League MVP this season:
12-5— Mike Trout
7-2— Manny Machado
4-1— Mookie Betts
8-1— Jose Altuve, Josh Donaldson
10-1— Miguel Cabrera
15-1— Robinson Cano

Quote of the Day
“If your name isn’t on the back of your uniform, you better go up and swing the bat.”
Diamondbacks’ TV guy Luis Gonzalez, talking about subs playing at the end of spring training games

Tuesday’s quiz
What football team did Donald Trump own in the old USFL?

Monday’s quiz
In the last 20 Final Fours, two #1-seeds played for the national title five times.

Sunday’s quiz
New York Mets’ AAA farm club plays its home games in Las Vegas.

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

13) NFL approved Raiders’ move to Las Vegas Monday; they’ll start playing in the desert in 2019, after playing in Oakland this coming year- where they’ll play in 2018 is still unclear.

This is sad for people in Oakland- the Warriors are moving to San Francisco soon, the A’s are in limbo stadium-wise. Lot of history in that Oakland Coliseum, lot of winning, but these days, money means more than sentiment, which is too bad.

12) Prediction: Raiders’ new stadium will make UNLV’s athletic program a huge winner, with Rebels eventually moving up to a Power 5 league, maybe partnering with BYU as the western tier of the Big X Conference- they need two more teams so they can have a conference championship game.

11) Back in late November, South Carolina was 300-1 to win the national title; they were still 300-1 on March 9. Now they’re 15-2.

10) In John Calipari’s first seven years at Kentucky, 28 of 56 guys who played for him were drafted by the NBA.

9) I’m not fond of people posting pics on the Interweb of kids crying in the losing locker room, like was done from the Kentucky locker room Sunday. There should be some limit to what we see; there should be some semblance of privacy in the sanctity of the locker room. There is a media center for interviews with players/coaches; thats all the media contact that is needed.

8) Former major leaguer Joe Carter, who hit the walk-off homer for the Blue Jays as they won the 1993 World Series, was on TV at a spring training game Sunday. Carter has three sisters and three nieces who are all riders on the pro rodeo circuit- one of the sisters is 65 years old!!!

7) Next time they have this World Baseball Classic, I’d like to see the Cuban major leaguers play for Cuba’s team- would make the tournament a lot better. Not sure that is possible politically, but would be fun to see it happen.

6) Quinnipiac hired Villanova assistant coach Baker Dunleavy as its new hoop coach; he is Mike Dunleavy Sr’s son. Quinnipiac could’ve hired alumnus Jared Grasso, an assistant for MAAC rival Iona, but they didn’t- they used a search firm and the search firm chose Dunleavy.

My question is this: if you need a search firm to hire a coach, what the bleep do you need an athletic director for?

Other coaching news: Duquesne is set to hire Akron coach Keith Dambrot, who is best known for being Lebron James’ high school coach.

5) I’m going to be curious to see if Josh Reddick plays against lefties this season; in his 8-year career, Reddick is a .218 hitter vs lefties, with a .280 on-base percentage.

Back in 2014, I got so aggravated when the A’s pinch-hit for Reddick in the 4th inning of a big game because the Angels had put a lefty in. If he plays every day now, we’ll find out if he can be productive against southpaws.

Astros played the Mets last week; Mets’ TV analyst Ron Darling basically said that Houston overpaid for Reddick. Darling isn’t overly critical; it was a surprising thing to hear.

4) Kyle Larson won the NASCAR race at Fontana Sunday; his rental car (he wasn’t driving) was involved in a fender-bender as he was leaving the track Sunday night. No one was injured.

I’ve often wondered if NASCAR drivers struggle driving in regular traffic.

3) Cleveland Indians have a minor league catcher named Logan Ice. Tremendous name.

2) When Al Davis was alive, he was almost always the “1” in 31-1 NFL votes. Miami Dolphins were the one team that voted against the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.

1— Coastal Carolina 91, Wyoming 81— Game 1 of the best-of-3 CBI tournament. Series resumes with a game Wednesday in Laramie. Not an easy commute. This was a fast-paced game; with the next game in high altitude, that pace will be interesting.

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

13) South Carolina 77, Florida 70— Before last weekend, South Carolina’s last win in NCAA tournament was in 1973. They have some basketball tradition: Alex English, John Roche, Mike Dunleavy Sr played there, Frank Maguire coached there, but not a lot of winning.

Until this month. Now the Gamecocks are headed to the Final Four. Congrats.

12) Gamecocks are first team since VCU in 2011 to get to the Final Four without being favored in any of their first four tournament games.- VCU had to win a play-in game, so they weren’t favored in any of their first five tournament games. South Carolina was pick ‘em in their first round game with Marquette last weekend.

11) South Carolina coach Frank Martin was once both a high school teacher and a bouncer in a nightclub; imagine him getting mad at some drunk guy and tossing him out the door?

10) North Carolina 75, Kentucky 73— Mailk Monk scored 47 against Carolina in December, out in Las Vegas; he had 12 points here. This was a terrific ballgame that would’ve made a great national title game. Tough push if you had the Tar Heels -2.

9) What do you think of Chris Webber as a TV analyst? He talks more X’s and O’s than most analysts (good), he is passionate about the game (good) but he doesn’t seem to like anyone except players (not good).

Referees are competing to advance in the tournament too; I’m guessing Webber knows this, but doesn’t seem to care (not good). Coaches get fired if they lose; I mean, Bill Self is taking grief today- Webber definitely doesn’t seem to care about that (bad). I think he is mostly good; if only he would stop yelling when guys dunk— it is two points. Relax.

8) Odd coincidence that going into Saturday, Xavier/Gonzaga were tied with 27 tournament wins, most of any school that had never been in a Final Four. Now Xavier owns that unfortunate mark, with Boston College in second with 22 wins.

7) Not often the SEC wins more NCAA tournament games than bowl games. SEC is 8-4 in NCAA tournament games this year; they were 6-7 in bowl games.

6) I’m guessing the Mets have already been informed, but it hasn’t been made public how long Jeurys Familia’s suspension for domestic violence will be. He is their closer, so they would need to know to plan contingency plans.

5) Since 2006, Saints/Seahawks have drafted only two QB’s each, least in NFL.

4) This is the fifth year in a row a team seeded 7th or lower made the Final Four:
2016— Syracuse, a 10-seed lost to UNC in semi-finals
2015— Michigan State, a 7-seed, lost to Duke in semi-finals
2014— UConn, a 7-seed, beat Kentucky, an 8-seed, for the national title
2013— Wichita State, a 9-seed, lost to Louisville in semi-finals

3) This is only second time since 2009 that two or more 1-seeds made the Final Four— three of them made it in 2015, two made it this year.

2) Of the 18,797,085 brackets on ESPN.com‘s contest, only 657 had North Carolina, Oregon, Gonzaga and South Carolina in the Final Four.

1— Gonzaga is a 6.5-point favorite over South Carolina Saturday in Arizona. North Carolina is a 5-point favorite over Oregon in the nightcap.

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

13) Gonzaga 83, Xavier 59— Would be a fun night to be in Spokane, with Gonzaga making the Final Four for the first time. Clock struck midnight for Xavier, which went further than they should have, considering their point guard last played on January 29. Gonzaga made 12-24 on the arc, and when the favorite makes their 3’s, they often win big.

This is first time since 2002 a double digit seed made regional finals and didn’t cover the spread; they’re now 3-3 SU, 5-1 vs spread in last six tries.

12) Oregon 74, Kansas 60— Wherever Bill Walton watched this game, he had to be gushing; the Ducks were up 11 at the half- they made 11-25 on the arc, Kansas was 5-25. Jordan Bell blocked eight shots, was dominant inside. Jayhawks played only six guys (a 7th guy played 4:00)- this was the fewest points they scored in a game all season.

Must be fun to play for Oregon; tons of free sneakers when your #1 booster is Phil Knight.

11) It bothers me to type this because the guy is one of the best coaches ever, but Bill Self is now 2-7 in Elite 8 games; he’s been a #1-seed in the tournament seven times, and made the Final Four once in those seven years. He’s also won the Big X regular season 13 years in a row, which no other coach has ever done in any league, not even John Wooden.

When you don’t win the national championship there will always be naysayers, and Kansas has won “only” one national title under Self, but for the love of God, Kansas is lucky to have him.

10) Devin Booker scored 70 points Friday night in the Suns’ loss in Boston, their 7th loss in a row and first of the seven losses where they even covered the spread. They’re a very young NBA team that is obviously looking forward to the season ending.

After the game, the team took a pic in the locker room, celebrating Booker’s 70-point night, which is one of the best scoring nights in NBA history, but did all the players have to look so damn happy? Does winning/losing even matter? They’re all young, they’re all rich- I’m just wondering what veteran NBA people think about all that. The pic just didn’t look right. Winning and losing should always matter.

9) I’m curious when NBA scouts are watching a game like Kentucky-UCLA Friday night, and De’Aaron Fox scores 36, how much (if at all) does that one game move the needle as far as their opinion of that player, or the players they were playing against?

8) Indiana hired Dayton’s Archie Miller as its new basketball coach; looks like the AD is trying really hard to distance the Hoosiers from their past, if he didn’t hire Steve Alford, who is beloved in Indiana. Reality is that Alford isn’t as good a coach as Archie Miller.

7) Michael Porter Jr makes the expected move and signs with Missouri, because they hired his father as an assistant coach. My questions are these:

  1. When Michael Jr jumps to the NBA after next season, does Michael Sr get to keep his job?
  2. Why sign with Cuonzo Martin? He had an NBA player in Leon Rabb this year and didn’t make the NCAA’s; he had Rabb and Jaylen Brown last year and lost to Hawai’i in the first round- what makes you think he is the best guy to coach your son?

6) Rough couple of days on the Las Vegas Strip; some genius robbed a jewelry store at Bellagio last night; he actually parked in the parking garage and was nabbed. Then Saturday, there was a shooting on a bus. Get the nonsense out of your system— I’ll be out there soon!!!

5) Minnesota Timberwolves have lost nine games this year that they led by 15+ points, the most in the NBA this season.

4) Apparently TV networks are now in the race to sign Tony Romo, who if he keeps this up much longer might become a candidate for the 2020 Presidential race- everyone seems to want the guy, but not enough to trade a draft pick for him.

3) When ESPN broadcast a Gonzaga game this season, ESPN’s Jay Bilas told Gonzaga big man Przemek Karnowski that he would grow a beard if the Zags made the Final Four, so now he has to grow a beard. Hopefully during next season, not during the summer, when he isn’t on TV.

2) Foul or defend? When your team is up 3 in last 0:15 of a game, this is a genuine gray area of coaching. Some of the best coaches in the country differ on this- there is no right answer.

People say Florida messed up when they didn’t foul Wisconsin when they were up 3 Friday- the Badgers hit a 3-pointer, sent the game to OT, but Florida won, so how did they mess up? Not everyone believes fouling there is the correct play.

What if you foul, and they miss the free throw and get the rebound? It has happened. If you believe in fouling, it has to be practiced. I’ll be very curious to see what Florida does in these situations next season.

There used to be a guy on Twitter, Steve Finamore, a high school coach in Michigan, who tracked as many of these situations as he could. Reaction was mixed on what proper strategy is.

1— One of my favorite parts of Saturday’s regional finals? Mark Few and Dana Altman were the winning coaches; neither one of them played Division I college basketball. Playing and coaching are different things that require different skills. Non-players can be excellent coaches.

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

13) California and Oklahoma State both hired on the cheap with new basketball coaches, two guys I’ve never heard of who were mainly recruiters up until now. Maybe one or both will be the next John Wooden, but they’re both rookies who will be coaching in very deep water.

Cal hired Wyking Jones, who was on Cuonzo Martin’s staff; OSU hired Mike Boynton, who had been with Brad Underwood for the last four years— he played ball at South Carolina.

12) Duquesne fired its basketball coach after the season, but can’t find a replacement; guys keeping dropping out of the coaching search. Dukes haven’t been in NCAA’s since ’77; they’re in the Atlantic 14, a pretty good league. Not sure why they’re never good- maybe they need to commit a few more resources into trying to win.

11) Mirage Casino in Las Vegas offers “first team to 15 points” prop bet; that would be fun to research and see which coaches’ team got ahead the most early in games. Actually, would be fun to see the results; doing the research would be a major pain-in-the-butt. 🙂

10) Mets’ TV analyst Keith Hernandez is having a knee replaced on June 2, which means Mets’ fans get to listen to him whine about his knee for the first two months of the season. Hernandez is a good analyst when he isn’t bored, but if it is a bad game, he complains about traffic, weather, his health, etc…..

9) Was watching Tampa Bay Rays in a spring training game in Port Charlotte the other day; the dugouts there are HUGE, not long, just very large, from front-to-back.

8) 43 years ago Friday was my favorite college basketball game ever: NC State 80, UCLA 77 in double OT at the 1974 Final Four, a game that ended UCLA’s streak of seven national titles in a row.

I was 14, a big NC State fan— David Thompson-Tom Burleson-Monte Towe. Also Tim Stoddard, who later pitched for the Orioles in the ’79 World Series. Used to listen to their games on radio station WBT in Charlotte- they beat Maryland in OT in ACC title game, back when you had to be the league champ, just to get into the NCAA’s.

About 10-12 years ago, I met Monte Towe at an AAU tournament in Florida; he was an assistant for NC State then. Good guy. Too bad ESPN didn’t exist back then; people have very little idea how great a player David Thompson was.

7) Odd stat: Last two years, Louisville is 0-8 vs spread as a road underdog in ACC games.

6) Mets’ SS Asdrubel Cabrera got thrown out of a spring training game this week- he asked for time while batting, didn’t get it, jawed at umpire Angel Hernandez and got tossed. Don’t see that a lot.

5) Kansas Jayhawks are first team since UConn in ’05 that scored 90+ points in its first three NCAA tournament games.

4) North Carolina 92, Butler 80— Not much of a game; Butler just couldn’t stop them- they had beaten Winthrop/Middle Tennessee to get here, and didn’t handle the sep up in class very well.

3) South Carolina 70, Baylor 50— Complete ass-kicking. Baylor’s players looked intimidated by their opponents. I’m thinking Frank Martin’s family didn’t have the Gamecocks going this far in their brackets- they play in their first-ever regional final Sunday.

Last time a 7-seed or lower won a Sweet 16 game by 15+ points? Davidson in ’08- they had a pretty good guard named Steph Curry.

2) Kentucky 86, UCLA 75— Game stayed under the outrageous 183.5 total; Wildcats play more defense— now they play the Tar Heels Sunday.

Now Lonzo Ball is off to the NBA, soon to be followed by half the Kentucky team. Will Indiana hire Steve Alford? A season ends and then things change very quickly for these people.

My biggest thing will be if Steve Alford leaves UCLA, who the hell do they bring in to replace him? Not an easy job, having to deal with the #2 and #3 Ball brothers.

1—Florida 84, Wisconsin 83 OT— Gators led by 8 with 2:10 left, then didn’t foul on last possession when Wisconsin had ball down 3, so of course Badgers hit a 3-pointer with 0:02.5 left. CBS gets their late night drama- this would’ve been first tournament since 1970 with no OT games thru the Sweet 16.

Chris Chiozza hit a running 3-pointer to win the game; we’ll be seeing that on TV for the next 30 years. What a ballgame.

Early in game, CBS showed golfer Andy North sitting next to Aaron Rodgers at this game; North is a big Badger booster who I believe paid for the new basketball court in the Wisconsin arena a few years ago, but he went to college at Florida- golfers need warm weather. No mistake though, North always roots for the Badgers.

Wisconsin had won its last eight overtime games.

Three of the Elite 8 are SEC teams? Didn’t see that coming.

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a terrific Thursday……

13) Xavier 73, Arizona 71— Wildcats led by 8 with 3:45 left; going to be a long summer for Sean Miller, who is 220-66 at Arizona, 107-37 in conference games, but 13-6 in NCAA games, 0-3 in regional finals. Lot of winning, but no Final Fours. This year, he lost in the regional semis.

From Feb 11-March 1, Xavier lost six games in a row; they looked like a dead team without their injured PG Edmond Somner- their upset of Butler in the Big East tournament got them in this tournament- they at least would’ve had to play a play-in game otherwise. Great coaching job by Chris Mack; they switched to a more passive 2-3 zone and it has worked.

Musketeers are first 11-seed in a regional final since Dayton three years ago, a team coached by Archie Miller, Sean’s brother.

12) Oregon 69, Michigan 68— Wolverines were 11-31 on arc, 14-27 inside arc, forced only five Oregon turnovers in an exciting, tense game. Ducks get to Elite 8 despite not having their best shot blocker Boucher, who is out for the year.

When Oregon hired Dana Altman as coach seven years ago, he was like their 5th choice for the job. Guys they wanted to hire didn’t want to coach in Oregon. Sometimes not getting what you want is the best thing that can happen.

11) Gonzaga 61, West Virginia 58— WVU games are hard to ref; they’re physical as hell, and they miss a lot of shots, so there is a ton more bodily contact in their games than a normal game, and lot more calls to make/not make. Mountaineers were 5-23 on arc, 11-37 inside arc in this game; you don’t deserve to win shooting like that, but thought Gonzaga got the better of the whistle in this game.

How happy were the Zags when Arizona got beat? Xavier is on a roll, but reality is, they’re an 11-seed whose starting point guard is in street clothes. They’ll still be tough, but would you rather play a healthy Arizona team? I think not.

10) Kansas 98, Purdue 66— Purdue’s best player is a really good 6-9 kid, muscular, so of course they ran up and down with Kansas, going 10-27 on arc, 14-29 inside arc. Game was 47-40 at the half, too fast for the Boilers, who went in tank in last 10:00.

9) Then there was the day at UMass; Pat Kelsey signed a contract Tuesday to be the new coach of the Minutemen, but 30 minutes before a 4:00 press conference Thursday, with band/cheerleaders/fans waiting, Kelsey backed out of the deal and went back to Winthrop (we think).

Conspiracy theories abound: Kelsey went to college at Xavier; if Chris Mack leaves his alma mater for a new job, Xavier would probably want to hire Kelsey. Time will tell, but looks like Kelsey could be staying at Winthrop for a long time, unless Mack changes jobs.

8) Georgetown fired John Thompson III Thursday, after 13 years with the Hoyas; last two years, Georgetown was 12-24 in Big East games. Two years ago, Hoyas were 22-11, 12-6 in Big East- they lost to Utah in the second round of NCAA’s. Not good enough.

Former NFL commish Paul Tagliabue, a Georgetown alum, is heading the search committee. No idea where they turn for a coach, unless Hornets’ assistant Patrick Ewing is interested.

7) In the history of major league baseball, 866 players have worn #22, making it the most popular number. #80 is the lowest number that has never been worn in a big league game.

6) Detroit Tigers’ 2B Ian Kinsler’s dad has been a prison warden in Arizona for 25 years; doesn’t sound like a fun job.

5) Virginia Cavaliers lost 65-39 to Florida Saturday, ending a 23-11 season; in five days since then, three Cavaliers have transferred out of the program. Must be a good story there.

4) In his great playing career, John Stockton dished out 15,806 assists; 2nd-best on that list is Jason Kidd, with 12,091. Thats amazing- 3,715 more assists than anyone else who ever played the game. Stockton, by the way, played 19 seasons; he played every game in 17 of them.

3) Jeff Van Gundy said this on TV Wednesday night, working the Knicks-Jazz game: “Lot of (NBA) teams have shut it down for the season already.” It was March 22, four weeks before the regular season ends. Not a great commentary on the league.

2) If I had to choose my all-time starting five in NBA history, it would be: Kareem at center, Bill Russell at power forward, then Lebron James, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson on perimeter.

1— Quite a set of games Thursday; three great ones and Purdue’s tank job. Good entertainment. Hopefully tonight’s four games will be just as much fun. I’m definitely looking forward to the Kentucky-UCLA game.

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

13) Worlds colliding: Madcap comedian Carrot Top was at Phillies’ spring training Wednesday, and was seen talking to former Phils’ manager Charlie Manuel.

Carrot Top’s dad worked for NASA; he was a rocket scientist. Seriously.

12) You know it might be a bad day when you’re a marginal major league player, you get a start in a road spring training game, and you forget your jersey. Oy.

Happened to Allen Webster of the Rangers, a guy who has pitched in 28 big league games (23 starts), so he should know better. Webster wound up giving up three runs in three IP, putting eight guys on base in a game Texas won 7-4.

11) In the 1987-88 NBA season, home teams won 67.9% of games; this season, that number is down to an all-time low of 57.4%. Teams traveling on private planes plays into that some, but an article on ESPN.com says one of the main reasons why road teams win more now is that players on the road party a lot less than they used to.

10) Basketball TV guy Doug Gottlieb, who recently jumped from CBS to FOX, will interview for the head coaching job at Oklahoma State (his alma mater) today. Gottlieb’s dad was a high school coach; his brother is an assistant coach at Oregon State.

9) Didn’t take VCU long to replace Will Wade with former Rice coach Mike Rhoades, who went 23-12 with the Owls this season— he was 47-52 in three years at Rice, after inheriting a 7-23 team three years ago.

By the way, as part of Wade’s contract at VCU, LSU will have to play a home/home series with the Rams- that was part of Wade’s buyout in his contract.

8) At the WBC, Team USA was DH’ing Giancarlo Stanton and sitting Paul Goldschmidt; why? I’ve had Stanton on my fantasy team since he was an 18-year old in the Florida State League. He is one of my favorite players, but no way in hell is he as good a hitter as Goldschmidt.

7) Padres’ TV guys were saying the ballclub wasn’t real happy about how little Yangervis Solarte played for Venezuela; they used him mostly as a pinch-runner. Bottom line is this: these teams are getting ready for the season- they want their guys getting AB’s in late March, not being subs.

6) Rory McIlroy lost 2 & 1 to Soren Kjeldsen at the World Golf Match Play tournament, but he did hit a drive 410 yards. Don’t see that a lot.

Jason Day withdrew from the tournament to be with his ailing mother. We wish her well.

5) In 13 years as a major league manager, Terry Collins is 925-925.

4) It is amazing to me that in most states, high school basketball doesn’t have a shot clock. There is a shot clock here in New York; protects the sport from overbearing coaches who strangle the game. Basketball is a much better spectator sport with a shot clock.

3) I don’t mind the WBC, I fully understand why it exists (to grow the game), but I’d much rather watch a spring training game. Just means more to me; I’m not a big nationalistic guy.

2) United States 8, Puerto Rico 0— Guy doing play-by-play on MLB Network oversold this tournament like he was Al Michaels in Lake Placid in 1980, but Americans win this event for first time ever. Puerto Rico didn’t get a hit until the 7th inning. Now everyone can go back to their major league teams and we can get ready for the season to start in ten days.

1— Mentioned yesterday that Chuck Barris passed away; the host of The Gong Show wrote an article for a magazine back in the 80’s, talking about how he was a vendor at Shibe Park during the 1950 World Series. He cut his hand at the same time one of the pitchers got hit with a line drive. In the First Aid room, everyone tended to the pitcher and ignored his bleeding hand. He got promoted as a vendor because they felt guilty about ignoring him.

Later in the same article, Barris tells a story about how he proposed to his second wife- they’re making out on the couch while he’s trying to watch the Raiders’ game on TV over her shoulder— he had bet on Oakland. She is bugging him to get married, so he tells her if the Raiders win this game, they’ll get married. Raymond Chester scores a touchdown, the Raiders win, and he was on the hook.

A great character; he was also a hell of a lot smarter than he let on.

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

13) Cam Newton is having rotator cuff surgery next Thursday; not sure of the recovery timeframe, or why the operation is happening now and not two months ago, but question is: Will he be ready for the regular season? Big question for the Panthers.

12) If I owned a major league baseball team, all my coaches would know both English and Spanish; have to be able to communicate with players. Would also want our players to know English; how the hell can you live in a country and not know at least some of the language?

Sometimes, players know more of the language than they let on, so they can avoid talking to the media. Being bilingual is a big advantage in today’s baseball.

11) Oklahoma State’s star guard Juwan Evans is leaving school for the NBA; at 6-1, he is a marginal prospect who could wind up in the D-League. He helped us some this year when we picked the Cowboys; we wish him well, but wish he was coming back for another season in Stillwater.

10) Will Wade leaves VCU for LSU and everyone on Twitter asks why; is it a better basketball job? Money is (surprisingly) similar, they care more about basketball at VCU, since there is no football and he had a top 20 recruiting class coming to VCU in September.

I’ve said this before here; sometimes big fish/smaller pond works better.

9) UMass hires Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey to take over its hoop program; Kelsey went 102-59 at Winthrop, 56-30 in Big South games- he replaced Gregg Marshall there.

8) New Jersey Jets have drafted six QB’s since 2009, yet still paid 37-year old Josh McCown $6M to come in and play for one year. This is called mismanagement; not the McCown part, but draft one guy who can play, will ya?

7) Went into a LIDS store in the mall the other day; had good talk with young person who works there, who happens to be a fellow A’s fan. Major league fitted caps are now $35; caps for the World Baseball Classic are $37. Glad my hat collection is already too big- no thanks.

6) They were talking on the Padres’ spring training game the other night how sometimes guys go down to the minor league camp and play in B games to get extra at-bats. A major leaguer would play in one of those games and lead off every inning, just to get more AB’s. Minor leaguers are not necessarily fond of that, since it costs them some AB’s, but thats how it works.

5) Cincinnati Reds’ announcers are different than most local baseball announcers- they’ll rip the home team if they deserve it. “Boy, this is like a circus.” moaned Thom Brennaman during a bad inning by the Reds in their game with the Angels Tuesday.

Two oddities from this Reds-Angels game:
a) Both teams wore red jerseys; it is 2017, we can’t get different color jerseys?
b) Angels used a DH, Reds did not. People bet on these games. Wonder how many people bet on this game not knowing that little nugget?

4) RIP Jerry Krause, 77— he was GM of the Jordan-era Bulls who later became a baseball scout after leaving the NBA. Krause brought Toni Kukoc over from Europe to join Jordan/Pippen, which didn’t go over well with his two stars. Krause probably didn’t get enough credit for the Bulls’ success.

3) Fans sitting behind the announcers at the Bakersfield-Colorado State NIT game Monday nite weren’t very happy with the officiating and were letting the refs know it— the mikes picked up some of their R-rated criticisms. I’m thinking someone with ESPN must’ve asked them to cool it, since they weren’t as vocal near the end of the game

2) Nicole Auerbach reports that of the 351 Division I basketball teams, only five haven’t had a kid transfer out in the last two years. North Carolina hasn’t lost a transfer since 2011.

1— The night the Knicks beat the Lakers to win the 1970 NBA title, when Willis Reed limped out and inspired the Knicks to win by scoring the first two hoops of the game on basically one leg, one of the ballboys that night was Steve Albert, now the Phoenix Suns’ play-by-play guy on TV.

1a) One of my heroes passed away late Tuesday night; Chuck Barris, the wacky host of The Gong Show, died at age 87. Creator of game shows like The Dating Game and Newlywed Game, Barris was a creative genius with a bizarre sense of humor. He made me laugh more than just about anyone other than Steve Martin. RIP, sir, you will be missed.

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

13) You don’t read enough uplifting stories these days; saw one on Twitter Sunday night on how former Indiana coach Tom Crean is a terrific guy, doing random acts of kindness around the Bloomington area throughout his seven years coaching the Hoosiers.

Crean was being mentioned for the LSU job (he didn’t get it); he got Marquette to the Final Four when he had Dwyane Wade. The man can coach; am guessing he’ll have a new job soon, but being selfish, would actually be curious to hear him on TV for a season.

12) In 1980, Duke’s basketball coach quit to go to South Carolina, in part because the Duke AD didn’t have the coaches’ parking lot paved, even though the coach requested it after he made the Final Four in ’78. When the coach left, Duke hired a young coach named Krzyzewski to replace him, so Duke fans shouldn’t be too annoyed the Blue Devils lost to Carolina Sunday.

If the Gamecocks hadn’t hired Bill Foster away from Duke 37 years ago, maybe the Coach K era never would’ve happened.

11) Counting all four postseason tournaments, ACC teams are 5-15 against the spread. All this “Which conference is best/worst?” arguments are cyclical, it changes from year to year.

10) Last three times Arkansas made the NCAA tournament, they were eliminated by North Carolina, in 2008, 2015, 2017.

9) Ominous stats for UCLA (South), Oregon (Midwest), who are playing in regional semifinals this week: since ’06, Pac-12 teams are 10-6 in West Region semis/finals, but 1-11 in other region’s semis/finals. Arizona is still playing in the West region.

8) Hey, they found Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey; now I can sleep better.

7) Since 2010, Wisconsin/Kentucky (six each) have most Sweet 16 appearances.

6) Greg Maddux faced 20,421 hitters in his career; of those, only 310 times did he have a 3-0 count. Of the 310 3-0 counts, 177 of them were intentional walks.

5) NFL is considering shortening overtime to 10:00 instead of 15:00. They should eliminate it altogether in preseason games.

4) QB Josh McCown gets $6M for one year from the Jets, where he’ll have a chance to start.

3) LIU went 20-12 this season, 13-5 in the NEC, but they fired their coach Monday. Must be an interesting backstory there. Guy went 46-42 in five years in the NEC, making the NCAA’s in his first year. Doesn’t seem like a record that merited a dismissal.

2) Philadelphia 76ers’ studio show is unique; former St Joe’s coach Jim Lynam is an analyst, and so is his daughter Dei Lynam. I’m old enough to remember when St Joe’s won a tournament game way back when and his daughter ran on the court and hugged him- she was a kid back then.

1— Our thoughts/prayers go out to former NFL WR Dwight Clark, who announced he has ALS and is fighting that crippling disease. One thing, though…….

My mother passed away in 2004; she had Alzheimer’s, dementia and arthritis in her knees, but she never played one down of football. Football isn’t responsible for everything.

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

13) Michigan 73, Louisville 69— Wolverines shot just 6-17 on arc; they shouldn’t win this game with those numbers, especially with Walton going 3-13 from floor. Snider was 0-9 for Louisville, 0-7 on arc, bad time for a game like that. Michigan was +5 (11-6) in turnovers; they’re on the roll of a lifetime here, finding ways to win.

12) Kentucky 65, Wichita State 62— Just like 2014, these teams play a tense second round game and Wildcats prevail. Whats next for a Wichita team that returns all its players next year? Will they be in a different league? Will Gregg Marshall still be there? UCLA whacked the Wildcats back in December in Lexington; the rematch should be fun.

11) Kansas 90, Michigan State 70— Spartans were #323 experience team in country; they played #49 non-conference schedule, had some injury issues, but got to the round of 32. Izzo is a great coach, but tough coaching such a young group, albeit a very talented team. Since 2010, Kansas is just 5-3 in this round; this is a solid win- they move on to play Purdue in regional semis.

Jayhawks scored 1.31 pts/possession in first two tournament games, which is really good.

10) North Carolina 72, Arkansas 65— Razorbacks were down 30-13 early, rallied to take the lead, led as late as when score was 65-60, but Tar Heels scored the last 12 points of the game, holding Arkansas scoreless over 3:30 of game. Razorbacks needed to keep game chaotic; when it slowed down, they fell apart.

9) Oregon 75, Rhode Island 72— Conference of Champions wins again; this was a hard-fought game, with Rams up 46-38 at half, but they only scored 26 in 2nd half. Oregon plays Michigan next in Kansas City- they outscored URI 18-6 on foul line, made 7-16 on arc. Rams shot 65% inside arc, but were just 6-8 on foul line, 6-22 on arc. This was a fun game to watch.

Bobby Hurley was with his brother Danny this weekend in Sacramento; had to be weird for him, since he played for the NBA’s Kings and got into a car accident outside the old arena there that ruined his playing career. Bobby was a much better player than his brother, but Danny Hurley seems like he is the better coach.

8) Baylor 82, USC 78— Trojans’ Metu killed the Bears inside (28 points), but Baylor’s bench outscored USC’s 25-4- they were +11 on boards and Lecomte took over a segment of the game that put Baylor ahead for good. USC was 9-22 on arc; they had a great week, but fell little bit short here.

7) South Carolina 88, Duke 81— This regional was supposed to be played in North Carolina, but was yanked because of the Bathroom Law, so Duke, a team that refuses to play true road games in pre-conference play, winds up playing the Gamecocks in Greenville, SC, basically a road game in the Round of 32.

Gamecocks were down 30-23 at halftime, but stormed back in 2nd half, scoring 65 points, most points a Duke team has allowed in one half under Krzyzewski. South Carolina is in Sweet 16 for first time ever; last time they had even won one tournament game was in 1973.

6) UCLA 79, Cincinnati 67— Bearcats led 33-30 at half, then UCLA scored 30 points in first 9:50 of second half, and pulled away in last ten minutes. Underdogs were 6-2 vs spread on Sunday.

There are rumors on the Interweb that Indiana will offer Steve Alford $31.7M for seven years to be its new coach, but now all that has to wait. UCLA is headed to Memphis to play Kentucky in the gym that John Calipari used to call home. Bruins beat Kentucky 97-92 in Rupp Arena in December.

5) Washington hired Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins as its new hoop coach. Hopkins was supposed to be Jim Boeheim’s successor (and he may still be), but he is 47, which is a little late to be getting your first head coaching job- guess he got tired of waiting.

4) A Las Vegas gambler risked $20,000 to win only $500, playing Louisville on the money line against Jacksonville State Friday.

3) Another investor risked $50,000 on a Villanova/Gonzaga money line parlay, which went down the drain when Wisconsin upset the Wildcats. Thats a bad day.

2) Here’s a good day: When Kansas State won their play-in game with Wake Forest, K-State coach Bruce Weber banked a $164,000 bonus for winning an NCAA tournament game. Hope he sends his agent a nice gift.

1— World Baseball Classic has to be a financial bonanza; they put 65,000+ fans in Petco Park for two separate admissions Saturday. Not sure what tickets cost, but they should have good crowds in Dodger Stadium for the finals this coming week.

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

13) Wisconsin 65, Villanova 62— Wildcats won national title LY, but since 2010, they’re now 1-4 in 2nd round games- they were favored by 4.5-4.5-9.5-5.5 points in the losses. Wisconsin has a lot of big-game experience- they were down 57-50 in this game, finished strong- they shot 64.5% inside arc, surviving 7-16 shooting on foul line.

12) West Virginia 83, Notre Dame 71— Mountaineers put relentless pressure on you and it tires teams out. West Virginia was 8-14 on arc, which doesn’t happen much (first time since Dec 10 they made more than half their 3’s)- when they shoot well, they can pressure the ball more and then they’re very hard to beat.

Notre Dame took 28 3-pointers, 26 2-pointers in this game, not usually a winning formula.

11) Gonzaga 79, Northwestern 73— I’m glad Zags won, but this game clearly swung on a blown goaltending call the refs missed, when Wildcats were making huge run, after trailing by 20 at one point. Collins got T’d up because of the missed call, which happened with 4:57 left and Gonzaga up by 5— goaltending would’ve made it a 3-point game.

Gonzaga moves on; Northwestern goes home after a historic season for them, making NCAA’s for first time. A Big 14 school near Chicago should never have been this bad for so long, but now Evanston should become a more fashionable destination for good players.

10) Xavier 91, Florida State 66— I think Steve Lavin is a great game analyst, so fun to listen to, much better than in studio, where he can only say so much. Lavin was at his best in this game with Ian Eagle, throwing in movie/pop culture references. Good stuff.

As for the game, Chris Mack can really coach; he is playing with a freshman backup PG (who has no backup), yet his team won this game easily, leading by 10 at the half. Disappointing end to the season for FSU, a young team that often struggled away from home.

9) Butler 74, Middle Tennessee 65— Three of Blue Raiders’ starters didn’t score, which makes it hard to win- their leading scorer Potts was averaging 15.6 pts/game- he didn’t score, but this was still a 5-point game late. Last four years, 12-seeds are 1-5 vs spread in second round when facing a 4-seed. Butler gets monkey off its back; they lost in second round last two years.

8) Arizona 69, St Mary’s 60— Gaels led 30-29 at the half, but superior athleticism took over in the second half as Arizona wore St Mary’s down and pulled away late. Sean Miller faces his old team Xavier in the next round out in San Jose.

7) Florida 65, Virginia 39— Horrendous exhibition by the Cavaliers, shooting 1-15 on the arc in a non-competitive performance. Florida won/covered its last five second round games, though they did miss tournament the last two years. This was just an awful game.

6) Purdue 80, Iowa State 76— Cyclones were incredibly bad for the first 22:00, then they made an epic comeback, rallying back from 19 down to take a 73-71 lead, but Purdue won this game in the last 3:00 and moves on and will play the Kansas-Michigan State winner in Kansas City. Cyclones were 7-23 on arc, their worst mark in any game since Jan 21st.

5) When John Chaney was coaching at Temple, it basically became expected that once a player got his second foul in the first half, he was done until the second half. Now all of a sudden this year, some TV people are criticizing that strategy, including some guys who coached against Chaney and did it themselves when they coached.

4) Brad Underwood bolts Oklahoma State after one year for Illinois; apparently the AD at OSU told Underwood he would re-negotiate his contract if the Cowboys won, which they did. But then the AD reneged on his word and Underwood bolted, quickly.

The term “carpet-bagger” comes to mind, but Underwood gets a huge pay upgrade for going to Illinois, and this is a capitalist society, so good for him.

This, by the way, is why some college players get annoyed— coaches jump ship for big bucks, while kids get in trouble with the NCAA for taking extra benefits. It is called “how the real world works”, but I can also see their point.

3) Since 1987, Villanova is 16th 1-seed to lose in 2nd round; of previous 15 teams to upset the 1-seed, those teams went 8-7 SU in regional semi-finals, 1-2 vs spread as a favorite, 7-5 as the underdog. Surprisingly, North Carolina has twice upset a 1-seed in 2nd round, in ’90 and 2000.

2) Looking at the eight teams who pulled those 2nd round upsets, then won again in regional semis, they went 5-3 SU if they got to the regional final- they were underdog in four of five wins.

1— Since 2001, Florida (’07) is only defending national champ that made it to a regional final the next year- they won back/back titles, in ’06/‘07. Villanova’s loss drops defending champs to 8-2 in last ten second round games (since ’01).

Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up a Friday of basketball……..

Michigan 92, Oklahoma State 91— Wolverines made 16-29 on arc and win by only one; they played four starters 38:00+. Cowboys are one of best teams ever that lost their last four games of the season, with three of the four losses by 5 or less points. Evans was 10-26 for the day, stuck a 3 at the buzzer to cover the spread, a big win for Las Vegas sportsbooks.

Baylor 91, New Mexico State 73— First 10:00 of this game had James Naismith turning over in his grave, but reality set in and Bears move on to second round for the first time in three years. WAC games are rarely on TV, but with Grand Canyon eligible for NCAA’s next year, and Aggies, Bakersfield really moving up the power ratings, maybe ESPN should show them some love.

Arkansas 77, Seton Hall 71— Razorbacks took only seven 3-pointers (3-7) the whole game; they were -14 on boards, but held Seton Hall to 39.2% inside arc. This was just 4th win for SEC teams in their last 18 games against the Big East. You wonder whats up with Seton Hall; supposedly Kevin Willard tried to get the South Florida job, and they didn’t hire him.

Oregon 93, Iona 77— This was a terrible game; Iona had no answers and stopped trying for a while midway thru second half. Ducks led 55-37 at half, looked bored for most of last 15:00. Final score doesn’t tell story here; Jordan Washington played his butt off for Iona, but he was by himself in that regard.

Louisville 78, Jacksonville State 63— Gamecocks beat spread by going 10-19 on arc; they had a great season, making NCAA’s for first time. Louisville now has an interesting game coming up with Michigan, which extended his starters big time in their game. If I’m Rick Pitino, I’m glad we’re playing Michigan and not Oklahoma State.

USC 66, SMU 65— Mustangs had every advantage in this game; Trojans had to play a day game after playing late game in Dayton Wednesday night- SMU had revenge motive, after USC beat them in LA in December and Mustangs are more experienced team. Problem is, USC has great athletes across board— they shot 76% inside arc in this game- they attacked the basket.

North Carolina 103, Texas Southern 64— Tar Heels missed 44 shots, rebounded 20 of them in this mismatch. Since 2007, UNC is 6-3 vs spread in second round games, losing back/back to Kansas/Iowa St in ’13/’14- they beat Arkansas 87-78 in 2nd round two years ago, forcing 21 turnovers while going 29-37 on foul line. They play Razorbacks again on Sunday.

Rhode Island 84, Creighton 72— Rams won ninth game in row; they shot 59% inside arc, made 28-31 foul shots and had a fairly easy time with a Creighton team that went 7-9 once their PG got hurt- they were 18-1 when he got hurt. Rams’ game with Oregon Sunday will be fun to watch.

Kansas 100, Cal-Davis 62— Cal-Davis did great this year, winning first Big West title, but the Big West was terrible this year, dropping to #29 out of 32 nationally (they were 13th last two years). Reality set in here. Kansas hadn’t played much recently, losing in 1st round of Big X tourney; did it help refresh their legs? Jayhawks lost in 2nd round two of last three years; they’re 3-4 vs spread in last seven 2nd round games.

Wichita State 64, Dayton 58— Dayton players other than Scoochie Smith were 9-41. Oy. Shockers beat Archie Miller’s team here, beat Sean Miller’s team LY; there are rumors Wichita could be headed to the AAC, there are also rumors that Gregg Marshall will be pursued by Indiana, but he already makes $3.3M at Wichita, unsure why Indiana would be a better job..

Duke 87, Troy State 65— Blue Devils made 13-28 on arc; beating the #6-seed in the Sun Belt tourney wasn’t a big deal, though athletic Trojans did get within nine in second half. Duke won its last six 2nd round games, covering four of last five. Troy gets to NCAA’s for first time in 14 years- the Sun Belt is an underrated league, getting stronger.

Cincinnati 75, Kansas State 61— Mick Cronin pretended to want the UNLV job last spring so he could extort improvements to the facilities from his bosses at Cincinnati, which worked. Now his offense is a lot better than previous years, and he has a legit shot at the Sweet 16. Their game with UCLA Sunday is going to be a really good one.

Michigan State 78, Miami 58— Miami jumps out to a 10-0 lead and it looks like Izzo might go out in first round for second year in ro— but no. Spartans came roaring back, shot 73.3% inside arc and won by 20— they were up 38-27 at the half. Hurricanes were a weird, erratic team this season. Michigan State-Kansas is an appealing 1-9 game Sunday.

Kentucky 79, Northern Kentucky 70— This was the Norse’s Super Bowl, another day in the park for the Wildcats and it showed. NKU fought hard to the end, but the guy who promised every NKU student a free steak dinner if the Norse won is off the hook. Kentucky better be on their game Sunday; Wichita State will be a worthy opponent.

South Carolina 93, Marquette 73— This was South Carolina’s first NCAA tournament win since 1973, when I was a charming 8th grader. Gamecocks scored 93 points? 53 in second half? Doesn’t say a lot for Coach Wojo’s defensive teachings. Carolina was 3-6 in its last nine games coming in; now they get a game against Duke in their home state Sunday.

UCLA 97, Kent State 80— One of Bruins’ backup big guys has a bad foot, is out; UCLA jumped out to a 16-2 lead, shot 66.7% inside arc, scored enough transition points to keep Kent at bay when the Golden Flashes made a run in the second half. UCLA-Cincinnati is going to be a great game on Sunday. Bruins will be going up against similar athletes.

Wrapping up the first real day of March Madness

Night games
Xavier 76, Maryland 65— When Xavier’s kids sat down to watch TV at 5:30 Sunday, they had to nervous as to whether they were in the field of 68 or not. Now they’ve advanced to the round of 32. Terrapins won a lot of games with an extremely young nucleus held together by junior PG Trimble; that wasn’t enough here, as Xavier big man O’Mara had a career night, scoring 18 points.

Villanova 76, Mt St Mary’s 56— Wildcats dozed thru first half, led 30-29, then did what they had to do in second half to advance. Villanova needs to step up its game Saturday. Over last seven years, #1 seeds are 23-5 SU in second round games, but they did lose five times, as favorites of 11.5-8-6.5-4.5.9.5 points. Wildcats were last of those five teams, losing to NC State in 2015.

Purdue 80, Vermont 70— Game was only 37-36 at half, but Boilermakers win/cover- Vermont didn’t score in last 1:16 as Purdue covered on a FT with 0:28 left America East teams are now 6-7 vs spread in this round the last 13 years- Albany 5-1, rest of the league 1-6.

St Mary’s 85, VCU 77— Announcer on A-14 tournament last weekend said this: “If VCU plays a team with experienced guards, they could be in trouble in NCAA’s.” That is exactly what went on here. Gaels ran a clinic on half-court offense and move on to play Saturday.

Florida State 86, Florida Gulf Coast 80— Not often a game starts 2-2 with both baskets on dunks, but this one did. This game was like a fierce playground battle between arch-rivals; teams combined to go 10-41 on the arc, but Seminoles got to foul line 39 times. Bacon had 25 for FSU; you could say he was…..sizzling.

Wisconsin 84, Virginia Tech 74— Badgers made 13-31 on arc, will next play Villanova, which could be a good game— Wisconsin starts four seniors who’ve played a lot of ball together. Bronson Koenig was 8-17 behind the arc; thats a lot of 3’s for one guy to take.

Iowa State 84, Nevada 73— Wolf Pack only played six guys in this game; difficult to play as hard as they do and not sub much— their legs go late in game, which shows in their shooting. When Nevada has better depth next year, they’re going to be a handful.

Good trivia; Nevada player Jordan Caroline’s dad is Simeon Rice, who was a really good player in the NFL. His granddad is JC Caroline, who played 10 years for the Bears and intercepted Johnny Unitas’ first career pass and ran it back for a touchdown.

Arizona 100, North Dakota 82— Fighting Hawks went right at Arizona and got their butts kicked, but what a year they had, making NCAA’s for first time. In 2018-19 they move to the Summit League, which is a better league, so they’ll need to upgrade their recruiting. Video from this game won’t hurt, at least the offensive part of it.

Arizona-St Mary’s Saturday will be an interesting game.

Afternoon games
Notre Dame 60, Princeton 58— Tigers had a wide-open 3-pointer to take lead with 0:05 but Cannady missed, and Irish survive/advance. Cannady grew up five minutes outside South Bend. Princeton won Ivy title on Sunday; thought noon Thursday game was a tough draw for them, but they played well- too bad they were 8-31 on arc.

Virginia 76, NC-Wilmington 71— Seahawks led by 14 in first half, but Cavaliers used big run to grab 30-29 lead at half- Virginia held UNCW off in second half. Hard to believe Kevin Keatts will still be Seahawks’ coach next year; he’s done great work there, and the $$$ leagues should come calling this week or next.

Butler 76, Winthrop 64— Bulldogs outscored Winthrop 20-5 on foul line; Woodson made 6-10 on arc for Butler. Big South is now 2-6 vs spread in this round the last nine years. This was Eagles’ first trip to NCAA’s since 2010, when Gregg Marshall was their coach— terrific year for them.

Gonzaga 66, South Dakota State 46— Zags were only up 26-22 at half, but they methodically pulled away in second half and won easily- they held Jackrabbits’ star Daum to 17 points. Zags might’ve covered spread had they not gone 8-18 on foul line. There will be pressure on Gonzaga Saturday, when they play Vandy-Northwestern winner to get to Sweet 16.

West Virginia 86, Bucknell 80— Mountaineers were up 27-12 eight minutes in; there was a few minutes when Bucknell couldn’t get ball over half-court, but then Bison got gritty and hung in there- they got within five points a few times in second half. West Virginia-Notre Dame is a high quality second round game Saturday.

Florida 80, East Tennessee State 65— Game was 33-32 at half, but Gators outscored ETSU 21-6 on foul line, got lot of run-out hoops after Bucs’ turnovers to pull away in second half. Second round game with Virginia will be a much different style game.

Middle Tennessee State 81, Minnesota 72— Last two seasons, Blue Raiders are 5-0 vs SEC/Big 14 teams, winning by average of 12.6 pts/game. This was a 12-seed beating a 5-seed, but not an upset. MTSU was favored by a point. Richard Pitino lost his poise, got T’d up near the end when Gophers were down nine- -they were already going to lose, but not his finest moment.

Northwestern 68, Vanderbilt 66— Vandy scored with 0:17 left to take lead, then one of their best guys screwed up, fouling on purpose— did he think a) they were behind? b) they were up 3? c) they had a foul to give? Whatever, it was a colossal screw-up.

Northwestern makes their foul shots and advances, so we get 120 more shots of the Seinfeld lady on TV Saturday (her son is a sub on Northwestern).

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

13) I was thinking abut Baylor as a possible Final Four team; problem is, the last two years Bears lost first round games as a 3-seed and a 5-seed- that is not good and hasn’t happened very often.

Last year, Baylor was a 6-point favorite over Yale; they lost to the 12-seed Bulldogs, 79-75. Year before, they were favored by 7.5 points over Georgia State, but lost to the 14-seed Panthers 57-56. This year, Baylor is a 3-seed again and gets New Mexico State- Bears are favored by 12 points. Proceed at your own risk.

12) If Kentucky gets to the Sweet 16, and they should, John Calipari returns to Memphis, where he once led the Tigers to the national title game. Things haven’t gone so well for Memphis since Calipari left for Kentucky. Curious to see what kind of a reaction he’ll get.

11) Note to self: If I ever go to a baseball game in Japan, DO NOT sit in front of the guy who blows a whistle for the whole nine innings.

10) Back in 1986, I was a big fan of the Bradley Braves, coached by Dick Versace and with Hersey Hawkins as the star player; they won an NCAA tourney game before losing in second round to Louisville. Point guard on that team was Jim Les, who played in the NBA for a while and now got his Cal-Davis Aggies in the NCAA’s for the first time. Good coach.

9) According to Baseball America, two of Tampa Bay Rays’ top 12 minor league prospects are from the Albany, NY area, where I live. Garrett Whitley, an OF and Jaime Schultz a pitcher who pitched at High Point U in North Carolina (where the basketball coach is Scott Cherry, who is from Saratoga, 25 miles north of Albany).

Albany is not exactly a hotbed of high school baseball, maybe because as I type this on March 15, my front lawn has two feet of snow on it.

8) Surprising fact: In the six years since the NCAA tournament field was expanded to 68 teams, one of the play-in winners has also won a first round game.

7) So 5-seed Minnesota is a 1-point favorite over 12-seed Middle Tennessee? Last time a 5-seed got this little respect in the first round was 2006, when 12-seed Texas A&M was favored by 1.5 points over Syracuse- they beat the Orangemen, 66-58.

Middle Tennessee was an 18-point underdog when they upset Michigan State last year. Perception of the Blue Raiders has changed a lot.

6) When the Houston Texans signed Brock Osweiler last year, they had never met him? How is that possible? Guy is hopefully your franchise QB; you’d think you’d like to talk with him before he signs a contract with $37M guaranteed in it.

5) Thanks to Jim Boeheim’s comments about there being “no value” to the ACC hoop tournament been held in Greensboro, the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Class A affiliate of Miami Marlins, will give away $20 worth of food and drinks on April 11 to anyone who shows up with a driver’s license that lists Syracuse on it.

Even better, Syracuse played NC-Greensboro in the first round of the NIT- Orange won by 13. Whoever made that happen though, they had to have a good chuckle about it.

4) 10-seed Wichita State is a 6.5-point favorite over 7-seed Dayton; whose opinion do you respect more, Las Vegas oddsmakers or a bunch of college administrators sitting in a hotel conference room? This is the most points a 10-seed has been favored by over a 7-seed.

3) Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia once walked on to the baseball team at Arizona State; he had to ask three times before they even let him try out. “We already have our second baseman” was the response he got, but finally, they let him try out. Smart move.

Things have worked out pretty well for Pedroia, and also for the second baseman who was the starter at ASU at the time— Ian Kinsler.

2) Cal-Davis 67, North Carolina Central 63— Aggies were +10 on boards, held NC Central to 5-26 on arc and advance on to get whacked by 1-seed Kansas in the next round. Thats just the reality of it, but Davis has had a great year- first NCAA tournament and they won a game.

1— USC 75, Providence 71— Trojans were down 17 early in second win; their win is 7th-largest comeback in NCAA tournament history and also avenges 70-69 loss to Friars last year. USC will play Southern Methodist next, Friday in Tulsa.

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

13) K-State 95, Wake Forest 88—  Wildcats were 25-31 (80.6%) inside arc; Deacons didn’t play whole lot of defense. Big X teams are now 5-1 vs ACC teams this year, with one win North Carolina crowning Oklahoma State in Maui Classic.

12) Mt St Mary’s 67, New Orleans 66— Mount was 10-19 on arc, UNO 1-9; plus, with 6:41 left, the Privateers’ big guy tried to strangle his teammate (the point guard) as they went into a TV timeout- the big guy was yanked from game and never returned. Have feeling the better team lost. Mt St Mary’s advances to play Villanova next.

11) How play-in teams who advance make out in round of 64: “JV (16-seed)” play-in winners are 5-7 vs spread when facing a #1 seed…….”Varsity (11-12 seed)” play-in winners are 7-5 vs spread in round of 64- those 12 teams have gone 1-1 SU in round of 64 all six years they’ve had it.

10) Venezuela played its play-in game in the WBC Monday with Jose Altuve on the bench; interesting decision by manager Omaz Vizquel, who used Rougned Odor instead. Now that they’ve advanced to San Diego, will be curious to see who they start at 2B in the next round.

9) Is there anyone who thinks Magic Johnson will do a better job than Mitch Kupchak did as the Lakers GM? Magic was a great, great player; wasn’t a very good coach- these are all different skills.

8) Of the eight 15-seeds who won first round NCAA tourney games, only Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 won its second round game- those teams are 2-5-1 vs spread in their second round games.

7) Coaching carousel; George Washington named interim coach Maurice Joseph its full time coach; South Florida named former Dayton/Ga Tech coach Brian Gregory its new coach, after Akron’s Keith Dambrot (Lebron James’ HS coach) turned them down.

6) Thank the Lord for spring training baseball on TV; Tuesday afternoon, I could barely see the house across the street from mine, thats how hard it was snowing. Watched Phillies-Braves, then Giants-Indians and was warm vicariously thru those broadcasts.

5) Atlanta Braves are leaving Disney’s Wide World of Sports for the Sarasota area next spring, as they reduce travel time to/from spring training games. Used to go to WWOS in July to watch AAU games; Tampa Bay Bucs had training camp there then- remember seeing Tom Crean (then at Marquette) watching the Bucs practice with his young son sitting on his shoulders.

4) No team lost its first conference tournament game, then won a national title that year. This year; Kansas, Louisville, Baylor, Purdue fall into that group this year.

3) If you care about such things, Kansas State was the last at-large team to make the NCAA tournament.

2) What exactly does Joe Lunardi do for the next ten months?

1— Here is my Final Four; North Carolina-Arizona-Villanova-Oregon. I’ll pick the Wildcats to repeat as national champs. Enjoy the games!!!