Thursday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a winter Wednesday

13) ACC— Louisville 82, Florida State 74— Louisville’s interim coach David Padgett turned 33 last month; I’m guessing the last five months have been a blur for him, but his Cardinals played a great first half, leading 41-22 before hanging on at the end for their 20th win. Louisville will likely go on probation; has Padgett does enough to earn the full-time coaching gig?

Boston College upset NC State 91-87; they play Clemson Thursday.

12) Pac-12— Colorado 97, Arizona State 85— Sun Devils beat Xavier, Kansas before Christmas, were ranked 3rd in country at one point, but they lost five of their last six games, went 8-11 in Pac-12 play, and have zero right to bitch if they get left out of the Field of 68. Their RPI was 65 after this loss to Colorado, which made 13-21 3-pointers in this game.

Oregon State and Oregon both advanced with overtime wins; Beavers’ three games with Washington this season were decided by total of 8 points.

11) A-14— UMass upset LaSalle 69-67; Explorers were 1-16 on arc, Minutemen 10-23.

10) Big X— Oklahoma State 71, Oklahoma 60— Sooners lost eight of their last 10 games, losing their last 10 games away from Norman. Bracketology people still have Oklahoma in the field of 68, but they’re not a very good team right now.

9) Mountain West— UNLV 97, Air Force 90 OT— Huge sigh of relief from the desert, as Rebels snap a 5-game losing skid and get their 20th win of the season. UNLV-Nevada Thursday; Wolf Pack crushed UNLV 101-75 in Las Vegas last week, but the Rebels won earlier in Reno.

8) Kansas center Udoka Azubuike won’t play in this week’s Big 12 tournament in Kansas City after he sprained the MCL in his left knee during practice Tuesday.

7) Los Angeles Rams are having an interesting offseason; they traded MLB Alec Ogletree to the Giants Wednesday for 4th and 6th-round draft picks- the move clears $5M in cap room, which begs the question as to just how much money they’re going to pay Aaron Donald this spring.

Ogletree was the quarterback of the defense, so it’ll be interesting to see who the new MLB will be and where that $5M in cap space is used. I’m pretty sure the Rams have five picks in the 6th round of the draft— they must think this draft is deep with talented players.

6) Missouri’s star recruit Michael Porter Jr was supposed to be America’s best freshman, but he played 2:00 in the season opener, then left with a back injury, hasn’t played since. He returns today in St Louis for the SEC tournament; how will his presence change the Tigers’ chemistry?

5) Big East— St John’s 88, Georgetown 77— Hoyas beat St John’s twice during the season, but Red Storm shot 67% inside arc in this game and move on to play top-seeded Xavier Thursday. Hoyas lost their last five games; they took 32 3’s, only 30 2-point shots in this game.

4) C-USA— Tex-San Antonio 71, UTEP 58— Roadrunners went 11-7 in C-USA this year, after going 26-61 the previous five years; they’re 9-2 in last 11 games and play Marshall today.

3) SEC— South Carolina 85, Ole Miss 84— Gamecocks made 12-21 on arc, only 19-34 on foul line. Ole Miss buried a 3 from deep in left corner to cover the spread at the buzzer.

2) Sun Belt— Texas State 73, Coastal Carolina 66— Bobcats snapped a 9-game losing skid with win here; six of those nine losses were by 4 or fewer points or in OT.

1) For me, today and tomorrow are just as much fun as the first round of the NCAA tournament; dozens of games all over the country, teams either positioning for seeding next week, or trying to shock the world and get in the field of 68.

Today is 14 or 15 hours of great action; enjoy!!!

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

13) One of the most underestimated facts in sports; over the last five years, Tom Brady has earned $74,784,964, “only” $14,956,993 a year. That allows New England more flexibility in paying other players. Not many quarterbacks or any athlete would willingly take less money to help the ballclub win— you think a member of the Manning family would do that?

Since 2013, Eli Manning has earned $97,660,004, 3rd-most in NFL.

Lot of people think Brady is the best quarterback ever; for him to be in the middle of the pack salary-wise is ludicrous and absurd.

12) Since 2013, Baltimore Ravens have spent $119,584,094 on the QB position, most in the NFL; Tennessee Titans have spent $38,280,713, the least.

11) Matthew Stafford has earned $111,008,969 over the last five years; he has an 0-3 career record in playoff games, which is part of why the Lions changed coaches this winter.

10) St Mary’s lost in the WCC tourney and their non-conference strength of schedule is #290; I don’t know if they’re getting in NCAA’s or not, but I do know this will be the longest week of their lives, as they wait for 6:00 Sunday night, to see if their season is a success or a failure.

9) Maine fired its basketball Monday and hired the former women’s coach, who sat out last year on medical leave. Then Maine’s best player announced he would transfer; Aaron Calixte scored 17 points a game this season. New coach’s job just got a little tougher.

8) Random baseball fact: last year, Joey Votto had a streak of 20 games in a row where he reached base 2+ times. That is the longest such streak since 1981. Barry Bonds had a 19-game streak in 2004.

7) Ed Hochuli retired as an NFL referee; he gave the best explanations for penalties. Long time ago, Hochuli was a linebacker at Texas-El Paso. Hochuli’s son Shawn is one of two new NFL refs, replacing his dad and Jeff Triplette, who also retired.

6) Charleston 83, Northeastern 76 OT— CAA final was one of best games of Champ Week so far. Huskies led by as many as 17 points in second half. This tournament is usually played in Richmond, but has been in Charleston last couple years- that sure helped the Cougars in this game. Charleston is in NCAA’s for first time since 1999.

Northeastern +2.5 is a very tough beat.

5) Wow. University of Memphis is seriously considering firing Tubby Smith and replacing him with Memphis legend Anfernee Hardaway, who is currently a high school coach in Memphis.

Rumors are that Hardaway would bring Larry Brown in as an assistant coach. Brown will be 78 in September; he is the only coach ever to win an NBA title and an NCAA national title.

4) Arizona Diamondbacks are bringing the bullpen cart back for this year; not sure if it’ll help pace of play at all, but bullpen carts are very cool. Now that just about all the bullpens are off the field and behind the OF fence, you might see more teams do this.

3) Gonzaga 74, BYU 54— Orleans Arena in Las Vegas has a great coffee shop; am guessing it is filled with happy Gonzaga fans after this rout of a BYU team that emptied its bucket when they upset St Mary’s Monday nite.

There is talk of Gonzaga moving to a better basketball league; that would be a really interesting decision. Gonzaga is kind of like UNLV was in the late 80’s when they ruled the Big West, but once they moved to the Mountain West, things haven’t been as good for the Rebels. Sometimes it is better to be the big fish in a smaller pond.

2) South Dakota 97, South Dakota 87— Jackrabbits are headed to NCAA’s for 3rd year in row and fifth time overall. They have a 6-8 kid named Daum who is an NBA player- he can shoot the 3-ball (42.8%) but when he got in foul trouble in this game, they still stretched out their lead- their freshman Jenkins is also a really good player.

1— In 1985, Mike Schmidt was the highest paid baseball player, at $3,125,000 a year.

This year, even a cheapskate team like my Oakland A’s have six guys who make that much. Trust me, none of those six guys could touch Mike Schmidt’s shoelaces. If Schmidt was playing today, you’d have to add on a zero to the end of that $3,125,000 to pay his tab.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Some college knowledge…….

13) Over the last 15 years, of the 60 teams who made the Final Four, 26 won their conference tournament. Over last six years, only 7 of 24 Final Four teams won their conference tourney; from 2004-11, 19 of 32 Final Four teams did.

12) 7 of the last 15 national champs won their conference tourney, but only one of the last six.

11) Since 2003, only 8 of 60 Final Four teams lost their first conference tourney game: Here are those teams:
2003— Marquette, Texas
2005— Michigan State
2007— UCLA
2009— UConn
2010— Michigan State (only team to do it twice)
2016— Syracuse
2017— South Carolina

10) Since 2006, two CAA teams have made the Final Four; George Mason in ’06 and VCU five years later. Weird thing is that neither of those teams won the CAA tournament that year. CAA ain’t getting more than one team in NCAA’s anymore, but they did as recently as 2011.

9) In 2011, UConn did something that will never be surpassed; not only did they win the NCAA tournament, winning six games, they had to win another five games to win the Big East tournament— they weren’t getting into the NCAA’s unless they won that tournament.

8) In 2006 and 2007, Florida finished the season by winning both the SEC tournament and the NCAA tournament— thats a very underrated accomplishment- 9-0 finishes both years.

7) In the last 15 years, 2008 was the only Final Four where all four teams won their conference tournament; in 2003 and 2009, none of the Final Four teams won their tournament.

6) Not putting pressure on Montana or anything, but the #1 seed won the last seven Big Sky tournaments. Most of those were at the home court of the #1 seed; they play the tournament on a neutral floor in Reno these days, but still…….

5) Fairfield has basketball players from nine different countries, plus Puerto Rico.

4) Eastern Washington’s Bogdan Bliznyuk has made 74 foul shots in a row, which is an NCAA single-season record.

3) Since the NCAA tournament went to 64, and then 68 teams, #2 seeds are 124-8 in their first round tournament games; here are the eight #2 seeds who lost in the first round:

1990— Richmond (+9) 73, Syracuse 69
1993— Santa Clara (+20) 64, Arizona 61
1997— Coppin State (+17) 78, South Carolina 65
2001— Hampton (+17.5) 58, Iowa State 57
2012— Lehigh (+12) 75, Duke 70
2012— Norfolk State (+21.5) 86, Missouri 84
2013— Florida Gulf Coast (+13.5) 78, Georgetown 68
2016— Middle Tennessee State (+18) 90, Michigan State 81

2) Since 2003, Big Sky teams are 1-14 in first round NCAA tourney games; over the last 11 years, they’re 2-8-1 vs spread in first round games.

1— Big West teams have also had problems in the NCAA’s recently; since 2006, Big West teams are 2-0 in play-in games,  but are 1-11 in first round games, 4-8 vs spread.

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

13) Cincinnati 62, Wichita State 61— Intense, high level game; Bearcats win the AAC regular season title. Cincy PG Evans was hobbling around most of the game; they need him to be healthy 11 days from now.

12) Loyola Chi 65, Illinois State 49— Ramblers are in NCAA’s for first time since 1985; this was their 5th year in the MVC- it is first time they’ve had a winning conference record since 2007.

As for Illinois State, they lost in finals of Arch Madness for 4th time in six years, losing to four different schools, two of whom (Creighton, Wichita) aren’t even in the MVC anymore.

11) Think about it, conference realignment has made coaches millionaires who work at schools that didn’t even move. Andy Enfield broke the bank at USC because of his success at Florida Gulf Coast, where his team made the Sweet 16 in 2013.

But Florida Gulf Coast became the best team in the Atlantic Sun only because Belmont moved up to the OVC; Bruins won the A-Sun title five of the last seven years they were in the league. Enfield should send the Belmont AD a gift every year.

FGCU is 70-22 in A-Sun play since Belmont moved on.

Wichita State became a MVC power after Creighton went to the Big East.

10) Lipscomb 108, Florida Gulf Coast 96— Speaking of which, you play the conference title game on your home floor, its not good if you’re down 60-31 at halftime. Lipscomb was 32-47 on the foul line, and this was a true road game for them. 47 free throws is an awful lot.

FGCU made a wild comeback in the second half, got within five points, but ran out of gas at the end and Lipscomb is in the NCAA’s for the first time ever.

Lipscomb won its last eight games and 12 of last 13- they play 7th-fastest tempo in country. Some of their high-profile non-conference games:
— Lost 86-64 at Alabama
— Lost 80-57 at Texas
— Lost 81-71 at Tennessee
— Lost 98-66 at Purdue

Lipscomb turns ball over 20+% of time out of conference,  which is a red flag; at times they looked awful when Florida Gulf Coast was pressing them.

9) Phil Mickelson won a playoff over Justin Thomas in this week’s PGA event; Mickelson got his first Tour win in January 1991; Thomas was born in April, 1993

8) Over the last 30 years, this was just 23rd out of 1,355 PGA tournaments that was won by a golfer who was 47+ years old.

7) Virginia won the ACC by four games; 3rd-place teams were six games behind Virginia.

6) Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann is 49-23 in conference games wth Butler/Ohio State the last four years, but he is 0-4 in conference tournament games in those seasons.

When he was at Gardner-Webb, Holtmann’s teams were 23-29 in conference games, 1-3 in the conference tournaments, so he is 1-7 overall as a head coach in conference tourneys.

5) Radford 55, Liberty 52— Carlik Jones, a 31.1% 3-point shooter coming in, drained a walk-off, conference-winning 3-ball at the buzzer to send Radford dancing for first time since 2009, when they got waxed 101-58 by North Carolina as a 16-seed in first round.

This year’s Radford team had these high-profile pre-conference games:
— Lost 82-72 at Ohio State.
— Lost 74-62 at Vanderbilt
— Lost 95-68 at Virginia Tech
— Lost 77-62 at Nevada

They play the 5th-slowest tempo in America.

4) Interesting note: Some NFL teams at the Combine scheduled 15:00 interviews with UCLA players, only to grill that player about QB Josh Rosen. Teams will do anything they can to mine out information about players they might potentially select.

3) From MMQB.com: “…….there’s a favorite question employed by almost every team in the NFL when quizzing a prospect about his teammates: If you could take one teammate with you to your future NFL team, who would it be?”

It is straight out of the movie Draft Day, where the Browns don’t draft a QB prospect in part because his teammates didn’t go to his 21st birthday party. A quarterback has to be a leader, a person his teammates believe in. Doesn’t work any other way.

2) We had 8.5 inches of snow in Albany the other day; in Cobleskill, which Mapquest says is 45 miles away from here, they had 39 inches of snow, over three feet!!! No bueno.

1— Kawhi Leonard and Jordan Brand were working on a new four-year extension worth more than $20 million, but now talks have stalled.

According to ESPN.com: “…….discussions broke down abruptly because representatives for Leonard didn’t feel that the new deal reflected the forward’s accomplishments and standing within the league.” Oh boy.

Leonard has been cleared by the Spurs’ doctors to play, but has chosen not to; he’s played in nine games this season- he currently makes $500,000 a year on his Jordan endorsement deal, is being paid $18,868,625 by the Spurs this season.

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

13) Non-basketball note, but a great one: A young man from Central Florida did 20 reps on the bench press at the NFL Combine Saturday, using a prosthetic left hand- the young man has no left hand. Kudos to Shaquem Griffin, one determined dude. Hope you make it in the NFL.

12) Tennessee 66, Georgia 61— Vols were picked 13th in SEC preseason poll; there are 14 teams in the SEC. Instead, Tennessee tied Auburn for the regular season title, with only one senior in the Vols’ 10-man rotation.

11) Hawai’i 68, Cal-State Fullerton 60— This game was delayed for an extra half hour at the half, because a bracket on top of one of the backboards broke, and the school had no replacement.

After consulting with the Big West head of officials, it was decided to lower the baskets that hang from the ceiling (like high school backboards) and play the second half with those baskets, instead of the usual portable backboards. Very unusual.

Shot clocks were on the floor in the corners, the way they were in the NBA 40 years ago.

10) Illinois State 76, Southern Illinois 68 OT— Exciting game in semifinals of Arch Madness in St Louis; Redbirds play top-seeded Loyola in the championship game Sunday.

No one pays to watch the referees: In first half of this game, after a whistle, a ref calls a taunting technical on an Illinois State player; the replay showed he said something to an opponent as they passed each other after the whistle. No physical contact, just quiet talk. LET IT GO!!!

Before that could be sorted out, a second SIU player says something in passing to the Illinois State player who got the T, and a second referee gives HIM a technical. So now we have offsetting technical fouls, when nothing should’ve been called in the first place.

Problem for Illinois State was that the technical on their guy was also his third personal foul, and this was still in the first half. He eventually fouled out in overtime.

9) Miami 69, Virginia Tech 68— Hurricanes won their last four games, by a total of 8 points.

8) Xavier 65, DePaul 62— Musketeers win Big East regular season title, first team other than Villanova to do that since the league re-organized.

7) Upsets of the Day:
Little Rock (+20.5) 72, UL-Lafayette 61 OT
Cleveland State (+13.5) 89, Northern Kentucky 80
Marshall (+11) 76, Middle Tennessee 67
Stanford (+8.5) 84, Arizona State 83
Sacramento State (+8) 88, Northern Colorado 77
Arkansas State (+7) 83, UL-Monroe 79
Texas-El Paso (+6.5) 68, North Texas 66
Hawai’i (+6.5) 68, Cal State-Fullerton 60

6) Texas-El Paso 68, North Texas 66— Mean Green were improved this year; they finish 8-10 in Conference USA, after being 9-27 the last two years— 11 of their 18 conference games this season were decided by 4 or fewer points, or in OT.

5) Stanford 84, Arizona State 83— Sun Devils were 12-0 on Christmas, a top 10 team; they then went 8-10 in the Pac-12, going 3-9 in games decided by 7 or fewer points, or in OT. ASU will be a really tough team to handicap in the NCAAs; I’m assuming they’re going to make it.

4) NC State 76, Louisville 69— Louisville-Florida State is the 8-9 game in the ACC tournament, with both teams going 9-9 in ACC play. Could it be a play-in game?

3) Duke 74, North Carolina 64— Duke outscored Tar Heels 49-29 in second half; they took 20 foul shots (9-20), Carolina took five (4-5). My quick math says Blue Devils were 7-15 on arc in the second half. Teams could meet again next weekend in Brooklyn.

2) Murray State 68, Belmont 51— First bid in the Field of 68 goes to the Racers; over last five years, five different teams have won the OVC tournament.

1— Cleveland State 89, Northern Kentucky 80— Top seed in Horizon goes down in the biggest upset of the day. Norse had beaten Cleveland State by 17-15 points in two meetings during the regular season, but those games don’t matter nearly as much as this one did.

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

13) Virginia 67, Louisville 66— Someone on Twitter Thursday night described this as the worst loss by any team, EVER!!!

— Louisville led by 4 with 0:05 left- they fouled a Virginia player shooting a 3 with 0:01 left.
— Virginia kid made two of three FT’s, Cardinals still lead by 2.
— Louisville has ball out-of-bounds with 0:00.9 left, up 2, but they can’t run baseline
— Louisville inbounder runs baseline- thats a turnover.
— Virginia banks in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win the game. Oy.

12) Arizona State 84, California 53— Shooters get scholarship offers, and this is why; Cal was 0-18 on the arc in this game. Zero. for. 18. They were 19-78 in previous four games, so that is 19.8% over their last five games.

Kids who are prolific shooters get scholarships, because there aren’t that many of them.

11) Michigan 77, Nebraska 58— I have no sympathy for bubble teams that lose their first conference tournament game. Cornhuskers are 22-10 but will likely miss the NCAA’s- their non-conference schedule was ranked #272. Nebraska had Thursday off while Michigan played an OT game, but the Wolverines won this game easily.

10) Penn State 69, Ohio State 68— Buckeyes are 0-3 vs Penn State this year, 15-1 against the rest of their league. According to the Bracketology people on Twitter, Penn State still needs one more win to get into the field of 68.

9) St Peter’s 66, Rider 55— #9-seed Peacocks upset top-seeded Rider in beautiful downtown Albany. Broncs had won 15 of their last 17 games coming in. Such is March.

Quinnipiac 72, Canisius 69– Top two seeds in MAAC tourney are gone; whoever wins the conference title Monday night can pack their bags to Dayton for the play-in game.

8) Murray State 70, Jacksonville State 63— Racers were up 20 points, blew the lead, but then they scored last eight points of the game to advance to the OVC finals.

7) Football/baseball crossovers Friday:
— Tim Tebow batted cleanup for the Mets Friday; he went 1-3 as their DH.
— Russell Wilson pinch-hit for Aaron Judge and struck out in his only AB for the Bronx Bombers.

6) Baseball trivia: Last season, 99 switch-hitters appeared in major league games.

5) Bradley 63, Drake 61— Drake didn’t score for last 3:28 of this quarter-final game in the Missouri Valley Conference— they led by 8 at the half.

4) Davidson 63, Rhode Island 61— Rams started season 21-3, then went 2-3 in their last five games. Now they need to make a run in A-14 tourney to avoid being a suspect in NCAA’s.

Trivia: Davidson has players from seven different countries.

3) Tex-Arlington 85, Texas State 82— Arlington led 78-70, blew the lead, then Kevin Hervey drained a long 3-pointer with 0:00.9 left to hand Texas State their ninth loss in a row.

2) Princeton 78, Brown 63— With one night left in the season, there are three teams tied for the 4th and final spot in next week’s Ivy League tournament.

1— Liberty 69, NC-Asheville 64— Big upset in Big South, as top-seeded Asheville is shown the door. Liberty plays #2-seed Radford in the Big South final.

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

13) We’ve entered the age of “guilty until proven innocent.”

I’m talking now about Sean Miller and the situation at Arizona, where ESPN claimed that Miller was caught on an FBI wiretap talking about an illegal payoff for star player DeAndre Ayton.

Problem is, there is no recording of this conversation, no transcript of it, and there isn’t 100% agreement on when this conversation supposedly took place, or whether the player being talked about on the tape in question was even Ayton.

So Miller remains the coach at Arizona, but if he is indeed innocent, where does he go to get his reputation back, since there will always be people that believe he broke the rules?

12) Arizona 75, Stanford 67— Allonzo Trier was cleared to play by the NCAA, so all-around, it was a solid day to be a Wildcat in Tucson.

11) Bartolo Colon pitched for the Rangers Thursday; Luis Urias was the Padres’ 2B in the same game. Colon made his major league debut April 3, 1997, two months before Urias was born.

10) Other than who the Rams take, the one thing I’ll be looking for when the NFL Draft rolls around is where Louisville QB Lamar Jackson winds up. My personal opinion is that there is a place for him in the NFL, but I’m just a guy typing on his laptop.

One NFL personnel guy has to risk his career on Jackson being an NFL QB.

9) When the Cleveland Browns interviewed Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough at the NFL Combine, one of the questions they asked him was if he thought God is an Auburn fan.

What does that have to do with anything?

8) Minnesota Vikings went 13-3 this past season, their best record in 19 years, but it is likely that none of their three QB’s from last year will be on their 2018 roster.

Case Keenum had a great season, but it looks like Minnesota will let him test the free agent market; Sam Bradford’s knee is so bad that they’d be stupid to sign him- Mike Zimmer called it “degenerative”, and Teddy Bridgewater had a non-contact injury in 2016 that he still may not be fully recovered from. All three of those quarterbacks are free agents, and all three will likely be elsewhere in a few months.

7) Bruins led Pittsburgh after the first period Thursday night; it was most goals scored in first period of an NHL game since Arizona led Nashville 6-3 after first period on March 28, 2013.

6) RB’s Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb did 29 bench press reps at the NFL Combine.

Barkley and Chubb had more reps than all but five of the 36 offensive linemen to bench press at the Combine this year.

5) No quarterback who played at USC has ever started a Super Bowl.

QB’s from Fresno State, Arizona, Morehead State, Northern Iowa, Navy, Southern Miss and Grambling have all won Super Bowls.

4) This from covers.com:
“Nevada has seen explosive popularity in sports betting over the past decade. The annual handle rose from $2.8 billion in 2010 to $4.9 billion in 2017……”

3) If you care about such things, Lee Westwood has the most career earnings at The Masters without ever having won the tournament. Justin Rose is 2nd, Ernie Els is 3rd on that list.

2) University of Nevada has only seven healthy scholarship basketball players right now; they’ve added three walk-ons in the last month, including two WR’s from the football team. Adding the walk-ons allows them to practice 5-on-5 at least.

1— Our thoughts/prayers go out to Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly, who once again is battling cancer. He’s a tough guy; we wish him well in this latest battle.

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

13) St Bonaventure 117, Davidson 113, 3OT— Probably the best college hoop game this season was played Tuesday night; five players scored 30+ points. Six players fouled out. These teams are lined up to meet again in the A-14 semi-finals next week in Washington, DC.

12) Speaking of which, this is a year where several conference tournaments are in unusual places; ACC is in Brooklyn, Big 14 is in Manhattan, A-14 is in Washington, SEC is in St Louis.

11) One of the things about college basketball is that once you beat a team, you need that team to do well, so it helps your power rating.

Case in point: Boise State will be a bubble team if they don’t win the Mountain West- they’ve got a win at Oregon, so it would greatly help the Broncos if Oregon could work its way into the top 60 or even higher.

10) NIT will have some experimental rules this season; games will be four quarters, and 3-point arc will be moved out a little bit. The four-quarter thing looks like it will happen at some point in men’s basketball, maybe 2019-20— the women’s game already plays four quarters.

9) All-time major league record for pinch-hit home runs:
Matt Stairs 23, Cliff Johnson 20, Jerry Lynch 18.

Stairs is the new hitting coach for San Diego- he was the Phillies’ hitting coach last year.

8) Shareef O’Neal (Shaq’s son) quickly moved on from Arizona to UCLA for his college choice.

4) Took the NFL about 90 minutes to move on from Papa John’s to Pizza Hut as official pizza of the league; best thing about this? Lot fewer Peyton Manning commercials.

7) Mark Few makes $1,934,104 a year at Gonzaga; he is happy where he is, and you can’t buy happy, but he is leaving a lot of money on the table. If Few let it be known that he wanted to be a much higher-paid coach, lot of the big-money schools would be lining up pretty quickly.

6) Chicago Bears will cut backup QB Mike Glennon after only one year and four starts; Glennon made $18.5M for his time in the Windy City, so hard to feel bad for the guy.

5) There were two upsets in the NEC tournament last night; #2-seed Mt St Mary lost to Robert Morris, and #3-seed St Francis PA lost to FDU, first time since 2003 that the #2-3 seeds both lost in the first round.

3) If you’re Sam Darnold, why wouldn’t you throw at the NFL Combine? Quarterbacks shouldn’t back away from any challenges/competition.

2) Random question: if UConn hired Geno Auriemma to be its men’s basketball coach next year, how would he do? Huskies will probably make a coaching change; their program is a mess right now, going 30-33 the last two years.

1— Someone ran a poll on Twitter the other day, asking who was the most influential teacher they have ever had. It got hundreds of responses, some of which were “none” but it was cool to see that most people were grateful to teachers who helped them when they were younger.

Lot of time kids graduate and go on their way and never thank the people who helped them.

Monday’s Den: Conference tournament records, last 10 years

ACC
Duke 19-6 (four titles)
North Carolina 17-8 (two titles)
Louisville 15-5 (four titles, in Big East/AAC)
Notre Dame 13-9 (one title)
Miami 12-9 (one title)
Florida State 11-9 (one title)
Pittsburgh 9-9 (one title)
Virginia 8-9 (one title)
NC State 10-10 Syracuse 8-9
Virginia Tech 8-10 Georgia Tech 7-10
Boston College 5-10, Clemson 5-10, Wake Forest 2-10

Big East (only last 4 years, since they refigured)
Villanova 8-2 (two titles)
Seton Hall 6-3 (one title)
Providence 5-3 (one title)
Xavier 11-10 Creighton 5-4
Marquette 2-4 Georgetown 2-4
St John’s 1-4 DePaul 1-4 Butler 0-4

Big 14
Michigan State 17-7 (three titles)
Ohio State 17-7 (three titles)
Wisconsin 11-7 (two titles)
Michigan 15-9 (one title)
Purdue 8-9 (one title)
Minnesota 10-10 Illinois 9-10
Maryland 8-10 Penn State 8-10
Northwestern 5-10 Indiana 4-10 Nebraska 4-10
Rutgers 4-9 Iowa 2-10

Big X
Kansas 19-5 (five titles)
Iowa State 10-7 (three titles)
West Virginia 11-9 (won a Big East title)
Texas 11-10 Baylor 10-10 Oklahoma State 8-10
Kansas State 6-10 TCU 5-10
Oklahoma 4-10 Texas Tech 3-10

Big West
Cal-Santa Barbara 10-7 (two titles)
Cal-Irvine 13-9 (one title)
Long Beach State 12-9 (one title)
Cal-Davis 6-6 (one title)
Hawai’i 6-8 (one title)
Cal Poly 6-8 (one title)
Cal State-Fullerton 6-8 (one title)
Cal State Northridge 4-5 (one title)
Cal-Riverside 1-8 (only team in Big West without one)

Colonial
NC-Wilmington 9-7 (two titles)
Northeastern 9-9 (one title)
Delaware 8-9 (one title)
James Madison 6-9 (one title)
Charleston 14-10 Wm & Mary 12-10
Elon 9-9 (mostly in SoCon) Hofstra 7-10
Towson State 6-9 Drexel 4-10

Conference USA
Western Kentucky 21-6 (four titles)
Middle Tennessee 16-7 (three titles)
Old Dominion 12-7 (two titles)
North Texas 12-8 (one title)
Tex-San Antonio 8-9 (one title, in Southland)
UAB 7-9 (one title)
Southern Miss 10-8 UTEP 12-10 Marshall 9-10
Louisiana Tech 8-9 FIU 5-8 Charlotte 5-9
Rice 4-10 Florida Atlantic 2-9

MAAC
Iona 16-7 (three titles)
Siena 16-7 (three titles)
Manhattan 11-7 (two titles)
St Peter’s 7-9 (one title)
Monmouth 4-4 (in MAAC) Fairfield 9-10
Rider 8-10 Niagara 7-10 Canisius 6-9
Quinnipiac 6-10 Marist 5-10

MAC
Akron 24-7 (three titles)
Ohio 14-8 (two titles)
Kent State 11-8 (two titles)
Buffalo 11-8 (two titles)
Western Michigan 11-9 (one title)
Eastern Michigan 11-10 Toledo 6-9
Miami 6-10 Bowling Green 5-10
Central Michigan 4-10 Ball State 3-10 Northern Illinois 3-10

Mountain West
New Mexico 11-7 (three titles)
San Diego State 20-7 (two titles)
Utah State 10-8 (two titles)
UNLV 12-9 (one title)
Nevada 10-9 (one title)
Boise State 7-9 (one title)
Wyoming 5-8 (one title)
Colorado St 8-10 San Jose St 3-9 Air Force 3-10

Pac-12
Arizona 15-8 (two titles)
Oregon 14-8 (two titles)
UCLA 13-8 (two titles)
Washington 9-8 (two titles)
Colorado 13-9 (one title)
Utah 10-9 (one title)
USC 8-8 (one title)
Cal 8-10 Stanford 8-10 Arizona St 5-10
Oregon State 4-10 Washington State 2-10

SEC
Kentucky 20-5 (five titles)
Florida 12-9 (one title)
Georgia 12-9 (one title)
Missouri 10-7 (two titles, both in Big X)
Vanderbilt 11-9 (one title)
Mississippi State 10-9 (one title)
Ole Miss 8-9 (one title)
Tennessee 11-10 Alabama 9-10 Texas A&M 8-10
Arkansas 6-10 South Carolina 5-10
LSU 5-10 Auburn 4-10

WCC
Gonzaga 21-3 (seven titles)
St Mary’s 12-8 (two titles)
San Diego 8-9 (one title)
Pacific 6-8 (one title, in Big West)
BYU 13-10 LMU 8-10
San Francisco 6-10 Santa Clara 6-10
Pepperdine 5-10 Portland 5-10

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a college hoop Saturday

13) Kansas 77, West Virginia 69— Jayhawks were 26-35 on foul line, West Virginia was 1-2, in a game the Mountaineers led by 12 with 10:18 left. To say they got hosed is an understatement.

This is third straight series game Mountaineers had a double-digit lead over Kansas but lost.

12) Michigan State 66, Northwestern 60— Spartans were down 27 in first half, 22 at the half. This was one of those scores, when I saw it, thought it was a girls’ score or a mistake, but then State rallies for an unlikely win.

11) South Carolina 84, Auburn 75— Tigers split their last four games after a 21-2 start. Auburn lost 6-7 McLemore, a solid rebounder, with a severe leg injury.

10) Idaho 79, Montana 77 OT— Vandals made 12-19 on arc as Grizzlies went 0-2 this weekend after starting the week unbeaten in Big Sky play. Big Sky is ranked as the 18th-best conference this year, highest it has been rated since 2010- they were 25th or lower the last six years.

9) Marquette 90, Creighton 86— Marquette lost five of its last seven games; they allowed 85-86 points in the two wins. Not a strong defensive team.

8) Villanova 95, Xavier 79— Wildcats were only 3-5 on foul line, 16-34 on arc- this is not the way to get to a Final Four— you need some kind of inside presence and production. This is obviously a good win, but unless Villanova gets more scoring inside, they’ll have a short March.

7) Upsets of the Day:
Eastern Kentucky (+11.5) 72, Tennessee State 59
Santa Clara (+9) 72, Pacific 68
James Madison (+8) 69, Towson State 66
Marquette (+7.5) 90, Creighton 86
Cal-Davis (+7.5) 71, UCSB 54
VMI (+7) 75, Citadel 71
Texas (+6.5) 77, Oklahoma 66

6) UCLA 86, Oregon 78 OT— Tough weekend in LA for the Ducks, who lost at the buzzer at USC in last game Thursday. Bruins were 16-33 on the arc; they’re a surprising bubble team.

5) There was a triple OT game Thursday and one on Friday; if you wagered against all four teams in their next game Saturday, you would’ve won three of four bets.

4) A kid on Arizona State wore one maroon sneaker, one gold sneaker in the ASU-Arizona game Thursday. A player on Alabama wore one crimson sneaker, one white one in the Tide’s loss at Kentucky Saturday. Not sure if this is a growing trend, but if it is, you know each kid has another pair of sneakers at home, just like the mismatched pair.

3) Texas 77, Oklahoma 66— Sooners lost five in row, 8 of last 10 games, as the Trey Young bandwagon is stuck in reverse. ESPN’s hype machine did this to the Ben Simmons-LSU team couple years ago; they put a target on the kid’s back by talking about him endlessly, then looked on in wonderment when the team suffers.

2) Nebraska Cornhuskers won their last six games, covered 13 of their last 14 league games.

1— Shout out to the fine folks at Albany Park & Ride; when I go to Las Vegas, often leave my car there, and they shuttle me to the nearby airport. When I come back, they have the car waiting for me in their lot and it is all very convenient, especially in winter time. Good place.

Saturday’s List of 13: Random thoughts, mostly about Las Vegas

13) My favorite dinner place in Las Vegas is Battitsta’s, a hole-in-the-wall place behind the Cromwell and next to Bally’s. Very good Italian place; old school, with checked tablecloths and an older guy who walks around playing the accordion.

Runner up place to eat is the Mirage, where they have the Carnegie Deli, with the biggest sandwiches ever. I order extra bread and make two sandwiches out of it.

Another good restaurant is in the Stratosphere, but I can’t remember the name of it; it is an Italian place downstairs and it is really good- lighting is dark and reminds you of scenes in different movies.

12) If you like basketball, Las Vegas is a fun place to live; UNLV hoops are lot of fun to go to; they’re having a resurgent year this season- little disappointed the public hasn’t caught on to them that much yet, but part of that is how well the new hockey team is doing.

11) In July, NBA Summer League is at UNLV for a good part of the month; for $30, you can sit in an air conditioned arena all day long and watch guys try to make the NBA.

Later in July, the best high school players in the western US play in tournaments all over Las Vegas. All the college coaches you see on TV all winter are there at one time or another— lot of good basketball.

10) Then in March, the WCC, WAC, Mountain West and Pac-12 all have their conference tournaments in Las Vegas. Lot of good action to choose from.

9) There is a Pinball Museum on Flamingo Road; you can go in and play these old-time pinball machines for a quarter. its a quirky fun way to spend a couple of hours.

8) There is a never a shortage of shows, concerts to go to in Las Vegas; plus the Golden Knights have 41 home games a year now. Jewel is playing at the Wynn in late March; Donnie and Marie play in Vegas all the time. Carrot Top has his comedy act there all the time. Lot of stuff going on.

7) Best sportsbook in Las Vegas is definitely the Westgate, where I stayed the last 11 days; huge place, good bar, three food options, just by the sports book and tremendous TV screens to watch almost anything you want. On NFL Sundays, the Westgate opens their theater to show NFL games.

6) The Neon Museum downtown has a lot of old neon signs from old casinos that don’t exist anymore; its an oddly cool piece of history, especially at dusk, when they light some of the signs.

5) They play AAA baseball at Cashman Field downtown in the spring/summer; this will be the last year for the Mets’ AAA team in Las Vegas. They’re also building a new ballpark out in the northwest section of town, up in Summerlin. No word on whose AAA team will move in, with the Mets’ team moving to Syracuse in 2019.

4) One thing about the Las Vegas airport; people arriving at the airport most always look happier than people flying out of Las Vegas.

3) Had a 3.5-hour layover in Baltimore’s airport Friday night, which would’ve been lot more palatable if they had decent WiFi there. They do have Chick-fil-A though and Chick-fil-A is tremendous.

2) St Bonaventure 77, Rhode Island 74— Rams’ 16-game winning streak is over. Bonnies have won eight games in a row.

1) I’m back in my palatial suburban estate after 11 days in the desert; Las Vegas is great fun to visit- there was a magic convention at my hotel while I was there (no, things didn’t keep disappearing) and I went to a UNLV game (NHL tickets are too expensive since the Knights are doing so well). A full 11 days of fun, plus I missed a snowstorm. Worth it!!!!

Tuesday’s List of 13: Scanning college basketball conferences

13) AAC— Cincinnati is 12-0, has a 3-game lead over Wichita State/Houston; I’m thinking all three of these teams make the NCAA’s, but no one else from this league.

12) ACC— Virginia is 12-1, has a 2-game lead over Clemson; surprising. 2014 was last time neither Duke/North Carolina finished 1-2 in the ACC (Virginia/Syracuse). That is the only time since 2002 that has happened.

11) Atlantic 14— Rhode Island Rams are 12-0, have a 4-game lead over both St Bonaventure, Davidson; URI should be in the NCAA’s, but everyone else looks like a longshot to make the Field of 68. Richmond is 7-5 in the A-14, but only 9-15 overall.

10) Big 14— Surprising Ohio State leads Purdue/Michigan State, who were expected to be very good. Michigan should get in with a strong finish; upstarts Nebraska/Penn State are fighting to get off the bubble. OSU coach Holtmann might be national Coach of the Year.

9) Big X— Best league in the country; Texas Tech leads Kansas by a game, West Virginia by 1.5 games. Jayhawks won last 13 regular season titles, so Tech winning the league would be a huge upset. Seven of ten teams in this league are in KenPom’s top 50 in the country.

8) Big East— Xavier/Villanova are in a virtual tie for first place; Musketeers are 8-0 in Big East games decided by 7 or fewer points. Villanova has some injury issues right now, but hope to have everyone back for the postseason.

7) Big Sky— Montana is 13-0, leads Weber State by two games, which doesn’t mean a whole lot, since the conference tournament is on a neutral floor and only the tournament winner will get into the NCAA’s. 9-3 Idaho is 33-15 in conference games the last three seasons.

6) Big West— Cal-Santa Barbara leads Cal-Irvine by half a game; Anteaters were 5-11 when conference play started- they’re #299 experience team in country. UCSB was 6-22 last year; new coach Joe Pasternack has used transfers to get the Gauchos back on track.

5) Colonial— Charleston leads Northeastern by a game; Huskies just won the Beanpot hockey tourney for first time in 30 years- maybe this is their year. This is a one-bid league and their conference tournament will be really wide open.

4) Horizon— 26th-ranked league was 14th three years ago; defections of Loyola, Valparaiso have crippled league. Northern Kentucky leads way this year, with Wright State game behind and UIC game behind them. Another one-bid league.

3) MAAC— Rider/Canisius are tied for the top; Niagara is in 3rd place, Iona in 4th. Conference tournament is in beautiful downtown Albany, but Siena is awful so that shouldn’t matter much. Right now, the 4-5 game would be Iona-Manhattan, which would be very interesting.

2) MAC— Buffalo/Toledo have three less losses than anyone else in MAC and are only teams in league ranked higher than #168. Will be disappointing if they don’t meet in MAC title game.

1) Missouri Valley— Loyola-Chicago has 2-game lead over Southern Illinois, but Ramblers haven’t been in NCAA’s since 1985, so they’ll have lot of pressure on them in Arch Madness.

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

13) Oregon State 97, Washington 94 2OT— Just when the Huskies were sneaking towards the bubble, Stephen Thompson Jr hit the game winner with 0:00.3 left. Thompson’s dad played for Syracuse, where he was a teammate of Washington coach Mike Hopkins.

12) Texas A&M 85, Kentucky 74— Wildcats lost their 3rd straight game; they’re 3-5 in last eight games- they’re shooting 28.7% on arc in SEC games. A&M won six of last eight games; they have an interesting resume; several quality wins, but also a 5-game losing streak in January.

11) Virginia Tech 61, Virginia 60 OT— Hokies won five of last six games; this win is especially important for them because their non-conference schedule was 341st in country, which means it was really weak. This was Virginia’s first loss since Dec 5 at West Virginia.

10) Upsets of the Day:
UL-Monroe (+13.5) 90, Georgia State 82 OT
Virginia Tech (+12) 61, Virginia 60 OT
Oklahoma State (+12) 88, West Virginia 85
Cal-Northridge (+11.5) 77, Hawai’i 71
DePaul (+9) 80, Providence 63
Northern Illinois (+8.5) 90, Buffalo 88 OT
Fordham (+8) 80, Duquesne 57

9) Baylor 80, Kansas 64— Right now, with six games left, Texas Tech is atop Big X at 9-3, with Jayhawks one game behind. Kansas won the last 13 Big X regular season titles.

8) Michigan State 68, Purdue 65— Rough week for the senior-laden Boilermakers, who lost to Buckeyes/Spartans by combined total of four points. Miles Bridges hit the game-winner with 0:03 left to send everyone home happy in East Lansing.

7) Xavier 72, Creighton 71— Controversial ending, with refs calling foul on the Bluejays with 0:00.3 left— marginal calls like that don’t often go against the home folks. Goodin scored a career-high 17 points for the Musketeers.

6) Boston College 72, Miami 70- Vastly-improved Eagles are 5-7 in ACC this year, after being 10-62 in ACC games the previous four years.

5) Colorado State 90, San Jose State 79— Rams suspended interim head coach Steve Barnes just before this game; a 30-year old assistant was named the newest interim coach. Apparently the players like this guy; they doused him with water bottles after this win snapped the Rams’ losing streak at seven games.

4) Arizona State 88, UCLA 79— Sun Devils got their first Pac-12 weekend sweep in three seasons under coach Bobby Hurley- they’re also over .500 (7-6) in Pac-12 for first time this season.

3) North Carolina 96, NC State 89— Since 2002, Tar Heels are now 13-0 in game following a win over Duke; you’d think that next game would be a trap game, but not for Carolina.

2) Montana 71, Sacramento State 69 OT— Griz is 13-0 in Big Sky, narrowly avoiding an upset loss here. Hornets led by 9 with 11:23 left, by 3 with 1:45 left.

1— UNLV 85, Wyoming 70— I had fun watching this game in person; Rebels jumped out to 19-2 lead, then the natives got restless when Cowboys briefly grabbed lead in second half. UNLV held Wyoming star James to 6-23 shooting— he is 15-45 from floor since the Cowboys played three consecutive OT games Jan 24-27-31.

Saturday’s List of 13: In a perfect world, where I made the decisions……

13) Every kid would learn basic life skills in high school: cooking, laundry, how to write a check, how to do a budget, the divorce laws.

12) We’d get rid of the designated hitter, once and for all.

11) NFL players wouldn’t have radios in their helmets; coaches have six days to prepare the players. Sunday should be the players’ day to play.

10) Speaking of which, no Thursday NFL games, except for Week 1 and Thanksgiving Day.

9) Get rid of the electoral college; whichever presidential candidate gets the most votes, they win the election. Seems simple enough. I’ve felt this way about the electoral college since I was in high school, a very long time ago.

8) Kids could go straight from high school to the NBA or G-League, but if you go to college to play ball, then you’re not eligible for the draft for two years.

7) Major leagues would have a salary floor and a salary cap; none of this BS the Marlins are doing, dumping all your good players, insuring a 100-loss seasons not only this year but for the foreseeable future.

6) NBA playoff series would be two out of three until the Finals, which would be best-of-5. the way the NBA is now, the playoffs suck; who can beat Golden State four out of seven games?

5) Relief pitchers have to face at least two batters when they come in, instead of one; if MLB is really concerned about pace of play, nothing drags it down like left/right pitching changes. if a lefty reliever can’t get righty hitters out, then they shouldn’t be in the big leagues.

4) I’d be in favor of college basketball adopting the NBA’s 8-second rule for getting the ball over halfcourt; most anything that encourages pressing and a faster-paced game is a good thing.

3) I’d make cigarettes illegal; they’re known to cause cancer. What is good about them?

2) I’d make sure DirecTV picked up the Pac-12 Network. Its not too much to ask.

1— One news item:

Bad times at Colorado State: on Thursday, the basketball team boycotted practice because of growing frustration over lack of communication from the school about an investigation into coach Larry Eustachy’s treatment of players/staff.

Apparently the school wants to fire Eustachy, who makes around $950K a year; I’m guessing the delay is they’re making damn sure they can fire him for cause and not have to pay him.

Friday’s List of 13: Random thoughts from the desert……

13) One of things that I like about is Las Vegas is sitting in the sportsbook, watching games, and thinking…….last night, I was thinking about how this website can improve.

Came up with couple of ideas, one of which will start in April— I think you’ll enjoy it, and one will take place next fall— some people might not like this one as much, but hopefully it’ll make this site a better one to read and one you can profit more from reading.

12) Cleveland Cavaliers made three trades Thursday; they dealt six players, acquired four, and hopefully improved their team.

11) Someone on ESPN Thursday afternoon casually mentioned that “Isaiah Thomas might come off the bench for the Lakers.” Not long after, a message appeared on ESPN’s crawl that Thomas’ agent had texted someone at ESPN, saying “Thomas WILL NOT COME OFF THE BENCH for the Lakers.” Apparently someone is really sensitive about what he hears on TV.

10) I’ve spent 17 years of my life involved with basketball teams- I did a lot with analytics and numbers to help the head coach make decisions.

If I ever got back into this, one of things I’d change is making sure a player who assisted on a 3-point shot would get credit for 1.5 assists— would have to make a new category, but you get my point. Passing for a foul shot or 3-point basket needs to be recognized, not just 2-point baskets.

9) Upsets of the Night:
UL-Monroe (+12) 66, Georgia Southern 64
North Texas (+10) 67, UAB 60
UCLA (+9) 82, Arizona 74
Monmouth (+8.5) 72, Iona 50
Tennessee State (+7.5) 64, Belmont 56
Wisconsin (+5.5) 78, Illinois 69

8) One of the new and not necessarily better features of the Westgate sportsbook is an increased interest in hockey- they had the volume up on the hometown Golden Knights’ game Thursday night, instead of UCLA-Arizona, with Pasch/Walton on the mike. No bueno.

7) Question of the Day: What would you do if you were worth $10 billion? I was watching a movie on TV last week about the guy who founded Facebook- he has to be pretty damn rich now, right? He is 33 years old and is worth $73 billion, 73 freakin’ billion dollars.

What does he do every day that keeps him interested? Having a sick amount of money is great, but you have to have something that makes you jump out of bed in the morning. I wonder how the really rich people stay motivated? What makes them get up in the morning?

6) Dodger pitcher Ross Stripling went to seven weddings this offseason, including his own; five of the seven were guys on the Dodgers getting married.

5) Manhattan College is in the Bronx, not Manhattan; Long Island University is in Brooklyn, not on Long Island.

4) Toronto Raptors’ guard Kyle Lowry gave $1M to his alma mater Villanova, so they can re-do the locker room facilities in their fieldhouse.

Seems like a lot of cash, but Lowry has struck gold in the NBA- he has a 3-year, $90M contract, so giving away $1M of it ain’t such a big deal, but its a big deal to Villanova— it is the largest gift they’ve ever gotten from a former athlete.

3) Portland Trailblazers hired former referee Don Vaden, to serve as a consultant who offers advice on league rules, background on referee personalities and tendencies, and knowledge on how to avoid or draw fouls. Good idea.

2) 49ers gave QB Jimmy Garoppolo a 5-year, $137.5M contract, which is a lot of cabbage for a guy with seven NFL starts— he did win all seven of them.

1— Why do college basketball teams have timeouts on the court while NBA teams have them on the bench, where they’re supposed to be?