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

13) Minnesota 75, Indiana 74— If Hoosiers miss NCAA’s, will Tom Crean get the boot and if he does, will Indiana go after native son Steve Alford?

12) Seton Hall 87, Creighton 81— Bluejays are 3-4 in their last seven games; Villanova now has a 3-game lead in the Big East.

11) SMU 80, Tulane 75— 24-point underdog Green Wave were up 15 at the half.

10) Duke 65, Virginia 55— Cavaliers shot 5-20 on arc, have now lost four of their last six games.

9) Arkansas 83, South Carolina 76— Erratic Razorbacks were a 9.5-point underdog.

8) Iowa State 87, Kansas State 79— Cyclones never trailed in impressive road win.

7) Northern Iowa 64, Bradley 61— Surging Panthers won nine of last 10 games which followed a 7-game losing streak.

6) Oklahoma State 71, TCU 68— Cowboys won seven of their last eight games after starting Big X play 0-6.

5) North Carolina 97, NC State 73— Wolfpack Nation, never a patient lot, is getting a lot more restless. State lost to UNC twice this season, by total of 75 points.

4) Fordham 53, Rhode Island 43— Ugly loss for the home side; URI is headed to the NIT. They were supposed to make the NCAA’s.

3) San Diego State 66, Utah State 62— Aztecs are grinding out wins without much offense; they are back over .500 (7-6) in the Mountain West.

2) Butler 110, St John’s 86— Bulldogs were 13-26 on arc, 29-40 on the foul line. Not too often a college team scores 110 points in 40:00, especially in a conference game.

1— Non-basketball item; Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria is being considered as the United States’ ambassador to France. Good God, the French hate us enough already!!!!

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

13) Recruiting services that get quoted like they’re the gospel aren’t quite what they appear. Bob Huggins is in his 10th year as the coach at West Virginia, won a ton of games; he has never had one McDonald’s All-American with the Mountaineers. None.

Huggins finds great athletes who work their butts off to improve and don’t mind being coached hard. Lot of McDonald’s All-Americans think they’re bigger than life and have big egos, with one foot already in the NBA.

12) San Diego State is just 6-6 in the Mountain West, a bad year for them, but they’ve led by 7+ points in all six losses. Aztecs have had too many scoring droughts when they’ve had the lead.

11) Political commentator John Heileman (MSNBC/Bloomberg) was once a good high school pitcher in the LA area. He played Little League ball against Bret Saberhagen, and before blowing his arm out, gave up a 430-foot homer to Darryl Strawberry in high school.

10) Favorites are 13-0 vs spread in Texas Longhorns’ last 13 conference tourney games.

9) Reader Mike e-mailed with news the Chick-fil-A may be headed into our area here, 10 miles north in Clifton Park. This would be outstanding news. Chick-fil-A is good stuff.

8) Michigan State’s AD is the head of the college basketball selection committee, but he had to cancel a 2-week trip to evaluate teams in person. His plate at Michigan State is pretty full:

— The MSU gymnastics coach was suspended, supposedly in connection with an investigation into whether a longtime MSU doctor molested gymnasts.
— Nick Vista, Michigan State’s former longtime SID, passed away over the weekend at age 90.
— Three football players have been suspended with regards to a criminal investigation that is still ongoing. A football staffer was also suspended (with pay).

Too much chaos in East Lansing for the AD to be traveling, watching basketball games.

7) Rutgers switched its shoe/apparel contract from Nike to adidas. Somehow I don’t think Phil Knight is staying awake nights worrying about this development.

6) Oklahoma lost G Jordan Woodard for the year with a knee injury; St Joe’s lost Lamarr Kimble with a broken foot. Towson State’s John Davis was shot in the leg in a drive-by shooting Saturday night; it is unclear whether he will play again this season.

5) What is the over/under on how much Latrell Sprewell was paid to sit next to James Dolan at the Knicks’ game Sunday? I’m guessing $5,000, but who knows?

One of the cable channels showed a clip of Sprewell playing for Minnesota 13 years ago, last time he was in the Garden. He makes a hoop, the Knicks call time-out and one of the Wolves’ subs comes off the bench to chest-bump Sprewell. The sub was Fred Hoiberg, now the Bulls’ coach.

4) Talk show host Carson Daly got a partial golf scholarship when he went to college at Loyola Marymount. He dropped out of LMU to try and become a pro golfer, which didn’t turn out too well but his show business career has gone great.

3) Gonzaga struggled a little bit last year when they had three big-time transfers sitting out the season but practicing with the team. Same thing is happening now at Nevada, which has four transfers sitting out this season, reducing their available scholarship players to nine.

When the current players are playing against better players in practice, it hurts this year’s team.

2) Montreal Canadiens are in first place, but they fired their coach Michel Therrien Tuesday and hired former Bruins coach Claude Julien, who won the Stanley Cup in Boston six years ago. It is the second time (2002-03) the Canadiens replaced Therrien as its coach with Julien.

1— Get well soon to Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder and Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire, both of whom were recently diagnosed with treatable forms of cancer.

Looking at top 13 conferences in college basketball……..

13) Southern Conference— Fastest rising league in country; three years ago, they were #30, two years ago #25, LY #19, now they’re 13.

Furman (11-2) leads East Tennessee State by a game right now, but Chattanooga, NC-Greensboro and Wofford could all win conference tourney too. Their games are well worth watching on ESPN3.com.

12) Colonial— NC-Wilmington and Charleston are on top of league, but have both struggled the last few games. Towson State has been surging but one of their better players was shot in the leg in a drive-by shooting in Philly Saturday night. Not sure when he will play again.

11) West Coast— Gonzaga and St Mary’s and……no one else. BYU is very young this year, so they have taken a step back. Four first-year coaches in this league but the WCC is a lot like the Big West when UNLV ruled it during Jerry Tarkanian’s heyday.

10) Missouri Valley— Wichita State is tied with Illinois State for first place, despite losing Baker and Van Vleet from LY’s team; Redbirds lost star F McIntosh, a big loss for a team that is 21-5 and was headed for a showdown with the Shockers in Arch Madness. Northern Iowa has won eight of last nine games, after a 5-11 start.

9) Mountain West— Totally wide open this year, with San Diego State having a down year. Colorado State/Nevada are two of best teams, but both have zero depth, so winning three days in a row in conference tourney will be dicey. Does that open the door for Boise State?

8) Atlantic 14— League that should get more games on TV. VCU, Dayton, Richmond are all very good; Rhode Island always seems to be a half-step behind the top teams. Davidson is having a disappointing season. St Bonaventure is tough place to play, unless the students storm the court before the game is over.

7) American— SMU-Cincinnati will get in NCAA’s. Bearcats shoot it better than they usually do, could be sleeper in March. Houston/Memphis will try to steal a bid at the conference tourney. UConn has been racked by injury this season.

6) Pac-12— Conference of Champions has Arizona-Oregon-UCLA, fun teams to watch. Knocking on NCAA’s door are USC, Cal and Utah. Trojans’ non-conference schedule was #263, which could haunt them on Selection Sunday.

5) SEC— Kentucky rules this league, obviously, but I like Florida as a sleeper in March; South Carolina will get in tourney this year, but after that, NIT it is. Florida’s Canyon Barry, Rick’s son, has now made 39 foul shots in a row— he shoots underhanded like his dad.

4) Big 14— Committee didn’t have any of these teams in top 16 seeds for NCAA’s, then Wisconsin lost at home to Northwestern, which drops them more. Purdue is probably the best team in league, Maryland is strong but VERY young. Rest of the league is mediocre, but Izzo’s Spartans can’t be ignored, because Izzo is a Hall of Famer. Northwestern is going to make the tournament for the first time ever- -good for them.

3) Big East— Villanova is defending national champ, but Xavier/Creighton both lost their PG for the season with injuries, so they’ll be wounded targets in March. Butler looks like a tourney team, but they’ve lost three of last four games.

2) ACC— TV types keep saying they’re getting ten teams in tournament; I’m not seeing it. Think nine is most they’ll get. Fifteen teams is too many for a league, but they care more about football so they let Notre Dame play basketball here. Irish have been in Elite 8 the last two years; not this season. As I type this, Louisville is in a tie game in last minute at Syracuse and they have a walk-on playing. Did every ESPN play-by-play guy go to Syracuse?

Louisville’s walk-on, by the way, is from Sarasota, FL– Dick Vitale recommended him to Rick Pitino.

1— Big X— No easy outs here, now that TCU has become a good team; Texas/Oklahoma are two worst teams in league this year. Kansas has off-court issues; they’ve looked shaky of late. Baylor looks very strong, but they lost in first round the last two years, as a 5-seed and a 3-seed. Oy.

Monday’s List of 13: Random thoughts on a snowy night

13) Joel Embiid hasn’t played for the 76ers since January 27; they’re 13-18 when he plays, 7-16 when he doesn’t. Apparently Embiid has a slight meniscus tear in his knee, which is why he hasn’t been playing, but then video of him dancing on the stage of a Meek Mill concert in Philly the other night showed up and people in Philly are, uh…….not real happy.

Coach Brett Brown: ”The conversations I had with Joel after I saw the video included a lot, some of which you mentioned. By and large, I’d probably prefer it was a private conversation.’’

I’m guessing the player was introduced to the word “perception” as in, ‘When you’re getting paid millions and you can’t play because your knee hurts, then don’t show up on stage at a concert dancing. People might perceive that you’re not taking your knee rehab seriously.’

12) San Diego State 70, Nevada 56— Aztecs are 6-6 in the Mountain West this season, as their lack of shooting has caused the program to take a dip— last time the Aztecs finished under .500 in conference play was 2005.

In his last two road games, Nevada’s leading scorer Marcus Marshall is 2-22 from the floor.

11) Grant Napear is the Kings’ TV announcer; Friday night, Sacramento is playing terribly against the Hawks,  just getting killed. Kings fans are chanting “Ref u suck!!!” when they don’t get calls and Mr Napear says, “The way they’re playing, the fans should be chanting that to the Kings.”

Wow. You don’t get that kind of honesty very often on local broadcasts. Sacramento rallied to win the game, by the way.

10) This info is from Sports Insights: So far this season, 84.5% of NBA games closed with a total of 200+ points. just two years ago, that figure was only 49.6%.

9) Northwestern 66, Wisconsin 59— The long drought is over; if they get Lindsey back soon, they will be in the NCAA’s. Credit to Chris Collins, tough to turn a losing program around.

8) The following passage is from writer Jeff Passan: he is talking about Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who hopefully is selling the ballclub soon:

“Over the last 18 years, as Jeffrey Loria sprayed the stench of his naked greed across baseball like the skunk he is, as he destroyed the sport in one city and bilked another out of billions of dollars, as he tore asunder a championship team and micromanaged countless others and behaved like the lamest sort of wannabe George Steinbrenner possible, all blowhard, zero substance, the aggrieved could take solace in one thing and one alone: some day, the game would rid itself of him.”

7) Golf is really hard; on the European Tour this week, guy named Bernd Weisberger had nine straight birdies in his round on Friday. Doesn’t happen much. On the same nine holes the next day, he was +2 and drifted out of contention.

6) If Indiana misses the NCAA tournament, would the school reach out to Steve Alford to see if he would come home to be its coach? Alford coaching UCLA just seems weird; Alford coaching Indiana seems like it should happen.

I’m thinking that UCLA is/was/always will be a really hard job; the shadow of John Wooden, even 40 years later, is tough to coach under. Ben Howland went to three Final Fours and they couldn’t wait to get rid of him.

5) Raiders gave coach Jack Del Rio a 4-year contract extension. You wonder where he’ll be working four years from now; Las Vegas, San Diego, Oakland?

4) If Kevin Durant thinks it is necessary to hire ARMED security for his mother at a game, why would she even bother going to the game? She was surprised that people are steamed at her son bolting to Golden State? That should not be surprising; unfortunate maybe, but not surprising.

3) Tampa Bay Rays signed P Nathan Eovaldi to a $2M deal for 2107, with a club option for ’18; what makes this odd is that Eovaldi had Tommy John surgery and won’t pitch this season, so it is really a future contract for 2018.

2) Reds traded Brandon Phillips to the Braves; LY, he turned down a trade to the Nationals, a contending team. Now he approves a trade to the rebuilding Braves? Unusual.

Braves may have made the trade because Sean Rodriguez needs shoulder surgery after he was injured in a car accident. Initial reports said he was uninjured in the accident.

1) So I’m (trying to) sleep Saturday morning, my doorbell rings, then there is a knock on the door, so I think it might be important- it wasn’t.

Some guy wants to know if I’d like him to shovel the inch or two of snow that fell late Friday night off my sidewalk. I’m not a morning person, but I managed to decline politely and go back to sleep. Don’t be knocking on people’s doors on a Saturday morning.

Sunday, we got a foot of snow; think the guy will show up and want to clear off my sidewalk today? Nah, me either.

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

13) There were three 4-OT games during the week: here is how those six teams bounced back from those long games:
— Alabama (+7.5) lost 67-58 to Kentucky
— South Carolina (-5.5) won 77-73 at Mississippi State but didn’t cover.
— Samford (+6.5) lost 90-73 at Furman
— Wofford (+1.5) lost 73-65 to Chattanooga
— Wyoming (+3) lost 81-74 at Utah State
— Fresno State (+3) lost 78-62 at Colorado State

Summing up, those six teams combined to go 0-6 vs spread today; only South Carolina won.

12) Duke 64, Clemson 62— Mike Krzyzewski turns 70 on Monday; how long is he going to keep coaching? Clemson led this game with by a point with 10:10 left, but Duke made 11-26 on the arc and Tigers were only 2-9. Tough to overcome that.

Luke Kennard was only Blue Devil to score in double figures in this game; a small red flag.

11) Coming into today, Big X home favorites of 8+ points were 1-15-1 vs the spread this season. but all four of the league’s home favorites covered Saturday, so that stat is now 5-15-1.

10) St John’s 78, Seton Hall 70— CBS announcers said on air that part of why Chris Mullin is recruiting more international players is that they tend to be more team-oriented and are often better fundamentally. I don’t disagree but it is disappointing to hear, isn’t it?

9) Wm & Mary 89, Charleston 79
Elon 77, NC-Wilmington 76— Both frontrunners in the CAA go on the road and lose.

8) Rider 112, Quinnipiac 107— Broncs were 13-19 on arc, 31-36 on foul line; Rider really played  only seven guys (an 8th guy played 3:00) in an 89-possession game- they must be tired.

7) Michigan State 77, Iowa 66— Not one Big 14 team was a top 4 seed in the initial NCAA bracket that was released Saturday, a very interesting development. Wisconsin fans have to be a little upset by that- they’re 21-3, but not considered a top 4 seed.

6) Georgia 76, Tennessee 75— Dawgs lost five of last seven games, but they’re 7-0 as an SEC road underdog- their last five road games were all decided by 4 or less points or in OT.

5) Appalachian State 77, Georgia State 72— Panthers fall out of a tie for first in Sun Belt. App State crawls out of a tie for last place.

4) Villanova 73, Xavier 57— Xavier has major injury issues, but congrats to Jay Wright on his 500th career coaching win.

3) Tennessee Tech 83, Belmont 70— First OVC loss of the season for the Bruins, who are 6-2 vs spread in OVC road games.

2) Gonzaga 74, St Mary’s 64— Next difficult game for Gonzaga should be when BYU visits Spokane; surprisingly, Cougars won two of last three visits to Spokane.

1— Ole Miss 90, Auburn 84— Rebels were down 20 at the half, 47-27, so if you took Auburn +4, you can stop reading this now. Terence Davis scored 26 points in this game, he had zero points at halftime. Ole Miss scored 27 points in first half, 63 in second half.

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

13) Baseball is going to experiment with a rule in the low minor leagues where teams start extra innings with a runner on second base; this is when you know idiots are taking over at the top of the sport.

If you really need to shorten/quicken baseball games, here are some ideas that would work, without making the major leagues look like girls’ softball:

— Make a pitcher have to face at least two batters in every appearance; would result in way fewer pitching changes, each of which is 5-6 minutes in length.
— Pitching changes are subbed in, just like basketball. You call time, the guy jogs in from the bullpen and the game resumes. No conferences on the mound, which leads us to……
— No visits to the mound by any coach/manager. Ever. If a coach comes to the mound because of an injury to the pitcher, the pitcher has to leave the game.
— Get rid of the DH; then, more pitching changes would happen via pinch-hitting and you’d have less pitching changes within the half-inning.
— If you hate extra inning games so much (I love them myself), then instead of cheapening the game by having runners start the inning on base, just have tie games, like they do in Japan. If the game is tied after 10 or 11 innings, it ends.

I’m not in favor of this; extra inning games create some unique happenings that make the game great fun but better tie games than starting an inning with men on base.

— Eliminating replay reviews would be useless, because managers’ arguments with umpires took up just as much time as replay reviews and with far fewer benefits.

The thing is, MLB is harping on this issue because games are 8-10 minutes longer than they used to be; 8-10 minutes!!!! Who cares? The game is fine the way it is; people who don’t like baseball have way too much influence over the game’s decision makers.

12) Jeffrey Loria supposedly has reached an agreement to sell the Miami Marlins for $1.6B to a guy in NYC, but the guy (a real estate magnate) doesn’t have enough cash on hand- his wealth is tied up in real estate, so it is unclear if MLB would approve the sale. Baseball would be better off to get rid of Loria, though.

Kicker is, the real estate guy who wants to buy the Marlins is Ivanka Trump’s brother-in-law; how much money do these people have?

11) Tough break for the Milwaukee Bucks; Jabari Parker tore an ACL, is done for the season. Portland loses Evan Turner for 5-6 weeks with a broken hand.

10) Jordan Spieth got into a verbal spat with professional autograph collectors/sellers this week, saying that “….they should get a job” instead of selling his signature on the Interweb. Actually, selling autographs, memorabilia is a job.

I’ve seen NFL players bark at collectors too; Torry Holt for one, at the Football Hall of Fame in 2001 when I was watching the Rams practice before the Hall of Fame Game. Guys with thick binders filled with pictures are guys who collect signed stuff and sell them. Players are very cool with kids; they sign a lot and willingly. With collectors, they have way less patience.

It is the American way, I guess; make money any legal way you can.

9) Houston Astros players lost only 413 days to the disabled list last year, least in the major leagues; Oakland A’s lost the most, with 1,966 player days on the DL.

8) Just when Northwestern looked headed to their first NCAA tourney, their best player gets mono and the Wildcats lose their next two games. Their non-conference schedule was so weak, their margin for error is less than most teams.

7) Central Michigan beat Ohio U 97-87 Tuesday night; the two teams combined to take 72 3’s, 60 2-point shots and only 43 foul shots. Basketball is trending that way, for better or worse.

6) Apparently, Michael Buffer got paid $10,000 to do his shtick introducing the starting lineups at the UNLV-Nevada game in Reno Wednesday night. He did the same thing at a Kentucky game couple of weeks ago. Now thats a good gig.

5) Saint Louis Billikens lost at St Bonaventure Wednesday night; afterwards, they couldn’t find the team bus. Turns out the bus driver was drunk and she took off without any passengers- she and the bus were found 40 miles away, because coach Travis Ford’s I-Pad was on the bus and he could locate it with his IPhone. Oy.

its been a bad season for the Billikens but at least that provided some comic relief, once they got on the chartered plane back home.

4) RIP Mr Mike Ilitch, 87, who owned the Little Ceasar’s pizza chain, as well as the Red Wings and the Tigers. He won four Stanley Cups as owner of the Red Wings, who had a farm club in Glens Falls for many years

3) Louisville will be back at full strength for Saturday’s game with Miami; PG Snider is healthy again and the two late-night partiers are back in good graces after being suspended for the game at Virginia, after they missed curfews (supposedly by four hours).

2) Atlanta Falcons had a great season, right? Well, they fired their defensive coordinator and their defensive line coach, so they’ll have two new coordinators next season. Unusual to fire assistant coaches after you came so close to winning a championship.

1— It hadn’t dawned on me until I just heard it on TV: the 49ers will have their 4th different head coach in four years next season, and that doesn’t include interim coaches. That would indicate the problem may be the owner, since he is the only decision maker who has been there the whole time.

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a Thursday night of hoops

13) Before I start in on Thursday’s college games, there was a high school game this week in California that ended 146-123. A 32:00 high school game ended 146-123. No bueno.

Lonzo Ball’s (PG at UCLA) brother is in 10th grade; he scored 92 points in this game for the winning team, 41 in the 4th quarter, but he rarely crossed half court to defend in the second half. All of this raises numerous questions.

— What coach allows their players not to play defense, just so he can show off?
— What parent is OK with their son and his team embarrassing an opponent? The winning team was fouling on purpose, just to get the ball back— this is OK?
— Who coaches the other team? You have to double or triple-team the kid, just so he can’t make fools out of your players. Thats the least you need to do.
— Refs are probably relieved that no one on the losing team tried to put the kid into a wall for being a self-absorbed human being.
— The kid is an outstanding player, already committed to UCLA, and he is only in 10th grade, so this is likely to be repeated at times over the next two years.

12) Duke 86, North Carolina 78— Sorry to disagree with Duke alum Jay Bilas, but Auburn-Alabama football is a much bigger rivalry than this game; I mean, someone poisoned a tree over the Iron Bowl. I didn’t even know it was possible to poison a tree. Duke was 13-27 on the arc.

Weird fact; these teams have met only once in last 12 ACC tournaments. Surprising.

If I’m running ESPN, I bring in UNC alum Brad Daugherty for a 3-man booth for these rivalry games, with Dan Shulman and Bilas. Too may Dukies on network TV.

11) Wofford 131, Samford 127, 4OT— This is the third night in a row a game went four OT’s. Samford led by 6 at the half, made 14-27 on the arc but lost.

10) Purdue 69, Indiana 64— Swanigan had 16 points, 14 boards and I thought he got by far the worst of the officiating- couple fouls against him were total home court calls. . Swanigan has improved his draft stock by staying in college this year. Indiana is 15-10, 5-7 in the Big 14; they need to start winning some games, so Selection Sunday isn’t a very long day.

9) Northeastern 73, Charleston 72— Kid on Northeastern grabbed an airball, tossed up an underhanded flip at the buzzer and it went in, giving Huskies an unlikely win in a game they trailed by 16 at the half. Cougars fall out of a tie for first place in the CAA.

8) Furman 60, Chattanooga 56— Paladins are in first place in an improved Southern Conference; well-balanced Paladins start three juniors and a senior- no one on Furman scored more than 13 points in this game. Chattanooga is 2-3 in its last five games.

7) Rice 89, FIU 78— 16-8 Owls are headed for only their second winning season since 2005; they’re 7-5 in Conference USA.

6) Colorado 81, Washington 66— Huskies’ star freshman Markelle Futlz didn’t play because of a sore knee, which should raise red flags in front offices all over the bottom half of the NBA. Buffs are now 4-8 in Pac-12, after starting out 0-7 in conference games.

5) Wisconsin 70, Nebraska 69 OT— Nigel Hayes tore the Cornhuskers’ hearts out with a 3-pointer with 0:18.4 left in OT, after Nebraska had tied the game with a 3-ball at buzzer of regulation. Nebraska has now lost eight of its last nine games.

4) Cal State-Bakersfield 72, New Mexico State 53— Roadrunners hand NM State their first loss in WAC, are now tied with Aggies in loss column for first place.

3) Liberty 92, Gardner-Webb 87, 2OT
NC-Asheville 104, Winthrop 101, 2OT— Both winners are 11-2 and tied for first place in the Big South, but they both were fully extended here.

2) UCLA 82, Oregon 79— Highly entertaining two hours; Ducks controlled the game early, led by 9 at the half, by 13 with 12:00 left, but then UCLA got momentum in the second half and surged to a win that avenged their 89-87 loss in Eugene back in December.

1— St Mary’s and Gonzaga both won their games vs inferior opponents last night, setting up Saturday’s showdown in Moraga. Gonzaga won first meeting with St Mary’s 79-56 at home Jan 14.

Thursday’s List of 13: Wrapping up an evening of basketball

13) VCU 54, George Washington 53— VCU pulled a successful scam; down a point with 0:00.4 left, the inbounder runs the baseline, the GW guy ran with him on the baseline and another VCU guy comes up and sets a screen, gets run over by the GW guy and the ref calls a foul!!!!

VCU hits the foul shots and wins by a point, second time in five days they won a road game they were trailing in with less than a second to play. That doesn’t happen a lot.

12) Minnesota 101, Iowa 89 2OT— Gophers led this game 40-29 at the half; they really needed this win, just their second in their last seven games. Mason had 25 points with only one turnover for Minnesota in a hectic game.

If you laid seven points with the Gophers, someone was smiling down on you.

12a) Wyoming 102, Fresno State 100, 4OT— Not sure why Wyoming brings two of its better players off the bench, but they do. Cowboys’ McManamen hit his first seven 3’s in this game, then missed his last six. Dalton had 21 points, 20 boards off the bench for Wyoming.

They had 11,841 fans at the UNLV-Nevada game, biggest crowd in Reno history.

11) Wizards 114, Nets 110 OT— Brooklyn has lost 11 in a row overall, 13 in a row at home, and they want to kick the Islanders out of the Barclays Center? Oy.

10) Seton Hall 72, Providence 70 OT— Game was 41-36 at the half; for people who played the over (135.5), second half of this game was nauseating. The overtime was more uplifting.

Both of these teams are on NCAA bubble or just off it; this really did have feel of a tournament game, albeit a bad tournament game. Providence led by 15 in the first half.

9) Tennessee 75, Ole Miss 66— Vols ended game on a 17-2 run; Rebels didn’t score a basket for last 3:55 of game; they led 64-58 when they scored with 3:56 left to play.

8) Baylor 72, Oklahoma State 69— Bears led this game 70-57 with 4:14 left, then didn’t score for next four minutes. The Big X is a brutal league; there are no bad teams. None.

Baylor did a great job in last 0:10 when OSU had the ball down 3- they defended the arc really well. They didn’t so such a great job in the 4:00 before that, as far as scoring points.

7) This game was Tuesday, but it was an exceptional game……..
Alabama 90, South Carolina 86 4OT’s— Gamecocks were 3-30 in the first half. 3 for 30!!!! They were +10 in turnovers, made 35-50 on the foul line but still lost. Alabama is quietly 7-4 in SEC with four road wins.

6) Morehead State 101, Murray State 100 OT— Belmont’s two main challengers in OVC played an extra 5:00 here. Morehead led by 12 at half, has now won six of its last seven games. Murray was 13-23 on the arc, was +5 in turnovers but still lost.

5) Pittsburgh 83, Boston College 72— Panthers break their 8-game losing streak; five of those eight losses were by 8 or less points. Wonder if Kevin Stallings wishes he was back in the SEC?

4) Spurs 111, 76ers 103— Philly is 13-18 when Joel Embiid plays, 5-16 when he does not.

3) UConn 97, South Florida 51— USF needs a coach for next year; two years ago, they wanted to hire Manhattan’s Steve Masiello but didn’t because of concerns about his resume. Those concerns have been dealt with, but Manhattan hasn’t won much since then. Still think he would be a good fit for the Bulls.

2) Heat 106, Bucks 88— Miami was 11-30 at the halfway point of the season; since then, they are 12-0, and are only a couple games out of a playoff berth. Erik Spoelstra can really coach.

1— Clippers 119, Knicks 115— Former NBA star Charles Oakley had an incident at this game and was escorted out by the police; hope it is nothing serious. About ten years ago, I was in Orlando watching AAU games in the summer, and Oakley was there with Michael Jordan watching Jordan’s sons play.

Charles Oakley is a HUGE man; he would be very high on the list of people I wouldn’t want to be mad at me. Ever.

According to the NYPD, Oakley was charged with three misdemeanor counts of assault for hitting security guards and criminal trespassing.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings

13) Betting handle on the Super Bowl in Las Vegas was $138.5M; hard to believe that sports betting won’t be legal everywhere in this country before too long.

If you care about such things, Vegas books made over $10M profit on that $138.5M handle.

12) Falcons hired Steve Sarkisian as its new OC, meaning Alabama will soon have its third OC of 2017, probably before Presidents’ Day.

Alabama got to the national title game with freshman Jalen Hurts at QB, but Hurts isn’t a good passer; Crimson Tide signed two freshman QB’s- that could be a contentious situation for the guy who winds up as the offensive coordinator- that guy will be Saban’s 6th OC in his ten years as Alabama’s head coach.

11) LSU football coach Ed Orgeron has himself a problem; after Signing Day, he demoted an assistant coach who was a prime recruiter in the talent-rich New Orleans area and now the HS coaches there are organizing a boycott of the LSU program. No bueno.

The assistant who was demoted has since bolted to Texas Tech.

10) Sam Vecenie covers basketball for The Sporting News; he knows his stuff. Of his top 16 prospects for the NBA Draft, 13 are college freshmen, three are foreign kids. This is part of why handicapping college basketball has gotten a lot harder: the best players are less dependable.

So the 13 best college basketball players this season were in high school LY; how many of them already have one foot in the NBA, and could care less about college? Maybe all, maybe none, but it is probably in middle somewhere. You think Ben Simmons cared about making the NCAA’s last season?

Used to be that high-level teams with lot of juniors/seniors were teams to focus on; now those kids are suspects, not good enough to move up to the next level. The most talented teams are also the least mature.

9) Friend of mine sent me some message boards from Kentucky/Louisville fans Monday; damn, those people are harsh!!! Lot of negativity- their basketball teams are really good.

As another friend of mine likes to say, “We’re with you win or tie, but we’re not crazy about tie.”

8) Kyle Shanahan’s hiring in San Francisco makes the Shanahans the 7th father/son head coaching combo in the NFL; the other 6?

Phillips-Shula-Nolan-Mora-Ryan-Fassel

Shanahan, by the way, will have control of the 53-man roster.

7) NHL’s Boston Bruins fired coach Claude Julien, kind of a gutless day to do it, with the victory parade for the Patriots burying hockey news in Wednesday’s papers.

Julien was 419-246 as Bruins’ coach; he won the Stanley Cup in 2011, lost in Finals two years later. He didn’t suddenly get stupid; the front office has done a cruddy job and Julien is the fall guy for that. He won’t be out of work long, if he doesn’t want to be.

6) Guy named Sports Dude on Twitter (@GSWahooFalcons) grew up in Cleveland, was born in Atlanta, lives in Oakland. Roots for Indians-Warriors-Falcons. Been a rough year for the man.

5) There are rumors that UConn may bolt the AAC to go the Big East for basketball next year, if they can find a landing spot for their football program. What they really need are healthy players; the AAC is a good enough league.

4) Timing is everything in life: Baylor hired a new football coach, because of a sex scandal that was overlooked by the previous coaching staff- the new football coach brought a strength coach in with him from Temple. Baylor football is trying to start over and remake is image.

In the history of bad timing, with people screaming at Baylor over the behavior of its players, it wasn’t good when the strength coach got busted in a prostitution sting over the weekend. The guy got fired immediately, even though his charge was only a Class B misdemeanor. One of the most expensive Class B misdemeanors ever.

3) DeMarcus Cousins got his 15th/16th technical fouls of the season Monday night; he gets an automatic one-game suspension for Wednesday’s game with Boston. Very talented player, but Cousins hurts himself with outbursts of anger directed towards the officials.

2) Kind of funny listening to people whine about the overtime rules in the NFL, when they had no idea what the rules were until Sunday night. Some people just like to complain.

1— Surprising fact: over the last five years, Baltimore Orioles are winningest team in the American League- they’ve outplayed their preseason projections by 14 games a year during that time. Not sure what he makes, but Buck Showalter is underpaid.

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

13) Looking back on Sunday night’s Super Bowl you have to tip your hat to Tom Brady; he is a great leader who finds a way to win. He has a tremendous will to win and that is obviously very important. It is also difficult to measure beforehand.

The Scouting Combine is March 3-6; kids will run the 40, lift weights, do lot of measurable things that scouts will use to justify draft picks. There is no metric to measure heart or desire and until there is, scouting will continue to be an inexact science.

Brady? 6th round pick
Russell Wilson and Joe Montana? 3rd round picks
Kurt Warner? Wasn’t even drafted
Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, JaMarcus Russell; all first round picks.

12) Is Brady the greatest QB ever? He is right up there with Elway-Marino-Montana-Fouts-Kelly, and his five Super Bowl rings are tops in the game. He is still going strong at age 39, so his resume isn’t complete yet. His WR’s have been some unusual guys; no Jerry Rice in the group, which makes him look even better.

11) As for the Falcons, they lost OC Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, and now they have to pick up the pieces from the biggest collapse in NFL history. You look back on the past and it says teams who lose Super Bowls suffer a hangover— this hangover could also be the worst one yet.

I’m serious; only four teams in any NFL game ever have won after trailing by more than 25 points, and two of those were playoff games. This was the freakin’ Super Bowl.

Only four comebacks that were bigger than Super Bowl LI:
— 1/3/93— Oilers led 35-3, lost 41-38 in Buffalo (playoff game)
— 12/7/80— Saints led 35-7, lost 38-35 in San Francisco
— 1/4/14— Chiefs led 38-10, lost 45-44 in Indianapolis (playoff game)
— 9/21/97— Colts led 26-0, lost 37-35 in Buffalo

10) Pirates announced that Andrew McCutchen will move from center to right field this year, to improve the Pittsburgh defense.

9) Pitcher Jason Hammel gets $16M for two years from the Kansas City Royals.

8) Houston Rockets retired Yao Ming’s #11 last week; I’m thinking a lot of basketball fans in this country (myself included) don’t fully realize the impact Yao has had in promoting basketball around the world, especially in Asia. In other words, he helped make the Rockets and the NBA a freakin’ fortune.

7) Yogi Ferrell did so well on his 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks that they gave him a 2-year contract. He scored 30-something in Portland the other night, got paid the next day.

6) UTEP coach Tim Floyd’s first year as a head coach was 1986 at Idaho; his three assistant coaches that year were Larry Eustachy, now head coach at Colorado State, Kermit Davis, the head coach at Middle Tennessee State and Randy Bennett, the head coach at St Mary’s. Thats a really good coaching staff.

5) Oakland A’s are going to name the ballfield at the Oakland Coliseum “Rickey Henderson Field” to honor one of their great players who is also an Oakland native.

4) http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/page/presents3/how-celtics-taught-lakers-coach-luke-walton-love-basketball

This is a great article written by Baxter Holmes about Luke Walton and how his love of basketball came to be as a young kid. Well worth your time to read.

3) Good to read no bad comments about Houston as a host city for the Super Bowl. Everyone said the same thing— they crushed it!!! If the media doesn’t complain, you know its good.

2) When the Cleveland Browns had their expansion draft in 1998, they passed on selecting a quarterback the Rams left unprotected. Bad move; guy was Kurt Warner, who is now a Hall of Famer. Warner backed up Tony Banks in ’98, which wasn’t a fun year. Nick Saban actually won a lot of games with Banks as his QB at Michigan State. Not easy.

1999 was more fun, a hell of a lot more fun.

1— First spring training baseball games are Friday, February 24. Things ramp up a little early this year because of the World Baseball Classic. Training camps open next week.

My running diary of Super Bowl LI……..

After an interminable pre-game show, they’re actually going to play the Super Bowl. Here are some of my thoughts as I watch the game……….
6:25— Luke Bryan cranks out the National Anthem in 2:04; if you bet the under, go cash your ticket.

6:30— There is a golf playoff going on at the Phoenix Open; Webb Simpson and Hideki Matsuyama. Good competition, but am I the only person watching this?

6:33— President George H Bush (41) is flipping the coin; no matter what your politics, have to have lot of respect for this man, who went skydiving on his 75th birthday. A great American and a very tough guy— he was shot down while flying as a Navy pilot in the war.

6:38— While Atlanta won the coin toss, Simpson just left the winning putt about an inch short, just like Matsuyama did on the 18th hole. The playoff continues but now no one is watching.

6:41— An argument for Brady as the all-time best QB is that New England rarely has had a great WR; Julian Edelman was a QB in college at Kent State.

6:42— Patriots go 3-and-out; this is where I mention that in six Super Bowls, Brady-led offenses have scored zero first quarter points.

6:45— Falcons get a long run but wind up punting, first time in nine games they didn’t score a TD on their opening drive.

6:53— Budweiser had the option to have the first commercial, but turned it down- their research says commercials are better off run later in the game. Google had the first commercial instead.

6:55— Hideki Matsuyama makes a pretty long putt, wins the Phoenix Open for the second year in a row, and I put my remote away for the next three hours.

5:08 left in first quarter, 0-0. That total of 59 looks pretty daunting right now.

7:05— Scoreless first quarter. Weird stat that Brady has put up zero first quarter points out in the first quarter of his seven Super Bowls, yet won four of the first six.

7:07— New England fumbles, Falcons recover at the Atlanta 29. America cheers.

7:16— Devonte Freeman scores the first TD of the game; Atlanta is running ball down New England’s throat. 12:15 left in the half. Falcons 7-nil. Atlanta is 9-1 this year when they score first.

Referee Gene Steratore worked the Nebraska-Iowa basketball game today; someday I hope he gets to work a Super Bowl.

Good Honda commercial with some famous people talking over their high school yearbook pictures. It would take an enormous amount of money for me to show anyone my senior picture from way back when. Uh uh, no thanks.

Oh by the way, Falcons’ center Alex Mack is playing this game with a broken leg. In an age where NBA players now routinely take “maintenance days” just to rest up, a guy is playing on the offensive line with a freakin’ broken leg.

7:21— I’m still an advocate of throwing long passes towards YOUR SIDELINE; think you get an extra interference call or two a game that way.

7:28— Austin Hooper catches a TD pass from Ryan and Kyle Shanahan’s agent is doing backflips, whoever/wherever he is. Young Shanahan’s price tag is going up by the second here. 14-0 Atlanta with 8:48 left in the half.

Roger Staubach/Hank Aaron both had birthdays today; couple of pretty good ballplayers.

7:32— Total yards so far: 189-111, Falcons. Joe Buck informs me that no team has won a Super Bowl after trailing by more than ten points. Thanks, Joe.

Falcons traded five draft picks to Cleveland so they could draft Julio Jones; none of those five players is still in the NFL.

7:38— New England is dying here, but refs have called two defensive holding penalties on Atlanta on this drive. Falcons have allowed 30+ points six times this year, although only once since Halloween. Their tackling so far has been tremendous.

Lady Gaga is wearing sunglasses in an indoor stadium. With the roof closed.

Three defensive holding penalties on this drive; where were these guys when the Rams played New England in the Super Bowl?

7:45— Robert Alford picks off a pass and scores an 82-yard TD for the Falcons. Wow. Arthur Blank is looking for people to high-5 in his box. Alford showboats for the last 20 yards but for the love of God, this is a shocking result. 21-nil Falcons.

One of Mr Blank’s sons is named Max. Max Blank; is that a tremendous name or what? You could imagine a movie with a private eye named Max Blank.

Atlanta’s defensive coordinator is Richard Smith, working for his 8th NFL team in 28 years. His heartbeat has to be pretty high right now; his defense is playing its ass off!!!!

One of the endless list of prop bets was over 49.5 yards for the longest touchdown of the game, so if you had over, go cash your ticket.

7:55— Is Tom Brady the only NFL quarterback who makes less money than his wife?

A ticket to the first Super Bowl cost $12. A souvenir soda at this Super Bowl costs $11.

8:02— Troy Aikman kills Josh McDaniels’ play selection after a screen pass on 3rd down falls flat. New England kicks a field goal and it is 21-3 Falcons at halftime. I am stunned.

Time to hit the mens’ room and get some food!!!!

They opened the roof for the halftime show; seems like a good time to see what is on other channels:
— ESPN has a 30 for 30 on Allen Iverson
— ESPNU has a Memphis-USF womens’ basketball game. Do people bet on this?
— ESPN2 has the Harlem Globetrotters playing on an outdoor court.
— FX1 has motorcycle racing.
— NBC Sports Network has curling on (China 6-3 over US at the half)
— CBS Sports Network has poker on; Phil Hellmuth is playing with an Aria hat on that I declined to buy when I stayed there in December. For what I spent there, they should’ve thrown in a free hat.

8:35— Falcon offense went 68 minutes between drives; they get the second half kickoff.

Teams leading the Super Bowl at halftime are 37-10 (three games were tied).

8:47— Neither team scored on their first drive of second half; now Martha Stewart is on a commercial with Snoop Dawg. Another $5M down the drain.

8:55- Atlanta scores another touchdown; Arthur Blank is dancing again. Falcons just seem like the faster team across the board. 28-3 Atlanta; can we see Robert Kraft? Please?????

Right on cue, FOX shows Kraft and his hideous son Jonathan, who mocked Colts GM Ryan Grigson after he was fired. I understand why he would enjoy Grigson getting canned, since he helped instigate DeflateGate, but be a bigger person and keep it to yourself.

9:00— I’m in my late 50’s; right now I’m thinking of someone who is my age who became a Falcons’ fan as a little kid and has lived/died with every game of theirs since then. They must be SO EXCITED and that clock must be going so slowly for them.

Meanwhile, the Falcons have a new domed stadium opening next year; pretty good time to be selling luxury boxes/PSL’s for the new ballpark, eh?

9:05— Brady just ran for 15 yards, winning somebody a prop bet on his rushing yardage.

9:07— New England scores on a TD pass to White; time-consuming drive, and now the score is only 28-9 as Gostkowski clanks the PAT off the right upright.

Caesar’s Palace offered a prop on: “Will a PAT/FG hit the goal post?” The line was -$600 and of the $20,250 wagered, $20,o00 of it was on “No”. Whoops.

Mike Pence is sitting with Texans’ owner Robert McNair; when he was watching the Super Bowl at this time last year, Mr Pence had zero idea how much his life would change in a year. It won’t happen, but what a book he’ll be able to write if he ever wanted to.

If you had 8-0 in a square pool, you just threw something; if you had 8-9, you’re damn happy.

9:10— Onside kick fails miserably. Falcons take over at New England’s 45 with 2:06 left in the third quarter. If you’re an Atlanta fan, that clock can’t move fast enough.

17 years ago, the Rams led Tennessee 16-0 in the third quarter; a game that seemed over soon got very dicey. That freakin’ clock went so slow. Atlanta fans are not resting easily yet.

9:18— Third quarter is over. 28-9 Atlanta.

9:20— Arizona CB Tyrann Mathieu just tweeted this: “NE should have played Mike Floyd. They have no deep threats… ATL LBs too good. They aren’t any mis matches”

In NFL history, teams leading by 19+ points after third quarter in playoff games are 94-0.

9:27— New England is driving again, but Grady Jarrett (#97 on the Falcons) is having a big game; he has just tossed a few guys out of his way tonight. If you’re thinking (too early) about an MVP for this game, Jarrett deserves consideration.

Jarrett’s dad, by the way, is former Falcon linebacker Jesse Tuggle.

9:29— Patriots kick a field goal; game is 28-12 Atlanta with 9:44 left. If you’re a Falcon fan, that damn clock needs to start moving a little faster. Couple of first downs wouldn’t hurt, either.

Ryan is 7-7 for 121 yards on passes thrown in the middle third of the field. Atlanta’s offense has done very little in this game, but they have run the ball for 6.8 yards/attempt.

9:38— Ryan is sacked/fumbles and New England recovers on the Atlanta 25; if you’re a lifelong Falcon fan, your blood pressure just went up. A lot. This will be the longest hour of your life.

Random baseball stat that I just saw on Twitter: Claudell Washington struck out 39 times against Nolan Ryan, the most of any player ever.

9:40— Danny Amendola just caught a TD pass from Brady and the score is 28-20 with 5:56 left. When Amendola played for the Rams, he got hurt on every other play. Now he’s Cal Ripken.

I’ve lived through a game just like this; if you’re an avid Falcon fan, life is standing still right now; you’re ignoring the commercials and praying for Ryan to hit Julio Jones a couple times. Nothing else matters; you’re not hungry, Arthur Blank isn’t dancing anymore and your team that has never won a Super Bowl is desperately holding on.

9:45— Ryan hits Freeman for a big gain and Atlanta has the ball at midfield. Clock is under 5:00 but one of the Atlanta linemenn just got hurt.

9:49— Julio Jones just made a great catch!!! Fantastic!!! First down and Atlanta is in field goal range. Clock is at 4:40, the ball is on the 22 and those five draft picks the Falcons traded to the Browns so they could draft Jones seems like a mere pittance.

9:53— Good God. The Falcons implode, wind up with a 4th-and-33 near midfield; they’re punting with 3:38 left and New England has two timeouts left.

I’m guessing this is getting big TV ratings.

10:00— Julian Edelman just made a great catch on a deflected pass; Atlanta wasted their last challenge— they’ll lose it. That catch will go down in history as a great play but by God Atlanta, make a play!!!!

10:02— New England is inside the Atlanta 25 and Falcon fans are promising to give up any bad habits they might have if just this one time, their team can win. Even if the Patriots score a TD, they need the 2-point conversion to tie the score.

How hard is Roger Goodell rooting for the Falcons right now?

10:06— White scores another TD. 28-26. High drama. Patriots have to go for 2- they make it, so now a game that was 28-9 after three quarters is 28-28. Kraft and his creepy son are hugging in their box. Aikman just called Brady the best QB ever. I have empathy for loyal Falcon fans.

0:57 left, the Falcons have no timeouts; if you bet the over, the only way you can lose in on a safety. If you took three points or money-lined Atlanta, you’re queasy.

10:10— I saw an article this week that said if the Patriots win 31-28, Vegas sports books would be refunding tickets for a week— so many wagers would be pushed.

10:14— First overtime in Super Bowl history. 28-28. FOX executives have to be thrilled.

10:18— Patriots are -$165 in OT; Atlanta is +$145. New England has the ball first.

During the week, odds on there being overtime was +$525.

10:23— Pass interference on Atlanta; ball is on the 2-yard line. TD wins the game; if they kick a FG, Falcons will get the ball for one possession.

10:24— New England scores, the Patriots win 34-28 and my condolences to Falcon fans.

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

13)  Oregon 85, Arizona 58— It isn’t that the Ducks won, its that they led 36-11, and then it got a lot worse for the Wildcats, who had won 15 games in a row coming in. Ugly game. Oregon made 16-25 3’s- they made 10 of their first 13 behind the arc.

12) Florida 88, Kentucky 66— Rick Barry’s son Canyon is Florida’s 6th man; he’s made 30 free throws in a row, and he shoots underhanded, like his Hall of Fame father did.

Dwight Howard has missed 3,492 foul shots in his career (56.8%) yet he’s never tried shooting them underhanded— he makes $23M a year. Oy.

11) Bad Beat of the Year/Decade/Century?— VCU led by a hoop at St Bonaventure but Bonnies hit a 3-pointer with 0:00.5 left, giving them a 1-point lead. VCU was favored by a point, so if you bet on St Bonaventure, you just won your bet right? Um, not so fast.

Nitwit students stormed the court, thinking the game was over and the Bonnies had won. It wasn’t over and they hadn’t won yet. Refs called a technical foul, VCU made the foul shot and the game went to overtime.

VCU won by 6 in overtime. Very tough loss for the home side.

10) Very upsetting day in the Big X:
Iowa State (+11) won 92-89 in OT at Kansas.
Kansas State (+8.5) won 56-54 at Baylor.
Oklahoma State (+11) won 82-75 at West Virginia.

9) Game of the Day: Eastern Washington 130, Portland State 124, in triple OT. Eagles led by 16 early in second half, before things got crazy.

EWU had two players score 45 points each, first time in eight years that any D-I college team had two kids score 40+ points in same game.

8) Syracuse 66, Virginia 62— Cavaliers were up 12 at the half, but scored only 28 points in second half as Orangemen improved to 6-0 at home in the ACC.

7) Ohio 85, Akron 70— Zips lost their first MAC game of season (9-1); they also had two kids wear one white sneaker, one dark blue sneaker in this game. Interesting fashion statement.

6) Rutgers 70, Penn State 68— Scarlet Knights are now 1-23 in Big 14 road games since joining the league.

5) St Mary’s 71, San Diego 27— Yikes. Toreros were down 32-9 at the half- they were 3-2o for the game, INSIDE the arc. Just a horrible performance.

4) Texas El-Paso 57, Middle Tennessee 54— Miners were an 11-point underdog but pulled the upset; UTEP has now won six of last seven games after starting the season 2-13. Tim Floyd can really coach- in their last four games, UTEP won as underdogs of 8/14/5.5/11 points.

3) Green Bay 86, Valparaiso 69— Upset win puts the Phoenix only a half-game out of first place in the Horizon League.

2) Yale-Cornell game was suspended until Sunday with the score 2-0 due to a power outage in Ithaca.

1— Virginia, Kansas, Middle Tennessee, Wm & Mary, Tennessee, Oral Roberts; they all had double digit halftime leads Saturday- they all lost. Its been an odd season- I can’t get a handle on it yet. Teams are incredibly erratic.

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

13) As I write this, Treasure Island is only sports book in Las Vegas that has the Falcons +3.5 for the Super Bowl; apparently they feel strongly about New England covering.

12) Atlanta scored a TD on the first drive of its last eight games; hard to do.

Odd stat: In Brady’s six Super Bowls, New England scored zero first quarter points.

11) JJ Watt, Jordy Nelson and Antonio Brown are all NFL stars; they were also all walk-ons to their college football teams.

10) Colts’ punter Pat McAfee retired at age 29; he’s had three knee operations in last four years, and could need more later on. McAfee is going to try and become a professional comedian. Seriously.

9) College of Charleston’s women basketball team lost two wins after it was discovered they used men’s basketballs during two recent games.

Men’s basketballs are larger than ones used in women’s games; players on other teams complained, but the refs said the balls were legit. Refs should be disciplined, too.

8) Ten kids from Bishop Gorman HS in Las Vegas got D-I football scholarships this week. Must’ve been a damn good high school team.

7) Ever hear of Hitch Moore or Doyeob Mun? Nah, me either.

Moore is the #665-ranked golfer in the world; Mun is #667.

Eldrick Woods is ranked #666.

6) So I turn the Golf Channel on at 2:30am Thursday night to watch Eldrick Woods hack around the course at Dubai; at 2:32 they announce he withdrew. Did he get an appearance fee to go over there and if so, does he have to give part/all of it back?

5) Interesting conversation Friday afternoon on The Golf Channel with David Duval from the Phoenix Open, talking about what it is like when a great golfer loses his swing. Tough to imagine a champion golfer losing his confidence, but that is what Duval says happened to him. He stood on the tee and didn’t know if the ball was going to go 60 yards right or 70 yards left. Eye-opening stuff.

4) They were also telling a story about Jon Rahm, who got a golf scholarship to Arizona State, but when he got to Tempe, he didn’t know any English.

How the bleep do you get accepted into Arizona State (or any college in this country) if you don’t understand English? Had to be so difficult for him early on; can’t imagine living in an environment where I didn’t know the language.

Rahm made $1,004,035 on the PGA Tour last year, has already made more than that this season, so things are going well for him.

3) Notre Dame’s basketball team didn’t travel to North Carolina Friday, due to a water main break in the Chapel Hill area. Game was postponed, will now be played Sunday at 1:00 in Greensboro, instead of Saturday night at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill.

2) They had the ribbon cutting for the new VSIN radio studio in Las Vegas Friday, at the South Point Casino. Brent Musburger arrived on a stagecoach pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales.

Looking forward to my next adventure in Las Vegas; as luck would have it, I’ll be at South Point.

1— I had forgotten about Dan Quayle, former Vice-President. He was honored at the Phoenix Open this weekend, becoming an honorary Thunderbird, a group that does a lot of charity stuff in the Phoenix area. Somehow his dad and son were already Thunderbirds but the former Vice-President wasn’t.

Random fact: While he was VP, Quayle visited 47 different countries.

Friday’s List of 13: College basketball thoughts

Thursday night’s card of college basketball wasn’t a good set of games. Here is some info from both Wednesday/Thursday’s college hoop games.

Late Update:
Most of Thursday’s best action was after midnight:
— UTEP 63, UAB 59— Other than Middle Tennessee State, C-USA isn’t very good.
— Cal Poly 74, Cal-Davis 70— Fairly big upset in the Big West.
— Oregon 71, Arizona State 70— Sun Devils played their hearts out, came up little short.
— St Mary’s 74, Pacific 70— Gaels got up 17 fairly early, then let gritty Pacific back in it.
— California 77, Utah 75, 2OT’s— Utah didn’t score in last 3:26 of regulation.
— Gonzaga 85, BYU 75— Zags remain undefeated; they’re 23-0, and haven’t trailed once in their last 13 games.

13) Belmont 81, Murray State 69— Bruins are now 11-0 in OVC; this was Rick Byrd’s first win at Murray State- tough place to play. Going forward, Belmont still has to win OVC tourney to get into the NCAA’s, so there will be pressure on them in the conference tournament, even though they’re unbeaten in league play.

12) TCU 86, Kansas State 80 OT— Horned Frogs are 4-5 in Big X, which doesn’t seem like much, until you realize that TCU was 8-64 in conference games the last four years. Jamie Dixon is in the chase for National Coach of the Year.

11) VCU 81, Richmond 74— This is a crosstown rivalry that is fun to watch; Spiders have closed the gap with VCU this year in terms of athleticism, but Spiders’ bounciest guys are freshmen. Rematch is February 17, a Friday night with no NBA games that night. Good TV exposure.

10) Florida 93, Missouri 54— Mizzou is awful, just a terrible team. Let me be the first person to promote NC-Wilmington coach Kevin Keatts for the Missouri job. He is a Pitino protege, and he has built UNCW up into a CAA power in only three years. Tigers need a new direction.

9) Charleston 67, NC-Wilmington 66- Speaking of which, Keatts’ Seahawks got beat last night, are now tied for first in CAA with Charleston.

8) Arizona 71, Oregon State 54— Beavers led by a hoop at halftime, but then reality set in. Sean Miller signed a contract extension thru 2022 this week, a reward for the great job he’s done this season. Oregon State needs to get healthier and more experienced.

7) Mike Krzyzewski will be back on the bench for Duke Saturday when the Blue Devils host the skidding Pitt Panthers. Duke was 4-3 in his absence.

6) Indiana 110, Penn State 102 3OT’s— You lose in triple OT and shoot 17-29 on foul line, you have no one to blame but yourself.

5) USC 82, Washington 74— Huskies ended first half on 15-0 run, led by 10 at half, but Trojans had solid comeback— this was an uplifting win for them. Washington is where LSU was LY; they have a great freshman but their team stinks and Fultz will be in the NBA at this time next season.

4) Syracuse 100, NC State 93 OT— John Gillon was 9-10 on arc, 14-14 on foul line; how good would Colorado State be if they had him this year? Gillon has 56 points in his last two games, going 27-28 on the charity stripe.

Gillon is on his third college, by the way; he played a year at Little Rock, two at Colorado State and now Syracuse. You have to wonder about guys like that- do they just bolt at the first sign of adversity? Katin Reinhardt is also a 3-school guy, playing for Marquette this season, after playing for UNLV/USC.

3) Kansas 73, Baylor 68— Game was 64-all with 2:40 left; Baylor is better than people think. Jayhawks are very hard to beat at home.

2) Game of the Night: Towson 104, Drexel 103, 2OT’s— Towson was 37-50 on the foul line; Davis had 19 points, 17 rebounds in 34 minutes and he didn’t start.

1— Nebraska retired Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue’s #10 jersey at halftime of their game with Michigan State last night. Last 12 months have been pretty good for coach Lue.

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

13) Must admit, I watched some of the National Signing Day stuff on TV Wednesday and it is interesting, because the teams with the best players win, but when did self promotion become such a big deal? Have people (kids/parents alike) become such attention junkies that there has to be a news conference to announce where you’re going to college?

One kid had a Florida t-shirt on over a Florida State shirt over a USC shirt; it was like watching the old game show To Tell the Truth to see where he was going to college by what shirt was showing when he finally stopped undressing.

12) As one coach wrote in an article a few years back, “You have to recruit like hell to get them, but then when you get them, then you have to de-program them.” Most college football players sit out as redshirts their first year, they just practice and get more physically mature, so the kids we saw sign today, most of them won’t see game action until 2018.

11) This year in the NFL, 48 QB’s threw 50+ passes; New England faced only two of the top 15 in passer rating this season, Matt Moore (Miami’s backup) and Ben Roethlisberger.

10) Michael Bidwill, president of the Arizona Cardinals, was once a federal prosecutor for six years.

9) Julian Javier was a 2B for the St Louis Cardinals in the 60’s/early 70’s; decent player. He had a career batting mark of 2-16 against Nolan Ryan, which doesn’t sound like much until you realize that his 16 AB’s vs Ryan, with no strikeouts, are the most AB’s by any player EVER against Ryan with no strikeouts.

Javier’s son Stan won a World Series ring as an OF with the ’89 A’s.

8) Nevada sportsbooks made $219.1M last year, their 3rd-best year ever, but 5.4% down from LY.

7) Raiders-Patriots will be playing a regular season game in Mexico City next season.

6) Irony; back in 1998, it looked like the Patriots were moving to Hartford, CT, but one of the main people involved in getting them a new stadium in Foxboro was an NFL employee not too many football fans knew about back then. Without this guy, the Patriots would be in the Nutmeg State.

That guy was Roger Goodell.

5) Sitting court side at the Mississippi State-Ole Miss Tuesday night? The great actor Morgan Freeman, who apparently goes to a lot of Ole Miss games.

4) Alabama signed two QB’s Wednesday; they just came thisclose to winning a national title with a freshman QB playing the whole season. Granted the incumbent QB isn’t a good passer yet, but he is a leader and he won a lot of games this year- why would a top prospect go there, when you know pretty much you might not start until 2020?

The incumbent QB sure as hell won’t be going to the NFL early, so the new kids will have to beat him out. Good luck there.

3) Colorado’s football coaches were sitting around a big table in their conference room, when this young lady comes sprinting into the room with a signed NLI in her hand— she gives it to Coach MacIntyre and he hi-5’s her and she sprints out. She had an Olympic medal around her neck.

Turns out the young lady won a bronze medal in track at the Olympics; pretty good gimmick for the Buffaloes on live TV.

2) Clemson’s new football facility opened the day before Signing Day, complete with a bowling alley, a barber shop and a nap area that resembles sleeping cars you see on a train.

1— One poor kid wanted to go to Alabama; he verbally committed, but the school doesn’t have a scholarship for him, so he is in limbo and may “grayshirt” which means he does nothing next fall, enters Alabama in January of 2018  and is a freshman-eligibility wise in the fall of 2018.

I would advise a recruit to “go where you are wanted” and it doesn’t sound like Alabama wants this kid that much. Hope things work out for him.