Wednesday’s Den: NFL is having a very busy week……

13) Biggest NFL news of the day: Tom Brady becomes a free agent at 4pm Wednesday, and won’t be signing with New England, he’s going to Tampa Bay, to play for Bruce Arians, and with the Bucs’ terrific corps of receivers.

Which begs the question: Who plays QB for New England this fall?

Brissett? Dalton? Newton? Stidham? Winston? Babe Parilli?

12) Philip Rivers is heading to Indianapolis to play for the Colts, which would fuel any Brissett speculation.

NFL schedule makers have to be going nuts, with all the sub-plot games that will happen next year- traded players against their former team.

11) Teddy Bridgewater will sign a 3-year deal with the Carolina Panthers.

Jameis Winston, Cam Newton remain the odd men out in QB Musical Chairs.

10) Drew Brees gets $50M for two years to stay with the Saints.

9) Cleveland Browns are trying like hell to improve their offense:
— QB Case Keenum got $18M for three years to back up Baker Mayfield
— OT Jack Conklin got $42M for three years.
— TE Austin Hooper got $44M for four years.

8) Las Vegas Raiders signed QB Marcus Mariota, LB Cory Littleton, LB Nick Kwiatkoski; they also signed TE Jason Witten and two other defensive guys from the Cowboys.

7) Miami Dolphins are spending lot of money:
— CB Byron Jones signed up for five years, $82.5M
— Former Eagles RB Jordan Howard gets $10M+ for two years.
— LB Kyle Van Noy gets four years, $51M.
— DE Emmanuel Ogbah gets $15M for two years.
— DE Shaq Lawson gets three years, $30M
— OT Ereck Flowers gets three years, $30M

6) Big trade Monday; Houston Texans sent WR DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for RB David Johnson and a 2nd-round pick.

Social media brutalized Houston’s Bill O’Brien for this trade; Texans later signed Randall Cobb to help fix Hopkins’ shoes, but Arizona has a big-time WR to team with Larry Fitzgerald, at least for this year.

5) 49ers traded star DE DeForest Buckner to the Colts for the 13th pick in the draft.

4) Minnesota Vikings traded WR Stefan Diggs to Buffalo; they get a first-round pick, plus a 4th, 5th, 6th round pick from the Bills.

Vikings also gave QB Kirk Cousins $96M over the next three years.

3) With Brady heading to the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay’s futures dropped from 25-1 to 16-1 to win the Super Bowl, and from 12-1 down to 8-1 to win the NFC. 

2) 4am the other night, I’m looking thru every NFL teams’ transactions, and only one team hadn’t added anyone yet- the Rams. Oy.

I have a lot of faith in Les Snead/Sean McVay and obviously there are no games for five months, but the squad is likely to look a lot different this season.

1) One NFL player’s reaction to all this:

“Coaches/GM’s should all be drug tested.”

Tuesday’s List of 13: Athletes who became actors…….

13) Marc Blucas— Played basketball at Wake Forest with Tim Duncan, was one of the stars of Necessary Roughness, a series that ran on USA Network for a couple years. He’s been in a lot of things since then; guest spots on CSI, Killer Women and The Fix.

12) Carl Weathers— Most famous for playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky series, Weathers played CB for the Oakland Raiders for a couple years, in the CFL for another three years.

11) Alex Karras— Was a great defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions; he also had 39 acting credits, most notably Against All Odds, Blazing Saddles and the TV series Webster.

10) Terry Crews— Played for the Rams, Chargers, and Redskins, from 1991-95; he’s been in a lot of stuff: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Arrested Development, Draft Day. He looks like a body builder to this day, even at age 51.

9) Chuck Connors— The Rifleman from 60’s TV also played a little bit in both the NBA (Celtics) and major leagues (Dodgers, Cubs). A Hollywood casting agent saw him hit a homer in a winter league baseball game, and when Connors backpedaled around the bases, the agent knew he found an entertainer.

8) Ed Marinaro— Was a RB for the Vikings for six years, then became an actor, appearing in Hill Street Blues, Sisters, Champs. He has 60 acting credits. 

7) Merlin Olsen— Followed up a terrific football career with the Rams (the football field at Utah State is named after him) by becoming an actor, appearing in Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy, and also had a great gig doing commercials for FTP Florists.

6) Bob Uecker— Mediocre major league catcher (hit exactly .200 for his career) becomes one of the funniest people ever. Was the dad in Mister Belvedere; he should’ve won an Oscar for his portrayal of Indians’ radio announcer Harry Doyle in Major League.

When the Brewers cane to LA, Johnny Carson would have Uecker on The Tonight Show, just because he was so damn funny. Thats the ultimate compliment.

5) Fred Dryer— Another former Rams’ lineman who became an actor, starring in Hunter and also 46 other movies/TV shows, including NCIS, Cheers, Cannonball Run 2, Lou Grant and Laverne & Shirley. Dryer played 11 years in the NFL, was a very good defensive end.

4) Mark Harmon— Former UCLA QB whose dad was Tom Harmon, a great player at Michigan; Mark Harmon is best known now for NCIS, but he’s also been in Summer School, West Wing, Chicago Hope, Charlie Grace and Reasonable Doubts. An excellent acting career.

3) Burt Reynolds— Very famous actor was a running back at Florida State, where the QB at the time was Lee Corso, who has become famous for his ESPN GameDay career.

2) Dwayne Johnson— Pro wrestler-turned-actor was Warren Sapp’s backup on the defensive line at Miami, FL; The Rock makes a lot of movies and must be making a freakin’ fortune.

1) Jim Brown— Arguably the greatest athlete ever (football/lacrosse), Brown has 52 acting credits; he was in He Got Game, Any Given Sunday, Draft Day, The Dirty Dozen, TJ Hooker, The A-Team.

Brown played nine years in the NFL, led league in rushing eight times. 

Monday’s Den: My favorite Batman villains (TV version)

When you’re a 6-year old whose name is Biff, and a TV show begins with a graphic that says “Whap!!! Pow!!! Biff!!!” you become a fan, a big fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wayne also appeared in four movies with Marilyn Monroe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday’s Den: Coaches I’ve enjoyed in movies/TV shows…..

This isn’t a ranking, just list of coaches I’ve enjoyed in TV/movies………

14) Ed Lauter, Youngblood— Lauter is a junior league hockey coach with a beautiful daughter (Cynthia Gibb) who of course falls for Rob Lowe, because, hey, its the movies. Lauter also was a prison guard in the original The Longest Yard.

Lauter’s character has a great line in Youngblood: “I didn’t come halfway to the (bleep)ing Arctic Circle to lose to these goons!!!”

13) Ken Howard, The White Shadow— One of my all-time favorite TV shows, Ken Howard did a great job of portraying Coach Reeves, a former NBA player who becomes a high school coach in Los Angeles. He patterned Coach Reeves after his HS coach; Carver High’s uniforms are even the same colors of the school he went to, Manhasset HS on Long Island.

12) Gene Hackman, Hoosiers— He wins the state title and gets the girl (Barbara Hershey) in the end, but for the love of God, why didn’t he know enough to give Jimmy Chitwood the ball at the end of games? Even the alcoholic assistant coach (Dennis Hopper) knew enough to get Jimmy the ball!!!

11) Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday— Most people remember the “Life is a Game of Inches” speech before the last game, but what he said to Jamie Foxx at the dinner in his house earlier in the movie “You’re a goddamn QUARTERBACK!!!!” was the better speech. This movie was made in 1999, but the divide between old-school thinking and modern analytics is in play, even back then.

10) Emilio Estevez, The Mighty Ducks— Mostly a goofy movie, but the underlying theme of a former star player coaching against the guy who coached him was interesting. Having players play catch at practice with raw eggs instead of hockey pucks was a neat coaching technique, to show the players how they needed to have soft hands.

9) GD Spradlin, One on One— This is an underrated movie and also fairly old now, but Robby Benson was a hot-shot high school basketball star who was mostly in over his head when he went to play college ball at a bigtime school.

This movie was filmed at Colorado State, which still plays in the same arena. Coach Smith was played by GD Spradlin, who also played Tom Landry in North Dallas Forty; if he such a great coach, why did he recruit Henry Steele (Benson), a flashy, small guard who couldn’t guard anyone? 

8) Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own— Hanks was a great player who is now a crude drunk who wasn’t healthy enough to be in the service during the war, so he coaches a girls’ baseball team with Madonna and Geena Davis on it. A guy could do worse. When Hanks was a kid (in real life), he was a vendor at the Oakland Coliseum; this was a pretty good movie, but my friend Dennis kills me every time I say that.

7) Wilford Brimley, The Natural— Pop Fisher is manager of the New York Knights; all he does is complain about bad his team is, but when Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) shows up to play for the Knights, he won’t give him a chance to play, until Hobbs puts on a prodigious display in batting practice. This movie was filmed in Buffalo, in the stadium where the Bills played before Rich Stadium was built.

6) Jon Voight, Varsity Blues— Whoever made this movie had a high school coach they really hated; lot of unrealistic behavior by Voight’s character, the legendary football coach Bud Kilmer. He berates players, doesn’t give his best running back the ball near the goal line (the kid cites racist motives for that) and just seems like a miserable human. Eventually the players quit on him, but not before going to a strip club for an all-nighter on the night before a game, like that would ever happen. Maybe after the game, not before. 

5) JK Simmons, For the Love of the Game— Simmons is manager of the Detroit Tigers whose best pitcher is fading star Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner). Simmons is a Tiger fan in real life– he played the part well. Simmons is a great actor who plays a music teacher in the disturbing movie Whiplash— he pushes his students unmercifully, trying to get them to reach their potential.

4) Nick Nolte, Blue Chips— Nolte spent lot of time around Bob Knight’s Indiana teams prepping for this role, so you see lot of Knight’s antics, and the climactic game for Western U is against the Hoosiers (in scenes filmed in a high school gym in Indiana). Nolte gets the role down well; he coaches against Rick Pitino, Knight and George Raveling in games, recruits against Jerry Tarkanian and Jim Boeheim.

3) James Gammon, Major League— Mr Gammon passed away nine years ago; he had such a great voice that one of the truck companies still uses his voice for their commercials. He plays Lou Brown, manager of the Cleveland Indians, who leads a rag-tag bunch of players to the AL pennant. He later wound up as Don Johnson’s father in the TV series Nash Bridges.

2) Gabe Kaplan, Fast Break— I love this movie. Kaplan is the manager of a New York City deli who takes a chance and becomes the coach at obscure college in Nevada; Cadwallader University. Bernard King was one of his players, another player turned out to be a girl. He $60 for every win off the bat, and doesn’t get a big contract until he beats Nevada State– he has to beat the Nevada State coach in pool just to get them on their schedule.

This movie should be on TV somewhere every now and then.

1) Billy Bob Thornton, Friday Night Lights— I think this is the best representation of a coach I’ve ever seen on TV or in the movies. The movie is from a book that is based on a true story about Permian HS in west Texas, where high school football is a religion. Thornton has the coach thing down pat; his speeches before a game and at halftime are realistic and not over-the-top. Tremendous acting job.

Saturday’s Den: Stuff you remember that reminds you we’re all getting old(er)

13) You remember having to get up to change the channels on the TV.

Until 1973, when I was 13, we had three TV channels, plus PBS which nobody watched except for Sesame Street and Mister Rogers (I preferred Green Acres and Mister Ed).

In 1973, we got cable TV, which came with a brown plastic box that was attached to the TV with a wire; you could sit there and change the channels. It was excellent. Still had to get up to adjust the volume, but it was excellent.

12) If you don’t know, Mister Ed was a talking horse who only talked to Wilbur Post, who owned the house, with the horse in a barn behind the house. Wilbur was an architect who never seemed to work; Ed got him into a lot of trouble. The show still appears on obscure cable channels now and then; check it out.

11) They used to have day games in the World Series; the first night World Series game was in 1971. Game 7 of the ’72 Series started at 1:00; it was over by 4:00 (the A’s won!!!) and at 4:00 the late NFL game came on. Obviously these days, World Series games are all at night.

10) When I was in college, the drinking age was 18; I used to sit in the Across the Street Pub with some of my college friends and argue about sports while they played Pac-Man endlessly. My friend Mike was fond of yelling at me, “Thats the dumbest thing I ever heard!!!” He said that a lot, usually very late at night.

9) There was a time when NHL players didn’t wear helmets’ nd those who did wear helmets were thought to be less manly than the others.

Boston Bruins had a terrific winger named Rick Middleton who had concussion issues so he had to start wearing a helmet. It was unusual then; now it is obviously a rule.

Goalies didn’t always wear masks either, which is staggering to think about. Was Andy Brown the last goalie who didn’t wear a mask?

8) Until 1958 there were no major league baseball teams west of St Louis; then the Dodgers/Giants moved to California. What a sucker the owner of the Giants was; he got Candlestick Park, a windy, cold, cruddy stadium, while the Dodgers got Chavez Ravine. Oy.

7) Before the Giants/Dodgers moved, there were three major league teams (out of 16) in New York City. Then from 1958-61, there was only one team in the Big Apple., before the Mets came into being in ’62.

6) Random baseball trivia from Ryan Spaeder: Hall of Famer Greg Maddux made his major league debut as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the 17th inning, on September 3, 1986;  he would stay in the game to pitch the top of the 18th.

Maddux became the first player to both pinch-run and pitch in his big league debut since Dan McGinn did so for the Reds on September 3, 1968.

5) Before 1985, there was no shot clock in college basketball, which made it a much different game. If you had the lead in the second half, you could just hold the damn ball and wait for a good shot. North Carolina had a “four corners” offense that featured PG Phil Ford and was very effective at the end of the games.

In 1979, Duke led North Carolina 7-0 at halftime. Of a basketball game. UNC held the ball for 11 straight minutes when they trailed 2-0. ESPN was about to become a real thing and games like this were unwatchable, so the shot clock eventually became a real thing.

4) For a long time, college basketball teams only made the NCAA Tournament if they won their league; in 1974, Maryland was #3 in the country, but they lost the ACC title game 103-100 in OT to NC State (#2 in country), so the Terps went to the NIT and crushed everyone they played.

NC State ended UCLA’s string of seven straight national titles, beating the Bruins in double OT in the national semifinals.

3) Again though, UCLA won seven straight national titles in an era where they had to win their league just to get into the tournament. Nowadays, Duke hasn’t won the ACC regular season title by itself since 2006.

2) There was a time when you went out, you made sure you had an extra dime (or later, a quarter) in your pocket, in case you had to make an emergency phone call. Phone booths were very popular and bailed a lot of people out in emergencies. Cellphones made them obsolete.
1) As I’m typing this, the 6-OT UConn-Syracuse game from the 2009 Big East tournament is on ESPNU; one of the refs was John Cahill, who is from Albany and was always very nice to me in our dealings when I was a student manager for the Albany Great Danes. Good to see him on TV again. Classic game, with Sean McDonough/Bill Raftery/Jay Bilas on the call, before Bilas became one of the more annoying people in America. 

Friday’s Den: Trying to make sense of what’s going on……

13) This website started on June 14, 2001, so it was still in its infancy when 9/11 happened; Back then, I just stopped writing for a week or so, until games started up again and we tried to get back to normal.

The last few days have a 9/11 feel to them; lot of uncertainty, sadness. This time, I’ll try and keep the home page going every day, probably with lists and general ramblings.

12) Just about all the conference basketball tournaments were cancelled Thursday, but the record will show that St John’s led Creighton 34-29 at halftime when the Big East got in line with everyone else and cancelled their tournament.

11) ACC brought Florida State’s team out on the floor, in uniform, to present them with the regular season trophy as they announced to the crowd that the ACC event was cancelled.

10) Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the coronavirus, the second Utah player to do so; Obviously, we wish both Mitchell and Rudy Gobert well.

9) 58 Jazz players/personnel had coronavirus tests Wednesday night, which of course caused some people to complain, since tests are supposedly hard to come by. And also because there are some people who just like to complain.

8) I usually don’t like quoting speculation, but thats all we have in lot of cases right now; sounds like the NBA/NHL could wind up with a multi-week break in the action, with playoffs lasting into July after things hopefully resume.

7) As I was typing this, the NHL and now major league baseball both suspended operations indefinitely. Sounds like I’m going to be watching a lot of movies the next few weeks.

6) NASCAR will run its races without fans at Atlanta and Homestead.

5) Philadelphia Eagles are shutting down their training facility, team owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. Wonder how many NFL teams will follow suit?

4) When Michigan, Ohio State cancel their spring football games, you know things are serious. If Alabama cancels their spring game, then it might be time to worry.

3) Bovada actually posted odds for which league will be first to play a regular season or playoff game. Seriously, this is real:
NBA +$200
MLB +$200
NHL +$210
MLS +$375

2) Cancellation of the NCAA tournament will probably cost Las Vegas sportsbooks well over $100M in handle, not to mention how much it would cost the hotels with cancelled reservations.  $100M in handle isn’t profit, it is only action, but thats a lot of lost action.
1) Speaking of which, after lot of thought, and I do mean A LOT of thought, I cancelled my upcoming trip to Las Vegas, which is a sad thing. Just want to do the right thing, and figured that staying close to home until things settle down was the best path to take.

The term “social distancing” comes into play here; it describes how we need to reduce the probability of contact between people carrying an infection, and others who are not infected.

Stay well, everyone. 

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

13) Strange times we live in; because of COVID-19:
NBA suspended operations for the season. Wow.

— NCAA Tournament games will be played without fans.
— Starting Thursday, most conference tournaments won’t have fans.
— Seattle Mariners won’t be playing games in Seattle for a while.
— Michigan cancelled its spring football game.
— Ivy League schools cancelled all their spring sports.
— Golden State Warriors will play home games without fans.
— CBI tournament won’t be held this season.

Obviously, the most important thing is to get the coronavirus under control, take care of the people affected by the illness, and get life back to normal.

12) Utah-Oklahoma City game was postponed after the teams had gone thru warmups, which was a little bizarre. Turns out that Jazz C Rudy Gobert and PG Emmanuel Mudiay were taken to Mercy Medical Center in downtown OKC to be tested for the coronavirus.

Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus; we wish him well.

11) St John’s 75, Georgetown 62— Red Storm ended game on a 23-0 run, advance to play #1-seed Creighton Thursday, but they won’t have a home crowd to support then at noon Thursday. Crowd helped them at the end of this game.

Creighton PG Marcus Zegarowski (knee) won’t play this weekend.

Georgetown lost its last seven games; in three years under Patrick Ewing, Hoyas are 49-46, 19-38 in Big East games, 0-3 in Big East tournament games.

10) Oklahoma State 72, Iowa State 71— Kid on OSU dribbled length of floor and made a driving layup at the buzzer after Iowa State scored with 0:07 left.

9) Gonzaga is only team in country that has been in the Sweet 16 in each of the last five years.

8) Best wishes to Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg, who was taken to the hospital after his team lost 89-64 to Indiana in the Big 14 tournament. Hoiberg has had two open-heart surgeries, one in 2005 and a second one in 2015 to replace an aortic valve.

Also best wishes to Mr and Mrs Tom Hanks, who both tested positive for coronavirus.

7) Upsets:
— Cal (+9.5) 63, Stanford 51
— Washington State (+9.5) 82, Colorado 68
— DePaul (+6.5) 71, Xavier 67
— Boston U (+6.5) 64, Colgate 61
— Georgia Southern (+5) 81, Georgia State 62
— Idaho State (+4.5) 64, Northern Arizona 62
— Fordham (+3) 72, George Washington 52
— Syracuse (+3) 81, North Carolina 53

6) DePaul 71, Xavier 67— Bubble teams all over America enjoyed this game, with Xavier getting knocked off the bubble.

5) Washington State 82, Colorado 68— Something is amiss with the Buffaloes; they lost their last five games, and looked terrible doing it- they’re #3 continuity team in country, but its going to be hard for them to get it back together for the NCAA’s next week.

4) Kansas State 53, TCU 49— Horned Frogs lost 13 of their last 17 games, after starting season 12-3; they lost their last ten games away from home, with last win on foreign soil January 7th, at K-State. TCU beat Wildcats twice during regular season, but not here.

3) Boston U 64, Colgate 61— Red Raiders beat BU twice during season, by 9-16 points, but lost Patriot League title game on their home court, after winning the regular season by two games.

2) This obviously isn’t the most important thing, but the rest of the college basketball games this season won’t have any fans. How does that impact handicapping? Or does it?
1) To me, Thursday is the best college basketball day of the year; tons of games, all over the country, for 14 or so hours. With no fans present, its going to be a unique/odd day. 

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

13) Ivy League cancelled its two-day basketball tournament, because of growing coronavirus outbreak concerns. Yale won the regular season title, so they’ll go to the NCAA tournament.

MAC, Big West tournaments will be played without fans, because of health concerns.

12) In a related subject, MGM Resorts will temporarily close its Las Vegas buffets, starting Sunday, obviously because of growing coronavirus fears- it affects buffets at Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur.

I’m heading out to America’s favorite city pretty soon; hope they keep the pizza place and In ’n Out Burger open. A guy’s got to eat.

11) WCC tournament:
Gonzaga 84, Saint Mary’s 68— Gaels are 26-8, but 0-3 vs Gonzaga; Jordan Ford scored 27 points in a losing cause, playing the whole game. What a week he had.

10) CAA tournament:
Hofstra 70, Northeastern 61— Pride win CAA tourney for first time; they won America East a couple times 20+ years ago, are experience team #7 with a bench that plays fewest minutes in the whole country.

9) Summit tournament:
North Dakota State 89, North Dakota 53— Horrible game; North Dakota ruined tournament when they upset South Dakota State- that would’ve been the ideal final. Game was 23-5 after 10:00 and it only got worse from there.

8) Horizon tournament:
Northern Kentucky 71, Ill-Chicago 62— 23 short days ago, NKU lost 73-43 at home to UIC; game was 44-18 at halftime. Norse shot 68% inside arc in this game, a fairly comfortable win.

7) NEC tournament:
Robert Morris 77, St Francis PA 67— Colonials won 16 of their last 21 games after starting season 4-9; this was teams’ third meeting in three weeks. St Francis starts three seniors and was a road favorite in this game; they were only 3-17 on arc, are shooting 36% for season on arc.

6) Upsets:
— Hartford (+7) 64, Stony Brook 58
— Howard (+6) 70, South Carolina State 63
— Niagara (+1.5) 56, Marist 54
— Robert Morris (+1.5) 77, St Francis PA 67

6) Nebraska’s basketball team was down to seven scholarship players for the Big 14 tournament this week, so they added a couple of football players to the roster. One is a backup QB, the other an offensive lineman who I assume will set a lot of screens.

Nebraska plays Indiana Wednesday, is a heavy underdog.

5) ESPN was trying to make a trade with NBC and get Al Michaels to broadcast its Monday night games with Peyton Manning, but NBC apparently turned down their request.

4) NFL’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton this summer will be Steelers-Cowboys.

3) North Carolina 78, Virginia Tech 56— Still weird that UNC is the #14 seed in ACC tourney; I mean,. Syracuse is the #6-seed, had a bye yesterday, is playing the last place team, but it is freakin’ North Carolina, which won four of its last five games. Not an easy path.

2) Baseball Hall of Famer Larry Walker will fulfill a lifelong dream this weekend; he will be an honorary emergency goaltender for NHL’s Colorado Avalanche in their game Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights. Walker was a goalie growing up in Canada, and once tried out for the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, but luckily for him, he got cut and played baseball.
1) Celtics 114, Pacers 111— Boston blew a 19-point lead, but won and clinched a playoff spot, their sixth year in a row in the playoffs. 

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

13) Saint Mary’s 51, BYU 50— Jordan Ford is freakin’ awesome; after scoring 42 points in an epic double OT win over Pepperdine Saturday night, when he played the entire 50:00, Ford scoring the winning hoop with 0:01.4 left in this game, sending the Gaels into the WCC title game with Gonzaga tonight.

12) With Florida State getting the #1 seed in the ACC tournament, coach Leonard Hamilton banks a $100,000 bonus; hope he at least buys the players a few pizzas.

11) In the Big 14, Wisconsin’s teams have had a weird mastery over Minnesota:
— Badgers finished ahead of Minnesota in football 16 years in a row.
— Badgers finished ahead of Minnesota in basketball the last 22 years.

10) East Tennessee State 72, Wofford 58— ETSU coach Steve Forbes is 130-43 in five years as coach of the Bucs; he is a very good coach. This will be ETSU’s 2nd NCAA tournament under Forbes.

When he was growing up in Iowa, Forbes once gave up a home run to future major leaguer Tim Salmon in a Little League game.

9) Creighton is all excited about being the #1 seed in the Big East tournament this week, but if St John’s beats Georgetown Wednesday, the Bluejays’ reward for their top seed will be an actual road game against the 9th-seeded Red Storm in Madison Square Garden.

8) Green Bay G Amari Davis is a 6-3 freshman who is scoring 15.9 ppg, with a stat line that doesn’t look like he plays in 2020:
— 2-point shots: 200-389, 51.4%
— foul shots: 90-125, 72%
— 3-point shots: 0-7

Green Bay makes 36.6% of its 3’s as a team, but Davis isn’t a part of that.

7) Upsets:
— Miami (+9) 85, Buffalo 79
— Ill-Chicago (+6) 73, Wright State 56
— Saint Mary’s (+4) 51, BYU 50

6) Coaching carousel:
— James Madison fired Louis Rowe
— Loyola Marymount fired Mike Dunlap
— Wyoming fired Alan Edwards
— Air Force fired Dave Pilipovich

5) Chicago Cubs’ leadoff hitters had an on-base %age of only .294 LY, lowest in major leagues by 14 points. Cardinals were 2nd-lowest, at .308.

4) Weird scheduling thing: Padres-Rockies play 10 of their first 19 games against each other. By April 16, they will have met 10 times, then they don’t play again until June 19.

3) Last season in the NFL, road teams scored 5,828 points, home teams 5,822 points, the first time that happened since 1968.

2) The average NFL point spread last year was the home team favored by 1.5 points, the lowest such spread since 1976.
1) From 2016-19, the average NFL team spent $703M in payroll; the team that spend the least in payroll, from 2016-19? Dallas Cowboys, at $634.4M.

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

13) Brooklyn Nets fired coach Kenny Atkinson this week: why? They were 42-40 LY, are 28-34 this year, despite a ton of injuries. Everyone thinks Atkinson is a good coach, so why did he get fired? I’ve read more than once that he won’t be out of work for very long.

Nets’ two best players are Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving; they’re both hurt. Durant hasn’t played since hurting his achilles in the Finals last spring.

Have to think the players had input in this; the GM went out of his way to praise Atkinson, so it definitely wasn’t him. The GM was vague when asked if the players had input in the decision.

Maybe the highest-paid player should coach the team, instead of having an actual coach. You would hear guys clamoring for a real coach very quickly, if that ever happened.

12) Elon 68, Wm & Mary 63— Wm & Mary has never played in the NCAA Tournament, which means they’ve never won the CAA tournament; this was the 7th year in a row they were a top-4 seed in the CAA tourney, during which time they went 77-47 in regular season CAA games.

Tribe was the #2-seed this year, but they get upset in their first tournament game, despite being the #49 experience team in the country.

11) Bradley 80, Valparaiso 66— Braves win Arch Madness as the #4-seed; they won it LY as the #5-seed, first time a team won consecutive conference tournaments, being the #4 or lower seed in both events anywhere in country since Michigan in 2017, ’18.

10) Illinois 78, Iowa 76— Illini were down 10 early, but shot 62% inside arc, turned ball over only five times, and won for fifth time in their last six games. Iowa lost eight of ten conference road games this season.

9) Saint Mary’s 89, Pepperdine 82, 2OT— This game was very late Saturday night; it ended around 2:50am here in the east, so with the clocks moving forward, it came pretty close to ending after 4am. Gaels led by 13 in the second half, but blew the lead.

A player on both teams played all 50:00; six guys played 44:00+; this was a great game to watch, very fun, the players leaving it all on the floor.

Colbey Ross scored 43 for the Waves; Jordan Ford scored 43 for Saint Mary’s; both are 6-1 guards. College basketball is a guards’ game, my friends.

8) The young lady who is the dugout reporter for the Milwaukee Brewers in spring training TV games acts as her own interpreter during the game, which is pretty cool. She asks the player a question in Spanish, listens to the answer, then tells us what was said. Never saw that before.

7) Upsets:
— Elon (+7) 68, Wm & Mary 63
— North Dakota (+5.5) 74, South Dakota 71

6) I’d be OK with offensive goaltending being eliminated in basketball; saves the officials some controversial decisions, makes for some more exciting plays.

5) Los Angeles 41, Tampa Bay 34— Strange moment in the XFL: LA Wildcats’ QB Josh Johnson can apparently hear everything that the coaches are saying on their headsets. At one point, the coaches were bickering while he was in the huddle, which upset Johnson.

When Johnson comes off the field, he calls the press box and yells at OC Norm Chow, telling him the arguing has to stop, it is too distracting. He hangs up before Chow can answer him. Interesting moment. Wonder if that ever happens in the NFL.

Tampa Bay has outgained four of its five opponents, but they’re 1-4; they’re TERRIBLE in the red zone, very, very bad- they blew an 18-point lead in this game.

4) In spring training games, the base umpires don’t umpire the same base the whole day, they switch around a couple of times during the game. 

3) Don Orsillo is the TV voice of the San Diego Padres; from 2001-15, he was the TV voice of the Red Sox. First game he ever did for NESN in 2001, was Hideo Nomo’s no-hitter, which is a very cool way of breaking into the major leagues.

2) Struck me the other day how much the job of manager has changed in baseball since I was a kid; back then, guys like Earl Weaver, Dick Williams, Sparky Anderson, Tommy Lasorda, they ran their franchises, what they said was gospel. Today? Not so much.

Managers have to be kinder/gentler these days; God forbid anyone gets their feelings hurt. The analytics nerds (I say that with love, I’m a nerd, too) tell them what lineups to play. Can you imagine an Ivy League nerd telling Earl Weaver what lineup to use? Ha!!!!
1) So you’re Virginia Tech’s basketball team, and you had a tough year, going 7-13 in ACC; you’re the #11-seed in ACC tournament, but the good news is you play the last place team in the first round of the ACC tournament, so at least you’ll win a game, right?

Except that this year, the #14-seed is North Carolina, a way better-than-normal last place team that just went toe-to-toe twice with Duke. Not good for the Hokies. 

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

Did you turn your clocks ahead an hour?

13) Kentucky 71, Florida 70— If you don’t think John Calipari is a great coach, think again.

— Soph G Ashton Hagans stepped away from the team for personal reasons; March 7th isn’t an ideal time for stuff like this to happen.
— Immanuel Quickley fouled out, playing only 21:00.
— Florida led 59-41, with 11:48 left to play. 
— Calipari pulled an old trick, getting a technical when Kentucky was down 12; he thinks that can snap his team out of a funk, and often it has. I remember him doing that at UMass in a game against George Washington a long time ago.

12) Creighton 77, Seton Hall 60— Bluejays won 11 of last 13 games, finished in a 3-way tie atop Big East standings. Creighton will be the #1 seed in next week’s Big East tournament- this is first time Creighton won a share of the Big East’s regular season title.

11) Belmont 76, Murray State 75— Games like that are what March Madness is all about; mid-majors getting national TV time for a shot at going to the NCAA’s.

This was third year in a row these teams met in final of the OVC tournament, with Murray State winning the previous two; quite a rivalry.

10) Virginia 57, Louisville 54— Cavaliers won their last eight games, with seven of those wins by 3 or fewer points, Two of their last three wins were over Duke/Louisville.

9) Utah State 59, San Diego State 56— Sam Merill’s week in Las Vegas:
— Thursday: 34:00, 29 points. Aggies won 75-70
— Friday: 38:00, 27 points. Aggies won 89-82
— Saturday: 40:00, 27 points. Aggies won 59-56

That is 83 points in 112:00 in less than 48 hours. Hell of a weekend.

8) USC 56, UCLA 54— Jonah Mathews made his Senior Day a memorable one, draining the winning 3-pointer as the Trojans beat their crosstown rival, ending UCLA’s 7-game win streak.

7) Upsets:
— Cornell (+12) 85, Princeton 82
— Washington (+10.5) 69, Arizona 63
— Fort Wayne (+7.5) 77, South Dakota State 69
— Northwestern (+7.5) 80, Penn State 69
— Mississippi Valley St (+7.5) 74, Ark-Pine Bluff 71
— Southern Utah (+7) 85, Montana 80 OT
— Rutgers (+6) 71, Purdue 68 OT
— Wofford (+6) 77, Furman 68

6) West Virginia 76, Baylor 64— WVU’s Chase Harler didn’t score any points in 17:00 on his Senior Day, but I’m guessing he had a pretty good day— he proposed to his girlfriend before the game, and luckily for everyone, she said yes.

Baylor limps into the Big X tournament 2-3 in its last five games.

5) Washington 69, Arizona 63— This will sound weird, but if Washington can get PG Quade Green back eligible and somehow win the Pac-12 tourney, they could make the Final Four, and I mean that- they were really good while he was eligible.

Huskies are 15-16, 5-13 in Pac-12, but Green is their QB and they lost a ton of close games with him on the sidelines. Washington is 3-12 since Green was declared ineligible.

4) WTF losses: Losses by teams that make you ask…….
— Northwestern 80, Penn State 69
— Oklahoma State 81, Texas 59
— St John’s 88, Marquette 86
— Utah 74, Colorado 72 OT

3) Oregon State 74, Cal 56:
— When your first name is Tres, you wear number 3, and you score 2,000+ points in your college career.
— When you’re a 4-year starter and your dad is head coach, Senior Day has to be a very emotional day for the whole family.
— Tres Tinkle scored 24 points for an Oregon State team that could be dangerous at the Pac-12 tournament next week in Las Vegas.

2) Oregon 79, Stanford 67— Ducks clinch regular season title in Pac-12, which was way better than it was last year. Payton Pritchard is a great senior guard.

Doug Gottlieb was the TV analyst for FS1 on this game; he used to work for ESPN, which I think totally missed the boat when they let him walk. Gottlieb is smart, opinionated, a little edgy and he didn’t go to Duke; if I ran a cable network, he’d be my choice to be our top analyst.
1) If you’re a bubble team, you’re rooting like hell this week for the teams you played this season, especially the teams you beat. Anything that elevates your resume is a good thing. This has the feel of a tournament where unusual things can happen; sometimes the hardest part of a year like this is just getting your foot in the door. 

Saturday’s Den: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

13) Missouri Valley tournament:
Drake 77, Northern Iowa 56— Every mid-major’s nightmare; after going 25-5 during the regular season, UNI lays an egg in the first round of Arch Madness and gets bounced to the NIT, becoming the first #1 seed ever to lose to an 8-seed in this tournament. 

Valparaiso 74, Loyola 73 OT— Total chaos in St Louis, with top two seeds going out in their first tournament game.

12) Milwaukee Brewers signed OF Christian Yelich to a 9-year, $215M contact that takes his to age 36. Yelich didn’t want an opt-out clause, so he is a Brewer for the rest of his career.

Yelich trivia: His great-grandfather was Fred Gehrke, who played in the NFL for 11 years and is the person who first painted the Rams’ logo on their helmets in 1948, the first NFL team to have a logo on their helmets.

11) San Diego State 81, Boise State 68— Aztecs were down 16 in first half of this game, rallied to tie by halftime; they advance to Mountain West final, but there has to be some concern- they haven’t led at halftime in any of their last five games.

10) Brown 64, Harvard 55— Crimson’s loss gives Yale the regular season title in Ivy League. Brown/Penn are tied for 4th, the last spot to get into the Ivy tournament next week.

9) Richmond 73, Duquesne 62— Huge win for the bubblelicious 24-7 Spiders, who start five juniors, have four sophs and a freshman coming off bench. In other words, Richmond should be really good next season; they’ve won four in row, nine of last ten games.

8) Hampton 86, Redford 78— Pirates are 15-18, tied for 5th in their second season in Big South, but they’ve pulled upsets the last two nights and now get a day off before playing Winthrop, the #2-seed in the Big South final Sunday.

7) Upsets:
— Brown (+10.5) 64, Harvard 55
— Hampton (+10) 86, Redford 78
— Drake (+9) 77, Northern Iowa 56
— Valparaiso (+5.5) 74, Loyola 73 OT
— Fairfield (+5.5) 66, Manhattan 50

6) OVC tournament
Belmont 60, Eastern Kentucky 50:
Murray State 73, Austin Peay 61:

Ohio Valley Conference tournament is in Evansville, even though there are no teams from Indiana in the OVC. Go figure (Evansville is close to lot of OVC schools).

5) Bronx OF Aaron Judge has a stress fracture in a rib, is out at least two more weeks; regular season starts on March 26. Last two years, Judge has played in only 214 games.

4) From Miami Marlins announced that “…….the Clevelander night club located behind the left field wall has been shut down for the year. As a result, those shots of people swimming during Marlins games will be a thing of the past as the pool, dancers and DJs that were all once a prominent part of the park are no more. Fans will reportedly still be allowed to access the area with different seating, and without the pool.”

3) Russell Westbrook hasn’t played in both ends of back-to-back games all season, and this time around he won’t play in Charlotte Saturday- the Thunder hosts Orlando Sunday.

Westbrook isn’t hurt; he makes $38,178,000, but has missed 10 of OKC’s 61 games.

By way of comparison, Artis Gilmore played in 81+ games 13 times in his 17-year career, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t have private planes in the ABA or in the NBA in the 80’s.

2) Nothing is quite as irrelevant as spring training standings, but the Padres are 11-2, the Marlins and Phillies 10-4, best records so far.

Pittsburgh is 3-11, Arizona 3-9, which means absolutely nothing.
1) Utah State 89, Wyoming 82— During the Wyoming-Nevada game Thursday night, Evan Washburn of CBS Sports interviewed a guy in the stands named Cowboy Ken, who wasn’t wearing a shirt, but had a yellow barrel on- the guy is like 60. If he walked around Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas later that night, he would’ve fit right in.

Wyoming was down pretty good before the interview, made a big comeback after the interview and upset Nevada; no interview Friday, and the Cowboys lost to Utah State. 

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

13) From Los Angeles Angels fired their longtime visiting clubhouse manager after an internal investigation confirmed suspicions that he was providing ball-doctoring substances to opposing pitchers. Brian Harkins had been with the Angels for 30 years, was providing illegal sticky substances in the visiting clubhouse that aided pitchers’ abilities to grip the baseball.

Trevor Bauer recently told Real Sports that 70% of pitchers use some sort of substance — be it pine tar or Firm Grip or a homemade concoction — to enhance their grip, which could ultimately provide greater movement and velocity.

Baseball has had a very rough offseason; they need real games to start. Soon.

12) Hal Mumme is a 67-year old football coach, the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Vipers in the XFL; 20 years ago, he was head coach at Kentucky. He is a tough guy.

Last weekend, Mumme was on the sidelines at the Houston-Dallas game when a RB ran out of bounds and knocked Mumme over- that happened in the second quarter. Mumme got up and coached the rest of the game. No big deal.

Turns out he broke his leg in the collision, so he stood there for more than half the game and called plays, with a freakin’ broken leg.

He’ll be coaching from the booth this week, when the Renegades play New York.

11) Terence Ross is in his 8th year in the NBA, his 4th with the Orlando Magic; he scored 35 points in 34:11 in the Magic’s 116-113 loss to Miami Wednesday.

What makes this unusual is the rest of Ross’ line score:
Zero rebounds, zero assists, zero steals, zero blocks, one turnover, two fouls.

It is really, really odd for a guy to score 35 points with no rebounds, no steals.

Ross is averaging 14.6 ppg in 27.2 mpg; he’s taken 738 shots, has 69 assists.

10) Utah State 75, New Mexico 70— Merrill scored 29 points to bail out the Aggies, who led by 13 early on, but then trailed 11 with 9:15 left. Utah State is barely on right side of the bubble, so this win was necessary. Winning tonight might be necessary, too.

9) Washington 90, Arizona State 83— Huskies get first Pac-12 road win this season, hand ASU a horrific home loss that could haunt them on Selection Sunday. Sun Devils lost their last three games, after a 7-game win streak.

8) San Diego State 73, Air Force 60— Aztecs are 29-1, but they’ve trailed at halftime in their last four games; they caught a break though, when UNLV got upset, so they won’t have to play the host team in Friday’s semifinal, they play Boise State instead.

7) Upsets:
— Wyoming (+10) 74, Nevada 71
— Lipscomb (+8) 73, North Florida 71
— Washington (+6) 90, Arizona State 83
— Alcorn State (+5.5) 80, Prairie View 71
— Bucknell (+5) 64, American 59
— UMKC (+3.5) 61, Utah Valley 59

6) Four of five teams in NL Central have season win totals of 82.5 or more wins, which is bad news for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the fifth team in the division, whose over/under is 69.5.

5) Pirates are projected to have the lowest Opening Day payroll in baseball, roughly $57M; the players union has filed grievances against the Pirates the last two years for not spending their revenue sharing money to increase their payroll. Go figure.

4) Late night TV is great this month, with replays of college hoop games and spring training games all night, every night. Baseball should show late night replays all season long.

3) Tim Duncan coached the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday, in their 104-103 win over Charlotte, subbing for an absent Gregg Popovich.

2) Chicago White Sox signed their young star, 2B Yoan Moncada, to a 5-year. $70M deal.
1) Coronavirus is a huge problem for the cruise ship industry; in mid-January, Royal Caribbean stock was $136/share; at the close of business Thursday, it was $65.78/share. Oy.

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

13) Doug Shows is a college basketball referee; he worked the Arkansas-LSU game last nite, the 74th game he’s worked this season. Thats 74 games,  in 121 days.

Here is Mr Shows’ last few days:
— Saturday: North Carolina @ Syracuse
— Sunday: Xavier @ Georgetown
— Monday: NC State @ Duke
— Tuesday: Mississippi State @ South Carolina
— Wednesday: LSU @ Arkansas

Lot of travel. Lot of money he’s making, too.

12) Observation; No load management for college hoop refs; they run the whole game, and guys in their 40’s/50’s go five nights in a row. No private jets, am assuming they handle their own luggage. They don’t work, they don’t get paid.

11) Armadillo World HQ got a new furnace installed Wednesday; three guys worked for 4.5 hours, replacing my 22-year old furnace with a new one. Guys worked their butts off, while I sat on the couch and did basketball research while watching the Brewers-Padres game.

You live in upstate New York, furnaces are important. Pretty expensive, too 🙁

10) Mountain West tournament kicked off in Las Vegas, with two upsets in three games; Air Force (+5.5) ended Fresno State’s season 77-70, then Wyoming (+10.5) upset Colorado State 80-74, sending the Rams to the NIT, CBI or CIT.

9) Villanova 79, Seton Hall 77— High-level game, with Villanova surviving 9-16 shooting on foul line to ruin Senior Night for the Pirates, who still lead the Big East by a game.

8) Texas A&M 78, Auburn 75— Tigers lost four of last six games, after starting season 22-2; they’re in a 3-way tie for 2nd in SEC, with Florida and slumping LSU, which lost six of its last nine games, after a 17-4 start.

7) Upsets:
— Texas A&M (+12.5) 78, Auburn 75
— Wyoming (+10.5) 80, Colorado State 74
— Fordham (+6.5) 63, George Washington 52
— Quinnipiac (+5.5) 69, Iona 68
— Charlotte (+4) 56, North Texas 43

6) Virginia 46, Miami 44— Hurricanes won their 7th game in row, with six of those wins by 3 or fewer points. Tony Bennett is a great freakin’ coach; Cavaliers are tied for 3rd with Duke in the ACC. On January 20, they were 4-4 in ACC play; they’re 10-1 since then.

5) Steph Curry is going to play tonight for first time since he broke his left hand October 30, so thats good news for the Warriors, or at least for the fans who play lot of $$$ to watch games.

4) Keith Dambrot is 56-37 in three years coaching Duquesne, which was 60-97 the five years before he got there; Dambrot made the NCAA’s three times in 13 years coaching Akron, so he is well established as a good mid-major college coach.

Here’s the thing: Dambrot is way more famous for the job he had before he became a college coach; he was Lebron James’ high school coach, at  St. Vincent-St. Mary HS in Akron.

3) Siena 77, Niagara 55— Saints finish 14-0 at home, but the MAAC tournament is in Atlantic City this year, just 11th time since 1990 the MAAC tourney isn’t in Albany.

Siena last won the MAAC tournament ten years ago.

2) NEC tournament started Wednesday, with home team winning all four games, which were played on campus sites. Three of the four games were decided by 1 or 2 points; only favorite to cover was St Francis PA, which whacked Bryant 87-61.
1) You would think that owning the New York Knicks would be a pretty good gig; you sit back, watch a lot of basketball, host a lot of celebrities, and count all your money. A smart person would hire the best basketball minds they could find, and root like hell for them to win.

But the Knicks are owned by James Dolan, a 64-year old guy whose father got really rich when he founded Cablevision. Dolan is a terrible owner; the Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since 2013, haven’t made the finals since 1999, last won a title since ‘73.

Now Dolan has sparked a feud with movie mogul Spike Lee, who has had Knicks season tickets for 30 years; couple years ago it was ex-Knick Charles Oakley, who might be the last person on this planet I would want to be mad at me (he is very, very large).

Frustrating for fans when your team has a terrible owner; I know, I root for the Rams, who once had Georgia Frontiere as their owner. Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean you’re smart. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) Michigan State 79, Penn State 71— Spartans were down 19 with 3:44 left in first half, but this game is an example of why college basketball has become so difficult to handicap:

— 1st half: Penn State was 10-17 on the arc
— 2nd half: Penn State was 0-13 on the arc

People who run college basketball want more scoring, but they moved the 3-point arc back, making teams more erratic and swings in games more extreme. Go figure.

12) Rutgers 78, Maryland 67— Scarlet Knights will be in NCAA Tournament for first time since 1991; good for them. Strong defensive team, not so much on offense.

11) Texas 52, Oklahoma 51— Lefty on Texas banked in a running 3-pointer with 0:00.4 left, giving the Longhorns their fifth win in a row.

10) Nets 129, Celtics 120 OT— Brooklyn was down 17 after third quarter, then they scored 51  points in the 4th quarter. Caris LeVert scored 51 points for the Nets.

9) If you owned the Brooklyn Nets, how would you feel about Kevin Durant playing in the Olympics this summer, assuming the Olympics take place?

Durant hurt his achilles tendon last spring; he missed all of this season, but is still getting paid $37,199,000  by the Nets, his new team. The 4-year contract will wind up paying him $164.25M for four years; should he risk another injury by playing in the Olympics?

It is his right to play in the Olympics, if he wants to; Lord knows the NBA has been pushing international competition, but doesn’t he owe it to his employers to be as healthy as possible when next season starts?

8) DePaul 69, Marquette 68— Bad loss for Golden Eagles, who lost for fifth time in six games.

Under Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette at end of the season:
2015: 3-13 in their last 16 games
2016: 4-6 in their last ten games
2017: 5-7 in their last 12 games
2018: 7-3 in their last 10 games
2019: 1-6 in their last seven games
2020: 1-5 in their last six games

7) Upsets:
— Vanderbilt  (+13.5) 87, Alabama 79
— Tennessee (+9) 81, Kentucky 73
— Arkansas State (+8) 76, Georgia Southern 75
— Maine (+7.5) 71, Hartford 65
— Texas (+6.5) 52, Oklahoma 51
— Purdue (+5.5) 77, Iowa 68
— Duquesne (+5) 80, VCU 77

6) South Carolina 83, Mississippi State 71— At South Carolina home games, if an opponent goes to the foul line and misses both free throws, everyone in the crowd gets a free chicken sandwich the next day at some takeout place.

Would that make it the fowl line?

5) Cincinnati 79, South Florida 67— Bearcats were down 13 with 13:09 left, but stormed back to win and avoid a terrible loss, which likely would’ve knocked them off the bubble.

4) Miami Heat are only team that has beaten Milwaukee twice this season.

3) Random baseball trivia: Giants P Jeff Samardzija met his wife backstage at a Pink Floyd concert.

2) It should be a rule that an NFL writer can only write one mock draft; when you do more than one, you’re just making stuff up to attract attention.
1) RIP James Lipton, 93, the man who hosted “Inside the Actors Studio”  for years on TV.

I accidentally found his show on TV late one night, and am glad I did; the man was totally prepared and asked good questions, while making his guest feel at home. He had his notes on index cards; I’m a big fan of index cards. RIP, sir.