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

13) St John’s 79, Villanova 75— Red Storm started out 0-11 in Big East, but in last five days, they beat both Duke/Villanova. Johnnies played only six guys in this game; four of their starters played 37:00+. Villanova was only 8-33 on arc in this game.

12) The NBA has strategically moved All-Star Weekend back until after football ends, to make the most of its exposure, but players are complaining now that the break should be earlier in the season, to give them a much-needed break from the 82-game schedule.

For example, Cleveland has already played 53 of its 81 games, so All-Star break will come after the 2/3 mark of the season. If they move it to January, it will compete with the NFL playoffs.

11) Gave this some thought during my 11-hour plane excursion Monday; If I’m the Eagles, I don’t trade Nick Foles. Carson Wentz is still the starter, but getting rid of Foles seems like a mistake.

10) An NBA game got rained out Wednesday night; seriously. Roof was leaking in the arena in New Orleans, so Pacers-Pelicans will play some other day. There was actually a puddle near one of the foul lines, which makes it difficult to play.

9) Speaking of the Pacers, they’re 30-19 when Victor Oladipo plays, 0-6 when he does not.

8) Turns out Indianapolis Colts already signed three assistant coaches to contracts before they got left at the altar by Josh McDaniels— one of the coaches is the defensive coordinator, so they almost have to hire a coach with offensive leanings, since the DC is already in place.

7) Former manager Joe Girardi has surfaced as a studio analyst on MLB Network, which is a good idea; hopefully he’ll do some games. Girardi is a smart guy; we can learn from him.

6) There is a actually a service where you pay people to walk your dog. If you have to pay someone to walk your dog…….

a) You’re too damn busy
b) You shouldn’t have a dog
c) You’re extremely lazy. Even I would walk my dog, if I had one.

5) Westgate Hotel added a poker room near their great sportsbook; I was walking down that way the other night and some guy bustles ahead of me like it was a race or something. Turns out he wanted a seat at a poker table; I wanted a hamburger at the restaurant next door.

4) There have never been four QB’s taken in the first 10 picks of an NFL Draft; that surprised me, figured it would have happened at least once.

3) Cavaliers 140, Timberwolves 138 OT– Everyone at ESPN can take a deep breath; the Cavaliers won a game. You listen to their 60-minute pregame show and I think they mentioned Minnesota once the whole hour.

2)  Another thing I was wondering about on the plane Monday: what would the average score of an NHL game be if neither team used a goalie, and they just played 6-on-6?

1— NBA trade deadline is 3:00 this afternoon; will be interesting to see what happens.

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

13) Tuesday morning, the Indianapolis Colts announced they hired Josh McDaniels as their new coach. By 8pm Tuesday, McDaniels had backed out of the deal. Go figure.

12) There are reports the Patriots greatly sweetened McDaniels’ contract to keep him in Foxboro; maybe they guaranteed he’d replace Bill Belichick when Belichick retires. Who knows what happened, but the Colts look foolish for now, even if they may be better off in the long run.

If someone isn’t 100% into being your football coach, then YOU DO NOT WANT HIM. Now the Colts have to regroup and take advantage of the opportunity to find a smart football person who really wants to coach the Indianapolis Colts. NFL head coaching jobs are in great demand.

it should be mentioned here that when McDaniels was coach of the Broncos, he drafted Tim Tebow in the first round. If you’re a Colts’ fan, are you really sad about losing this guy?

11) Took the 6:20am flight from Albany to Chicago to Las Vegas Monday morning; was in the airport by 4:30am. Was on the plane at 6am- the flight took off…….at 10:53am. Oy.

It was a bright. sunny morning in Albany Monday; Southwest Airlines claimed it was too windy to take off, and that snow had blown on the one runway they could use, none of which made a hell of a lot of sense. There was maybe a half-inch of snow on the ground. Maybe some air traffic callers called in sick, who knows?

Everything turned out pretty well, other than wasting four hours of my life that could’ve spent with me being asleep. In a bed. There were three empty seats on the Chicago-to-Vegas flight; one of them was the middle seat next to me. Leg room is tremendous!!!

Then I got a $100 voucher Tuesday in an e-mail from Southwest, apologizing for the delay. it was this e-mail that casually mentioned something about air traffic controllers, which made me wonder what was really up.

10) Bad news for the Knicks Tuesday night; Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL, is out for the year.

9) Ben Simmons is a really good player and the 76ers will probably make the playoffs this year, but could he learn how to shoot? They said Tuesday that of 346 baskets this season, only seven of them came on shots longer than 16 feet. He is 0-10 behind the arc, but only seven baskets in 1,720 minutes longer than 16 feet?

Simmons is also shooting only 56.3% on the foul line.. If he wants to eventually be considered a truly great player, he better get himself in a gym this summer and improve his shooting.

8) Emeka Okafor played nine minutes for the Pelicans Monday night; it was his first NBA action in four years and 296 days, when he was on the Wizards. Okafor is 35 and banked just under $90M in his playing career. Good to see that he worked hard enough to get back in the NBA.

7) Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim got his 200th career win on February 4, 1985 against Seton Hall, the day after current Louisville coach David Padgett was born.

6) Schools are closed in Philadelphia Thursday, because of the Eagles’ victory parade.

5) Think about it, from 2005-08, Doug Pederson was the head football coach at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, LA. Now he is the head coach of the Super Bowl champs.

4) James Madison postponed basketball games scheduled for Thursday, Saturday over fears of a possible mumps outbreak in the program. One assistant coach had mumps; three other people, including one player, are suspected of having it now.

In case you were wondering: “Mumps is a mild to moderate contagious viral illness spread usually by close or face-to-face contact. Its symptoms can appears from 12 to 25 days after exposure, and those symptoms include body aches, fever and swollen or tender salivary glands.”

3) San Francisco Giants will retire Barry Bonds’ #25 when the Giants host Pittsburgh in August.

2) So much for preseason polls: Auburn was picked 9th, Tennessee 13th in the SEC preseason poll. They’re the top two teams in the league.

1— Sitting next to gamblers in the Westgate sportsbook Tuesday is one of my favorite things on earth, where people of all races/creeds sit near each other and bond over their desire to wager money on sports. If only the rest of the world got along so well……..

 

Tuesday’s List of 13: Can baseball thoughts make you warmer?

It was 75 degrees when I got off the plane in Las Vegas Monday; problem is, I had been on that plane for 11 hours— more on that tomorrow.

Spring training starts next week; here are some baseball notes to keep you warm.

13) Houston Astros led MLB with a .478 slugging percentage LY and struck out only 1,087 times; they’re only second team since 1948 (’95 Indians) to lead league in SP while striking out the least amount of times in the league.

12) Atlanta Braves used nine 3rd basemen LY; with Chipper Jones getting in Hall of Fame this summer, it has been five years since he left Atlanta and they still haven’t found a replacement.

11) Chicago Cubs are 27-15 in their last 42 games against their rivals from St Louis.

10) Cubs had 100 quality starts in 2016, when they won the World Series; that number slipped to 77 last year, which put a big strain on their bullpen.

9) Speaking of which, Toronto’s bullpen threw 596.2 innings LY- thats 11 outs a game, which is just too much. If your starting pitchers can’t finish the 6th inning consistently, you’re in trouble.

8) Seattle Mariners made 219 player transactions last season; they used 61 different players, 15 of whom weren’t in Seattle’s organization when the season started.

7) Red Sox hit 168 homers last year, least in the American League.

6) Texas Rangers had three guys LY who hit 25+ homers while batting less than .210; they’re first team ever to do that.

5) Baltimore’s starting pitchers had a 5.70 ERA last year, which helps explain why they won 14 fewer games than in 2016.

4) Cincinnati Reds used 10 different ROOKIE starting pitchers LY; playing in their small home ballpark, thats just too many.

3) Angels’ first basemen hit a combined .231 LY; their second basemen hit .206, which is why they got Ian Kinsler. Albert Pujols is going to have to play a decent amount of 1B this year if Shotei Ohtani, is going to DH.

2) Detroit Tigers owe Miguel Cabrera $184M over the next six years; Cabrera is going to be 35 in April, so it is doubtful they’ll be able to get out from under that back-loaded contract.

1) Oakland A’s allowed 82 unearned runs LY, most in baseball; they made 121 errors, which is unacceptable. Maybe they shouldn’t have let infield coach Ron Washington bolt to Atlanta.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a super Sunday

13) Eagles 41, Patriots 33— Before this season, Nick Foles was 20-16 as an NFL starting QB; he has never started more than 11 games in a season. Now he is a Philadelphia legend.

Foles was 28-43 for 373 yards and three TD’s, ending an improbable story where he took over for an injured Carson Wentz and led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title and 4th NFL title, their first one since 1960.

I completely whiffed on this game; didn’t think a backup QB could hang 41 in a Super Bowl, so the next question is, does Foles go back to being a backup next year, or do the Eagles trade him, and if so, where do they trade him?

12) This game broke the Super Bowl record for most total yards before the third quarter was over.

11) So the Eagles score their first TD to make score 9-3; before they can try the PAT (which they missed), my DirecTV goes out, so I have to go downstairs, retrieve a stepladder and go out to sweep the inch or so of snow off the satellite dish. No bueno.

Also had my 2017 tax return done by halftime, making it the most productive 90 minutes of my 2018, by far. Muy bueno.

10) What does ESPN show during the Super Bowl?
ESPN2— World Series of Poker
ESPNU— College gymnastics
ESPN— 30 for 30 on wrestler Ric Flair

9) New England’s field goal on their first drive were first 1st-quarter points they’ve scored in the eight Super Bowls Brady has played in.

This was first Super Bowl where both starting QB’s threw for 100+ yards each in first quarter.

8) Over/under on numbers of players to throw a pass was 2.5, with the over +$180. Four guys threw passes in the first half.

7) Home underdogs in college basketball were 0-6 vs spread Sunday; that doesn’t happen much.

6) Gary Woodland shot a 64 Sunday and won the Phoenix Open. Best shot of the day was on the 16th hole, when Matt Kuchar damn near aced the popular par-3.

5) How many football coaches around the country will put that trick play in that the Eagles used to score their second TD? That will be a popular 2-point play in high school games next fall.

When Eagles’ TE Trey Burton went to college at Florida, he thought he would be Tim Tebow’s replacement at QB, but that never worked out. Funny how eight years later he throws a TD pass in a Super Bowl.

4) First half total yardage was 350-323, Patriots; both teams averaged over nine yards per play.

How would you like to be a Lions’ fan and see that stat? One DC (Jim Schwartz) used to be the Lions’ coach; the other (Matt Patricia) is the Lions’ next head coach.

3) There had never been a sack-less Super Bowl; Graham’s sack/fumble with 2:10 left was the first sack of the game. Pretty good time for it.

2) Friend of mine had two squares in a $1,000 per square pool; I’m guessing the guy who had 2-2 was cursing the fates…….until halftime, when the score was 22-12. Cha-ching!!!

1- I’m guessing this Super Bowl got tremendous TV ratings; it was a terrific, fun game, with a dramatic finish. Next year’s Super Bowl is in Atlanta’s new stadium. Who will be in it?

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

13) Oklahoma State 84, Kansas 79
Missouri 69, Kentucky 60
St John’s 81, Duke 77

This was the first time since March 6, 2005 that these three teams all lost on the same day.

12) Washington 78, Arizona 75— First-year coach Mike Hopkins has the Huskies 17-6 , 7-3 in the Pac-12; they’ve got wins over Kansas/Arizona, have shot at making the NCAAs. Would be ironic if Washington made the NCAAs and Syracuse didn’t, seeing how Hopkins waited a long time for Jim Boeheim to retire, so he could take over that program.

11) CAA race is interesting; Charleston leads at 9-3, game ahead of Northeastern/Wm & Mary. With one-third of the regular season left, nine of 10 teams already have four conference losses. Last place James Madison has three wins. 21 of 60 CAA games were decided by 4 or less points or in overtime.

10) Central Michigan 101, Ohio U 98 2OT— Bobcats went 16-31 on foul line, blew 13-point lead with 12:21 left to play. Chippewas were 31-36 on the charity stripe.

9) Colorado State asked basketball coach Larry Eustachy to step away from his job for a while, as they investigate the program— apparently he curses at players in practice and in 2014, was given a zero tolerance policy towards future verbal abuse of players.

Eustachy’s base salary is $985,012 and if he gets fired for cause, it saves the school $3M. When the team is 10-15, 3-9 in the Mountain West like Colorado State is this year, people put up with a lot less shenanigans than they did when the team was winning.

8) UCLA 82, USC 79— This was a really good game; 70 fast-paced possessions, Bruins had to make 12-26 on the arc to pull out the home win. Bennie Boatwright played only 9:00 for USC- -his foot still isn’t 100%.

7) Upsets of the Day:
Oklahoma State (+13) 84, Kansas 79
Brown (+11.5) 102, Princeton 100 OT
Citadel (+11.5) 100, Furman 92 OT
St John’s (+11) 81, Duke 77
SIU-Edwardsville 75, Jacksonville State 67
Drexel (+9) 91, William & Mary 79
East Carolina (+8) 88, Memphis 85 OT
Drake (+8) 78, Bradley 68

6) Ivy League teams play Friday/Saturday once conference play starts; Brown lost 95-90 in OT at Penn Friday night, then won 102-100 in OT at Princeton Saturday— had to be some tired kids on the bus back to Providence late Saturday night.

5) Gonzaga 68, BYU 60— Zags beat BYU at home for first time in four years. Gonzaga in 11-1 in WCC, but is 0-7 vs spread in last seven games, another example of how gambling is difficult.

4) Home favorites went 6-1 vs spread in SEC games Saturday; only team that didn’t cover was Auburn, which won by 12 laying 12.5. Tigers have a two-game lead over Tennessee in the SEC. Kentucky-Florida-Alabama are tied for third. Is Bruce Pearl national Coach of the Year?

3) Middle Tennessee State leads Conference USA at 10-1; they’ve won six of seven road games in conference, but none of the six wins were by more than seven points.

2) Cal-Davis 105, Long Beach State 104, 2OT— Aggies won despite suspending their best player,  senior F Chima Moneke because to an unspecified violation of team rules at a hotel. No one was talking after the game, but the suspension is said to be indefinite.

Long Beach’s Gabe Levin was 24-28 on foul line in this game. Lot of foul shots for one guy.

1) Northern Colorado 86, Montana State 63— Bears’ Andre Spight scored 41 points; he was 8-21 on arc, 7-10 inside arc, with five assists, seven turnovers. He had the ball a lot. This was his 4th Big Sky game with 30+ points this season.

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

13) I’m assuming you have to be really smart to be a contestant on Jeopardy!, but the three bozos who were playing the other night know bupkis about football.

Five questions, the last five on the board in “single Jeopardy”, and zero correct answers.

Would think some “smart person” would at least know which team Tom Landry coached.

12) Baltimore Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome is retiring after this coming season, his 16th as GM. Big loss for Baltimore— you don’t that job for 16 years if you’re not really good at it.

11) 4-star QB recruit Brevin White has chosen Princeton over Alabama. Either the kid got a ton of financial aid or his family is loaded— Ivy League schools don’t give athletic scholarships.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has played in NFL for 13 years; he played in college at Harvard, so there is precedent for White playing in the Ancient 8, then making it to the NFL.

10) Baseball players/agents are upset over the lack of free agent signings this winter. Hard to be sympathetic with someone like JD Martinez, who was offered $20M a year by the Red Sox.

9) A man in Spring Hill, FL is accused of breaking into a funeral home and stealing items including a tub of formaldehyde. He told investigators he was bored and didn’t know he was breaking into a funeral home. Alrighty then.

8) Couple of weeks ago they had this huge motorcycle race on a course laid out on the baseball diamond at Anaheim Stadium. Hills and all that; just unusual to see how different the field looks as the stadium tries to generate some income during the baseball off-season.

7) Kirk Cousins’ agent is Mike McCartney, whose dad Bill was coach of the Colorado Buffaloes and won a national title there- Mike McCartney is also Trevor Siemian’s agent.

6) This from Christopher Kamka in Chicago:
— Baltimore’s Chris Davis led MLB last year with 75 strikeouts looking

— Oakland’s Khris Davis led MLB last year with 150 swinging strikeouts

5) Who says the Miami Marlins would go winless this season? They won their arbitration case against catcher JT Realmuto, saving themselves $600,000. Now they can trade him.

4) Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes felt that assistant coach Desmond Oliver was worth more than he was being paid, so he boosted Oliver’s salary himself but inadvertently committed a minor NCAA violation in the process.

Barnes felt Oliver was underpaid but didn’t know his salary supplementation was an NCAA rules violation. Oliver was later given his raise by the school instead of by Barnes.

3) Jose Berrios is a promising pitcher for the Twins; part of his off-season training regime is pushing a truck across a parking lot. Seriously.

Berrios struck out 139 batters in 145.2 IP— he hopes to pitch 200+ innings this coming season.

2) On Christmas Day, Arizona State was 12-0, ranked in top 5 in the country; then conference play started. Now the Sun Devils are 16-6, tied for 8th place in the Pac-12 and they are no lock to make the NCAA tournament. ASU is 2-5 in Pac-12 games decided by 6 or less points or in OT.

1) If you ran the Green Bay Packers, would you have consulted Aaron Rodgers before you fired the team’s QB coach? Green Bay let Alex Van Pelt go without consulting Rodgers, which upset Rodgers, for obvious reasons.  Van Pelt has since moved on to Cincinnati.

This reminds me of when the Steelers fired Bruce Arians and hired Todd Haley as their OC, so they would run the ball more, even though Arians and Ben Roethlisberger were tight.

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

13) Georgia Tech 55, Syracuse 51— The current state of college hoop; total of only 13 players played in this game— four of the 13 kids played the whole 40:00.

Lot of teams have almost no depth, partially because of the transfer epidemic (most transfers have to sit out a year) and injuries.

Teams combined to shoot 10-36 on the arc in this game; had to be lot of tired legs out there.

12) Is Wyoming the most fun team in the country? Cowboys are 15-7, 6-0 in overtime games this season; they won their last three games in OT, with two of those going double OT.

Wyoming’s starting guards are a freshman/sophomore, but their two forwards are their two best players- Justin James, who has 91 points in his last three games, and Hayden Dalton, who played 46:00 twice in their last three games. Good passer, solid glue guy.

11) If you like to shoot the ball a lot when you play pickup ball, then Central Michigan’s Josh Kozinski is your new hero.

Against Northern Illinois Wednesday, Kozinski played 27:00, scored 24 points— he made 8-15 on the arc, but did almost nothing else. One rebound, one assist, one steal. A specialist.

For the season, Kozinski has taken 91 3-pointers, five 2-point shots, 17 foul shots.

10) Northern Arizona is a bad, obscure team; they’re 3-18, 1-9 in the Big Sky- they even lost to an NAIA school named Embry-Riddle, which I think used to be a pilot’s school. NAU is 10-36 in conference games the last three years.

But its not wise to bet against the Lumberjacks; they covered six of their last seven games, are 7-3 vs spread in Big Sky games, 4-1 on the road. Go figure.

9) Cal-Irvine 75, Long Beach State 68— 49ers led by 7 with 12:50 left in game Wednesday, but fell apart in last few minutes and are now 13-13, 6-3 in conference.

Long Beach has a starting forward, I won’t mention his name, but the kid went 0-7 on the foul line, 3-9 from the floor and turned ball over three times. He is shooting 65.9% from the line for the year, so going 0-7 on the line in a home game is odd.

8) Pitt Panthers are 0-10 in the ACC, but they’ve covered their last five games.

7) Villanova will probably be a #1 seed in the NCAA’s, but since 2010, Wildcats have made the Sweet 16 once, when they won the national title two years ago.

Villanova won five of last seven first round games, but is 1-4 in last five second round games- they were favored in all four of those losses.

6) Arizona will also be a highly-seeded team; they’ve won 19 of last 20 games, but the second weekend of the NCAA’s hasn’t been kind to the Wildcats.

Since 2002, Arizona is 5-4 in Sweet 16 games, 0-5 in Elite 8 games. If you pick the Wildcats to get to the Final Four, do so at your own risk.

5) Apparently when the Patriots won the Super Bowl LY, they had rings made up with 283 diamonds in each ring, which seems excessive, but the “28-3” is reference to the score Atlanta led last year’s game, before things fell apart for them.

Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank isn’t happy about the “283 diamond” thing:

“I said to Robert (Kraft), ‘You didn’t have to do the 28-3 in the ring. It kind of pissed me off.”

Alrighty then.

4) If you like math, that adds up to 14,999 diamonds just for the 53 rings that went to players. If Mr Blank owned a jewelry store instead of Home Depot, he might not be so mad.

3) New Orleans Pelicans got Nikola Mirotic and a 2nd-round pick from Chicago in exchange for a 1st-round pick, Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen, who will be waived soon— his acquisition just balanced out cap numbers. Mirotic replaces the injured DeMarcus Cousins.

2) Thursday night’s college basketball upsets:
Loyola Marymount (+9.5) 76, BYU 69
Cleveland State (+9.5) 77, Wright State 74
Citadel (+9) 80, Wofford 78
Temple 81 (+6), Wichita State 79 OT

1) One of the highlights for me every fall is when the Blue Ribbon Yearbook comes in the mail in October- it is an encyclopedia of college basketball.

This fall, their Newcomer of the Year: Michael Porter Jr of Missouri

Blue Ribbon’s Player of the Year: Bonzie Colson of Notre Dame

Missouri gave Porter’s father a coaching job when they signed the son and his brother, but Porter Jr played two minutes in the season opener before a back injury ended his season.

Colson got hurt and hasn’t played since December 30 and is likely done for the year. Notre Dame lost its last six games- they also have other injuries.

Even the college basketball encyclopedia couldn’t foresee some of this season’s events.

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

13) For the first time this July, all 30 NBA teams will be represented at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. If you like the NBA, its worth your while to spend a week or so in the desert and watch the summer league in person. I highly recommend it.

Worst case, you pay $30 to watch ball all day in an air conditioned arena when it is 110 degrees outside. Plus, the arena has good hot dogs.

12) Vikings losing in the NFC title game was actually a financial boon to hotels/businesses in the Twin Cities, since now more out-of-towners will be visiting Minnesota this week.

When Georgia Bulldogs made the national title game in Atlanta last month, it cost businesses some money to have Georgia in the game, meaning less out-of-state people would be taking up room in local hotels/restaurants.

11) FOX paid the NFL an average of $660M a year to televise 11 Thursday night games each season for the next five years.

10) Things I learned watching the news today; when an AMTRAK train is going full speed, it takes the train a mile to stop.

9) NFL game in Mexico City next season: Chiefs-Rams.

8) January 31 is solid day for baseball birthdays: Nolan Ryan, Ernie Banks, Jackie Robinson.

7) Three officials working in Sunday’s Super Bowl at one point spent time officiating in the Arena League.

6) In the NHL, some teams have road trips where the players’ moms or dads go on that trip with their sons. Pretty cool idea. LA Kings’ eastern road trip now is a dad’s trip.

5) Field for the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands next November:
Eastern Kentucky, Kansas State, Kennesaw State, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Old Dominion, Oregon State and Penn.

4) Catcher Alex Avila gets two years, $8.25M from the Diamondbacks.

3) Good day for Mookie Betts; he won his arbitration case with the Red Sox, will make $10.5M this season. Boston wanted to pay Betts $7.5M this season.

2) If you’re Kirk Cousins, which team is the your most attractive destination for 2018?
Jets? Broncos? Browns? Bills?

1— In this day and age, with so much technology, how do the Clippers not at least text Blake Griffin and tell him he’s been traded? Its big business and all— the owner of the Clippers used to be the CEO of freakin’ Microsoft. How does Griffin find out about the trade via Twitter?

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

13) West Virginia’s basketball team got thrown under the bus by their athletic department when the school joined the Big X six years ago.

You look at their nine basketball road trips; the closest Big X rival to Morgantown is Iowa State, which is 860 miles away. Lot of long road trips in the cold of winter, all so the football team would have a good league to play in. Hope it is worth it.

Basketball team would’ve been fine playing in the Big East or the A-14, or even the ACC. Look at a map and plot the 10 teams in the Big X; it is weird to see how far West Virginia is from everyone else.

12) Two things about the Blake Griffin-to-Detroit trade:
a) I wouldn’t be too eager to trade with any team Jerry West works for (Clippers)
b) Blake Griffin has missed 84 games the last three years, and this year isn’t over.

11) 18 players on the Patriots’ 53-man roster are undrafted players, which is a lot. Eagles have nine undrafted players on their roster.

10) There is a new Arena Football team here in Albany this spring; 300 people showed up for an open tryout Saturday, at an indoor facility in Halfmoon. Wonder if any of them will make the squad, which starts play April 14.

Think it might actually be harder to make an Arena League team as a walk-on, since there really aren’t special teams the way there are in the NFL.

9) Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles played all season with a wrist injury that needs surgery; the team knew this before the season— looks like Bortles will play for $19M next year, the $$ the Jaguars to give him if he is on the roster March 14.

8) Washington Wizards star John Wall is having his knee scoped, will be out 6-8 weeks. Right now, Wizards are #6 seed in the East- can they stay there?

7) I’m a big fan of the TV show Suits on USA Network; one of the actresses on the show is a woman named Meghan Markle who will soon marry Prince Harry in England, so she’s leaving the show after this spring’s episodes.

Read Tuesday that Patrick Adams will also leave the show after this season; his character (Mike) is one of the two main characters in the show, so interesting to see how they’ll proceed moving forward.

6) Former New Mexico basketball player Hugh Greenwood now plays Australian Rules Football for the Adelaide Crows in the AFL. Tough sport.

5) Carolina Hurricanes just got sold to a guy who says the team might play some games in Hartford Whalers throwback uniforms— the Hurricanes moved to Raleigh from Hartford 21 years ago. Whalers had green uniforms with an awesome logo; this is a good idea.

4) Doug Pederson is bringing Brett Favre in to speak to the Eagles Saturday night. Pederson was Favre’s backup for seven years in Green Bay.

3) Milwaukee is the smallest TV market in the major leagues; they averaged 31,282 fans a game last year because they were smart enough to build a retractable dome in a cold-weather city, so fans don’t have to suffer while they’re watching the game.

2) Arkansas is paying former football coach Bret Bielema $11,395,000 as a going away present; if he gets 36 monthly payments thru 2020, that works out to $316,527.78 a month.

1— I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Tuesday was the 18th anniversary of the greatest NFL game ever played: Rams 23, Titans 16 in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Think about Falcons-Patriots last year and SB XXXIV was a similar game, except the team that stormed back from behind fell just short of winning……thank God.

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

13) Big NBA trade: Clippers dealt Blake Griffin to Detroit for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a 1st-round and a 2nd-round pick. Detroit also gets Brice Johnson and Willie Reed in the deal.

Griffin is on a 5-year, $171M contract that doesn’t have a no-trade clause in it.

12) Griffin’s contract has $150M of guaranteed money in it; no NFL contract has more than $70M guaranteed.

11) There are murmurs that if UConn changes basketball coaches this spring, Bobby Hurley will be one of the names on their list. My question is this and I don’t know what the answer is:

Is UConn a better basketball job than Arizona State? I’m not sure it is.

Hurley is from New Jersey, so coming back east would be a plus for his family, but expectations are very high in the Nutmeg State. Is Hurley in waiting for the Duke job? Mike Krzyzewski is 70, so that job will be opening up in the not-too-distant future.

10) New England Patriots have played in seven Super Bowls under Bill Belichick; obviously, they’re 5-2 in those games, but they also didn’t score in first quarter in any of the seven games.

9) New England is going to have two new coordinators next season, which should be fun to watch.

8) I watch a lot of football, but rarely the Pro Bowl; not even sure why it exists. Of all the all-star games, basketball should be the best, but the players don’t try so I’m thinking baseball’s is.

7) Arkansas gave basketball coach Mike Anderson a 2-year contract extension thru 2022.

6) UNLV is 4-4 in the Mountain West; they’re 4-0 when PG Jordan Johnson takes less than 12 shots from the floor, 0-4 when he takes 12+ shots. Rebels are a better team when Johnson sets up his teammates up for shots. Other teams try to get him to shoot the ball more.

5) Wyoming Cowboys are 14-7, 5-3 in the Mountain West Conference; they’re 5-0 in overtime games this season, which doesn’t happen much.

4) Very expensive torn achilles for DeMarcus Cousins, who is a free agent this summer, along with Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Paul George.

3) Milwaukee Bucks’ interim coach Joe Prunty was Luke Walton’s high school coach in San Diego.

2) Watching NBA games over the weekend, it dawned on me the immense impact Stephen Curry is having on the game, in a positive way. Curry is so skilled, such a great shooter, and he wasn’t born that way- he’s had to work his butt off to become this great.

That sends a message to kids, that if they work on their skills, they can become great players, too. Size isn’t everything; smaller players can make a big impact, if they put the ball in the hoop.

Instead of practicing useless stuff or just playing an endless amount of meaningless pickup games, more kids are practicing shooting and it is paying off.

1) Phoenix Suns have made at least one 3-pointer in 1,109 consecutive games, an NBA record.

Monday’s List of 13: A small sampling of Super Bowl prop bets

Some of the many, many prop bets on the Super Bowl:
13) Simple one: Patriots are -5, with a total of 48.5

12) You can get 8-1 odds that the Eagles will score exactly 20 points; same for 21 points.

11) You can get 8-1 odds that the Patriots will score exactly 27 points; same for 28 points.

10) Odds on player to score first points:
7-2— Both kickers
10-1— Rob Gronkowski
12-1— Jeffery, Ajayi, Blount, Lewis, Amendola
14-1— James White

18-1— Brandin Cooks
25-1— Clement, Torrey Smith

9) Exact magic of victory:
Eagles by 1-6 points: 4-1
by 7-12 points: 7-1
by 13-18 points: 10-1
by 19-24 points: 25-1
by 25-30 points: 12-1
by more than 30 points: 100-1

8) Exact magic of victory:
Patriots by 1-6 points: 5-2
by 7-12 points: 4-1
by 13-18 points: 11-2
by 19-24 points: 8-1
by 25-30 points: 12-1
by more than 30 points: 20-1

7) Over/under receiving yards for Brandin Cooks: 63.5

6) Over/under for Tom Brady’s longest completion: 40.5 yards

5) Over/under for Tom Brady’s first completion: 8.5 yards

4) Over/under for Donnie Jones’ longest gross punt: 54.5 yards

3) Over/under receiving yards for Zach Ertz: 60.5

2) Over/under for Nick Foles’ longest completion: 38.5 yards

1) Largest lead in game: 13.5. Over -$150, Under +$135

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

13) NC State 95, North Carolina 91 OT— Wolfpack was 15-30 on the arc; Tar Heels were 4-19, and 11-20 on line. Kevin Keatts is 2-0 vs Duke/UNC in his first year with the Wolfpack.

12) Virginia 65, Duke 63— Blue Devils scored 22 points in first half, 41 in second, but it wasn’t enough. Cavaliers are the best team in the ACC.

Today was the first time since 1973 Duke/North Carolina both lost at home on the same day.

11) Kentucky 83, West Virginia 76— Wildcats were down 17 points, rallied for road win. West Virginia has now lost four of its last five games.

10) Ball State 111, Akron 106, 2OT— Akron’s Jimond Ivey scored 48 points, made 9-12 on the arc, including a 35-footer that forced a second OT, but his teammates were 6-32 on the arc for the game. Ball State was 33-42 on the line, 10-18 on the arc, and still needed two OT’s to win.

9) Auburn 95, LSU 70— Auburn is 19-2 and two of their best players never became eligible this season- they were winning this game by 19 at the half- they made 14-32 on the arc.

8) UNLV 88, San Diego State 78— Rebels snap an 11-game losing streak to the Aztecs; only four of those 11 losses were in San Diego.

7) Upsets of the Day:
Citadel (+17) 76, Mercer 74
NC State (+13) 95, North Carolina 91 OT
Sacramento State (+12.5) 71, Portland State 61
Tex-San Antonio (+12.5) 82, UAB 70
Utah State (+9.5) 65, Fresno State 62
Elon (+9) 76, Towson State 67
VMI (+8.5) 70, Chattanooga 69
Kentucky (+8) 83, West Virginia 76
Niagara (+8) 105, Canisius 89

6) Mentioned earlier that 1973 was last time Duke/North Carolina both lost at home on same day; when was last time VMI/Citadel both won on the road on the same day?

5) Butler 70, St John’s 45— Johnnies are 0-10 in the Big East; I’m advising St John’s to hire Bruce Pearl as its coach, and ESPN to hire Chris Mullin— he was very good on TV.

4) Clippers’ Lou Williams had 40 points, 10 assists Friday; he is first NBA player with a game of 40+ points, 10+ assists since Brian Winters of the Bucks in January 1982.

3) Wyoming 90, San Jose State 86 OT— Cowboys upset Nevada in double OT Wednesday, then went on road here and avoided an upset in overtime. Justin James scored 64 points in those two games, playing 77:00.

2) Next November’s Maui Classic is loaded: Gonzaga, Arizona, Duke, Xavier, San Diego State, Iowa State, Illinois, Auburn. Chaminade will only be in every other Maui Classic from here on in.

1) Big X-SEC tally: SEC wins 6-4; home teams won seven of the ten games.

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

13) First time the Eagles played in the Super Bowl, 36 years ago, the tickets cost $40. Now you can add a couple zeroes to the end of that.

12) Lot of big-time money-line bets on the Eagles this week; as of 4pm Friday. CG Technology said it had a 7-figure liability on the Eagles’ money line. Interesting.

Just can’t envision someone taking $700,000 and betting on New England to lose SU, but that is what makes gambling so fascinating— you and I look at the same things in different ways.

11) NCAA is investigating UConn’s basketball program, so speculation can begin on who will take Kevin Ollie’s job. Huskies are struggling badly, so Ollie will get told to take a hike pretty soon, if there is anything at all to the NCAA’s probe.

If he was winning, they’d take a deep breath and stay the course.

There is no real logical successor at UConn; Steve Pikiell? Jim Calhoun worked wonders in the Nutmeg State— it wasn’t a very good job before he took it.

10) College football coaches are nomads: Dan Enos was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas the last three years, but the Razorbacks changed coaches, so Enos signed on with Michigan Jan 8th, but this week, Enos quit and will now be the quarterbacks’ coach at Alabama.

Seeing how Alabama’s football program turned a $45M profit LY, they can pay their coaches really, really well and with a freshman and sophomore QB battling for playing time next fall, Nick Saban needs a QB coach who can develop at least one of them— chances are one will also transfer, eventually.

9) When Dick Vermeil took the Eagles’ head coaching job in 1976, he took a family vote on whether to move from UCLA to the Eagles— he was the only person to vote yes. That must have been a fun first couple of years, when the kids were cold as hell in winter and the team sucked.

Everything turned out well; the Eagles wound up in the Super Bowl, then coach Vermeil retired and went into TV work— he stayed in TV for 14 years before coaching the Rams, by which time his kids were all grown up.

8) TNT announcers were killing the Washington Wizards during their first half of their game in Oklahoma City Thursday night;  phrases like “Going through the motions” and “Maybe they should have another team meeting” were heard more than once. All this and the Wizards are tied for 5th seed in the East.

All this drama surrounding NBA teams lately, and most of it involving good teams; what the hell must the bad teams be like? They must really hate playing with each other.

7) Billy Donovan has gone from being one of the best college basketball coaches in the country to coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the NBA’s better teams. I’d love to know if he enjoys it, or if he would ever go back to coaching in college? I’m just curious, thats all.

6) If someone doesn’t name a racehorse “Secret Society” this summer, I’m going to be very disappointed. Catchy name.

5) Stormy Daniels will be on the Jimmy Kimmel Show Tuesday night, after the State of the Union address. Asking for a friend: when was the last time a porn star/escort was a guest on a network TV talk show? Again, I’m just curious.

4) Former NFL QB Tarvaris Jackson signed up to be a graduate assistant football coach at Alabama State— he hopes to coach in the NFL someday. He played 10 years in the NFL.

3) The Earth doesn’t take 24 hours to rotate the sun; it takes 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4 seconds.

2) Pelicans beat Houston last night, but DeMarcus Cousins limped off with an achilles injury late in the game and it didn’t look good. New Orleans has been on a roll lately, was moving up the ladder in the Western Conference, but if this is a serious injury, then sayonara to that.

1) Miami Marlins’ GM Michael Hill is going to try to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days starting next week, which takes him off the grid. No wonder the Marlins always suck; when baseball isn’t your GM’s priority just before spring training starts, what do you expect?

But hey, the guy went to Harvard, so who cares if he is running a marathon in Antartica when someone wants to call about a potential trade for JT Realmuto?

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

13) Miami Marlins had the best outfield in baseball last year; now they’re all gone. Christian Yelich got dealt to Milwaukee Thursday, for OF Lewis Brinson and three minor leaguers.

Marlins might as well fire all their ushers; ain’t going to be lot of fans in their home ballpark this year. Looking forward to seeing what the Marlins’ over/under win total will be.

12) Vince McMahon is bringing the XFL back in January 2020; eight teams, 10-game schedule. Sounds like it is going to be more mainstream this time around, unlike 2001, when there were lot of gimmicks involved.

There are rumors on the Interweb that McMahon is using this as a way to tell NFL owners he wouldn’t mind buying the Carolina Panthers when Jerry Richardson sells them.

Some college basketball thoughts from the past few nights:
11) Penn State 82, Ohio State 79— Tony Carr scored 28 points, nailed a 40-footer at the buzzer to hand the Buckeyes their first conference loss. Penn State is much-improved.

10) Wyoming 104, Nevada 103,  2OT— Great game late Wednesday night; high altitude got the Nevada kids in the overtimes- they don’t have a lot of depth because they have several transfers sitting out for next season. First conference loss for the Wolf Pack.

9) Oklahoma 85, Kansas 80— Lon Kruger made sure the shots were more spread around for this game; Trey Young only took nine shots, had nine assists, playing the whole 40:00.

8) Fresno State 69, UNLV 63— Very bad beat if you took the Rebels, +4.5; they fouled a Fresno player with 0:03.5 left, down 2- the kid made both foul shots. UNLV then threw a pass to mid-court, but the passer stepped over the line before he threw the pass, Fresno got the ball under the hoop and UNLV fouled again, wound up losing by six.

7) South Carolina 77, Florida 72— When an SEC team beats Kentucky, there is a hangover; Gators actually had a revenge motive over South Carolina here after losing to Gamecocks in Elite 8 last year, but they lost to Carolina at home.

6) Miami 78, Louisville 75 OT— Two really good teams here; Louisville is little underrated because Pitino is gone, but they’ve still got really good players.

5) USC 69, Stanford 64— Trojans avenged their loss in Palo Alto when Stanford nailed a shot from half-court at the buzzer. Cardinal started season 6-8, but they’re healthier now and aren’t an easy out in the Pac-12.

4) Loyola, Chi 80, Drake 57— Ramblers take over first place in the Missouri Valley.

3) Richmond 77, Duquesne 73 OT— Spiders won their last four games after starting season 3-13.

2) Santa Barbara 70, Cal State-Fullerton 65— Titans lost by 18 in the Thunderdome eight nights ago, but jumped out to a 14-point lead in this game before the Gauchos stormed back late and swept the season series. Max Heidegger scored 28 for UCSB— he was 12-12 on foul line.

1) Bad Beat of the Night— Towson State (-7) 96, William & Mary 82 OT— Tribe led by 10 at the half, by 6 with 3:39 left, but got outscored 17-3 in overtime- they were 16-37 on arc but they did not cover. Tigers shot 64.6% inside the arc- they’re 15-7 now.

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

13) ESPN officially named Matt Vasgersian and Alex Rodriguez to join their Sunday Night Baseball crew; unusual that they went outside ESPN for their play-by-play guy, but they did. My initial reaction: think A-Rod will do a fine job. Vasgersian is very good, though Jon Sciambi is an ESPN guy who is just as good.

12) Golden State has played 48 games this year; they’re 38-10. Kevin Durant sat eight of those games out with injuries; he’s been thrown out of four other games, most in the NBA.

So he was thrown out of 10% of his team’s games that he played in, finished only 75% of their games overall. $25 million doesn’t buy as much as it used to.

Just seems like there are an awful lot of unhappy people in the NBA, and yet everybody makes a boatload of money. Its not a good look for the league.

11) Dick LeBeau has been in the NFL for 59 consecutive years, but now that Mike Vrabel is the new head coach in Tennessee, LeBeau is out of a job and he’s 80- kind of doubtful he’s going to get another job. End of an era, for sure.

Funny thing is, Titans hired Vrabel as their new head coach- he was Houston’s DC this past season and Tennessee had a better defense than Houston, but is LeBeau is the guy out of a job. Go figure.

10) Last three years, the NFC champ was a team that was at .500 or under the year before.

9) Think about how great a year Jacksonville Jaguars had; they were up 10 in 4th quarter in AFC title game— Jags were 22-74 the last six years before this one. Quite a leap they made.

8) Disappointing that Lou Williams didn’t make the NBA All-Star Game; he deserves it.

7) Irrelevant Stat of the Day: 12 of the last 13 Super Bowl winners wore white jerseys; Patriots chose to wear white next week- Brady is 3-0 in Super Bowls with white jerseys.

6) Oklahoma’s Trae Young has an irrational fear of birds, otherwise known as Ornithophobia.

5) With the Senior Bowl this week and NFL Network devoting most of the next three months to the 2018 NFL Draft, keep in mind that Antonio Brown was the 195th player taken in the 2010 Draft. Tom Brady was also a 6th round pick. Kurt Warner wasn’t drafted.

In other words, despite all the man-hours spent on this important part of the league, it is still an inexact science and it always will be, which is a big part of why it is so fascinating.

4) Alabama’s football program made a $45.9M profit last year; I feel sorry for the poor bastard who replaces Nick Saban when he leaves Tuscaloosa.

3) Villanova loses one of its starters, Phil Booth with a broken hand. Booth is shooting 43% on the arc this season. Wildcats’ bench is #289 in minutes played; this is a big blow.

2) In the first minute the Super Bowl odds were up on the board, Golden Nugget took a $10K money line bet on the Eagles. Spread is 5 right now, though there are 4.5 and 5.5’s out there.

1— Richmond 77, Duquesne 73 OT— Third Dukes home game in a row that went to overtime.