Tuesday’s List of 13: NCAA tournament trends (mostly)…….

13) Call me an old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn, but NBA players making 8-figure salaries taking nights off to “rest” is complete BS. They fly around on private jets, never, ever carry their own luggage, but can’t play on consecutive nights? They’re soft.

Karl-Anthony Towns hasn’t missed a game in his two years in the NBA; nothing soft about him, but he is becoming the exception instead of the rule. Karl Malone played in 80+ games in 17 consecutive non-strike seasons— you don’t think he ever got tired?!?!?!

12) When Tampa Bay Bucs’ WR Mike Evans was playing at Galveston Ball HS in Texas, the WR on the other side of the field was Phillies OF prospect Nick Williams, who is in AAA with the Phils now, and is their #4 overall prospect, according to Baseball America.

Now, on to some NCAA tournament trends……..

11) Over last four years, 16-seeds are 9-7 vs spread in first round games; over last 24 years, the #1 seed in East Region is just 7-16-1 vs spread in the first round.

10) As I type this, Rhode Island (97%), St Mary’s (96%), UCLA (94%) are getting highest percentage of money wagered on them in their first round games. Most evenly divided action is Princeton (52%)-Notre Dame game. These numbers are at William Hill sports books in Nevada.

9) Last three years, 14-seeds are 8-4 vs spread in first round, with four SU upsets. All four 3-seeds are favored by 12+ points this week, first time since 2009 that all four 3-seeds were a double digit favorite in the first round.

8) Over last five years, Atlantic 14 teams are 13-8 vs spread in first round games.

7) This is mostly random but still interesting; you look at 4-13 first round games- the favorite is 16-7 vs spread in the East region, 9-2 in Southeast, 3-6 in Midwest and 3-14 in the West.

6) Last two years, Big X teams are 3-11 against the spread in the first round;

5) Last 23 years, the 12-seed in the Midwest is 18-5 vs spread in first round, 15-8 SU; last 10 years, the 12-seed in the West is 8-2 vs spread, winning three of last four SU. Favorites are 10-5 vs spread in 5-12 games in Southeast, 8-4 in East the last 12 years.

4) Since 2008, Mountain West teams other than San Diego State are 5-22 vs spread in the NCAA tournament, 4-16 in the first round.

3) 10-seed Wichita State is favored by 6 points over 10-seed Dayton; since 1987, 10-seeds that are favored over a 7-seed are 10-16-1 vs spread. In the last 30 years, this is the most points a 10-seed has been favored by in the first round.

2) If you look at the eventual national champ the last 11 years, they went 10-1 vs spread in their first round game, exception being Kentucky in 2012, which beat Western Kentucky by 15 in first round, laying 26.5. WKU’s coach then was Ray Harper, who now has Jacksonville State of OVC in the tournament, this year against Louisville in first round.

OVC teams are 6-1-1 vs spread in first round the last eight years.

1— Illinois State coach Dan Muller put out a message on Twitter Monday, asking any “Big 5” conference coach to play a home/home series with the Redbirds next season. Muller won’t get any calls, since the Big 5 conference teams don’t have the onions to play true road games. You think Jim Boeheim is getting on a plane and flying to Normal, IL for a game in December?

Monday’s List of 13: Quick thoughts on the field of 68

Some quick thoughts after seeing the pairings and after Champ Week.

13) Must be nice go to college at Arizona; their players were watching the pairings show while sitting outside, in the sun. I’m guessing the North Dakota kids watched the pairings show inside.

12) Early last week, was texting with a friend in Las Vegas, talking about hoop; the two mid-majors who I thought were best positioned to shock the world this week were Tex-Arlington and Monmouth— welllllll……neither one of them made it.

There will be a great set of games at some point in this tournament, I’m just not real sure it’ll be the first round this year. There are jackasses on TV who run their mouths and pick lot of upsets so they can look good if the upsets happen- no way do they really believe those upsets will happen.

11) UCLA is a 3-seed; they play Kent State, then probably the Cincy-Wake-KState survivor. One note of caution about UCLA; Lonzo Ball hurt his left thumb Friday night. No one said anything, and he played the game but you could tell it was bothering him. If he ain’t 100%, the Bruins will go out early. I’m looking at Cincinnati to upset the Bruins in the second round.

10) Providence-USC is a play-in game; Friars beat USC 70-69 in an 8-9 game LY, with Friars scoring on an OB under play at the buzzer. USC led by 5 with 2:21 left. Kris Dunn is in the NBA now, though. Long trip east for the USC kids, and also for the Cal-Davis kids who also play in Dayton Wednesday night.

9) Purdue is a 4-seed, the best seed of any Big 14 team. Was looking at Maryland as a team who would get beat in the first round, but they drew a Xavier squad whose point guard got hurt 13 games ago— Musketeers are 6-7 since he got hurt.

8) Vermont is a 13-seed, second year in row the America East champ was a 13-seed. Since 2006, America East teams are 6-6 vs spread in NCAA’s, but a closer look shows that Albany was 5-1 vs spread in NCAA games, the rest of the league 1-5. Vermont lost to Butler by 12, South Carolina by 18, Providence by 22 this season- their best wins were over Harvard, Wofford.

7) Of the teams who played on Sunday, who has to play Thursday? Princeton and Wisconsin. Thats a quick turnaround, especially if the Thursday games are during the day.

6) Last two years, Big X teams are 3-11 against the spread in the first round.

5) Last year, Wichita State beat Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats 65-55 in the NCAA’s; this year, Shockers play Dayton in the first round- Flyers are coached by Archie Miller, Sean’s brother.

4) Westgate Sportsbook in Las Vegas (where it is not expected to snow this week, unlike in beautiful downtown Albany) has Duke at 5-1 to win it all; North Carolina is 6-1, followed by Kansas/Kentucky/Villanova, all at  8-1, then Gonzaga 10-1.

3) Six years ago, New Orleans didn’t have a basketball team; they were out of it for two years as the school considered dropping to Division III. Now the Privateers are in the NCAA’s- they won by 16 at Washington State of the Pac-12. Great coaching job by Mark Slessinger- UNO is 16-5 this season vs teams ranked outside the top 200. Mt St Mary’s is ranked #213.

2) Several teams made the NCAA’s for the first time; Northwestern, Cal-Davis, North Dakota and Jacksonville State; for those teams, everything from this point on is gravy- they’ve already had a fabulous season.

1— Someone in the blur of last week’s TV deluge predicted a 16-seed would beat a 1-seed this season; it has never happened, but look at the four games this year- it still ain’t happening.

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

13) Arizona 83, Oregon 80— High-level game; Wildcats jumped out quickly, held on at the end. I’m not big on debating seeding, but I do think that right now, both these teams are better than Gonzaga, if only because they’ve been tested so much more in the last nine weeks.

12) VCU 87, Richmond 77 OT— Spiders (+6.5) are our Bad Beat of the Day (they led by 3 with 0:30 left in regulation), but also they lost to their crosstown rival for third time this season. Has to be frustrating.

Bad beat #2: Penn (+7) lost by 8 in OT at home to Princeton.

Champ Week is great fun because of games like this one; VCU was in NCAA’s no matter what, but Richmond could’ve been a bid stealer, so teams like USC, Illinois State, Kansas State had to be rooting like hell for VCU, maybe harder than VCU fans.

11) Big Sky final: North Dakota 93, Weber State 89, OT— They used to be called the Fighting Sioux before the world became politically correct; now they’re the Fighting Hawks. Fitting that a team whose best player is Quinton Hooker won the first Big Sky tournament played in Nevada.

10) Duke 75, Notre Dame 69— Blue Devils are first ACC team to win conference tournament by winning four games in four days- they came from behind in second half the last three days.

9) Oregon lost Chris Boucher, its best shot blocker, with a torn ACL, damaging blow to their NCAA hopes. He was scoring 11.8 pts/game, grabbing 6.1 rebounds/game. Boucher played 12:00 last night AFTER the injury, which was found by an MRI today. Tough kid.

Minnesota lost senior guard Akeem Springs for the season with an achilles injury, big blow for the Gophers.

8) First day of the first-ever Ivy League tournament was an on-court success; Princeton snuck past the host Penn Quakers in overtime, while Yale beat rival Harvard to advance to the finals.

Princeton was 14-0 during regular season; would’ve been a bitter pill to lose to a 6-8 team that was playing on its home court. Harvard has a really good senior point guard, but their other four starters are freshmen. Unusual.

7) Random fact: Over last eight NCAA tournaments, the overall #1 seed has only won the national championship twice.

6) Nevada 79, Colorado State 71— CSU coach Larry Eustachy got every last drop out of his seven-man squad that had five frosh/sophs on it, but it wasn’t enough to win three games in three days in a conference tournament.

Question for Nevada is this: can they keep their coach now? Eric Musselman was an NBA head coach (Golden State/Sacramento); his salary in Reno isn’t that great (less than $400K). He was an assistant at LSU a few years ago; he’d be a great hire for them.

5) Illinois went 37-53 in conference play the last five years; they fired John Groce Saturday. Illini played for the national title in 2005 under Bruce Weber, but has only made tournament in three of last ten years.

Bob Williams is out after 19 years at Cal-Santa Barbara; Gauchos had a horrible year this season, but the three years before this one, UCSB was 34-14 in the Big West- they haven’t been in the NCAA’s since 2011, but this seems like a quick hook.

4) Texas State 83, Texas-Arlington 62— UTA was a team I was looking at to be a Cinderella next week; they beat St Mary’s easily in Moraga, but they got upset in the semis of their conference tournament, so they’re off to the NIT. Texas State plays Troy State Sunday for the Sun Belt title; will the winner be headed to Dayton for a Wednesday play-in game?

3) Cincinnati 81, UConn 71— Bearcats beat UConn three times this season, all by double digits, twice in the Nutmeg State. Cincy will be a trendy sleeper pick in brackets next week.

2) What could the biggest possible “worlds colliding” matchup in the first round of the NCAA’s? In 1986, Montana State played St John’s; something like that. How often does a team from NYC play a team from Bozeman, Montana?

How about North Dakota-UCLA? Vermont-West Virginia?

1— Random observation; officials called way fewer fouls in Champ Week than they did during the regular season. Watched games from all over the country: the Big West tournament could’ve been played on an outdoor court at Venice Beach— tremendous amount of contact was ignored.

Saturday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a busy Friday of basketball

13) Duke 93, North Carolina 83— UNC point guard Joel Berry got in foul trouble and Carolina fell apart. Did they keep him out too long? Doug Gottlieb called it coaching malpractice. Duke made 10-17 on the arc and wins for the third day in a row- they play Notre Dame in the ACC final tonight.

12) Arizona 86, UCLA 75— No love lost between these two; Wildcats called timeout with 0:01 left, apparently in retaliation for Bruins doing a similar thing in Tucson last month. Coaches had words in the handshake line. Arizona plays Oregon for Pac-12 title tonight.

3:20 into this game, Bill Walton is hugging someone who patted him on the back at the broadcast table- while they’re on the air. It is Julius Erving, wearing a golf cap and shorts. He stopped by to say hello. Don’t see that every day.

11) Marshall 93, Louisiana Tech 77— #2-seed in Conference USA goes down; Thundering Herd was an amazing 19-35 on the arc; when you do that, you win. Marshall scored 1.31 points per possession, a very high number.

Over last five years, La Tech is 70-18 in conference play, but with zero NCAA tournaments; they are 4-5 in conference tournaments. For mid-majors, the conference tournament is the thing.

10) Michigan 74, Purdue 70 OT— Quite a week for the Wolverines, who played three guys 40:00+ in this game, after hammering Illinois yesterday. Tomorrow they play for third day in row against Minnesota, another very hot team.

9) Davidson 73, Dayton 67— Big upset in Atlantic 14; Wildcats got 34 from senior G Gibbs, and Aldridge played 40:00 for second day in a row.

8) Vanderbilt 72, Florida 62— Commodores beat Florida three times this season; is it enough to get them in the Field of 68? Commodores are 19-14; a win over Arkansas today might be needed.

7) Richmond 70, George Washington 67— Spiders’ best player is senior TJ Cline, a 6-9 kid who is a very good passer, smart player- he is also Nancy Lieberman’s son, a fact that the announcers in this game beat to death. We get it, his mom was a great player. Don’t need to interview her (or any parent), don’t need to see her on the screen six times a game.

Richmond’s coach played at Princeton, so the Spiders spread the floor a lot and pass the ball well; they led this game 68-62 with 3:42 left but never scored again until a breakaway layup at the buzzer provided the final margin.

6) Game of the Day: Cal-Bakersfield 81, Utah Valley 80, 4OT— Roadrunners forced 28 turnovers (+12) and advance to the WAC final tonight at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

5) Nevada 83, Fresno State 72— Wolf Pack had already lost twice to Fresno State this season, trailed by 11 at the half in this game, but used a 16-0 run in second half to win and advance to the Mountain West final, on their arch-rival’s home court in Las Vegas.

4) Creighton 75, Xavier 72— Musketeers hit a 3 to tie game, then Creighton won it with another 3-pointer as a team from Omaha beat a team from Cincinnati in the Big East tournament. If I was a kid and did lousy on a Geography test in school, I’d blame the Big East commissioner.

3) Big Sky final: Top-seeded North Dakota (the Fighting Hawks, not Fighting Sioux anymore) will face Weber State in the final in beautiful downtown Reno.

Big West final: Top-seeded Cal-Irvine will face Cal-Davis after the Aggies nipped Fullerton in OT late Friday night. Davis is looking for its first Big West championship.

2) West Virginia 51, Kansas State 50— Mountaineers shot 6-32 (6 for 32!!!!) in the first half, but hung in there, survived and may have snuffed out K-State’s last chance for an NCAA bid.

1— Kent State 68, Ohio U 66— Upset in MAC semis produces a final between arch-rivals, Kent and MAC kingpin Akron. Golden Flashes haven’t been in NCAA’s since 2008.

All the #1 seeds who played Friday won. Unusual.

There is an 11am tipoff for Albany-Vermont; my alma mater is trying for their sixth America East title. I better sleep fast. 🙂

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up the best hoop day of the year…….

Thursday of Champ Week is the best college basketball day of the year. Here is my brief recap: my apologies for any typos, I’m too tired to proofread this.

13) Duke 81, Louisville 77— Cardinals were 15-26 on foul line, 4-21 on arc. Strong matchup for the quarterfinals; now Blue Devils play North Carolina tomorrow night- this is only second meeting for those rivals in last 13 ACC tournaments (Duke won last one).

12) TCU 85, Kansas 82— Jayhawks’ star Josh Jackson was suspended for this game, now the Horned Frogs move on to the Big 12 semifinals for the first time. Moral of the story; No matter what she did to tick you off, don’t back your vehicle into her car, at least not during the season.

11) Iowa State 92, Oklahoma State 83— Cowboys lost last three games, two to ISU and one to Kansas, but still, three losses are three losses. OSU was 0-3 against the Cyclones this season; they’ll be happy to play teams from outside the Big X next week.

10) Michigan 75, Illinois 55— Wolverines couldn’t wear their uniforms, because everything that was on their airplane Wednesday was held by the FAA due to the investigation into what caused the accident with the airplane. So, Michigan wore their practice gear- they also flew in from Detroit Thursday morning and went right from the airport to the arena.

9) Northwestern 83, Rutgers 61— I’m confused as to how good the Wildcats actually are; they’re going to be in the Field of 68, so I need to figure it out soon. Will they relax and play better once they hear their name called on Selection Sunday?

Wildcats had a 31-0 run in this game. Don’t see many of those.

8) San Diego State 87, Boise State 68— Aztecs looked 98% disinterested Wednesday in their OT win against UNLV; they looked like a different set of people in this game. They play in the Mountain West semifinals tonite against Colorado State. Should be a good ballgame.

7) Xavier 62, Butler 57— Bulldogs are now 0-4 in Big East tournament; long trip from Indy to New York City. Big win for the Musketeers, who have now won three games in a row.

Big East semifinals: Villanova-Seton Hall and Xavier-Creighton.

6) Texas-El Paso 86, Rice 76— Miners wore Texas Western throwback jerseys in this game. A few years ago, they made the movie Glory Road about the Miners’ 1966 NCAA title.

5) Marshall 64, Old Dominion 63— Mike D’Antoni’s brother Dan coaches the Thundering Herd; they like to run, just like his brother’s Houston Rockets, but ODU kept this game in the low 60’s before Marshall pulled it out with a free throw with 0:03 left.

4) Kansas State 70, Baylor 64— Wildcats et to 20-12, which could be bad news for mid-major bubble teams like Illinois State. Wildcats won two out of three games from Baylor, which is 5-6 in its last 11 games after a 20-1 start.

Big X semifinals: Iowa State-TCU and West Virginia-Kansas State.

3) Big West semifinals: Cal-Davis plays Cal State Fullerton, then Cal-Irvine plays Long Beach State. Irvine is the best of the four teams but they’re a very young team.

2) Fresno State 65, New Mexico 60— Last year, Bulldogs won their last five regular season games, then won the Mountain West tournament. This season Fresno won its last five regular season games and is now in the MW semis tonight. Rodney Terry is doing good work in Fresno.

1— Duke-Carolina and Arizona-UCLA highlight the great card of games Friday night.

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

13) Jim Boeheim is like a spoiled, entitled child; his Syracuse team plays in the ACC, thats the ATLANTIC COAST Conference, the conference of Dean Smith, Coach K, Michael Jordan and David Thompson. In other words, the heart of the league is North Carolina.

Boeheim insists the ACC tournament should be played in Brooklyn, Washington and Atlanta but never Greensboro. Why? Because it doesn’t suit his purpose. Maybe he should’ve taken that up with his school president and AD before they sold him down the river and joined the ACC to help their floundering football program.

12) Michigan basketball team’s airplane skidded off the runway while trying to take off to go to the Big 14 tournament Wednesday and wound up getting a little damaged; thankfully no one was injured. Wolverines had to make alternative travel plans to get to Washington.

Then again, if the tournament is in Indianapolis, a more logical location for a midwestern league, then Michigan takes a bus to the tournament and this doesn’t happen.

11) Was watching a baseball game from Korea the other night; the seats in the lower field boxes all come with a glove and a batting helmet, with a written recommendation that they should be used by fans sitting there, for their own safety.

10) Netherlands has a pitcher in the World Baseball Classic who is 7-foot-1. Wow.

9) NBA Draft gurus have Duke’s Harry Giles listed as a top 20 prospect; the young man has played 20+ minutes in one game this season, in early January against Boston College. He has had two major knee operations already. Don’t see how he is a legit top 20 NBA draft pick.

8) There is a junior college in Missouri called State Fair CC; if I had gone to that academic institution, no doubt the first course I would’ve signed up for: Whack-a-Mole. The key to being good at Whack-a-Mole: keep the mallet low. Very important.

Do they serve corn dogs and cotton candy in the cafeteria?

7) Saw an old ESPN feature the other day, from 2012 or so, about the baseball coach at Wake Forest who donated one of his kidneys to a player on his team who needed a kidney in order to keep living. Amazing story. Hard to watch that and not tear up.

6) Of the 30 current general managers in the major leagues, eight of them worked for Atlanta GM John Hart at one time or another.

5) Mt St Mary’s won the NEC championship; they went 2-11 in their pre-conference schedule, so they could easily be headed to Dayton for a play-in game next week.

4) Missouri State was going to fire basketball coach Paul Lusk, who is 88-106 in six years coaching the Bears, 45-63 in MVC games, but Lusk has one year left on his contract and the school apparently can’t afford the payout, so Lusk gets to coach next season. If he doesn’t make the NCAA’s, then they’ll tell him to take a hike. That should help their recruiting a lot.

3) Rick Barry is 70 years old and makes foul shots blindfolded in a TV commercial, but guys in the NBA who are lucky to make half their free throws won’t try underhanded, because it doesn’t look cool enough. Getting paid $20M a year and shooting 45% at the line is embarrassing.

2) Career playoff won-loss record: Tony Romo: 2-4. Mark Sanchez: 4-2.

1— Thursday might be the best college basketball day of the year; 14 solid hours of games, just a ton of excellent action. This is not a great week for sleeping, but thats what April is for.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings

13) Southern Utah 109, Montana State 105, 3OT— Game ended at 1:40am; Thunderbirds stormed back from a double digit second half deficit to post the upset of 6th-seeded Bobcats. Randy Onwuasor had 43 points and six steals for SUU; couple times, he just took the ball away from Montana State players and scored baskets. Fun game to watch.

Luckily for Southern Utah, Wednesday is an off day for the Big Sky tourney.

12) Portland 126, Oklahoma City 121— Russell Westbrook scored 58 points to no avail; maybe the people at ESPN will figure out that basketball is a team game- one of their afternoon shows spent an entire half-hour hashing over the NBA’s MVP race, six weeks before the season ends.

Who cares? It is a team sport. Too many NBA types care more about individuals.

11) Gonzaga 74, St Mary’s 56— Zags didn’t look like the same team that struggled to beat Santa Clara/Pacific in first two rounds. They should be a #1 seed next week.

10) Pittsburgh 61, Georgia Tech 59— This is a good score for teams like Illinois State, who are holding their breath, holding some bubble teams in the $$$ conferences fall on their face this week.

9) Northern Kentucky 59, Milwaukee 53— George Clooney’s alma mater goes to the NCAA’s in the first season they’re eligible; this is only their fifth season in Division I basketball.

8) South Dakota State 79, Omaha 77— Jackrabbits were only 8-8 in Summit League, could be headed to Dayton for a play-in game. Last two nights of this tournament drew over 21,000 fans in Sioux Falls. Summit League deserves a little more national TV time.

7) Dirk Nowitzki went over the 30,000 point mark last night, joining Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant as the only players to do that, all with the same team.

6) Ohio State hoop coach Thad Matta told a media member that an opposing coach told one of his recruits not to go to Ohio State because Matta is dying (he isn’t). Seriously.

“Somebody told a recruit I was dying. Swear to God. Not that my foot didn’t lift, but that I was going to die. It’s a tough business I’m in here.”

Looking forward to finding out who the genius was who said that.

5) Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw threw 149 innings LY; in those 149 innings, only two runners tried to steal a base against him— one made it, one did not.

4) Blazers-Timberwolves game Monday night was postponed because of condensation on the floor of the arena in Minnesota. Helped Portland last night, when they won that wild game in Oklahoma City.

3) Underrated stat this season: Duke, which plays no true road games in pre-conference play, went 3-6 on the road in ACC games.

2) Coaching carousel is spinning, which is sad for guys who lose their jobs: North Texas, NC State, Missouri, South Florida, Quinnipiac, Drake, Youngstown State, Cleveland State all have job openings. LSU is expected to fire Johnny Jones as soon as the Tigers’ season ends.

1— RIP to Mr Bill Webb, who directed baseball games in New York City and on national level for almost four decades. Living in upstate New York and with my dad such a big Mets fan, I watched thousands of his broadcasts. He made televised games more fun, even though he never appeared on camera. RIP, sir.

Tuesday’s List of 13: College tournament tidbits………

Here are some tidbits for college tournaments starting this week. Hope they help.

13) American, Hartford— SMU won this event in 2015, their first conference tourney wins since 2006. Cincinnati went out in first round of this tourney last two years, losing in 4OT’s to UConn LY. UConn is 15-3 in its last five conference tournaments; hard to believe they’ll make much noise here, even with tourney in Hartford- they’ve run out of healthy players.

12) ACC, Brooklyn— North Carolina won this tournament LY for first time since 2008. #2 seed Florida State won this event in 2012, went W-L last four years. Last five years, Duke is 5-5 in ACC tourney; they last won it in 2011. Duke/UNC have met only once in last 12 ACC tournaments (Duke won ’11 final).

11) Atlantic 14, Pittsburgh— Only twice in last 13 years has top seed won this tournament. #1 seed Dayton is 5-5 in its five A-14 tourneys. Richmond is 2-5 here the last five years. St Joe’s won this two of last three years but has zero chance this year. VCU is 10-3 in this tourney last four years, but only won it once, two years ago.

10) Big East, NYC— Top seed won this tourney only four of last 13 years; all eastern teams have won this tournament in three years since the league re-organized with five midwestern members. Butler is 0-3 in Big East tourney, Villanova is 5-1 the last two years. This is St John’s home court; last time they won a game here was 2011.

9) Big 14, Washington— Michigan State was in finals last three years (2-1); they’re 12-2 in last five tourneys. Host Maryland last won a conference tourney in 2004. Michigan won its first tourney game the last 10 years. Last nine years, Iowa is 2-9 in this tourney. Over last decade, higher-seeded team won Big 14 title game eight of nine times (one year teams had same record).

8) Big X, Kansas City— Kansas won last 13 regular season titles; they won this tournament seven of last 11 years. Baylor is 7-5 in this event last five years but hasn’t won it. Iowa State won it in ’14/’15, lost in first round eight of other nine years. West Virginia won Big East tourney in 2010; since then, they’re 2-6 in conference tourneys, 2-4 in this tournament.

7) Big Sky, Reno— A top seed won this tourney last six years, but now event is more inclusive and is on a true neutral court in Reno. Weber State won Big Sky tourney two of last three years; but they come into this on a 1-4 skid. Montana won this event five times in nine years from ’05-’13, but hasn’t won it the last three years. North Dakota is top seed; this is only their 8th season of Division I basketball.

6) Big West, Anaheim— League was awful this season, dropping from 13th to 29th in national ranking; league POY Nelson played in only 13 games this season. Can Nelson’s hamstring hold up with three games in three days? Cal-Irvine is VERY young; they’re also best team. I’m looking at Cal State-Fullerton as a sleeper here; they’ve won eight of last 10 games, have a senior PG.

5) Conference USA, Birmingham— Three different teams won this tournament since kingpin Memphis bolted to AAC. Middle Tennessee is 30-6 in this league last two years; they’re by far best team this year. Louisiana Tech is 54-15 in four regular seasons in C-USA; they’re only 3-3 in this tournament. Host UAB comes in on a 2-6 skid; they’re 5-6 in this tourney last seven years, winning it two years ago.

4) Mountain West, Las Vegas— Nevada, Colorado State have best teams, but also have zero depth; can one of them win three games in three days? Fresno State won this LY, after going 2-9 in previous nine tourneys. New Mexico lost its first game last two years, after winning tourney three years in row, from ’12-’14. San Diego State hasn’t won this tourney since 2011. Lower-seeded team won last three conference finals.

3) Pac-12, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas— Arizona is 11-5 in this tourney last six years, but has only one Pac-12 tourney title (2015). Cal is 3-6 here the last six years. Colorado won its first tourney game the last six years. Oregon is 9-2 last four years, winning tourney in ’13/’16. UCLA won this tourney once in last eight years; since ’06, they’re 15-8 in this tournament. New site this year, the big new arena in Vegas.

2) SEC, Nashville— Kentucky is 8-1 in this tournament last three years, winning its last couple years- they’re 16-3 here last seven yearsVanderbilt is home team; they’re 0-3 in this event last three years. In six years as a head coach, Florida coach White is 73-29 in conference games; he is only 6-5 in conference tourney games.

1— Sun Belt, New Orleans— Last four years, four different schools won this tournament. Six of last seven years, tourney final was decided by 4 or less points. Texas-Arlington is best team, at 27-11 in Sun Belt last two years, but they lost here to ULM last year- lot of pressure on them. Sun Belt jumped to #15 league in country this year, its best rating in 12 years.

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

13) Siena 89, Monmouth 85— Only way the MAAC tournament makes money is if it is in Albany, because if Siena is good, then they’ll draw 9-10,000 for semis/finals. Nowhere else in the league would this happen, so the MAAC tourney is most always in beautiful downtown Albany (I live here, but didn’t go to Siena).

Monmouth is the best team in the MAAC but they had to play a true road game Sunday and they played lousy defense, blowing a 14-point halftime lead. Nico Clareth scored all 27 of his points in the second half for the Saints, who get to play in the MAAC final on their home court Monday.

12) There is one solution to the MAAC’s dilemma that would still make money for the league; divide the tournament up, totally on campus sites, with higher seeded team hosting every game. Some of the smaller leagues do it that way.

Next weekend, the Ivy League has its first tournament; Penn is the host. Princeton went 14-0 in the Ivy this year, but their first game Saturday in the tournament is at Penn. In the Palestra.

11) Wichita State 71, Illinois State 51— Redbirds are 27-6, going 19-2 in MVC games, with both losses to Wichita. I’d much rather see ISU get in the NCAA’s than a 10th team from the ACC, but the reality of life is that the big-$$$ schools have an advantage in this.

Guarantee you this; going to be a VERY long week for coach Mullen and the Redbirds.

10) Purdue 69, Northwestern 65— I’m not a big Matt Painter fan, but his team sucked it up at the end and won a tough road game here. Freshman G Edwards has made a difference this year for the Boilers, who are 11-2 in their last thirteen games.

9) Lehigh 91, Boston U 88, 2OT— Top seed in Patriot League takes a hike, which could mean that whoever wins the tournament is headed to Dayton for a play-in game.

8) CAA tournament gets top two seeds in their final Monday night; NC-Wilmington and Charleston in North Charleston, but not in the Cougars’ gym.

7) It bothers me that Mike Krzyzewski’s son-in-law is an analyst for ESPN and they never say he is related to Coach K, occasionally they refer to his having coached at Duke. Anyway, Clemson coach Brad Brownell had to be thrilled when Mr Spatola was speculating on air this week that the Clemson job could come open this spring. Mind your own business, sir.

6) ESPN now seems to interview Lonzo Ball’s dad during every UCLA game; turns out he played at Washington State briefly under Kelvin Sampson 30 years ago, but washed out and wound up playing at LA City College or LA State College. His son is really good and will be in the NBA next year, just do not understand why his dad needs to be on TV so much.

5) Horizon League tournament might be the weirdest conference tournament ever; first three tourney games all resulted in upsets, with underdogs of 12.5/8.5/6 points all winning- those three teams combined to 16-38 in the Horizon regular season this year.

4) Missouri fired coach Kim Anderson, a Mizzou alum who went 8-46 in SEC games in his three years in Columbia. Tough job; will be interesting to see who takes it on next.

3) Not only is the Big 14 tournament in Washington this week, next year it is moving to New York City for a year and will be a week earlier than normal so it doesn’t interfere with the Big East tournament, which is always in Madison Square Garden.

2) The #6-#11 seed game in Mountain West tournament is UNLV-San Diego State, which seems very weird to type. Its like if Wily E Coyote finally got the upper hand on the Road Runner; just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

1— Over the last five years, in college conferences that got only one bid to the NCAA’s, the #1 seed won only 37 of 100 conference tournaments.

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

13) North Carolina 90, Duke 83— ESPN should add a UNC alum (Brad Daugherty?) to its booth for this game, to even things up a little. I mean, Mike Krzyzewski’s son-in-law calls games for ESPNU. This is a huge rivalry- a little balance would be good.

12) Kansas 90, Oklahoma State 85— High-level game. Jayhawks had lost previous three visits to Stillwater. Bill Self is an Oklahoma State alum.

11) Missouri Valley tournament gets the Illinois State-Wichita State final they wanted; would think both teams get into the NCAA’s. These two teams are so much better than the other eight teams in the league. Final should be an excellent game.

10) Kentucky 71, Texas A&M 63— Wildcats fell behind 25-6, 19-4 in last two games, not a great habit now that it is March.

9) Charleston 67, James Madison 62— CAA officials breathe a sigh of relief as host team averts an upset, which would’ve killed attendance for the semis and maybe the finals. This tournament has always been held in Richmond or Baltimore, more central locations for the schools.

Odd thing: with 0:08 left in this game and Cougars up a point, one of the refs got a bloody nose, which delayed the game for a few minutes.

8) Wake Forest 89, Virginia Tech 84— Danny Manning’s Deacons making a case to get in the Field of 68- this is a quality win.

7) Villanova 81, Georgetown 55— From what you read, not lot of fun to be around the Hoyas’ program these days.

6) Cal-Irvine 79, Cal-Davis 49— Anteaters avenge earlier loss when Cal-Davis was 35-46 on foul line. Anteaters led this by 18 at the half- they win regular season title and #1 seed at Big West tourney in Anaheim next week.

5) Tennessee 59, Alabama 54— Vols were down 36-22 at half, won for only second time in their last seven games. Alabama can start selling tickets for the NIT.

4) St Francis PA 71, Wagner 70— Kid on St Francis hit a really tough 3-pointer that spun around rim couple times before it dropped in at the buzzer. Shooter had man right in his face. Red Flash got the ball at the other end of the court with 0:07.3 left- big road win for them in NEC tourney.

3) Nevada 85, Colorado State 72— Wolf Pack win Mountain West regular season title and #1 seed in Las Vegas next week. Only one team from this league is getting into NCAA’s, so the next time these teams meet could be a lot more important.

2) Upsets of the Day: Youngstown State (+12.5) 81, Oakland 80— Cameron Morse scored 34 as the Penguins advance to the Horizon semi-finals. Youngstown’s winning hoop was as bad a defensive play as you’ll ever see- Oakland left a guy all by himself under the basket.

Florida International (+11) 68, UAB 56— Blazers are fading late in year.
Cal-Santa Barbara (+10) 57, Cal Poly 44
Seton Hall (+8.5) 70, Butler 64— Quality road win for the Pirates.
Milwaukee (+8.5) 43, Valparaiso 41— Valpo’s best player didn’t play; Crusaders are out.

1— Jacksonville State 66, Tenn-Martin 55— JSU coach Harper has won four national titles at lower levels; he also won two C-USA tourneys at Western Kentucky. The guy can coach, and now he has his Gamecocks in March Madness for the first time.

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

13) Former players at Georgetown are grumbling about the program’s recent struggles, but they won’t go on record with complaints, because they’re afraid of former coach John Thompson, father of current coach John Thompson III. Grown men are actually afraid of him.

JTIII got the Hoyas to the Final Four ten years ago, but they’ve only made the NCAA’s one of last four years and since ’07, Georgetown is 3-7 in NCAA tournament games, losing to mid-majors like Davidson-Ohio U-VCU-Florida Gulf Coast.

Apparently lot of the program’s biggest donors are former Hoya players, so if you alienate the elder Thompson, you risk losing those donors, who are loyal to him, meaning JTII probably gets to keep his job as long as he wants it. Must be fun to be the athletic director.

12) Longtime LA Kings radio announcer Bob Miller is retiring after 44 years with the team; he is beloved by hockey fans in southern California.

11) Best wishes to Minnesota Vikings’ coach Mike Zimmer, who is having his 5th/6th procedures on his damaged eye that caused him to miss a game last season.

10) Jake Elmore is a baseball journeyman; he’s appeared in 197 games over the last five years, but here’s the thing— he’s been on a different team all five years.

2012— 73 plate appearances in 30 games for Arizona
2013— 136 PA in 52 games for Houston
2014— 12 PA in five games for Cincinnati
2015— 158 PA in 51 games for Tampa Bay
2016— 99 PA in 59 games for Milwaukee

He’s played all nine positions, even pitching an inning for the Astros. This spring, he is in camp with the Blue Jays.

9) I’ve never seen numbers on this, but I’m thinking the hardest free throw for any player is the first one they take in a game, especially for visiting players.

First time you shoot with a different background, it can be tough. Someone with a fancy computer should do a study on this, but if I was coaching and we needed to foul late in the game, I’d go after a guy who hadn’t been at the line yet in that game.

8) Valparaiso tied for first place in Horizon League, but Alec Peters, their best player, has a stress reaction in his leg and is done for the season, which is a huge blow to their chances to win the conference tournament.

UCLA’s TJ Leaf sprained his ankle Wednesday night; he didn’t return to the game- they haven’t said how bad it is, but Bruins have very little depth, so if he is out for a few weeks, it is bad news.

7) Boise State’s Nick Duncan is from Australia; apparently he had never seen snow before coming to Boise, so when it snowed his freshman year and it snows a lot in Idaho, he didn’t know what to do. Wish I had never seen snow.

6) This is probably a coincidence, but DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended for two games this year because he has 18 technical fouls— his teams won both of those games easily.

5) Odd Stat of the Day: Chicago Bulls have won their last 18 home games that were telecast on TNT.

4) Canada’s team in the World Baseball Classic has Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto and Justin Morneau, so 1B/DH are spoken for, just not sure what Morneau is going to do.

3) Basketball teams are Cincinnati, Houston will be displaced next season while their arenas get facelifts. Think I heard one facelift costs $60M, the other $85M.

Cincinnati will play home games seven miles away next year, in Northern Kentucky’s arena just over the bridge from Cincy.

2) In a Nationals-Astros game Thursday, umps called a ball a home run that replay showed never left the park- it hit the top of the fence in two different places but stayed in the ballpark.

It amazes me that there are people who would prefer to have no replay and instead waste time having managers arguing with umpires, which accomplishes nothing. Replay corrects a lot of missed calls and while not a perfect system, is good for the game.

1— People bet on exhibition baseball and I’ve often wondered why, but thought of a solid angle today that could actually work. I’m probably late with this, but…….

Teams play their best lineups when they’re televising back to their home markets; for instance, as I type this, the Mets are on SNY and they’re playing their top guys against a rag-tag group of Astros. Syndergaard pitched a couple innings; they put their best foot forward today, as much as they would in a game on March 3rd. No guarantees, but it gives them an edge.

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a solid night of basketball……..

13) Weird afternoon in the Big South Conference:
Campbell 81, NC-Asheville 79— 7th-seeded Camels pull a big upset in Big South. Chris Clemons scored 51 of Campbell’s 81 points in this game. Campbell lost both regular-season games with Asheville, scoring 56, 53 points as a team.

Radford 56, Liberty 52— #6-seed beats the #3-seed in an awful game where neither team could throw the ball in the ocean.

This means either the #6 or #7 seed will be playing in the championship game on Saturday.

12) MAAC tournament: Monmouth is the best team in this league, but if they win Saturday and host Siena beats Fairfield, then the Hawks get a true road game in the semifinals in beautiful downtown Albany. Doesn’t seem fair.

11) Missouri Valley tournament: Anything other than an Illinois State-Wichita State final would be a huge surprise. I’m not even sure who the third-best team is, but they aren’t very good.

10) Ohio Valley tournament: Murray State 75, Morehead State 69— Racers won in double OT the night before, but they were the strong team down the stretch here. Down 61-51, Murray hit three straight 3’s to get back in the game, and Morehead did nothing in last 5:00.

Surprising result; I thought Morehead would win this game.

9) Patriot League tournament: Top four seeds advanced to Sunday’s semifinals, so we’ll have Navy-Bucknell and Lehigh-Boston U. Survivor will be a 16-seed or a play-in team.

8) Cal-Davis 68, Hawai’i 59— Our friends the Aggies finish unbeaten at home; they go to Irvine on Saturday and play the Anteaters for the Big West regular season title.

7) Bulls 94, Warriors 87— How long does it take Golden State to adjust to not having Durant in their lineup? His injury makes the NBA a whole lot more interesting.

6) Sacramento State 57, North Dakota 53— Hornets win as 10.5-point underdogs; they’re 12-3 vs spread in last 15 games. Tough loss for North Dakota, which falls out of a tie for first place in the Big Sky Conference.

5) Colorado 91, Stanford 72- Buffaloes won seven of last ten games after starting 0-7 in Pac-12 games. Bill Walton was fired up on his last regular season ESPN broadcast of the year; at one point, he was talking about Copernicus and buffaloes stampeding. He is unique.

4) Minnesota 88, Nebraska 73— Golden Gophers won their last eight games; would be funny if the NCAA committee put Minnesota/Louisville in the same bracket. Well, funny for me, maybe not for the Pitino family.

3) Old Dominion 62, Texas-El Paso 61— Kid on UTEP tipped ball in right at the buzzer for the Miner win, but refs said it came too late. Replay I saw showed it should’ve been good.

Why are these teams in the same league? ODU is in Virginia, El Paso is in west Texas, by the Mexican border. Monarchs have won five games in a row. Miners lost but covered, their 12th straight game beating the point spread.

2) Iowa 59, Wisconsin 57— Hawkeyes scored last seven points of game as Wisconsin lost for 5th time in last six games- they look like a prime candidate for a quick exit in the NCAA’s.

1— SMU 93, Tulsa 70— Mustangs are really good. At 26-4, not many people talk about them.

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

13) Why would anyone buy tickets to watch the Philadelphia 76ers play? They stink every year (103-284 the last five years) and then they draft young players who rarely play.

— Ben Simmons, zero NBA games (of a possible 59)
— Joel Embiid (31 games, of a possible 223)
— Jahlil Okafor (94 games, of a possible 141)

Karl-Anthony Towns has played in all 142 of Minnesota’s games since he’s been there. Is it that difficult to identify healthy players?

Sacramento’s TV guys actually referred to Towns playing in every game the other night, as if it were an unusual gift.

12) White Sox 1B Jose Abreu had to leave Sox camp this week to go to Miami and testify in a smuggling/conspiracy trial against his old agent. Abreu testified that he disposed of a phony passport by eating it on an airplane while en route to America. Oy.

Abreu is also the first baseman on my fantasy team, so hopefully this distraction is behind him.

11) Speaking of my fantasy baseball team, I added Phillies catching prospect Jorge Alfaro last week, so now I’ll have to watch Colombia’s games in the World Baseball Classic, since he is on their squad. Alfaro will start this year in AAA, is supposed to be a quality hitter.

10) As for the 4:30am game Monday between Israel and Korea, um…..no thanks. Even I have to sleep sometime.

9) Love having spring training games on in the house during the day; Padres were on Tuesday with Don Orsillo/Mark Grant on the call. Always good to hear laughter on your TV.

8) Redskins’ QB Kirk Cousins will be paid $1,408,447 PER GAME next season.

7) This is my annual reminder that it must suck to have a birthday on February 29; you get a birthday once every four years. When do people celebrate their birthday the other three years?

The most famous people I can find with this birthday are motivational speaker Tony Robbins, hockey player Cam Ward and rapper Ja Rule. Deceased stars Dennis Farina and Dinah Shore were also born on February 29.

6) Best of luck today to Angels’ SS Yunel Escobar, who is taking his US Citizenship Test today in Miami. It is GOOD that people from other countries WANT TO LIVE HERE.

5) Speaking of the Angels, their radio guys (simulcast on TV) were killing the Padres’ roster the other day; San Diego was 68-94 LY. Angels’ guys came out and said it is doubtful the Padres would win that many this year. Unusual to hear teams get ripped on TV.

4) Saturday, Colorado State visits Nevada in what is a showdown for the regular season title in the Mountain West. Teams haven’t met yet this season.

There isn’t any tangible advantage to winning the regular season title; conference tourney is at UNLV no matter what, but neither CSU or Nevada has won that many hoop titles so it is a big deal to them, which makes the game Saturday a good one to watch.

3) What are the three best free-throw shooting leagues in America?

1- Summit League, 74.2%
2— Southern Conference, 73.4%
3— Ohio Valley Conference, 73.3%

Worst free-throw shooting league? Sun Belt, at 68.1%

2) What are the three best 3-point shooting leagues in America?

1— Summit League, 39.6%
2— ACC, 37.2%
3— Pac-12, 37.0%

Worst 3-point shooting league? WAC, at 32.3%

Pretty clear that the Summit League is the league with the best shooters.

1— This is from former Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, talking about when Nick Saban came to his house to recruit him:

“Coach Saban isn’t going to sit there, and put on a big smile, and promise you this and that. He isn’t going to tell you that you’re a surefire starter, or an All-SEC shoo-in, or a first-round NFL pick. He isn’t going tell your mom, “Wow … this has to be the best pot roast I’ve ever had.”

Actually — you know how I know that? Because Nick Saban turned down my mom’s food. Straight up: Coach came over to our house for a recruiting visit. And my mom, knowing we were having company over, had done some home cooking. So, of course, when Coach walked in the door, my mom offered him some dinner. And wanna know what coach said to Mom?

“I already ate.”

He said thank you, but no thank you, he already ate. He hit her with the already ate. And all joking aside — Coach was incredibly polite, and I share that story purely out of love — it was a pretty telling moment for me. In this weird way, it told me everything that I needed to know about about Coach Saban’s intentions.

And what I mean by that is: Coach Saban hadn’t come over to put on a show, or to flatter us, or to tell us what he thought we wanted to hear. He didn’t make some big sales pitch, or promise the moon. He didn’t promise a starting spot, or SEC dominance, or national titles, or NFL riches — none of that. Truthfully, Coach didn’t promise me a thing. But what he did do was sit across from me … and answer every single one of my questions … and treat me like an adult.”

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

13) Back in 2010, I’m at the MGM Grand for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Had a great time; place is too big, but thats another story.

Early on in one of the games, three young guys next to me are going nuts; kid scores a basket to make the score 15-12 and they’re hugging each other. I have no idea why, so had to ask: “Is that guy who scored your brother or something?”

Turns out there was a proposition bet on every game: first team to get to 15 points, and these guys had the winner. I’d get dizzy trying to handicap “first team to 15” bets.

12) Bad beat of last weekend: San Diego (-5.5) 85, Portland 82— Kid on Portland drained a 3 right at the buzzer to cover the spread; losing Pilots were 10-14 on the arc, 20-20 on line and still lost a game they trailed by 18 in with 17:29 left.

The thing is this: if you bet San Diego in this game, you laid 5.5 points with a team that 48 hours earlier, had LOST BY 58 POINTS on their home court, 96-38 to Gonzaga.

Takes a lot of onions to lay 5.5 with a team coming off a 58-point loss.

11) Random NBA stats: Cleveland Cavaliers are 0-7 vs spread on the road if they played the night before. Golden State is 3-7 in that situation.

10) This year, when college hoop referees don’t feel like calling a foul, or feel one isn’t justified, they simply give the “touchdown” signal, as if to say, the defender stayed straight up.

9) I’m thinking that UCLA’s Bryce Alford reminds me a lot of Jimmer Fredette; terrific with the ball in his hands, couldn’t guard a lamp post.

If Steve Alford hadn’t have gotten the UCLA coaching job, Bryce would be playing ball at New Mexico (and Cullen Neal would’ve gone to St Mary’s). Bryce Alford would be torching what is a down Mountain West Conference.

8) Petco Park in San Diego flooded over the weekend, after heavy rains combined with a clogged drain or two; the ballfield looks like a pond, but because they recently had a motorcycle race there, the field didn’t have any grass on it anyway and was scheduled to be re-sodded soon.

7) Duke QB Thomas Sirk got a 6th year of eligibility from the NCAA after he tore his achilles, but he will transfer from Duke and play his last year of college ball elsewhere.

6) Houston Astros will have 12-foot high screens at Minute Maid Park this year, which will come up when the game starts and will run the length of each dugout, to protect fans from flying bats and foul balls.

5) Three years ago, Buzz Williams left Marquette for Virginia Tech, an odd move for a basketball coach; Williams went 139-69 in six years at Marquette, 69-37 in Big East games, so he was doing well, but he moved on to Blacksburg anyway.

In three years since, this being the third year, Marquette is 50-43 under Steve Wojciechowski, 20-32 in Big East games, with no NCAA tournament appearances- they’re a bubble team right now, .

Virginia Tech is 52-45 under Williams (41-23 the last two years), 22-31 in ACC games (20-15 the last two years). Hokies are probably going to the NCAA’s for the first time in ten years.

Sometimes it is tough to coach a college team in a pro town, which Milwaukee is, but Williams is a program builder who has done a terrific job at Virginia Tech.

4) Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles both got the gate from their NFL teams Tuesday; tough to be a 30-ish NFL running back with a big contract.

Football players must look at baseball/NBA guys and their guaranteed contracts and it has to tick them off mightily.

3) Rangers OF Josh Hamilton had his 11th knee operation Monday; not sure of how many he has had on each knee, but seeing as he only has two knees, there are no good ratios.

2) I would not want front row seats to a college or NBA game; basketball players are large humans and if they go hard after a loose ball, you wouldn’t want one of them crashing into you.

Couple years ago, Lebron James crashed into golfer Jason Day’s wife and knocked her flying at a game in Cleveland; she took it like a trooper but it had to hurt like hell.

1— Warren Buffett announced Monday that if any Berkshire Hathaway employee exactly nails the Sweet 16 in their NCAA tournament bracket, that person will receive $1M a year for life, as long as only one person does it.

Buffett also offers $100,000 to the Berkshire employee who predicts the most consecutive winners during the tournament. Last year, two guys split the $100,000.

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

13) Can be difficult to evaluate pitchers in spring training; take Sunday, when Daniel Gossett looked good pitching against the Angels. Gossett is a prospect, but……

Normally when you face the Angels, you’ll face Calhoun-Trout-Pujols-Maybin in the first two innings. Sunday, Halos’ #3 hitter was Cliff Pennington, not exactly their “A” lineup, so you have to take Gossett’s performance with a grain of salt.

12) I’m a big fan of the Showtime program Billions; turns out that two of the three co-writers on the show also worked together writing Rounders and Oceans 13, two excellent movies.

11) With closer Jeurys Familia due to be suspended (domestic violence) at the start of the season, Addison Reed will be the Mets closer on April 3 and for several weeks after.

10) Toronto Raptors lose G Kyle Lowry (wrist) for the rest of the regular season; they hope to have him back for the playoffs.

9) These stats are from Justin Ray of Golf Channel: Average age of PGA Tour winners this season is 28.7 years old.

From 2000-13, average age of winners on Tour was 33.4 years old. In 2014-15, it was 30.4.

8) Reese Maguire is a minor league catcher in the Blue Jays’ system; think catching is in his genes? His dad caught, his grandfather was a catcher for Duke in the College World Series.

In 1952.

7) Random food fact: I’ve never had Italian ice or a snow cone. Or coffee.

6) NFL Combine is this week, so we’ll see lot of 40-yard dashes and agility drills and no one will remind us that Tom Brady had an awful Combine workout and is one of the best QB’s of all time.

Game film means more than workouts, though I’m guessing the interviews teams do with prospects are REALLY helpful. Like the time Geno Smith fiddled with his cellphone during his interviews. Never should’ve been drafted high after that.

5) San Diego Padres have used 84 players the last two years. Thats a lot.

Seattle Mariners made 37 roster moves between the end of last season and the start of spring training; GM Jerry DiPoto has totally cleaned house, building a new team around his nucleus of Robinson Cano/Felix Hernandez/Hector Cruz

4) Saturday in Las Vegas, an astute gambler played $7 on a 10-team college hoop parlay and it hit, making him $5,040 (720-1 odds). He played four totals and six sides.

3) Texas Rangers are 28-10 against the Astros the last two years, with 13 one-run wins. If the Astros can just go 10-9 against Texas this year, thats a 5-game swing in the AL West race.

2) Only three big leaguers played 162 games last year: Alcides Escobar, Jonathan Schoop and George Springer.

1— Steelers signed WR Antonio Brown to a $17M a year deal, making him the highest-paid WR in the NFL. Maybe next year he can actually listen to his coach’s post-game speeches instead of playing them on Facebook Live.

Brown’s father is Eddie Brown, known here in Albany as Touchdown Eddie Brown, a great player in the Arena League. Eddie Brown once scored nine TD’s in a Firebirds game; he was great fun to watch. Hard to believe it has been 18 years since they won the Arena Bowl.