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

13) Once upon a time, it was hard to get into the NCAA basketball tournament.

In 1973-74, Maryland went 23-5, 9-3 in the ACC; they had great players; John Lucas, Tom McMillen, Len Elmore. They were ranked #4 in the country, but they didn’t get into the tournament. The NUMBER 4 team in the COUNTRY didn’t make the tournament.

Back then, only conference champions made the tournament, and the ACC decided its champ with a conference tournament, back when most leagues didn’t have one.

Maryland lost the ACC title game 103-100 in OT to NC State, one of the best college games ever played. NC State had David Thompson, Tom Burleson, Monte Towe; they wound up winning the national title that year, but they, obviously, almost missed the tournament.

12) 1970-71, USC Trojans went 24-2, 12-2 in the Pac-8; they were ranked 5th in the country, but they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament either- their two losses were both to perennial national champ UCLA, who beat USC 64-60/73-62 in their two meetings.

Trojans had Paul Westphal, Dennis Layton, Ron Riley; they played on the west coast, ten years before ESPN existed, so none of us knew much about them.

UCLA went 29-1 that year, the season in between Kareem and Bill Walton; they won the 1971 national title, in a Final Four with Kansas, Villanova and Western Kentucky. 

11) How are kids any good at geography these days? 

Friday night, a Big East basketball game on FS1, Xavier at Buter. Big EAST rivals.

Problem is, Butler is in Indianapolis, Xavier is in Cincinnati. Neither of these cities is in the east; as recently as 2013, both teams were in the Atlantic 10, another misnomer.

The last five years before they refigured, Big East was never ranked lower than 3rd nationally; last four years, they’ve been ranked 5th-3rd-6th-4th. Having schools without football programs has hurt the Big East. 

10) Thursday night in Boulder, Colorado was leading Washington State 78-72 with 1:13 left; coming out of a timeout, the Buffs got a technical foul for having six guys on the floor. You don’t see that very often.

Colorado has a player (Evan Battey) a 6-8 center, whose grandfather was Earl Battey, a catcher who played 13 years in the major leaguers, mostly with Minnesota.

Earl Battey was the Twins’ catcher in the 1965 World Series; he made four All-Star teams, had a .757 career OPS with 104 home runs.

Evan Battey has been a regular all four of his seasons with the Buffaloes, who are 10-3 so far this season, 2-1 in Pac-12 games. 

9) College football transfers:
— QB Zach Calzada bolts from Texas A&M to Auburn
— QB Casey Thompson bolts from Texas to Nebraska
— QB Connor Bazelak bolts from Missouri to Indiana. 

8) All in all, last time I checked there were 1,428 players in the college football transfer portal. With 130 D-I teams, that’s ten players per team. 

7) Louisville is 4-0 in ACC basketball games; all four wins were by 5 or fewer points; Pitt Panthers are 0-3, with the three losses by total of five points. 

6) USFL named its first four head coaches; the 8-team league kicks off in April:
— Kevin Sumlin (Houston Gamblers)
— Mike Riley (New Jersey Generals)
— Bart Andrus (Philadelphia Stars)
— Todd Haley (Tampa Bay Bandits)

Riley has now been a head coach in the NFL, CFL, WLAF, college football, AAF and USFL. 

5) NFL tidbits:
— Bears will start Andy Dalton at QB; Chicago is 4-2 with Dalton/Foles starting.
— Ravens will start Tyler Huntley at QB; Lamar Jackson (ankle) misses his 4th straight game.
— Aaron Rodgers will start for Green Bay; no guarantees how long he plays in a meaningless game for the Packers. 

4) Raptors 122, Jazz 108— Utah had its 10-game road winning streak snapped; impressive to win ten in a row anywhere, but especially away from home.

3) Boston Celtics have blown four leads of 19+ points this season, more than any NBA team. 

2) ESPN re-did its Sunday Night Baseball TV crew; David Cone/Eduardo Perez are the new analysts, Karl Ravech will do play-by-play. Cone can be very funny; he should be a good addition to Sunday night games.

1) Iona-Saint Louis cobbled together a matchup for Saturday; Saint Louis coach Travis Ford played point guard for Rick Pitino at Kentucky. This should be a pretty good game.

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.

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