Saturday’s Den: Notes on college basketball conference tournaments, and some other stuff

— For the first time since 1978, a reigning batting champion was traded in the offseason; Minnesota traded IF Luis Arraez to the Marlins, for P Pablo Lopez and two prospects.

Arraez hit .316 last year, scored 88 runs; he is expected to play second base for Miami. Lopez was 10-10, 3.75 in 32 starts last season.

Marlins plan to move Jazz Chisholm to CF, Juan Segura to 3B, Joey Wendle to SS; Arraez mostly played 1B last year, so spring training is going to include a lot of ground balls and work on defense. I have Miami’s star P Sandy Alcantara on my fantasy team; this makes me queasy.

By the way, Rod Carew was the last batting champion traded the following winter.

— If you like college basketball, ESPN+ is a must; they have games from all over the country, and you can watch replays of games. Have your remote handy though; some of the guys who broadcast these games aren’t exactly Jim Nantz or Mike Breen quality-wise. The mute button can be useful for some of these guys, but they’re all fun to watch.

I like watching games from the Big West or Conference USA, leagues that the main cable channels ignore.

— How come a lot of NBA players don’t play games on back/back nights, but there are college basketball refs who work 4-5 games a week? 

College basketball season runs roughly from November 10-March 15, when pairings for the NCAA Tournament come out. That would be 126 days; I’m looking at referee stats from a few years ago, and there were 16 officials who worked 90+ games that season. 

90 games in 126 games means that roughly, you work a game three out of four days for four months, and most referees are older than the average NBA player. 

— Florida Gators released QB Jaden Rashada from his Letter of Intent; this ends a recruitment that reportedly went south because of a botched $13M NIL deal offered by the Gator Collective, a third-party group that furnishes NIL deals for Florida.

— Michigan fired co-offensive coordinator and QB coach Matt Weiss, who was put on leave recently amid an investigation by university police into a report of computer access crimes. 

Industrial espionage in college football? Who knew?

— I’m wondering how much Danny DeVito gets paid for those Jersey Mike’s commercials, which seem to be on TV every half hour or so.

— We getting into late January, the conference races are heating up in college basketball. Here are some trends that deal with how teams do in conference tournaments:

— Gonzaga has won the WCC tournament nine of the last ten years; the one time they lost, it was to Saint Mary’s.

— Clemson is 15-4, 7-1 in ACC this season; since 2003, they’re 8-19 in ACC tournament games, with 2008 the only time during that time that they’ve won more than one game in an ACC tournament.

— Richmond won the Atlantic 10 tournament LY; before that, from 2012-21, Spiders were a combined 5-9 in A-10 tourney games. League seems to be wide open this season. 

— In the Sun Belt, Texas State was 37-13 in conference games the last three years, but only 1-2 in Sun Belt tourney games; they won a game in the ’20 tournament before COVID ended things, then they lost in the first round the last two years. Bobcats are 10-10, 3-4 this season; curious to see how they’ll do in a league that is very wide-open this year.

— Houston Cougars are 10-2 in last four AAC tournaments, winning the title the last two years with five of those six wins by 13+ points.

— Villanova is down this year with Jay Wright gone; they’re 10-10, 4-5, not looking like an NCAA Tournament team, but the Wildcats are 17-2 in last seven Big East tournaments, winning it five times.

Last five years, Xavier is 2-5 in the Big East tournament; four of the five losses came in overtime. Sean Miller has the Musketeers at 15-4 in his first season back in Cincinnati; maybe this is their year to turn that stat around. 

— Surprising stat: Last time Indiana finished over .500 in the Big 14 was seven years ago, when they went 15-3 in conference play. Since 2004, Hoosiers are only 9-18 in the conference tournament. 

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.