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More Upsets in the Top Ten
[Posted early Wed. A.m.]
NCAA Basketball Quiz: For old-timers, the 1968-69, 1969-70 AP First-Team All-American teams had the same three guards on the first team each year. Name them. Answer below.
***Yes, there is increasing talk of holding NCAA tournament games without crowds. It is such a fluid situation...still time to weigh the evidence.
New AP Poll (records thru Sun.)
1. Kansas (64) 26-3
2. Gonzaga 29-2
3. Dayton 27-2...highest ranking since 1955-56
4. Baylor 25-3
5. San Diego State 28-1
6. Kentucky 24-5...kind of under the radar, but 8 in a row, first in the SEC
7. Florida State 24-5
8. Seton Hall 21-7...up 5...highest since 2000-01
9. Maryland 23-6...thought they’d fall
10. Louisville 24-6
11. Creighton 22-7
12. Duke 23-6...down 5
13. Oregon 22-7
14. Villanova 22-7
15. BYU 24-7
16. Michigan State 20-9...up 8
22. Virginia 21-7
If you carry out the votes....
32. Colorado...after I posted last time, CU lost at Stanford, 72-64, completing a most lousy week.
--So Monday, Duke got its revenge on North Carolina State, beating the Wolfpack 88-69, after the Wolfpack embarrassed Duke 88-66 two weeks before.
--Last night, Rutgers had a huge win at home over 9 Maryland (23-7, 13-6), which may have clinched a spot to the Big Dance for the Scarlet Knights, now 19-11, 10-9.
16 Michigan State improved to 21-9, 13-6, with a road win at 20 Penn State (21-9, 11-8) 79-71; a game that was all about seeding come the NCAA tourney.
But here I make the comment I did about Kentucky up top, and then they get upset at home last night, 81-73 losers to Tennessee (17-13, 9-8), the Wildcats in all probability blowing their shot at a 1-seed, now 24-6, 14-3.
Wake Forest (13-16, 6-13) lost to North Carolina (13-17, 6-13) 93-83 at Chapel Hill. What an atrocious season for Roy Williams. Demon Deacon fans, on the other hand, have become used to it.
--Sunday night, in their second matchup in a week, LeBron James had a triple-double (34-12-13) as the Lakers defeated the Pelicans in New Orleans, 122-114, with Zion Williamson having a career-high 35 points. In the first contest between the two, James had a season-high 40 and Zion 29.
The two embraced at the end of the game, James offering some words of encouragement, and clearly LeBron enjoyed the challenge.
--Tuesday, the Lakers (47-13) beat the injury-riddled 76ers (37-25) 120-107, Philadelphia playing without Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson; Lebron with 22 points and 14 assists. Anthony Davis 37 points, 13 rebounds.
--Back to Zion, for all the talk of New Orleans riding him to the playoffs, the Pelicans (26-35) have lost 3 of 4 after a 139-134 loss to the T’Wolves, Zion with 25 points, but the team now four games out of the 8th slot.
--In an extraordinary performance for the ages, the Nets’ Caris LeVert scored 37 of his career-high 51 in the fourth quarter and overtime to help the Nets erase a 21-point, second-half deficit and beat Boston 129-120 Tuesday night in Beantown.
The Nets trailed 84-67 entering the fourth quarter and Brooklyn outscored Boston 51-34, sending it to OT, where Levert scored all 11 Nets points, the Celtics with just two.
--San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich missed last night’s game against the Hornets in Charlotte, so assistant coach Tim Duncan became acting head coach for one night, the Spurs beating the Hornets 104-103.
The quietest sports superstar of all time actually spoke after the game.
“It’s night and day to be in the big boy chair,” said Duncan. “Truth be told though, I wasn’t in the big boy chair. I had (other assistant coaches) making the calls and I was the one standing there screaming at people.”
When asked if being a head coach is something he wants to pursue down the road, Duncan said, “Nope, Pop is going to be back and I will be happy to hand it right over to him.”
This weekend, Wake Forest fans in particular were startled to see a commercial of Duncan endorsing Mike Bloomberg, owing to Bloomberg’s huge assistance following a hurricane in Duncan’s native Virgin Islands. I mean the guy hasn’t seemed to have an opinion on anything, ever.
--The Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, the talented young center whose portfolio offensively is still mostly limited to dunks, is shooting 73.0% from the field after going 5 of 8 Monday night in the Knicks’ nice 125-123 win over the Rockets at the Garden.
But I only mention it because Mr. Robinson said he’s never heard of Wilt Chamberlain, who has the record for a season at 72.7%, set in 1972-73, the final season of his career. [DeAndre Jordan is the only other player to shoot higher than 70% in a season, doing so three consecutive seasons, 2014-17.]
--It is sickening that eight Los Angeles County deputies took or shared graphic photos of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash scene, which Sheriff Alex Villanueva ordered deleted.
“We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we’re content that those involved did that.”
The sheriff told KABC-TV that the deputies face possible disciplinary action.
Vanessa Bryant was “absolutely devastated” by the reports of unauthorized crash scene photos being shared, her lawyer said.
--Ken Giles was the closer on the 2017 Astros and is now currently on Toronto. But Monday he said that if MLB vacated the Astros’ title – ain't gonna happen – he'd be more than willing to give back his ring.
“Whatever they ask, I would oblige,” Giles said. “Because what was going on at the time was not OK.”
Giles recorded 34 saves during an outstanding regular season in 2017, but then yielded 10 runs in 7 2/3 in the playoffs. He was ultimately benched after Game 4 of the World Series, and was sent to the minors the next season after an incident with manager A.J. Hinch (and poor performance), before he was traded to the Blue Jays, where he had a fine 2019 with 23 saves and a 1.87 ERA.
--It truly is unbelievable that both outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are now not likely to be available for Opening Day, per GM Brian Cashman.
Starter Luis Severino: out for the season after having Tommy John surgery.
Starter James Paxton: out until June after back surgery.
Judge: most likely misses Opening Day with a sore right shoulder and right pectoral muscle.
Stanton: expected to miss Opening Day with calf strain.
Outfielder Aaron Hicks: out until midseason while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Starter Domingo German: out first 63 games due to domestic violence suspension.
--The Milwaukee Brewers and superstar outfielder Christian Yelich are closing in on a seven-year, $188.5 million extension that will run from 2022-2028, according to USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale.
The 28-year-old has two years left on the seven-year, $49.57 million deal he signed with the Miami Marlins before the 2015 season and is set to receive $12.5 million in 2020 and $14 million in 2021.
--Baseball America College Baseball Poll
2. Texas Tech
15. North Carolina State
UNC joined Wake Forest, out of the rankings, for now.
--I’ve largely written the weekend Bar Chat before Sunday’s sports action and as you can tell then plug in the events as they occur. So before the final round at the Honda Classic, I wrote down that Tommy Fleetwood really needed to pick up his first PGA Tour victory after five wins on the European Tour, as any fan of the sport knows. Just see Colin Montgomerie and his failure to close in the States and what that meant for his legacy, vs. a Rory, Justin Rose, Nick Faldo etc.
So Fleetwood again failed to come through, despite having the 54-hole lead, but during the telecast on NBC, Paul Azinger uttered the same thoughts, because it is on every viewer’s mind. Zinger was just being truthful.
But the way it came out caused problems with the Euro Boys.
Joel Beall / Golfworld
“Forget the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Burning of Washington. The fiercest American-European conflict, or at least the most recent, happened in Palm Beach Gardens over the weekend.
“Tommy Fleetwood carried a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Honda Classic, the Englishman aiming for his first PGA Tour victory. It was a prominent storyline that Paul Azinger was keen to convey. Only the NBC analyst injected commentary that instigated a deluge of debate and criticism.
“ ‘A lot of pressure here, you’re trying to prove to everybody that you’ve got what it takes. These guys know, you can win all you want on that European Tour or in the international game and all that but you have to win on the PGA Tour,’ Azinger said.
“It was a slight, unprovoked, but if it stood alone, might have met minimal push back. But Azinger continued.
“ ‘[Lee] Westwood took offense to that when asked about that on Saturday, he’s got two wins on the PGA Tour and he said he’d won 44 times around the world. But it’s not the PGA Tour. And they know that, and Tommy knows that and it puts a little bit of pressure on Tommy, this is where they want to be. They want to prove that they can win at this level particularly on this golf course. Even some of the obscure names that have won here, like a Mark Wilson and you think, man, Mark Wilson won at PGA National.’
“There are some lines that men cannot cross. Apparently in golf, that line is Mark Wilson.
“Let us preface by saying golf analysts are known to err on the side of caution when it comes to player commentary; in that regard, kudos to Azinger for speaking the truth. But it was a truth that others – chiefly, the European community – could not abide. Ian Poulter went to town on Azinger, calling him jingoistic and scolding him for his condescension and disrespect to the European Tour and its players. Westwood dismissed the remarks, as did Thomas Bjorn. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano ridiculed Azinger’s commentary while Mark Fulcher, Francesco Molinari’s caddie, offered him a slice of ‘humble pie.’
“We’d offer writer and social reaction – as well as the American reaction to the reaction – but this is a family website. It was volcanic activity that puts Kilauea to shame.
“To be fair, while Azinger’s tone and cadence were measured, his comments felt unnecessarily acidic. Trying to belittle the Euro Tour to make his case isn’t right. That doesn’t mean Azinger was wrong....
“(He) did not pan the merits of international golfers or claim Wilson is a better player than Fleetwood....
“(But) the heart of Azinger’s argument was simply that it’s harder to win on the PGA Tour, a sentiment that shouldn’t be considered incendiary....
“On Saturday Luke Donald said, ‘I’d say overall it’s a little harder [on the PGA Tour]. I think the fields are deeper here.’ Fleetwood himself called the PGA Tour ‘another level of what you’re used to.’
“Or take it from the man who the Euro Tour wishes was its face, Rory McIlroy.
“ ‘The ultimate goal is here [the United States]. The European Tour is a stepping stone. That’s the truth,’ McIlroy said at the 2019 Tournament of Champions....
“ ‘It’s so one-sided. You can talk all you want about these bigger events in Europe, but you can go to America and play for more money and more ranking points. I think as well with the World Ranking points, everyone out here, all of their contracts with sponsors, it’s all about World Ranking points. If players are getting paid more and earning more World Ranking points, why would you play over there?’”
Azinger didn’t back down Monday, telling Golfweek that he wasn’t trying to be malicious; nevertheless, he clarified that “professional golfers choke for two things: cash and prestige. And the PGA Tour has the most of both.”
“The Euro contingent can reignite the Revolution all it wants. But on that front, there is no dispute.”
For the record, Lee Westwood said on Twitter: “I think Paul sometimes thinks he has to be controversial to be relevant.
“It’s a little disappointing that Dan (Hicks, NBC golf presenter) sits there and looks to be agreeing and then doesn’t question his comments.
“The PGA Tour is a great tour but in the current golfing climate we shouldn’t be creating divides.”
Ian Poulter tweeted: “I like @PaulAzinger a lot. And get on with him great. But Paul please do not condescend or disrespect the @EuropeanTour and our players like that.
“We have slapped your arse in Ryder Cup for so long. I know you captained a win but seriously that was embarrassing today.”
Europe’s victorious 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn weighed in: “It was so easy for @PaulAzinger to say that @TommyFleetwood1 has won around the world and is a world class player. Now the time has come for him to prove that on the strongest tour in the world. He was at best ignorant, at worst arrogant in delivering that. Bring on September!”
--The finish to last weekend’s Champions Tour event, the Cologuard Classic in Tucson, came after I posted and I have to note that the amazing Bernhard Langer, age 62, won it by two over Woody Austin; win No. 41 in his senior tour career.
Langer birdied nine of the first holes to shoot an eight-under 65 that allowed him to come back from a three-shot deficit.
So 14 straight years, dating to 2007, the year he turned 50, with at least one win on the Champions Tour. Langer, who turns 63 in August, is now four wins shy of Hale Irwin’s all-time record of 45 victories.
--Dustin Johnson announced he would skip the Olympics, the first highly-ranked player to do so. DJ’s agent cited the condensed PGA Tour schedule and Johnson’s desire to be prepared for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which begin right after the Olympics.
In 2016, Johnson opted not to participate in the Rio Olympics due to concerns over the Zika virus.
It’s about to get rather busy around the league.
March 10: Deadline for NFL teams to designate a franchise or transition tag player.
March 16: The NFL’s tampering period begins. Although free agency and the new league year isn’t official for another couple of days, NFL teams are permitted to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents.
March 18: The new league year begins and NFL free agency is officially underway at 4 p.m. ET. Free agent signings around the NFL will be reported prior to this, but they won’t become official until 4 p.m. ET on March 18.
The Tom Brady saga will finally be over...or maybe not.
--Japan’s Olympic minister said Tuesday that the Tokyo Games could be postponed from the summer until later in the year amid the coronavirus fears.
In response to a question in Japan’s parliament, Seiko Hashimoto said Tokyo’s contract with the International Olympic Committee “calls for the Games to be held within 2020.”
The Games are slated for July 24 to August 9.
--Ben Cohen, Joshua Robinson and Jared Diamond / Wall Street Journal
“The NCAA tournament, Major League Baseball opening day, The Masters golf tournament. The NFL draft, the NBA and NHL playoffs, the Boston Marathon and Olympic qualifiers all over the U.S.
“The busiest time of the American sports calendar is coming – if the coronavirus doesn’t come first....
“This is a multibillion-dollar industry built on live entertainment, easy travel and mass gatherings, and that makes it especially vulnerable if major cities begin to embrace social distancing....
“Should games be canceled? Can they be delayed? Will they be played in empty arenas? These are the questions that leagues and governing bodies are scrambling to answer as they size up potentially the biggest disruption to the sports calendar since World War II, and they are constrained by uncertainty as they make contingency plans to keep up with this mysterious pathogen. Their behavior will be dictated by the virus’s....
“In one of the most extreme approaches, Japan all but shut down its sports scene this month. Preseason baseball is being played entirely behind closed doors ahead of Opening Day on March 20. The national soccer and basketball leagues are postponed until mid-March....
“Switzerland banned all gatherings of more than 1,000 people on Friday... France followed suit on Saturday, temporarily suspending all events of more than 5,000 people that were likely to draw large groups of foreign visitors. The first victim became Sunday’s Paris Half-Marathon, which was expecting more than 40,000 runners.
--I missed last Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta and just have to note Galen Rupp’s win, running away with it in 2:09:20. I’ve seen Rupp perform on many an occasion as a result of all my trips to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Aliphine Tuliamuk won the women’s race with a time of 2:27:23.
There were a staggering 700 runners, which as the New York Times’ Matthew Futterman and Talya Minsberg noted was due to a boom in elite female distance running.
In a brilliant PR move, Nike gave everyone racing a free pair of its shoes, after discussion the past year has been about the performance enhancing Nike Alphafly and Vaporfly models.
“The giveaway created the awkward spectacle of runners ditching shoes from their longtime sponsors in favor of the Nikes. In the end, four of the six runners who landed on the podium ran in the high-tech Nikes, though Rupp, a Nike-sponsored athlete, said it wasn’t just about the shoe.
“ ‘You can’t just put these shoes on anybody and turn them into Superman,’” he said. [New York Times]
In the men’s race, Jacob Riley finished second, while 43-year-old Abdi Abdirahman took third, earning his fourth berth on the U.S. team.
Molly Seidel (four-time NCAA distance champion at Notre Dame) finished second on the women’s side, shockingly in her first marathon, the first U.S. woman to make the Olympic team in her debut, while Sally Kipyego took third, holding off 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden.
All six podium finishers qualified for Tokyo, whenever that race ends up taking place.
--Alex Bowman won his second career NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday holding off Kyle and Kurt Busch at Fontana. Bowman dominated, leading 110 of the 200 laps, the timing propitious as he is in the final year of his contract with Hendrick Motorsports.
Fontana, where Jimmie Johnson is a six-time winner, is the venue closest to his native El Cajon, California, and it was his final race there, finishing seventh, as he has announced his retirement at the end of year. His winless streak is at a career-worst 98 races.
--Deontay Wilder exercised his right to a rematch with newly crowned WBC champion Tyson Fury and a third fight between the two heavyweights is being planned for July 18 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Vegas, according to Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter.
--Brian Niemietz / New York Daily News
“A 22-year-old Irishman was treated for a venomous snake bite over the weekend, according to the Irish Post.
“The unidentified Dubliner is the first person to require an anti-venom in Ireland, where snakes are not indigenous. The serpent responsible for this seemingly unprecedented strike is a deadly African puff adder that reportedly belongs to the victim.
“The puff adder, is described by the University of California San Diego as ‘a very venomous and dangerous snake native to much of Africa and portions of Saudi Arabia.’”
That report states half of puff adder bites on humans are fatal if untreated. Puff adders account for more deadly strikes than any viper in Africa.
The anti-venom had to be transported to Dublin from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
“The timing of the bite would almost seem to be a promotion for the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that will take place all over Ireland March 17.
“As legend has it, St. Patrick drove all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea, never to return. But according to the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, ‘At no time has there ever been any suggestion of snakes in Ireland.’”
Top 3 songs for the week 3/6/76: #1 “Love Machine (Part 1)” (The Miracles) #2 “All By Myself” (Eric Carmen) #3 “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” (The Four Seasons)...and...#4 “Theme From S.W.A.T.” (Rhythm Heritage...talk about a tune not holding up with the test of time, this is exhibit 1A. ‘A’ is Walter Murphy’s “Fifth of Beethoven,” 1976...) #5 “Take It To The Limit” (Eagles) #6 “Dream Weaver” (Gary Wright) #7 “Lonely Night (Angel Face)” (Captain & Tennille) #8 “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” (Paul Simon) #9 “Love Hurts” (Nazareth) #10 “You Sexy Thing” (Hot Chocolate...‘C+’ week...#4 kills it...)
NCAA Basketball Quiz Answer: 1968-69. 1969-70, AP first-team All-Americans.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor)...UCLA
Bob Lanier...St. Bonaventure
In 1967-68, Maravich was first team as well, while Murphy was second team and Mount third team.
Poor Charlie Scott. The North Carolina great was second team both 1968-69 and 1969-70.
But Maravich, Mount and Murphy were three of the most prolific college basketball scorers of all time and there they were, all playing at the same time.
Reminder, freshmen weren’t eligible back then.
1967-68...43.8 ppg sophomore
1969-70...29.4 Sr., by this time he had a real supporting cast, thus the average was down from his sophomore season. The matchups between Niagara and St. Bonaventure (Bob Lanier) were great fun, shown on local television in my area.
As for their ABA/NBA careers, Mount’s was highly-disappointing, playing just five middling seasons in the ABA.
Murphy, though, played 13 years, a true Hall of Fame career, averaging 17.9 points per game, while shooting .892 from the foul line, eighth best all time. [Steph Curry is No. 1, .905]
But while Pistol Pete is a Hall of Famer as well, averaging 24.2 points per game over 10 seasons, he was out of basketball at just 32, forced out by knee injuries, and then he died tragically at the age of 40, playing a pickup basketball game, with evangelical author James Dobson, among others, and it was found he had a congenital heart defect.
This guy was a comet and brought a ton of people pure joy. It’s just anyone living during that era, having followed him in college, has to feel Maravich didn’t quite fulfill his potential at the next level, though injuries had something to do with this.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.