|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
Sister Jean and the Ramblers
[Posted early Sun. p.m., prior to conclusion of Round of 32, first day action.]
Men’s College Hockey Quiz: The NCAA has anointed a champion since 1948. 1) With no championship in 2020 due to Covid, what school won both of the last two titles, 2018-19? 2) Name the three Ivy League schools to win a national title. Bonus, name the Ivy school with the most. 3) Boston College and Boston University have the same number of national championships. How many is that? Answers below.
--A strange tournament, to say the least, beginning with the schedule, where all our lives we were used to a 4-day stretch that revealed the Sweet 16 after Sunday’s play.
But not this year! Thanks to ‘Spike,’ the Covid U. mascot who someone managed to gain entrance onto all the campuses in Division I basketball, where he partied, spit, and sneezed his way onto virtually every roster, the play-in games were Thursday, not Tues-Wed. And you know the rest.
So Thursday, we had terrific action.
11 Drake beat 11 Wichita State 53-52; 16 Norfolk State edged 16 Appalachian State 54-53.
And 11 UCLA picked up a very important win for its program, 86-80 over 11 Michigan State.
Some sports are just better if the all-time great teams/franchises are in the mix, whether you like them or not. Like having the Dodgers and Yankees in the postseason is good for the game.
And I’d like to see USC return to football greatness. The Steelers in the NFL, you know.
UCLA in college hoops is good come March.
And that’s a memo….
Friday, 5 Villanova, playing without Big East player of the year Collin Gillespie, beat 12 Winthrop, a popular upset pick (including by moi) because of the absence of Gillespie, 73-63.
11 Syracuse rode the 30 points of Buddy Boeheim (7 of 10 from three) to a 78-62 blowout of 6 San Diego State, who some said, it ends up, rightfully, were overrated, at No. 16 in the final AP poll. SDSU, one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the country, was just 11 of 40 from behind the arc.
8 Loyola-Chicago moved on with a 71-60 win over 9 Georgia Tech. This is one game where Covid severely impacted the result, and I feel a little sorry for the Yellow Jackets as they were forced to play without the best player in the ACC this season, Moses Wright.
On the other hand, 101-year-old Sister Jean worked her magic for the Ramblers.
14 Colgate played one of the stranger games I’ve seen in years against 3 Arkansas. I was pulling hard for Pete M.’s Red Raiders as they led 33-19 over the Razorbacks with less than 4 minutes in the first half, only to see Arkansas go on a 17-0 run to close it out, up 36-33 at the intermission; Colgate going the last 5:30 without a point.
So you’re like, game over, Arkansas will roll in the second half.
But Colgate was up 50-44 with 13:49 left, and then were only down 63-60 at 7:21 to play, yet once again the Raiders (I’m sorry, they eliminated the “Red” part long ago) went cold and ‘Bama easily beat the spread, 8.5, in winning 85-68.
When alumni look at the record book they’ll see the score and think, ‘we sucked,’ but that was hardly the case.
At least we had two big upsets…15 Oral Roberts took out 2 Ohio State behind the outstanding play of Kevin Obanor (30 points and 11 rebounds) and Max Abmas (29 points). I had seen Abmas’ production all season but never watched the kid until Friday and he’s the real deal. Obanor is a 6’8” power forward who can step out and hit the three. Few teams in the country have a duo like this.
And then we had 13 North Texas over 4 Purdue, 78-69, their first ever win in the tournament, as guard Javion Hamlet had himself a night…24 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
12-seed Oregon State also pulled off an upset, 70-56 over 5 Tennessee, as the Beavers hit 10 of 21 from three, while the Vols were only 5 of 26 from downtown.
And in the nightcap, 10 Rutgers picked up its first NCAA tourney win in 38 years, 60-56 over 7 Clemson as both teams shot poorly from the field. Frankly, it was an ugly game, but the Scarlet Knights moved on in what was an important win for the program regardless of what they do in the next round. A lot of folks questioned why they were invited into the Big Ten in the first place, but Rutgers won on a day when Ohio State and Purdue lost.
Saturday, Rick Pitino had 15 Iona ready for 2 Alabama, and the Gaels were down 47-46 with 9:14 to play, but the Tide pulled away, 68-55, as Iona was just 23 of 59 (39%) from the field.
After the game, Pitino tried to bat down immediate rumors he could be headed back to a big time job, saying he wants “no part of the so-called big time anymore.”
“It’s no longer about me trying to move up any ladders, make more money,” he added. “I’m at a great place in my life. I can coach six, seven more years, God willing, just try to make young men better, try to make the program reach heights it’s never reached. That’s all I have planned. It’s a great place to be. There’s some things that suck about being 68. The great thing about it is being at Iona, being able to teach with nobody bothering you, just make the players better.”
“I’m in heaven right now, and where I need to be.”
Pitino said the Gaels would be “much better” in his second season, and aside from better players cited an improved schedule that he thinks could make Iona a contender for at-large bids in the future.
Moving along, 13 Ohio upset 4 Virginia, the defending champions, going back to 2019, 62-58.
Boy, Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett is lucky he’s got the title, because his postseason record is otherwise rather underwhelming.
10 Maryland shot 22 of 43 from the floor in beating 7 UConn 63-54, otherwise Saturday’s action went according to chalk.
Except for the final game of the night, which I did stay up for…14 Abilene Christian upsetting 3 Texas 53-52.
In the final minutes, the Wildcats did all they could to bail out Texas, with one unforced error after another, but on their final possession, Abilene’s Joe Pleasant was fouled attempting to put back a missed shot and went to the line with 1.2 seconds left, the team down 52-51.
Pleasant, incredibly, hits 47.5% of his shots from three-point land, but the 6’8” forward was only 59.8% from the foul line. And then he proceeded to coolly hit the two for the win, Texas having the inbounds pass down court picked off.
A horrible loss for the Longhorns and coach Shaka Smart, who in his six seasons, never finished in the final top 25 in the AP and lost his three first-round NCAA tourney games. Bye-bye, Shaka.
I wrote when he left VCU after a terrific run of success there that he would learn the grass was not always greener and more and more college coaches, in football and basketball, have been learning that lesson.
Lastly, Saturday, 7 Oregon picked up a ‘no contest’ W after 10-seed Virginia Commonwealth had to forfeit when several players tested positive, the game called off three hours before the teams were to tip-off. Just a shame, and hopefully the only time this happens in the coming days and weeks, but oh so predictable.
So we ended the first round with four 13-15 upsets…Ohio, Abilene Christian, North Texas and Oral Roberts.
It’s the second round where you begin to really separate the wheat from the chaff. Normally the Round of 32 would be Saturday/Sunday, but we finish up Monday this year.
Then in early action today, we started out with 8 Loyola and 1 Illinois and the Ramblers raced off to a 33-24 lead at the half, their No. 1 defense in the nation on full display.
And in the second half, the Illini cut it to 39-33 with 15:40 to play and just never got closer, as Loyola methodically ran down the clock, hitting clutch shots and, just as in the magical season of 2017-18, the Ramblers pulled off another massive upset, 71-58.
The remaining two key players from 2018’s Final Four run, center Cameron Krutwig and guard Lucas Williamson led the way; Krutwig a force on both ends of the court, 19 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, while Williamson played 36 minutes with 14 points and zero turnovers.
Before the game, Sister Jean, the team chaplain, offered her customary prayer:
“As we play the Fighting Illini, we ask for special help to overcome this team and get a great win,” she said. “We hope to score early and make our opponents nervous. We have a great opportunity to convert rebounds, as this team makes about 50 percent of its layups and 30 percent of its three-pointers. Our defense can take care of that.”
Speaking of the defense, which allowed just 55 points per game all season, including an amazing stretch of 17 games holding the opponent to under 60, going 16-1 in the process, the Ramblers held one of Illinois’ two stars, Ayo Dosunmu, who came in averaging 20.6 per game, to just nine points.
Which brings me to Loyola coach Porter Moser, 52. Moser had the basketball world by the balls after the 2017-18 Final Four and could have virtually picked his big-money job anywhere in the country. And, as opposed to Shaka Smart, he stayed, and he’s being rewarded again.
No one would begrudge the guy one bit if now he opts to step up in salary, but what a great story. Loyalty at Loyola (say that three times fast…impossible). And God bless Sister Jean!
Meanwhile, Illinois (1), Ohio State (2) and Purdue (4) out.
And who would have thought the state representatives of the first two after the first weekend would be Loyola and Ohio.
In the second game of the day, 1 Baylor easily handled 9 Wisconsin 76-63.
And as I go to post, 11 Syracuse beat 3 West Virginia 75-72. This is hardly an upset. Something special about Syracuse and March.
--In the Women’s Tournament, 9 Wake Forest, playing in the event for the first time in 33 years, was whipped into submission by 8 Oklahoma State 84-61.
--Marquette fired basketball coach Steve Wojciechowski after seven seasons in which he posted no NCAA tournament wins. The Golden Eagles went 13-14 for its first losing season since 2014-15, Wojo’s debut season.
The former longtime Duke assistant went 128-95 overall but 59-68 in the Big East. Marquette went to the NCAAs twice in the seven seasons. As in he deserved to be canned.
--Wake Forest has seen five players enter the transfer portal already, but only one of them, Ismael Massoud, was an important piece. Nonetheless, not a good sign for coach Steve Forbes as he attempts to rebuild the program.
But then kind of out of nowhere, the Deacs announced that Indiana State sophomore (with three years of eligibility left given the Covid season), Jake LaRavia, was transferring to Wake and this kid has real potential. A 6’9” point guard, essentially, who averaged 12 points and six rebounds and, scouts say, has NBA potential. So now if we can just hold onto the other pieces, who knows who else will transfer to the Deacs for the opportunity to play in a top conference. Let alone the grad transfer game. They now have a lot of scholarships available, that’s for sure.
--We had a big potential event in terms of the NBA postseason and national interest in same as LeBron James left in the second quarter of the Lakers’ game against the Hawks Saturday with a high right ankle sprain that will sideline him indefinitely. Atlanta won the game 99-94 in Los Angeles, the Hawks now 8-0 under interim coach Nate McMillian. [John Collins had 27 points and 16 rebounds…Go Deacs!]
Lakers Coach Frank Vogel said, “The mood of the team is we’re disappointed we lost, and we’ve got to come back and get one tomorrow. I won’t disclose what LeBron was like (in the locker room). It’s in-house.”
Well needless to say LeBron was pissed, tweeting later, “Nothing angers and saddens me more than not being available to and for my teammates! I’m hurt inside and out right now. The road back from recovery begins now. Back soon like I never left.”
James was hurt when he rolled his ankle under Solomon Hill. He stayed in the game, initially, to hit a corner 3-pointer that extended his NBA-record streak of games with at least 10 points to 1,036, but he called a timeout and took himself out, knocking a chair over in frustration as he went to the locker room
The Lakers have already been playing for weeks without Anthony Davis, who missed his 14th consecutive game with a right calf injury and won’t play again until April.
--We learned this week that former NBA player Shawn Bradley was paralyzed in a bicycle accident on January 20, details of which were just released. He was struck from behind by an automobile while riding his bike a mere block from his home in St. George, Utah. The accident caused a traumatic spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed. He underwent neck fusion surgery.
Bradley, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spent two years performing missionary work in Australia after his freshman year at Brigham Young. He was then drafted by the 76ers, spending the majority of his career with the Dallas Mavericks.
We wish him the best in his rehab efforts. A good man who didn’t deserve this.
--You know the saying, ‘The best trades are often the ones you don’t make?’ [Or in the case of the New York Mets, the best move was the one not made…selling the team to J-Lo and A-Rod.]
Such is the case with Deshaun Watson. At least seven women have now come forward accusing the Houston star quarterback of sexual assault and harassment.
Watson has broadly denied that he acted inappropriately and said in a Tuesday statement that he looks forward to clearing his name, but the hits just keep on coming.
Each of the last four women to come forward on Thursday worked in a spa or gave massages and claims that Watson exposed himself, and/or did other ‘stuff.’
The guy has a heretofore clean image and well-known backstory, growing up poor in Gainesville, Georgia, living in government housing, and then a home built for the family by the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. He then starred at Clemson, leading them to a national title, before Houston selected him with the 12th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. He donated his first game check to Texans cafeteria workers who had been affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Last month, Watson helped feed 10,000 underprivileged residents in Gainesville.
In his four seasons, he has the second-best all-time passer rating, 104.5, to Patrick Mahomes. The Texans had signed him to a four-year, $156 million contract extension last September, but after a miserable 4-12 season, with coaching changes and clashes with upper management, Watson has asked out and has been the focus of multiple trade rumors.
But the Texans have vowed to keep him. Watson insists he won’t return. And then this.
--On the free agency front, it was a week ago the Jets signed receiver Corey Davis, a great move, and then Saturday, the Giants helped out quarterback Daniel Jones immensely in signing Lions free agent Kenny Golladay to a 4-year, $72 million deal, with $40 million guaranteed, a staggering amount for a receiver these days. He’s had 1,000 yard seasons in 2018 and 2019, but was limited by injuries last season. At 6’4”, 214 lbs. he’s a big target, a la Davis.
Meanwhile, Jets fans. The signing of receiver Keelan Cole, who spent four seasons with the Jaguars, could mean the team unloads Jamison Crowder to clear cap space. I have no problem with that. Cole is solid.
We all just wonder, who the hell is going to be quarterback?
--The NFL and the networks reached agreement on a new 11-year deal, starting in 2023, with CBS, Fox and NBC (12 years with ESPN) that will mean Sundays and Mondays will look very similar for NFL fans, with CBS continuing to carry predominately AFC action, and Fox the NFC. NBC will broadcast the Sunday night game, and ESPN will hang on to Monday Night Football.
ABC will also enter the Super Bowl rotation, meaning the Monday Night Football crew – Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick – could call the game.
Streaming services of ESPN+, Peacock (NBC) and Paramount+ (CBS) will also carry games.
But the biggest, and most controversial, portion of the new package is having Thursday night games on Amazon, which is getting exclusive streaming rights. Local markets will still air games over broadcast TV, but other fans will need to be Amazon Prime subscribers.
Fox, CBS and NBC are all paying around $2 billion annually, basically doubling the amounts they are paying in their current deals. ESPN, which currently pays around $2 billion for its MNF package, will pay around $2.7bn in the new pact. Amazon is coughing up $1 billion for Thursday night games.
So you might be thinking, why would the networks pay so much when ratings for football were down across the board. Well, the NFL still delivered 33 of the top 50 TV audiences in 2020, including 14 of the top 20, according to data compiled by Sportico. As in advertisers will still pay up.
It’s not yet known what happens with DirecTV and their package.
--Both the Mets and Yankees will start the season with the ability to fill their stadiums to 20% of capacity. Proof of a negative test or immunization will be required.
But the Mets received some devastating news when starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, a key figure in the Francisco Lindor trade, suffered a right hamstring tear during sprints following his throwing session and he is probably out for three months, which really sucks.
But the Mets spent the offseason acquiring pitchers with some major league experience to plug in as needed and now we need at least one or two of these guys (like Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto) to fall into the “pleasant surprise” category.
Speaking of Lindor, he’s a free agent at the end of the season and he’s told the team he will not negotiate once the season starts and that’s 10 days from now. Any negotiations that have taken place are of the light variety and not serious, last I saw. A big mistake.
--The Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens is sandwiched between all kinds of major events, leading up to the Masters, and it suffers accordingly with a weak field as most of the big-time players take a week off.
So 40-year-old Aussie Matt Jones fired an opening round 61, followed it up with a 70-69, and as we began the final round today….
Matt Jones -10
Aaron Wise -7
J.B. Holmes -7
But that’s only half the story, as Wise started 64-64 and early in the third round, following two birdies on his first four holes, held a six-shot lead.
And then he lost it. Double-bogey on 6, bogey on 7, and four bogeys, no birdies, on the back nine for a 75, lead gone.
So today, Jones cruised to his second career PGA Tour win, and an invite to the Masters, a 5-stroke winner. The guy has a ton of game and will no doubt be a DraftKings favorite rest of the year.
--Rickie Fowler made a cut, opening 70-68, but then he went 78-71 and finished T65, falling in the FedEx Cup rankings to 127.
--54-year-old Steve Stricker, aka Mr. Cool, finished T13 and is actually now 110 on the FedEx Cup points list, meaning if the season ended today, he’d have a tour card for next year!
--Phil Mickelson made a second straight cut and ended up T25, important as he gears up for Augusta.
--Lee Westwood finally ran out of gas after his two runner-up finishes at Bay Hill and the Players, opening with a 70, but then shooting 78 on Friday. He needs a break.
--Catching up with the ratings news, 4.59 million tuned in for last Sunday’s final round at the Players, the best for a non-major since 2018, and the Tour Championship won by Tiger.
--The Bruins were forced to pause after four more players entered the league’s Covid protocol. Games Saturday against the Sabres and Tuesday’s against the Islanders become the 36th and 37th games around the NHL to be postponed this season for virus-related reasons.
--Wednesday, the Rangers’ entire coaching staff was forced into Covid protocol, just 2 ½ hours before the team hit the ice against the Flyers.
So with their minor league staff in charge, the Rangers clobbered the Flyers 9-0!
--Friday, the Capitals beat the Rangers 2-1 on two totally identical goals from Alex Ovechkin from in front of the net, giving him 14 goals on the season and 720 for his career, up to sixth all time.
Wayne Gretzky 894
Gordie Howe 801
Jaromir Jagr 766
Brett Hull 741
Marcel Dionne 731
Phil Esposito 717
Mike Gartner 708
I still marvel at Gartner, because I just never thought of him as a 700-club member, yet he had nine seasons of 40+ goals out of his 20 seasons in the NHL.
For their part, the Rangers got revenge last night, beating Washington 3-1.
FIS World Cup Skiing
They wrapped up the season this weekend and the men’s overall champion was France’s Alexis Pinturault.
And on the women’s side, Katharina Liensberger of Austria won the final slalom race over Mikaela Shiffrin at Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the same order as the final standings in the slalom discipline.
Shiffrin also finished second in the final giant slalom race, held today, an event won by New Zealand’s Alice Robinson. Shiffrin finished second as well in the final GS standings.
The overall Cup women’s champ, though, was Petra Vlhova.
With Covid spiking as it has been in Europe, it’s just kind of amazing they got the season done. Good for them.
--They held the FA Cup quarterfinals in England over the weekend and Southampton, Manchester City, Leicester City and Chelsea all advanced to the semis.
In Premier League action, West Ham, in Champions League contention, played to a 3-3 draw with Arsenal today, while Tottenham beat Aston Villa 2-0 to stay more than relevant.
Champions League hunt…Played (of 38) – Points
4. Chelsea 29 – 51…CL line
5. West Ham 29 – 49
6. Tottenham 29 - 48
--Tokyo Olympics organizers made it official…fans from abroad will be prohibited from attending the Games. You will still have a ton of officials, team coaches, etc. on site, as well as the athletes.
About 4.5 million tickets have been sold to Japan residents. Another 1 million may have been sold abroad, with the best guess 600,000. Before the postponement a year ago, organizers said a total of 7.8 million tickets would be available for the Olympics overall.
The local organizing committee is going to take a huge hit, having projected ticket income of $800 million, the third-largest source of revenue. Any shortfall will have to be made up by Japanese government entities.
If you already purchased tickets, like in 2019, good luck getting a refund, or if you do, the ticket broker will extract a huge fee.
--There are some who say I have ‘Man’ ranked too low on the All-Species List, to which I say how do you excuse the following?
From the BBC: “Six lions have been found dead and dismembered after a suspected poisoning in one of Uganda’s most famous parks.
“The lions were found in Queen Elizabeth National Park with their heads and paws hacked off, and their bodies surrounded by dead vultures, officials said.
“The Uganda Wildlife authority said it ‘cannot rule out illegal wildlife trafficking.’…
“These particular lions are known for their unique ability to climb trees.”
It’s a blow to the country as nature tourism makes up about 10% of Uganda’s economy, and plays a vital role in the conservation of animals.
At the same park in 2018, 11 lions – including eight cubs – were found dead after a suspected poisoning. A similar incident led to the deaths of five lions in May 2010.
--On a lighter note, the American Kennel Club, in its latest rankings to be announced this coming week, have the French bulldog second to the Labrador retriever, reflecting the relative numbers of purebreds, mainly puppies, that were added last year to the oldest U.S. dog registry.
In the eyes of their fans, French bulldogs have their charms, but AKC spokesperson Brandi Hunter says, “They’re not the type of dog to go hiking with you, but if you want a dog that’s going to snuggle up with you, be cute, be adaptable, minimal grooming…that’s the kind of breed for you.”
At No. 3 is the German shepherd, followed by golden retrievers, bulldogs, poodles, beagles, Rottweilers and German shorthaired pointers. Dachsunds made the top 10 for the first time since 2013.
Labs remain the most popular breed by a lot.
--We note the passing of Dick Hoyt, a fixture of the Boston Marathon, at the age of 80, cause heart failure.
Hoyt, who ran a record 58 Boston Marathons, completed 32 between 1980 and 2014 with his son Rick, a quadriplegic born with cerebral palsy, Dick pushing Rick in a wheelchair, which over the years became a powerful symbol of perseverance and possibility.
Team Hoyt’s enduring message was that people with disabilities can participate in everyday life.
--The Maryland Senate unanimously voted to scrap “Maryland, My Maryland!” as the state anthem. Gov. Larry Hogan will have the final say, the Maryland House of Delegates having also endorsed ditching the racist tune.
The pro-Confederate Civil War-era ditty features lyrics that denigrate Abraham Lincoln as a “tyrant” and call on Maryland to join the South in fighting “the Northern scum.” It was penned in 1861 and set to the melody of “O Tannenbaum.”
Outsiders know it as the song for the Preakness Stakes, as well as being part of the football game day repertoire for the University of Maryland’s marching band.
The school ditched the song in 2017, while the Maryland Jockey Club, which had switched to only the song’s least-offensive third verse (of nine) that year, decided to skip it for the 2020 running of the Preakness last year.
There is no tune lined up to replace it. For the Preakness, perhaps America’s “Horse With No Name,” or perhaps not……
Top 3 songs for the week 3/26/66: #1 “The Ballad of The Green Berets” (SSgt Barry Sadler) #2 “19th Nervous Breakdown” (The Rolling Stones) #3 “Nowhere Man” (The Beatles)…and…#4 “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” (Nancy Sinatra) #5 “Homeward Bound” (Simon & Garfunkel) #6 “Daydream” (The Lovin’ Spoonful) #7 “California Dreamin’” (The Mamas and the Papas) #8 “(You’re) My Soul And Inspiration” (The Righteous Brothers) #9 “Elusive Butterfly” (Bob Lind…liking this tune does not make you a bad person…typed the editor, who loved it as a kid…) #10 “Listen People” (Herman’s Hermits…underrated song of theirs… ‘A’ week…)
Men’s College Hockey Quiz Answers: 1) Minnesota Duluth won the last two titles, pre-pandemic, 2018, ‘19. 2) Cornell has two national titles (1967, 70), Harvard (1989) and Yale (2013). 3) Boston College and Boston University each have five titles. B.C. (1949, 2001, 08, 10, 12). B.U. (1971, 72, 78, 95, 09).
Boston College is first this season in the last national poll I saw.
Next Bar Chat, Tuesday p.m.