This reveals how ridiculous scheduling is in the SEC: Alabama and South Carolina play Saturday for the first time since 2010. Since Alabama lost that game, perhaps there is a reason.

Oh yeah, the next meeting isn’t until 2024.

So two teams in the same conference will play each other just once during a 13-season stretch. That is embarrassing.

But these same jokers don’t mind playing teams like Charleston Southern and Wofford every November.

The best part is that Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban – who hasn’t experienced a happy day since he was age 7 – loves to complain about the schedule.

Good thing he coaches in a conference that is just as backward as he happens to be.

Time to be a grown man Nick and tell your conference that the league’s scheduling policies are asinine.

If a conference can’t figure out how to make some of its members play each other more than once in a 13-year stretch, it is time to boot some teams out, pump up the number of conference games or cut out the November body-bag games.

Or perhaps do all three.

Here is the stellar preview —




This game involves an FCS team and is on ESPN2. LOL. Perhaps ESPN’s schedule maker got his or her start in the SEC. Here is the stellar long form preview — — and the stellar capsule-like preview —


Hawaii is 2-0 against Pac-12 teams hoping to make it three straight. Either Hawaii is kinda good or the Pac-12 is once-again bad. Probably the latter. Here is the stellar preview —




Some columnist ordered the Bengals to get rid of Andy Dalton a few weeks ago. Cincinnati ignored the advice. Interesting to see Dalton pass for a career-high 418 yards in his first game in coach Zac Taylor’s progressive system. Here is the stellar preview — 


Sam Darnold of the Jets has mononucleosis and most of us don’t want to know how he got it. Then there’s Baker Mayfield of the Browns doing a lot of yapping and his team loses its opener by 30. Here is the stellar preview —


Melvin who? Holdout running backs can be forgotten quickly. Austin Ekeler made it harder for Gordon to get his cash. And hey, the Lions, the team that blew an 18-point lead in their opener and needed an overtime field goal to attain a tie. Here is the stellar preview — 


Pittsburgh sure won’t miss helmet-head Antonio Brown in the locker room but it remains to be seen if the offense will click without him. Seattle’s Russell Wilson tossed five touchdown passes against the Steelers in 2015. Here is the stellar preview –


Weekly links is back …

Something is seriously wrong with Antonio Brown’s head.

Perhaps that outdated helmet caused him to get his bell rung a little too often because the thinking part of his brain is severely damaged.

The stellar receiver has been nothing but a headache for the Oakland Raiders after wearing out his welcome with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And it appears Brown will be suspended for Oakland’s season opener on Monday against the Denver Broncos.

Brown must have majored in drama in college because that is all he is producing thus far. The Raiders might be forced to part ways with a guy who might have trouble finding another team to put up with his nonsense.

Of course, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving organization.

The stellar preview can be found here —



Le’Veon Bell wants to carry the ball 50 times but who knows how stubborn Jets’ play caller Adam Gase sees things. Buffalo sent LeSean McCoy packing and is ready to rely on three backs to carry the load. … Here is the stellar preview —


Andrew Luck’s stunning retirement leaves Jacoby Brissett in control of the Colts. The Chargers still have Philip Rivers behind center while Melvin Gordon is holding out and nobody seems to miss him. … Here is the stellar preview —


Seattle robbed Jadeveon Clowney from the Houston Texans while Russell Wilson is carving out a legendary career. The Bengals typically don’t know what they’re doing and new coach Zac Taylor is praising Andy Dalton, a tune that may be different at the end of the season. … Here is the stellar preview —




Freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier looks like he might be the real deal based on a strong debut against Florida State. Marshall doesn’t figure to enjoy its view of the blue turf — or the scoreboard. … Here is the stellar preview —


Nate Stanley will finish his career as Iowa’s leader in career touchdown passes and he figures to throw a few against hapless Rutgers. The fact the Scarlet Knights are in the Big Ten continues to be one of college football’s biggest jokes. … Here is the stellar preview —


Remember this contest when Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban whines about how tough his team’s schedule is this season. The 55-point underdog Aggies are there just to collect a check — and hope none of their players get paralyzed. … Here is the stellar preview —


Someone named Anthony Gordon passed for 420 yards and five touchdowns in his first career start last weekend, which further proves that anyone can be a star in Mike Leach’s high-powered Washington State offense. Northern Colorado’s chances of slowing down the Cougars start at slim and will probably drop to none. … Here is the stellar preview —


The Golden Bears beat the Huskies 12-10 last season, making it clear Chris Petersen’s team were complete pretenders. Hard to see another upset on the horizon with Washington looking for its 16th straight home win. … Here is the stellar preview —

#SeaPort #WithoutTheVillage was a tremendous vacation.

But it is now over and will be forever remembered by Tweets.

I learned I could never live in cities like Seattle and Portland and that Eastern Oregon is a complete wasteland of nothingness. I found out Seaside is the best place on the Oregon Coast and that the Haystack Rock is pretty impressive in real life as well as pictures.

I learned the Seattle Mariners aren’t very good. Oh wait, I already knew that.

And I anointed Fernando Tatis Jr. as the second-best player in San Diego Padres’ history. Behind some guy called Gwynn.

There was lots of driving as I put nearly 1,800 miles on the car after putting up just 1,700 over the first seven months of the year. That is one of the perks of being talented enough to be your own entity and work from home.

Five hotels in seven nights and there is nothing like that situation to make you appreciate the bed at home.

And my pillows! Why are all the hotel pillows so soft? You pile up four on top of each other and you still sink to the bed. Had to put a blanket in a pillowcase to get sleep at one of the hotels.

And casino smoke … it is still the worst.

What a great vacation … let’s enjoy the latest version of Vacation by Tweets:

August 1


August 2

 August 3

August 4


August 5

August 6


August 7

August 8

August 9

The least popular United States women’s national soccer team has deservedly been called a lot of names.

Add this one: World Cup champions.

Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle scored the goals as the United States posted a 2-0 win over the Netherlands on Sunday in the World Cup final in Lyon, France.

Rapinoe scored on a penalty kick in the 61st minute and Lavelle added a conventional goal eight minutes later to lead the Americans to their fourth World Cup title.

“It’s surreal,” Rapinoe said during a postgame interview on FOX. “I don’t know how to feel right now. It’s so ridiculous.”

The 34-year-old Rapinoe, with her purple hair and feisty attitude, was named the top player of the World Cup. She also is the symbol of this team and even mixed it up with President Donald Trump over a possible White House invitation.

To sum it up: No chance in hell she’s hanging out with the reality show prez.

Hard to blame her for that stance.

Rapinoe was calm when she lined up for a penalty kick awarded after a high kick by Stefanie van der Graft of the Netherlands on Alex Morgan. She easily put the ball in the net for her sixth goal of the World Cup and 50th of her career.

Lavelle put on a show with a fantastic run to put the game away in the 69th minute. After the great run, she unleashed a stellar left-footed shot past Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal.

The most impressive thing is Lavelle doesn’t look big enough or strong enough to kick a ball downstairs. But she sure packed a nice hard shot while scoring her third goal of the World Cup.

“For her to get that reward tonight on the biggest stage that you possibly can, I am so proud of her,” Rapinoe told FOX. “She’s a superstar, not even in the making. She is straight up superstar at this point.”

However, there was an arrogance to this team that wasn’t always so pleasant.

Other teams around the world — heck, even Americans — weren’t impressed by some of the nonsense.

Pouring it on in a record 13-0 win over Thailand was silly. And celebrating goals 11, 12 and 13 like they were game-winners was flat-out embarrassing. The dogs should have been called off when it was 10-0.

And the whining after the game by coach Jill Ellis that men’s soccer players wouldn’t have come under the same scrutiny was lame.

Wow. Just wow.

Does Ellis not pay attention to men’s sports? Ever heard of the NFL or NBA or MLB? Guys in those sports are shredded all the time for their actions. Ask any NFL player who makes a huge mistake to cost his team a game what happens.

Then there was Alex Morgan’s taunting of England with the cup of tea celebration after scoring a goal. She had the nerve to say it was a double standard that she was being criticized.

Um, no Alex, you were criticized because it was a stupid maneuver. Were you going to break out the chopsticks if the opponent was China or Japan?

What is comes down to is this: These women get attention just once every four years. The rest of the time they are under very little scrutiny.

So when they are on the big stage and suddenly under the microscope, they don’t know how to handle it. They want their usual little cheerleader following but struggle to deal with the pressure that comes with the territory.

You know, the stuff male athletes deal with all the time.

So four years from now, please leave the double standard crybaby stuff at home. If you want to be treated like male athletes, then that means dealing with both good and bad developments.

So not the most likable women’s soccer team we’ve seen. But certainly a very good one as they set a record with 26 goals while winning their second straight World Cup.

And one that will be remembered for years.

“We’re crazy,” Rapinoe said. “That’s what makes us special. We just have no quit in us. We’re just so tight and we will do anything to win.”

A decade has sped by faster than Usain Bolt can run.

Shortly after 10 p.m. on Sunday night, I celebrated my 10th anniversary of living in Boise.

Doesn’t seem remotely possible that this is true. I thought NFL seasons flew by in a matter of weeks when I was covering that team that used to call San Diego home but here we are talking 10 years of living somewhere.

Ten years flying by like it’s been three.

The bridge at Celebration Park.

There were way too many challenges my first six years in the Potato state (Oh yeah, the natives can’t stand that people from the other 49 states refer to them that way). But the last four have been pretty darn good.


Off the top of my head, there were these bad things …

–No jobs available in my profession in 2009, and no real-person jobs for me to land until finally finding one that called for duty from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. (Not good for someone who prefers going to sleep at 3 a.m., as opposed to waking up at that hour).

–I landed my first online writing job in 2010 but it wasn’t fitting well with the 4 a.m. job. I slept two hours here, three hours there for 17 months. I often went to the 4 a.m. job with one or zero hours of sleep. I would pound 40 ounces of Diet Coke in me before I entered the place. At the same time, I got crushed on taxes and was making monthly payments until August. I also had gigantic credit card debt from my move and not having work that I had no chance of paying it off. I finally hit the wall hard. Major anxiety disorder in June of 2011 and a super tough summer.

–All seemed well in 2012. I had reached an agreement on a financial plan the previous summer and told the person I dealt with I was so glad I wouldn’t need to buy a car for five years. Minding my own business at a stoplight in April 2012, I looked in the rear-view mirror to see a car traveling way too fast. A second later, it plowed into me, totaling my lovable red Mustang and leaving me with six months of back pain with weekly visits to a physical therapist and chiropractor. Oh yeah, and now I had car payments ahead of schedule. Idiot woman was texting while driving, something Idaho folks do all the time for some reason.

–Undergoing another skin cancer surgery in early 2013 was familiar ground but this time, the aftercare didn’t go right. The wound, on my left arm, became badly infected. About six weeks after surgery, things were finally under control.

The Mustang rests in heavy snow in 2010.

–Was trying to buy a house in early 2014 and I felt it was about 100 times more stressful than it should be. Then another hefty tax bill ensued and I finally called it off. But I still felt horrible every day and it just kept getting worse — way worse than the 2011 anxiety issue. That lost summer was the hardest time period of my entire life and I finally hit bottom in mid-August. But it got me in front of a doctor who had solutions rather than the typical guesswork. Things stabilized and I made the slow climb back to normalcy.

–Again, I thought things were great in early 2015. Then I get the call one day that 50 percent of the work was going away at my online gig. Well, I just got hit with another high tax bill and was still rebuilding my financial life so this was a horrible development. Lost $7,000 out of the savings account in six months until I reached my turnaround point. At this point, I’m kind of like — ‘Is anything ever going to go well living here?’


Off the top of my head, there were these good things from that point forward …

–Talk about blessings in disguise. Turned out I knew one of the main managers at the company that was responsible for 50 percent of the work going away. So I got hired there at the start of the 2015 football seasons and that stabilized a lot of things. We worked out of a virtual database so I actually had journalistic co-workers for the first time in six years. Good for relationships. I was getting paid hourly for editing shifts and that was a boon for the income as that was the first hourly pay I had received for journalism work as my own self-employed business entity. And I was still getting paid per writing assignments and now I had two companies giving me writing work. I had so much work and not enough time that I cut out all the live local freelance game coverage I was doing.

–In 2016, my income was finally on an uphill plane. So good that it didn’t appear real. I was actually able to save money again and my awesome bank branch manager got me working with their financial planner and I got all my retirement stuff consolidated and began growing that as well. It hurt to find out Obamacare could penalize you after the fact per the amount of premiums you pay so taxes remained a problem, but after sinking for so long with very little hope, I knew I was really truly moving in the right direction.

Awesome Camel’s Back Park.

–Back to the house purchasing hunt in 2017 and boy were there hurdles. A $2,712 car service bill in January – my car literally froze to near-death in polar bear weather – and then $9,500 in taxes to pay. I was close to giving up again but the mortgage officer somehow found a plan to where my interest rate would still be the same and my down payment would be a little less but I would still get approved for the amount I was shooting for. Unbelievable. So on June 29 I closed on the three-story mansion. A better house than I ever dreamed of being able to buy. Would cost close to $1 million in San Diego. After all the years of cramped apartments, I feel like I live in a miniature village. On top of that, my income for the year was the highest of my entire life. Being my own entity was paying off big.

–Talk about more good fortune. I made the second-most money I’ve made in my life in 2018 because I had the foresight to change jobs. Had a lot of help as my favorite co-worker had made the move and he kept calling and emailing me, telling me I had to leave. The same guy who hired me in 2015 was one of the two co-owners of the company too. Funny thing is, I discussed a job but had no vision of how it would work out for me so I initially stayed put and was going to watch how things go. A week later, I knew I had to take the job. Nearly 18 months later, I can say it is the best job I’ve ever had (sorry, newspaper that no longer exists). Oh yeah, the company I left? It folded on Dec. 31, 2018. #Blessed


Kind of interesting to look back at 10 years off the cuff like this. I faced way too many challenges the first six years of living here. Some of it doesn’t even seem real any longer.

But things finally got going in the right direction in the latter part of 2015 and have continued to move on a good path. My current work gig is awesome. Great co-workers and all my skills are used in a proper manner. My house is outstanding. Have my own work office, have a partial view of the foothills (a true perk in Boise) and my garage is twice the size of multiple apartments that I’ve lived in.

San Diego will always be Paradise but I’m not lying when I refer to Boise as Paradise Jr. You are doing pretty good if those are the only two places you’ve lived in your life.

And nobody cares any longer that I’m from California. They did in 2009, I can tell you that. Especially that police officer that pulled me over from a half-mile ahead and ticketed me even though I did nothing wrong. (My co-workers insisted it was because he saw the CA license plates). But I fought it and the prosecutor agreed and the charge was dismissed.

Spectacular Shoshone Falls.

Somehow, I am now a local. I know this because last summer I was out getting exercise and a couple interrupted me. They flew over from Seattle for the day, and after I answered their questions, the man said ‘Sure is a nice town you have.’

As I continued my exercise, it was going through my mind — ‘Nice town I have? My town? This is my town?’

It started to sink in … if I’m able to give directions and answers at that high of a level, I guess it is my town.

So here on my 10th anniversary, I will finally say it: “Boise is my town.”

Now if the next 10 years can go just a little bit slower.

Remember when Kawhi Leonard was a lousy 3-point shooter in college at San Diego State?

Did you cringe when he air-balled the tying 3-point attempt as time expired in the NCAA Tournament loss to Tennessee?

As in, “Nooooooo, not him!”

Funny how a guy who couldn’t shoot — he made a porous 25 percent of his 3-point attempts in two seasons — is now the most lethal player in the NBA.

Let’s get this out of the way: The Golden State Warriors have Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant (hurt or not), Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

But the best player in the NBA Finals suits up for the Toronto Raptors … Kawhi Leonard.

The NBA Finals start Thursday night in Toronto and Leonard has carried the franchise to the finals for the first time in franchise history.

(Stellar preview here — …)

The San Diego State product is the best player in the NBA.

Leonard is averaging 31.2 points and 8.8 rebounds in the postseason and provided the most dramatic moment with his game-winning 3-pointer to win the second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers. His shot from the right corner bounced four times on the rim before dropping through.

The former NBA Finals MVP with the San Antonio Spurs is again being mentioned as one of the league’s best players after he evaporated from that discussion last season when he played in just nine games due to a quadriceps injury.

There are only a few players in the discussion but Leonard has no interest in participating in it.

“I’m not playing the game for that reason,” Leonard told reporters on Wednesday. “I’m playing to have fun and try to be the best player I can be. I’m happy with myself and what I have done in my career and I’m just going to keep on from there. It’s not about me being famous or want to have more fame. It’s about me playing basketball and having fun on the floor.”

Leonard is slated to become a free agent in July so this could be the Raptors’ one-and-only Finals opportunity with him on the roster. He will be a super rich man wherever he chooses to go.

Oh yeah, he is also somebody who can shoot. The outside shooting issues were a factor in why he only went 15th overall in the 2011 NBA draft.

But Leonard obsessively worked on the weakness and kept getting better and better. The weakness eventually turned into a strength and he has made more than 100 3-pointers three times during his career.

Heck, he has drained 40 so far this postseason.

The guy who couldn’t shoot in college now does it all. He’s got the inside game, the outside game, the court awareness, the competitive fire and is one of the best defensive players in the league.

Say it with me: The best player in the NBA is Kawhi Leonard.

The Raptors have a chance to win the NBA title simply because he is on the roster.

Where were you in 1984? How about 1980?

Virginia and Purdue fans know those answers and one of those schools will end a long drought on Saturday.

That’s Virginia that last reached the Final Four in 1984, several months before Tony Gwynn and the San Diego Padres reached the World Series for the first time.

Purdue’s most recent Final Four appearance was 1980, the same season in which it looked like Don Coryell was going to guide the SAN DIEGO Chargers to the Super Bowl but the Weather Gods in Cincinnati froze out that scenario.

In other words, it has been a looooong time since either Virginia or Purdue has reached the pinnacle of college basketball.

The winning coach — either Virginia’s Tony Bennett or Purdue’s Matt Painter — will no longer have to hear about falling short so often either.

Heck, how many times do you think somebody has yelled “UMBC!” at Bennett?

I can’t tell you who will win this game — Virginia can’t possibly score 60, can it? — but I can tell you I handled the national preview duties so at least you will be on top of things as you watch.

 Here is the stellar preview, courtesy of the New York Times …


Might as well drop my Thursday night recaps here (I love discovering Netscape still exists): 

Purdue 99, Tennessee 94 (OT) 

Virginia 53, Oregon 49




Well, if you followed my advice per the West Region, you’re doing good in March Madness. I went 4-for-4 on my Sweet 16 picks.

This week, my national assignments are to cover the South Region so we will see if I can nail that one too.

Of course, your bracket can’t be changed now unless you are an expert at removing red ink.

Anyway, look for Virginia and Purdue to move on to the Elite Eight.


Virginia vs. Oregon

The Cavaliers appear to have put last season’s embarrassment behind them — you know, being the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 when UMBC walloped Virginia by 20 points.

The key for the Cavaliers will be to play the contest at their pace and an Oregon team that has played ferocious defense over the past month figures to make sure the matchup on Thursday night is low scoring.

So look for Virginia to produce just enough offense to prevail.

Here is the stellar preview —

(permanent link if you click the above after tipoff — )


Purdue vs. Tennessee

This is a tough one. You feel like you can’t go wrong no matter which way you pick.

The Volunteers are better at basketball this season than they typically are. And the Boilermakers are 0-4 in Sweet 16 games during coach Matt Painter’s 14-season tenure.

It all depends on which Carsen Edwards shows up. If the 42-point version is back, Purdue definitely wins. But if the 9-of-28 shooting version shows up Thursday night, you probably will see Tennessee celebrating afterward.

I’m going to forecast Edwards to score around 25 to 30 points and that will be enough for Purdue to slide by the Vols.

Here is the stellar preview —

(permanent link if you click the above after tipoff — )


MLB Opening Day Special

Guess it is about time to accept that Manny Machado is a member of the San Diego Padres.

The guy who wouldn’t hustle in the World Series received a 10-year, $300 million deal from the Padres as the franchise single-handedly saw their frugal reputation overturned.

I wasn’t looking for the Padres to sign Machado but as I learned when I was a kid, they don’t ask my opinion over what moves they make.

If they had, I would have told them trading George Hendrick to the St. Louis Cardinals was an idiotic idea. Then Silent George spent the next decade proving I know more about judging baseball players than the dopes running the Padres at the time.

So Machado is in San Diego and we know he will produce. But it would be a major plus if he wasn’t a horse’s ass 82 percent of the time.

In San Diego, they like baseball players to hustle. Of course, they want to remember what it feels like to win. Machado definitely helps that part of the quest.

So, um, yeah, welcome to San Diego, Manny! It is only 90 feet to first base! Run Manny Run!

Here is the stellar preview —

What the heck is Ja Morant doing at Murray State?

The second-best player in college basketball typically plays for a national program.

What a huge miss by all the elite coaches. Guess they were too busy telling their middlemen which players to steer their way for cash.

Morant once actually played on the same summer team in South Carolina with the best player in college basketball — Duke’s Zion Williamson.

Since I first heard of Williamson when he was in ninth grade, you know coaches were already watching his games and trying to establish a relationship.

And the point guard passing him the ball that one summer was Morant … and none of these so-called experts noticed?

LOL … so many coaches act like they are ultimate geniuses when it comes to assessing talent. Many of them are so not experts.

Kind of like two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry playing in ACC territory and none of those schools thinking he was good enough to play at that level.

So Curry becomes a legend at tiny Davidson and you can still see the egg on the faces of all those silly coaches.

Kawhi Leonard is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and an NBA Finals MVP. None of the Pac-12 coaches thought he was all that good so he ended up at San Diego State.

There are hundreds of other such stories because let’s say it how it is — identifying which teenagers are going to become college stars isn’t always that easy.

Here are the schools Morant had to choose from — Maryland Eastern Shore, Duquesne, South Carolina State and Murray State.

After Morant chose Murray State, apparently South Carolina coach Frank Martin became aware of him and offered him a scholarship. Clemson also learned of him and get this, the Tigers wanted him to be a walk-on.

Wow. Pay more attention to young basketball players in your state and less attention to the Confederate Flag.

Anyway, Morant is now the star of the NCAA Tournament after posing the tourney’s first triple-double in seven years. He will try to guide the Racers into the Sweet 16 on Saturday when they take on Florida State.

Here is the stellar preview …


–Charles Matthews looks healthy and that is a good thing for Michigan. I picked Florida to beat unraveling Nevada but Gators will need a huge effort to beat the Wolverines … Here is the stellar preview …


–Buffalo has won 32 games but doesn’t feel like it has been receiving enough respect. Well guys, you can solve that problem by beating a tough Texas Tech team. … Here is the stellar preview …


Might as well store my NCAA Tournament recaps somewhere. My website seems to be the best place.


–Florida State 76, Vermont 69


–Murray State 83, Marquette 64


–Florida 70, Nevada 61


–Michigan 74, Montana 55


–Texas Tech 72, Northern Kentucky 57


–Buffalo 91, Arizona State 74

You may know that I am a seven-time winner when it comes to filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket.

Guess it does help being an award-winning college basketball writer.

And now I am about to help you clean up in the West Region on your bracket.

At least it gets you one-fourth of the way towards winning the March Madness cash.

If you are in the same bracket competition as me, please ignore everything below this point.

OK, I am hooking you up with the comprehensive view of the West Region so you know the best matchups, key players and all the other inside info.

I’ll let you in on this right now — Texas Tech is going to the Final Four. The Red Raiders nearly got there last season before losing to eventual champ Villanova in the Elite Eight. That suffocating defense gets them a spot this season.

Sorry Gonzaga and Michigan.

Here is the stellar Breaking down the West Region …


All the previews below are on big hitters like ESPN and Yahoo but disappear at tip-off. So we are going with links to a site where they remain visible throughout the game.

Vermont-Florida State, Thursday

Vermont is from the same conference as UMBC, the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1, so keep an eye on the Catamounts. America East Player of the Year Anthony Lamb gives Vermont a chance to stick with the Seminoles, an athletic bunch that whipped Gonzaga in last year’s tourney. … Here is the stellar preview … 

Murray State-Marquette, Thursday

Do-it-all guard Ja Morant is worth the price of admission (oops, forgot they are paying ME to watch this game). He will try to lead Murray State to an “upset” of Marquette in a game that looks pretty even. The Golden Eagles have a star of their own in Markus Howard, who fires up long-range aerials from all parts of the arena. … Here is the stellar preview … 

Florida-Nevada, Thursday

The Gators don’t have that impressive of a record but they sure look like a team that can win multiple games. It is a good break for them to draw a Nevada team that had some issues down the stretch. The Wolf Pack made the Sweet 16 team last season but don’t appear to have that special chemistry they had last season before Sister Jean and Loyola-Chicago ended their run. … Here is the stellar preview …

Montana-Michigan, Thursday

The Wolverines opened with Montana in last year’s tournament and ended up in the championship game. They get the Grizzlies again in an oddity that shows you that several of the committee members must have fallen asleep on the job. Or perhaps meant to write down Michigan State as Montana’s opponent and messed up. Bad luck for the Grizzlies. … Here is the stellar preview …

Northern Kentucky-Texas Tech, Friday

The Red Raiders are not a team that will lose to Northern Kentucky. There is no chance that Texas Tech loses to Northern Kentucky. Texas Tech will easily beat Northern Kentucky. Yeah, I just had a flashback to 2012 when I picked Missouri to win it all and the Tigers were beaten in the first-round by 15th-seeded Norfolk State. … Here is the stellar preview …

Buffalo vs. Arizona State, Friday

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley coached Buffalo to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015. Now he will try to end the program’s best season. He hired Nate Oats — now the coach — and regularly speaks to him. Bet the chatter is diminished until after the contest. … Here is the stellar preview …