Thinking Out Loud: Big East of old was back at MSG this year


Thinking out loud…while wondering if women see men as fun to argue with? Even if a man wins one of those, he loses…

March Madness. Did you know the term first came from an Illinois High School official in 1939? I didn’t either.

It was, however, made popular in the 80s by then-CBS broadcaster Brent Musberger, and first used by Brent in 1982. He should’ve copyrighted that sucker, he’d be rich today…wait, wut?

First year in maybe forever…certainly since ’82…that I actually know where to find TruTV on my television at home.

Not for nuthin’, but how’s your bracket looking today?

Princeton, Furman? Good on ‘ya. Welcome to March Madness lore.

Total NCAA distribution from this year’s tournament to schools? In excess of $638 million. The more you win, the more you earn for your school – and conference.

One of those weird coincidences…that every Big East school played Friday in the NCAA’s. So the league was both winless and unbeaten on the opening day of play.

Villanova and Seton Hall were bounced quickly in the NIT. Nova had injury issues with both Cam Whitmore and Justin Moore playing at Liberty, and Seton Hall took a ‘quick’ trip to Boulder, Colorado before losing to the Buffaloes.

Tyler Kolek’s postseason accolades continue to reach stratospheric heights. The Cumberland, RI native and Big East Player of the Year at Marquette was named an all-American this week by several national entities. We can say we ‘knew him when.’

The USBWA (United States Basketball Writers Association) named both Bryce Hopkins and Devin Carter to the District I (RI, MA, CT, NH, ME, VT) 1st team, and Ed Cooley nosed out Dan Hurley as the District Coach of the Year.

The Big East appeared very much to be the Big East of old this year, selling out all five of their sessions at Madison Square Garden at 19,812. The Big 12 also announced an increase in their postseason tournament attendance – but no one else comes close to selling out every game in the building.

Did you see where the Big 12 actually had to pause the Iowa State-Baylor game because there was a nail protruding from the boards on the floor? Gives new meaning to the term ‘nail-biter,’ doesn’t it?

Noticed in Greensboro, NC this week you could walk up and get a ticket, at the window for their four first-round games (including PC’s), for as little as $7. Of course, the flight to North Carolina might have cost you $700 or more. Just sayin’.

And I certainly don’t know how they compile these numbers…but the analytics firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas estimate employers lose $17.3 billion in productivity from their workers during March Madness.

That’s up a billion more than last year. More jobs, more people slacking in them. Sounds like a campaign slogan to me.

We mentioned here a couple of weeks ago that Clemson and Florida State are more than a little unhappy with the ACC’s present revenue sharing plan. Looks like that grumbling is gaining steam on Happy-Happy Tobacco Road – North Carolina AD Bubba Cunningham is also calling for unequal revenue sharing among league membership.

With the ACC schools locked into their Grant of Rights contract until 2036, there is little-to-no wiggle room here. So, in other words, the cranky schools are saying those that produce results – should receive the majority of benefits.

Not great news for Boston College, certainly.

Absolutely a big weekend in Friartown overall – not just with the men’s basketball team in North Carolina for the NCAA Tournament, but the men’s hockey team is in the Hockey East semifinals against Boston University at TD Garden…with a potential NCAA tournament berth at stake.

The transfer portal opening wide at the conclusion of the regular season may be one of the dumbest things college basketball could do to itself. Realizing, of course, that teams in the postseason have games to prepare for, they now also must begin re-recruiting players for next years’ teams.

Never a dull moment for a college coach these days. And Brown’s Paxson Wojcik is in the portal as a grad student and has been hearing quite a bit from teams all over the country – including Butler in the Big East.

Coach Thad Matta was in Rhode Island for a recruiting visit just as the Friars were departing for the NCAA Tournament.

The latest – four local players (and counting?) have entered the transfer portal – Abdou Samb and Ish Leggett at URI, Charles Pride at Bryant and Brown’s Wojcik. More than 800 players around the country have entered the portal in the first few days since the regular season ended.

NCAA research has released a report that shows 89 percent of all student athletes are graduating – the highest grad rate ever recorded. In college hoops over the past three years, men’s teams are graduating at an 84% rate, women’s teams at a 94% rate.

Former Massachusetts Governor and brand-new NCAA Grand Poobah Charlie Baker has a few priorities in mind he’d like to get accomplished – the first of which is to meet with as many NCAA members as possible and hear their own ideas for improvement. Sounds like a politician already at work.

Betting and bettors within March Madness – 45 million Americans will wager more than $3.1 billion on the tournament, according to the American Gaming Association. And this doesn’t include that office bracket currently being won by the secretary who picked teams based on their team mascots.

What about the Rhode Island College women’s team? They have reached the NCAA Division III Final Four this weekend, playing Christopher Newport in Hartford. The Anchorwomen are 28-3 on the season, with only two players averaging double figure scoring. That’s serious balance.

And CCRI’s women’s team has reached the second round of the NJCAA Division III Tournament being held in Rochester, Minnesota.

ICYMI – former Friar Kris Dunn has re-upped in Utah with the Jazz for the rest of this season – and next season, too. The Jazz need a lead guard, Dunn needs another team to showcase his improved shooting and improved health.

My buddy “Big E” sez after all these years, he can definitely keep a secret. It’s just the people he tells them to who can’t.

Ok, show of hands. Who’s worried about the Celtics, and who thinks they’re “load managing” both physically and mentally? I vote for the latter – it’s all about the postseason.

Good piece of info from @BostonSportsInf on Twitter: As of midweek, the Bruins’ Linus Ullmark’s win total is equal to or better than 17 teams’ total wins in the NHL.

Found it very hard to listen to much of sports radio this week, no matter what the discussion encompassed. All the chatter about the Patriots laying back and doing nothing, letting other teams strike first during the ‘legal tampering’ period? Much ado about nuthin’.

Not for nuthin,’ but when will anyone learn – the Patriots march to their own drumbeat when it comes to building a team? Now, the drum major might be a little offbeat.

Who’s coming? The Juju Smith-Shuster pickup definitely improves the receiver room. If YAC is what you’re looking for, you may have the right guy for it.

But the Patriots could still use a #1 out wide. Someone that makes a defense alter their gameplan just for his speed.

Devin McCourty and Jakobi Meyers’ contributions will be missed. McCourty, especially, in the locker room as a leader and veteran presence. Meyers – because he was reliable if unspectacular.

Hence, his signing with the Raiders and the Patriots opting for Smith-Shuster for basically the same money Meyers received.

Mike Gesicki has a history with Bill O’Brien. It isn’t a major move, but it is one blow back against the Dolphins as the Patriots try to avoid slipping closer into irrelevancy in the AFC East.

If the Pats don’t get a true #1 at wideout, Gesicki will be a mismatch guy they’ll try to exploit over the middle of the field. He has excelled there in the past. I like the thinking.

Two words here about Brian Hoyer: It’s time.

FWIW – both Dallas and New England are claiming they have the MOST social media followers in the NFL, following their exploits. 10.7 million total followers, for both, according to Instagram, Twitter, TikTok.

So…what happens when TikTok dries up and goes away, or when it gets banned in this country? Do the Chinese really care about NFL free agent tampering?

For those of you who love watching men in tights…the Big 12 announced this week they will hold their own conference-wide ‘pro day’ next year, in Frisco, TX to replace the individual school pro days that are held.

XFL TV ratings started strong as the season kicked off, then waned in subsequent weeks. So the league is moving more games to ‘over-the-air’ platforms like ABC and ESPN instead of FX.

But attendance numbers are solid – witness the 40,000+ in attendance for the St. Louis home opener. For spring football.

LIV Golf is unable to trademark its name, blocked by a Miami nightclub (LIV Nightclub on Miami Beach), inside the Fountainblue Hotel. Greg Norman has taken another loss – this time to a South Beach disco.

On the positive side of “you can’t make this stuff up,” the WBC story on the Nicaraguan pitcher (Duque Hebbert) who played so well for his country – striking out three MLB stars playing for the Dominican Republic – he was signed by the Detroit Tigers in the parking lot afterward? Priceless.

But if you’re a fan of the Tigers…

The Czech Republic baseball team is the only WBC team comprised of non-pro players. And they still beat China, with firefighters, sales reps and high school teachers on their roster. Their manager is a neurologist by trade, too.

Some don’t like the WBC. A way for baseball to generate money and interest? Sure. A way to let a little emotion enter the picture? Absolutely. And that’s what an oft-boring product needs these days. Throw a little flag-waving into the mix.

And then Mets’ pitcher Edwin Diaz gets injured, tearing his patellar tendon celebrating Puerto Rico’s win and his perfect ninth inning performance over the Dominican Republic? Awful to have something like that happen, but hey, that’s on him.

He gets a pass – the Mets don’t know how to celebrate.

Without at least some of the games’ stars involved, there’s no real reason to play the WBC, or even watch it.

Speaking of watching…the other night, did you notice Great Britain’s uniforms? Some of the worst, maybe ever. Plain, overly simple, boring font, looking like they came straight out of a bargain basement sale or right off the press in a t-shirt shop.

Stick to futbol, fellas.

Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments, and local stories to We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here!  Would appreciate the follow on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and join in on Facebook, ...

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