Matthews: N.C. vs Gonzaga Could Be A Classic


College basketball fans of Kansas, Villanova, Kentucky, Duke and a very few other teams might not agree, but Monday night’s NCAA men’s basketball championship matchup between North Carolina and Gonzaga arguably features the two-best teams in the land.

North Carolina plays the role of bully. The Tar Heels are going for their sixth NCAA championship. They’re loaded with former blue-chip recruits. They’re accustomed to playing in prime time before huge crowds (averaged 18,067 per home game and 16,006 overall this season). The Atlantic Coast Conference is generally considered the best of them all.

Gonzaga plays in the relatively modest West Coast Conference. The Zags often appear in TV games in the late evening. Their average home crowd was around 6,000 this season (5,293 overall). Coach Mark Few relies heavily this season on two transfers (Nigel Williams-Goss and Johnathan Williams), a grad student (Jordan Matthews), a 7-foot-1, 300-pound bruiser from Poland (Przemek Karnowski) and a terrific freshman center (Zach Collins) who averages 10 points and 5.9 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game.  It will be interesting to see if Few gives more minutes for Collins Monday night.

Here’s the Tale of the Tape:

Records – North Carolina 32-7…Gonzaga 37-1…The Tar Heels played a tougher schedule overall…The only loss for the Zags was 79-71 to visiting BYU Feb. 25 in Spokane.

Scoring – North Carolina is averaged 84.8 points and outscoring opponents by 14.0 points per game…Gonzaga is averaging 83.1 points and outscoring opponents by 21.8 points per game.

Field-goal percentage – North Carolina .469 (opponents .415)…Gonzaga .509 – second only to UCLA in Division I (opponents .365)

Three-point FG percentage – North Carolina .362, 7.2 made per game (opponents .338)…Gonzaga .381, 7.3 made per game (opponents .295)

Free-throw percentage – North Carolina 43.7 (+12.7 per game)…Gonzaga 40.5 (+7.2 per game).

How they got here in the NCAA tournament – North Carolina 103-64 over Texas Souther,.72-65 over Arkansas, 92-80 over Butler, 75-73 over Kentucky and 77-76 over Oregon…Gonzaga 66-46 over San Diego State, 79-73 over Northwestern, 61-58 over West Virginia, 83-59 over Xavier and 77-73 over South Carolina.

The bottom line – North Carolina is favored by only 2 points…Both teams are deep…North Carolina usually controls the boards but the Zags have the size to hold their own Kaminsky vs. Kennedy Meeks will be like two dinosaurs fighting to the death…The Tar Heels probably are more athletic overall. Gonzaga probably is the better-shooting team overall.

My pick – The Tar Heels were all out to beat Kentucky and Oregon. They’re due to play a better game.  Surviving the ACC wars can’t hurt. North Carolina by 5.


The probability ratings for the 2017 Major League Baseball season by the trusty FiveThirtyEight sports computer tout the defending champion Chicago Cubs as the team to beat and is down on the New York Mets and the Yankees.

The favorites (projected record, run differential and probability to win the World Series):

Cubs 98-64; +158; 14 percent

Dodgers 95-67; +130; 11 percent

Indians 94-68; +117; 11 percent

Astros 90-72; +79; 8 percent

Nationals 92-70; +97; 7 percent

Red Sox 88-74; +61; 6 percent.

A few other teams:

Mets 87-75; +55; 4 percent

Yankees 80-82; -11; 2 per4cent

Orioles 78-84; -28; 2 percent

Padres (rated the worst) 68-94; -116; no chance to win World Series


While the New York Yankees were missing a few opportunities to hit a grand-slam home run during Sunday’s 7-3 Opening Day loss at the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees broadcasting team mentioned all-time Rochester Red Wings home-run hero Russ Derry.

Before Derry set the single-season Red Wings record with 42 HRs in 1949 and the team career record with 134 HRs (1947 through 1952), he spent some time with the Yankees in 1944 and 1945. A few of the team’s regular outfielders (including Joe DiMaggio and Tommy Henrich) were wearing other uniforms in World War II.

In 1945, Derry became one of six Yankees to hit two HRs on Opening Day. The others were Babe Ruth and Samuel Byrd in 1932, Mickey Mantle in 1956, Roger Maris in 1960 and Joe Pepitone in 1963.

One of Derry’s home runs that afternoon in 1945 was a grand slam. He became the first of only four Yankees to hit a grand-slam HR on opening day. The others: Bobby Murcer in 1981, Alfonso Soriano in 2003 and Alex Rodriguez in 2006.

In 1945, the left-handed hitting Derry played in 78 games with the Yankees. He batted .225 (57-for-286) with 13 HRs and 45 RBI, with 31 walks and 49 strikeouts. He was traded to Philadelphia after that season. In 69 games with the Phillies in 1946, he hit .207 (38-for-184) with 0 HRs and 14 RBI. He was traded to the St’ Louis Cardinals after that season and spent the next five-plus seasons with the Red Wings.

Derry, a Missouri farmer in the offseason,  was given a tractor by grateful fans during his stint with the Red Wings. When he returned to Rochester in 1989 as a charter member of the Red Wings Hall of Fame, he said that tractor still was operational.

Russ died in 2004 at age 88.


Here are some notes on The Masters courtesy of WalletHub:

250,000 – The number of people to visit Augusta, Ga., each year for Masters festivities

Average resale ticket prices -- $1,566 Thursday…$1,409 Friday…$1,391 Saturday…$1,366 Sunday

620 percent – The increase in live telecast hours for Masters TV coverage from 1956 (2 ½ hours) to 2016 (18 hours)

$250 – The cost of producing g each green jacket

90 percent – The percentage of the world’s golf cart that were  made in Georgia

$30,000 – Reported initiation fee to Augusta National

$4,000 – Annual dues to members of Augusta National

$161.9 billion – Combined worth of Augusta National members Bill Gates and Warren Buffort

300 – Total members of Augusta National

4 minutes – Commercial time allowed per hour during TVG coverage

$35 million – Total ticket revenue 2017

$117. 5 million – Impact of Masters on Augusta’s economy

$10 million – Total purse.


The Rochester Razorsharks entered this season with three straight Premier Basketball League titles and six in the league’s nine-year history. They’ll be trying to four-peat this week (and possibly next week) against the Kentucky Wildcats in the best-of-three Finals:

Game 1 -- Thursday at Owensboro Sportscenter in Kentucky, 7:30 p.m.

Game 2 – Sunday, 2 p.m., at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial

Game 3 (if necessary) – Tuesday, April 11, 7 p.m., at Blue Cross Arena.

In one-game semifinals Sunday, the RazorSharks beat the visiting Jamestown Jackals 98-91 and the Mavericks beat the visiting Ohio Bootleggers 109-97.

Sharks coach Chris Iversen now is 36-2, including 23-1 at home. The only loss was 87-77 to Kentucky Feb. 28. The Mavericks won two of the three meetings this season. Rochester won `115-110 at Kentucky March 18.


The Amerks have won five of their last games and five of their seven remaining games will be at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. This would be an exciting scenario entering the Calder Cup playoffs if the team had qualified for the tournament. Maybe next year.

The Knighthawks are a long shot to make the National Lacrosse League playoffs after Saturday night’s 11-9 home loss to Calgary. The K-hawks have four games remaining and could need to sweep them to make the postseason. Goaltender Matt Vinc and his defense have been fine all season. The problem has been the promising but very young offense. Rochester is averaging a league-low 9.57 goals per game. That simply won’t do in this league. The suspension of classy veteran Dan Dawson is the last thing this team needed.

One Rochester team that will surely have firepower is the brand new Kings of the CAN-AM Indoor Football League. They won their debut game 56-48 Saturday night at the Bill Grays Iceplex at MCC. They play at the New Hampshire Brigade Friday and the next home game will be Saturday, April 15 against the undefeated (3-0) powerhouse Vermont Ducks. The season is eight games, the team owner/GM is Felix Joyner and the dancers are called the Queens.

The Buffalo News notes that that four top high school lacrosse teams from Section VI recently played four teams from Section V. Webster Thomas, Greece Odyssey Athena, Spencerport and Penn Yan beat Clarence, East Aurora, Williamsville North and St. Francis by a combined 52-17.

The Buffalo Bisons have added outfielder Chris Coghlan, the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year with the Florida Marlins.


Monday, April 3 – T. J. Brennan (28)…Kam Chacellor (29(…Jay Bruce (30)…Jason Kipnis (30)…Picabo Street (46)…Rodney Hampton (48)…Pervis Ellison (50)…Jack Del Rio (54)…Steve Ludzik (56)…Eddie Murphy (56), Alec Baldwin (59) and Doris Day (95) are invited to the birthday party.

Tuesday, April 4 – Frank Kamnsky (24)…Ben Gordon (30)…Roberto Luongo (38)…Scott Rolen (42)…Allan Houston (46)…Dale Hawerchuk (54…Ray Fosse (70)…Mike Epstein (74)…JoAnne Carner (78). 


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