Matthews: No Offense But Defense Rules In This NCAA Championship Matchup

NO OFFENSE BUT DEFENSE RULES IN THIS NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHUP

Defensive-minded basketball coaches at every level must be liking Monday night’s Virginia versus Texas Tech matchup for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

Virginia is ranked first in defense and Texas Tech is third among the nation’s 351 Division 1 schools.

Virginia is the 1-point favorite and the over-under (total points by both teams) is a mere 118.

It should be easier to preach defense to all young players – at least for now.

Here’s a Tale of the Tape:

(rank among the 351 Division 1 teams in parentheses)

Scoring defense – Virginia 55.5 per game (1)...Texas Tech 58.3 (3)

Field-goal percentage defense – Texas Tech 36.9 (23)...Virginia 38.4 (5)

Scoring – Texas Tech 73.0 (157)...Virginia 71.3 (211)

Field-goal percentage – Virginia 47.4 (39)...Texas Tech 47.1 (546)

3-point percentage – Virginia 39.4 (7)...Texas Tech 36.5 (70)

Free-throw percentage – Virginia 74.0 (68)...Texas Tech 72.5 (109)

Rebound margin per game – Virginia +5.2 (29)...Texas Tech +1.7 (121)

Turnover margin per game – Texas Tech +3.3 (25)...Virginia +1.9 (72)

Turnovers per game – Virginia 9.1 (2)...Texas Tech 12.3 (113).

How they got here in the NCAA Tournament:

Virginia -- 71-56 over Gardner Webb...63-51 over Oklahoma...53-49 over Oregon...80-75 (OT) over Purdue...63-62 over Auburn.

Texas Tech – 72-57 over Northern Kentucky...78-58 over Buffalo (that loss for the Bulls doesn’t look so bad now)...63-44 over Michigan...75-69 over Gonzaga...61-51 over Michigan State.

Virginia (34-3 record) lost twice to Duke (72-70 away on January 19 and 81-71 at home on February 9) and to Florida State 69-59 in the ACC semifinals.

Texas Tech (31-6) lost 69-58 to Duke in New York City on December 20, then lost three straight road games to Texas 68-64 on January 12, to Baylor 73-62 on January 19 and to Kansas State 58-45 on January 22; and at Kansas 79-63 on February 2 (2-4 record in a six-game span) and to West Virginia (13-19 record) 79-74 in the Big 12 Tournament on March 14. The Red Raiders have won five straight games since – all in the NCAA Tournament.

This would be the first NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship for Virginia or Texas Tech.

Virginia is favored by 1 point.

Bob’s pick: Texas Tech 63, Virginia 61. I’m impressed by Texas Tech’s four consecutive Tournament victories over Buffalo, Michigan, Gonzaga and Michigan State by a total of 55 points. Virginia was fortunate to beat Purdue in overtime and Auburn (the Cavaliers were helped by a non-call on a double dribble and a foul on a last-second three-point attempt and three subsequent free throws)...Virginia plays the slowest tempo in the nation but Texas Tech is used to that pace and also is a tenacious defense-first team...When in doubt, take the points: Texas Tech 63, Virginia 61.

If we’re fortunate, Monday’s night’s game will be as exciting as Baylor’s 82-81 thriller over defending national champion Notre Dame Sunday in Tampa.

SPRAYING BASEBALL HITS TO ALL FIELDS...

Which team is the biggest disappointment so far this early Major League Baseball season – the Chicago Cubs or the Boston Red Sox?

Both teams opened on the road. The Cubs are 2-7 and the Red Sox are 3-8.

Both teams need some home cooking. The home opener for the Cubs is Monday, 2:20 p.m., against Pittsburgh at Wrigley Field...The Red Sox open their home season Tuesday against Toronto, 2 p.m., at Fenway Park.

The Cubs have been outscored 71-62 (-9) despite a MLB-best .307 team batting average. The Cubs have a brutal MLB-worst 7.87 earned-run and opponents have a .316 batting average.

The Red Sox have been outscored 72-46 and their minus-26 runs is the worst in MLB.

Boston’s 6.97 ERA is the worst in the American League and opponents have a .294 batting average. The Red Sox have 10 HRs and opponents have 23 HRs.

It’s much too early to dismiss off either team as a playoff contender, but they’ll be in trouble if their pitching – particularly the bullpens – doesn’t improve by a lot.

xxxThe Rochester Red Wings open a three-game series Monday evening at the Syracuse Chiefs after going 1-3 in the season-opening four-game series at the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The Wings were outscored 25-8, outhomered 6-5, and rank 13th in the 14-team International League in team batting average (.181) and earned-run average (7.45).

xxxMike Trout (Los Angeles Angels) had 5 HRs in a four-game weekend series against Texas. He’s batting .393 (11-for-28) and earning his money.

xxxEntering last weekend, Major League Baseball was on pace for 6,185 home runs this season – 600 more than 2018 and 80 more than have ever been hit in a season. 2+ of every 5 runs (40.9 percent) had been scored on home runs.

xxxMost team HRs so far this season: Los Angeles Dodgers 24 in 10 games...Seattle 24 in 10 games...Arizona 19 in 9 games.

xxxBest and worst run differentials:Dodgers +36, Mariners +29, Phillies +20...Red Sox -26, Rockies -17, Reds -13.

xxxThe Dodgers have scored 84 runs in their first 10 games. Only the 1932 Yankees and 1999 Indians had more runs through 10 games...Seattle has HRs in the first 11 games and the Dodgers have HRs in their first 10 games. The MLB record is HRs in the first 14 games by Cleveland in 2002.

xxxEx-Red Wing Jorge Polanco on Friday night hit for the 11th cycle (1B, 2B, 3B, HR) in Minnesota history.

xxxUpdating the plight of Baltimore’s Chris Davis: 0-for-4 with 2 Ks Sunday; 0-for-23 with 13 Ks this season; 0-44 dating back to last season.

xxxThrough four games with Syracuse, Tim Tebow is batting .143 (2-for-14) with 1 2B, 2 RBI, 0 walks andstrikeouts. He left 10 runners stranded in the last two games. Teammate Carlos Gomez is batting .091 (1-for-11) with 5 strikeouts.

xxxFormer Pittsford-Mendon star Danny Mendick is making his hits count for the Charlotte Knights (International League).The 25-year-old shortstop is 3-for-17 (.176) through 5 games, but he had home runs in back-to-back games April 4-5 and has 6 RBI.

SABRES ACTUALLY IMPROVED THIS NHL SEASON

Of the NHL’s 15 non-playoff teams this season, 11 – including the Buffalo Sabres – failed to make the playoffs last season, too.

Here’s how this season’s 15 non-playoff teams fared compared to last season in terms of points in the standings (teams in italics made the playoff last season):

Montreal +25 (71 to 96)

Arizona +16 (70 to 86)

Buffalo +14 (NHL-fewest 62 points in the standings last season to 76). The Sabres also improved at home (11-25-5 last season to 21-15-5) and in goal differential (-81 last season; 199-280 to -45; 226-271). It wasn’t enough to save coach Phil Housley’s job.

Vancouver +8 (73 to 81)

Chicago +8 (76 to 84)

Detroit +1 (73 to 74)

NY Rangers +1 (77 to 78)

Edmonton +1 (78 to 79)

Ottawa -3 (67 to 64)

Florida -10 (96 to 86)

Philadelphia -16 (98 to 82)

Minnesota -18 (101 to 83)

Anaheim -21 (101 to 80)

New Jersey -25 (97 to 72)

Los Angeles -27 (98 to 71).

AMERKS HAVE AN AHL-MOST SIX 20-GOAL SCORERS...AND MORE

The Rochester Americans enter the final week of the American Hockey League regular season with six players with at least 20 goals – tops in the league.

Balanced scoring is one reason the Amerks are a legitimate threat to win the seventh Calder Cup in franchise history.

The six 20-goal scorers: C.J. Smith 28, Victor Olofsson 27, Zach Redmond 21, Wayne Simpson 21, Danny O’Regan 20, Taylor Leier 20 (10 goals each for Lehigh Valley in 34 games and Rochester in 31 games).

Also, Remi Elie has 8 goals in 24 games, Alexander Nylander has 12 goals in 49 games and Tage Thompson has 3 goals in 4 games. They’re expected to be active in the playoffs.

For the record, here’s a walk down nostalgia lane with the 20-goal scorers on Rochester’s six Calder Cup championship teams:

1964-65 (7) – Dick Gamble 48, Gerry Ehman 38, Bronco Horvath 38, Stan Smrke 33, Norm Armstrong 32, Ed Litzenberger 25, Wally Boyer (Pete Stemkowski had 17 goals in 35 games and Jim Pappin had 14 goals in 22 games).

1965-66 (5) – Dick Gamble 47, Gerry Ehman 39, Jim Pappin 36, Mike Walton 35, Bronco Horvath 27.

1967-68 (4) – Bob Barlow 43, Bryan Hextall 24, Bob Cook 22, Dick Gamble 20 (a trade engineered by coach/GM Joe Crozier around Christmas-time brought in Len Lunde 19 goals in 37 games, Murray Hall 17 goals in 38 games and Ted Taylor 14 goals in 37 games...Bronco Horvath had 15 goals in 44 games).

1982-83 (8) – Geordie Robertson 46, Mal Davis 43, Gary McAdam 40, Kai Suikkanen 33, Jean-Francois Sauve 30, Bob Mongrain 29, Yvon Lambert 26, Randy Cunneyworth 23 (Chris Langevin had 18 goals in 71 games, Jere Gillis had 18 goals in 53 games and Sean McKenna had 16 goals in 26 games).

1986-87 (5) – Bob Logan 30, Don Lever 29, Doug Trapp 27, Jody Gage 26, Gates Orlando 22 (Jimmy Jackson had 19 goals in 71 games, Ray Sheppard had 18 goals in 55 games and Claude Verret had 13 goals in 36 games).

1995-96 (6) – Craig Charron 43, Dixon Ward 38, Dane Jackson 27, Barrie Moore 26, Rob Conn 22, Scott Metcalfe 21 (Brian Holzinger had 10 goals in 17 games).

SHORT SHOTS

Tiger Roll on Saturday became the first horse to win the Grand National steeplechase race in back-to-back years since the great Red Rum in 1973-74 (he finished second in 1975 and 1976 and won it again in 1977 at age 12; Red Rum is considered the all-time greatest race horse in English history; he died at age 30 in 1995)...Tiger Roll was the smallest horse in Saturday’s 40-horse field and the 4-to-1 favorite. 19 of the 40 starters finished the race. Up For Review became the first fatality in the Grand National since 2012.

xxxFormer Rochester Knighthawks star Dan Dawson continues his comeback with the expansion National Lacrosse League San Diego Seals at age 37.In two weekend games Friday (3 goals and 3 assists) and Saturday (9 assists) he had 3 goals and 12 assists for 15 points. In 15 games this season, he’s tied for 10th in the NLL scoring race with 76 points (24 goals and 52 assists). I think the K-hawks could’ve used him this year.

xxxToday’s sports quote from super agent Scott Boras on how much Babe Ruth would be worth on the free-agent market today: “Up to $1.5 billion over a 10-year span wouldn’t be out of the question.”

xxxFormer Cleveland Browns running back Earnest Byrner and current Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi will be guests at the Cleveland Browns fans annual Brownsfest banquet Saturday, 6 p.m., at the Diplomat Party House. The banquet raises money for the Open Door Mission.

WRESTLEMANIA 35 RESULTS

If you care about pro wrestling – and lots of folks do -- you probably watched Sunday night’s Wrestlemania 35. In case you missed it, here were some of the highlights from the marathon show before 70,000-plus at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey:

It was a very good evening for babyfaces.

Crowd favorite Kofi Kingston finally got his shot after 11 years in the company and beat Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship. Kingston became the fourth black WWE champion, joining Mark Henry, Booker T. and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Seth Rollins pinned Brock Lesner after a low blow and a series of curb stomps to win the Universal Championship. Speculation is that Lesner is headed back to UFC for a lucrative match.

Becky Lunch defeated Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair in the concluding main event to win the WEE Women’s Championship.

AJ Styles beat Randy Orton.

Triple H pinned Batista in a no-holds-barred match.

Roman Reigns beat Drew McIntyre.

Finn Balor as The Demon won the Intercontinental title in 4:00 over Bobby Lashley.

Braun Strowman won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Rochester’s Luke Harper had a few bright spots.

Shane McMahon beat The Miz.

Samoa Joe made short work of Rey Mysterio.

The Ilconics won the WWE Women’s Championship.

The Usos retained the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.

Kurt Angle lost his retirement match to Baron Corbin.

Carmella won the Women’s Battle Royal.

Hulk Hogan, Jerry “King” Lawler, John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts made appearances.

HAPPY SPORTS BIRTHDAY TO...

Monday, April 8

J.T. Compher 24...Viktor Arvidsson 26...Yonder Alonso 32...Felix Hernandez 33...Carlos Santana 33...Genady Golovkin 37...Shaka Smart 42...Terry Porter 56...Fred Smerlas 62...Ricky Bell 64...Jim Lampley 70...John Havlicek 79. Patricia Arquette 51, Robin Wright 53 and Julian Lennon 56 are invited to the birthday party.

Tuesday, April 9

Tyler Lydon 23...Allen Crabbe 27...David Robertson 34...Milan Bartovic 38...Alexi Ponikarovsky 39...Bo Kimble 53...Helen Alfredsson 54...Hal Morris 54...Rick Tocchet 55...Freddie Joe Nunn 57...Kyle Macy 62...John Teerlinck 68. Dennis Quaid 65 is invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

April 8

53 years ago (1966), the AFL chose 36-year-old Al Davis commissioner...52 years ago (1967), 100-to-1 outsider Foinavon won the 121st Grand National by 15 lengths...50 years ago (1969), the Montreal Expos beat the New York Mets 10-9 in the first MLB game played in Canada...45 years ago (1975), Frank Robinson’s Cleveland Indians beat the Yankees 5-3 in his first game as MLB’s first African-American manager...28 years ago (1991), former jockey Bill Shoemaker was paralyzed in a car accident...28 years ago (1991), the Oakland A’s became the first pro sports team in the USA to ban smoking in its outdoor facility...18 years ago (2001), Tiger Woods won his second Masters by two strokes over David Duval.

April 9

84 years ago (1935), the Montreal Maroons beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 for a 3-0 series sweep for the Stanley Cup...72 years ago (1947), baseball suspended Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher for one season...60 years ago (1959), the Boston Celtics swept the Minneapolis Lakers 4-0 for their first of eight straight NBA titles...57 years ago (1962), Arnold Palmer won the third of his four Masters in a three-way playoff with Gary Player and Dow Finsterwald...34 years ago (1985), Tom Seaver of the White Sox made his record 15th Opening Day start...13 years ago (2996), Phil Mickelson won his second Masters by two strokes over Tim Clark.

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