The college basketball season has begun, and fans will not have to wait a moment longer to see the first upset of a Pre-Season Top Ten team. Tom Izzo and Michigan State were ranked #4 in the pre-season polls; they invited James Madison to come to East Lansing for an early season contest. Sparty was favored by 16.5 points with Money Line odds of minus-1600 but JMU took the game to OT and won outright 79-76. Yes, this was an upset that had to surprise Michigan St. fans and those who backed them at the betting window. But I remembered that JMU was a good team last year, so I went to check the record:
- Last year was the first year that James Madison played Sun Belt Conference basketball.
- Their record in conference was 12-6 and their overall record was 22-11.
- The Sun Belt Conference is not the Big-10 but a team that wins 22 games is pretty good no matter what conference they are in.
Here are three telling stats that reveal how Michigan St. managed to lose this game:
- The five starters for the Spartans shot 0 for 17 from three-point range.
- Overall, Michigan St. shot 1 for 20 from three-point range and only 26 for 72 from the field (36.1%).
- From the foul line, Michigan St. was a measly 23 of 37 (62.2%).
Moving on … Another sporting event began last weekend. The first round of the Canadian Football League (CFL) playoffs took place. In this first round, the results were pure chalk:
- In the East, Montreal (12-6 in regular season games) hosted Hamilton (8-10). The Alouettes were 4.5-point favorites and easily won and covered by a score of 27-12.
- In the West, BC (12-6) was an 8-point favorite to beat Calgary (6-12) and managed to cover with a score of 41-30.
- Two teams had a BYE for the first round. Those teams were Toronto in the East and Winnipeg in the West.
On Saturday afternoon, November 11th, the Montreal Alouettes will visit the Toronto Argonauts to determine the Eastern Division representative in the Gray Cup game to be held in Hamilton on Sunday November 19th. Here are a couple things to know about this matchup:
- Toronto’s regular season home record this year was 9-0. The Argonauts were 16-2 overall.
- These two teams have played 3 times in 2023 and Toronto has won all three games by a cumulative score of 97-57.
- Toronto is a 9.5-point favorite here with a Total Line at 50.5 points.
Later in the evening on November 11th, the BC Lions will travel to Winnipeg to take on the Blue Bombers; the winner will be the Western Division representative in the Gray Cup game. Hers are a couple things to know about this game:
- Winnipeg’s regular season home record this year was 8-1. The Blue Bombers were 14-4 overall.
- Winnipeg is the highest scoring team in the CFL averaging 33 points per game.
- These teams met twice in 2023 and Winnipeg won both games by a combined score of 84-40.
- The Blue Bombers are a 4.5-point favorite in the game with a Total Line set at 49.5 points.
Switching gears … Bayern Munich is a team in the German Bundesliga – – the top level of soccer in Germany. As of this morning, they are in second place in that league only two points behind the current leader, Leverkusen. I mention this because I ran across a report that said that Bayern Munich chose not to renew a “sleeve sponsorship deal” with Qatar Airways.
- [Aside: The first thing I had to do was to find out what a “sleeve sponsorship deal” was. Turns out that Qatar Airways pays Bayern Munich 20-million euros a year for the right to have the name “Qatar Airways” printed on the tops of the sleeves of the players’ jerseys.]
The next thing that caught my attention in the report of this decision – – after I got past the idea that such a sponsorship could possibly be worth that much cash to the sponsor – – was that the report said this was a “victory for the fans”. It did not make sense to me that fans would want the team to have less money to throw around on players and facilities, so I kept reading. This decision by the club was in response to protests by fans who are also activists for international human rights and those fan-activists do not appreciate Qatar’s record along that dimension.
When/if I ever find a Bayern Munich game on TV, I will try to remember to look for the blank spot on the sleeves of the players’ jerseys – – or to look for what new sponsor the team acquired for that now-available real estate.
Finally, apropos of nothing, let me close here with two views of the opera:
“The opera … is to music what a bawdy house is to a cathedral.” [H. L. Mencken}
“People are wrong when they say that opera isn’t what it used to be. It is what it used to be. That’s what’s wrong with it.” [Noel Coward]
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………