He acknowledged that he missed Durant for a potential wide-open dunk to give Thompson a 3-point opportunity that clanked off the rim.

As college basketball moves deeper into conference play, Western Kentucky, 6-1 in Conference USA through Jan. 22, is popping into projected brackets. Which is great news if you love March upsets — not just because the Hilltoppers are good enough to take on top seeds but also because they are volatile enough to have beaten Purdue and SMU yet lost to Ohio and Belmont.

Inconsistency pays for underdogs. After all, if a team such as WKU makes the NCAA tournament, nobody will care if it loses its opening game by 1 or 51. So it needs to amp up the variability of its play, taking extra chances to boost its odds of eking out a win. Kevin Hutson and Elizabeth Bouzarth, math professors at Furman and longtime partners on ESPN’s Giant Killers project, have come up with a new way to measure which teams are scrambling the college hoops universe with unpredictable results — and priming for success in March.

“This new program will supplement, and not replace, our other key social responsibility efforts, including Salute to Service, cancer awareness, domestic violence/sexual assault and youth programs,” Tod Leiweke, the NFL’s chief operating officer, wrote in a memo sent Friday to teams. “Several clubs, often in conjunction with their players, have established separate funds to promote these efforts in their communities, and we look forward to discussing additional ways of developing local programs involving clubs and their players.”

Asked if he was concerned that Savage was allowed to return, O’Brien pointed out that he doesn’t control that and added that he would have kept Savage out if he had seen the video.

“They just come to me and that’s kind of where that’s at,” he said. “I don’t have anything to do with that. All I do is coach.”

Because he is in the concussion protocol, Savage did not speak with reporters after Houston’s loss, but Chris Nowinski, the founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation and Boston University’s CTE Center, angrily tweeted that he was “disgusted” that Savage returned. “I would not let my worst enemy go through the 2017 #NFL sideline concussion protocol.” He continued that “the protocol is breached weekly. No one is punished. We pretend it didn’t happen.”

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