Time for the latest update of "Who Has To Come To Spokane" when the NCAA basketball tournament arrives at Gonzaga's McCarthey Athletic Center in mid-March.
That may sound like a bad thing, who has to come to Spokane and, well it is, sort of. Spokane isn't a bad destination by any stretch of the imagination, but McCarthey is. Read on.
Although there is no guarantee Gonzaga is going to be in the NCAA Tournament and therefore a first-weekend host, don't bet against the Bulldogs. Their domination of the West Coast Conference is getting out of hand. That said, it's still a fine line when so much hinges on one game in the league tournament.
I've mentioned this before but it would be 50-50 at best if GU got in without winning the WCC Tournament. And, once that happens, it's unlikely they would be seeded very high. So, the intrigue is which better seed is going to get sent to Spokane, where Gonzaga is really, really good (don't believe it, the Zags are home Thursday night and Saturday afternoon).
Anyway, ESPN.com has it's latest bracketology out. Charlie Creme touts the importance of road wins - this doesn't really pertain to Gonzaga. The Bulldogs missed their best chance in the season-opener at USC and nuetral sites in Hawaii (Mississippi of the SEC) and Seattle (Notre Dame of the Big East).
As for his bracket, he has moved GU from a 12 to 11 seed and the opponent is now Marquette, it was Wisconsin Green Bay. (Speaking of Green Bay, Graham Hays has a story that includes WGB assistant and former Idaho head coach Miike Divilibss ... and his Mid-Major rankings.)
Anyway, back to Bracketology. There are two Spokanes to look at. First is the small Spokane, that's the first two rounds at Gonzaga. Then there is the big Spokane, the Regional at the Arena.
NOTE: Just because Gonzaga is a host and if the Bulldogs win their first two games to reach the Regional/Sweet 16, there is no guarantee they'll be in the Spokane Regional ... and nothing I've seen yet has them Spokane-homebound if they match last year's magic.
According to Creme, what we would see here are three-six matchup of higher seeds. First the No. 3 would play at No. 14, in this case Michigan State against the Big Sky winner, currently projected as Montana State, which leads the league. Then it's the No. 6 vs. No. 11, that's the Marquette-Gonzaga game we mentioned. Notice those games are in the Philadelphia Regional.
On to the Spokane Regional. Any disappointment you feel about Gonzaga not being slotted for home if the Zags win two games the first weekend can be eased by the projects. The first thing to look at the top four seeds, because that's who's coming barring upsets. How about Tennessee and Stanford with a little Notre Dame and Iowa thrown in?
Tennessee you ask? Why would the Lady Vols (and U-Hi grad Angie Bjorklund) get sent here? Well, it's still Spokane and the four No. 1 seeds are seeded 1 through 4. Where are you going to send UConn (Philadelphia), Baylor (Dallas) and Duke (Dayton), clearly the first three seeds? So why Stanford, which beat UConn? Well, Stanford would be the first No. 2 seed, or fifth overall seed. Tennessee gets seeded higher for beating the Cardinal in Knoxville, but even if those two were flip-flopped for seeing, they would still be Spokane bound - where are you going to send Stanford?
Now, is all that clear as mud? If you have questions, jus ask. Anything I can't answer, Hays or Creme would be happy to help.
One more thing, as you know, the men's tournament sites have games Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday and the women's are Saturday-Monday or Sunday-Tuesday. Both Spokane weekends are Saturday-Monday.
Again, here is our link to today's notebook, focused on Gonzaga senior Claire Raap. Unfortunately I don't have the wherewithall to link the standings and statistical leaders. You can also head over to LeftCoastHoops for a Stanford perspective heading into Thursday's Top 10 matchup with UCLA and see where Gonzaga is in the Best of the West rankings. Michelle Smith also has a story at Fanhouse that includes Gonzaga's Courtney Vandersloot in a Terrific 12. Jayda Evans' blog at The Seattle Times had a fun link prior to the Seattle-Chicago NFL game ... at least for someone who saw one of the particulars play in the state tournament and spoke to her high school English class and met the other at the Final four.