FROM PULLMAN — To me, this is always the second-best day of the year — just behind the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament. Yes, it's selection Sunday. And even though WSU won't hear its name called on the big show today, the Cougars should find out about their CBI future. Read on.
If you don't want to listen to the Pac-12 get trashed some more, then don't tune into CBS at 3 p.m. this afternoon for the selection show. I look at it this way — either the Pac-12 is only going to get one or two teams in (tournament champion Colorado and perhaps California) and the analysts will again lecture everyone about how bad the conference was this season, or there will be three teams selected (Colorado, California and regular season champion Washington), and the anaylsts will surely try to top each others' outrage over the fact that this horrendous league was granted three bids to the big dance. Oh well. I'll still watch every minute of it, mainly because I'm paid to, but also because it's one of the most exciting events on the sporting calendar. Here's a look at Joe Lunardi's most recent tournament projection. … Washington certainly doesn't sound too optimistic about its chances. And as Percy Allen points out in that story, UW will make history one way or the other — either the Huskies will become the first BCS conference champion to miss the tournament in the modern era, or they'll have the worst RPI of any team to ever make the tournament (presuming nobody ranked behind them sneaks in, too). … How many Pac-12 teams might wind up in the NIT? My guess is at least four — Washington, Arizona, Oregon and UCLA, though Stanford and Oregon State could make it, too. This projection of the field lists three Pac-12 teams, though it has UW making the dance, which seems unlikely at this point. … As for the Cougars, expect them to be announced as participants in the College Basketball Invitational, likely playing a first-round game Wednesday, likely on the road. The CBI typically releases its bracket on selection Sunday after the NCAA tournament and NIT fields have been selected. … Senior Jazmine Perkins became the first player in the history of WSU's women's program to be named to the Pac-12 all-tournament team. Lots of history made by the Cougs in Los Angeles this week. … The WSU baseball team lost to UNLV, 4-3, on Saturday. … Interesting story here about WSU-Vancouver and the possibility of adding its own sports teams in the future.
A SportsCenter anchor said something that got me thinking last night — you think it's a coincidence that the Ivy League, heralded for the collective intelligence of the students attending its member institutions, is the only conference that doesn't have a tournament? They're smart in more places than the classroom. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't think conference tournaments are good for the game. To the big boys, it's not usually an issue (unless you're talking about this year's Pac-12, but that's a different beast entirely). But imagine being a mid-major team that fights through a 14 or 16 or 18-game schedule to win the regular-season conference title. Big whoop. All that gets you is a better seed into the conference tourney, which requires you to win three more times before you can lay claim to an NCAA bid. Why even play the season? What's the point? And if you're in a BCS conference and put together a season like Syracuse did this year, where's the incentive to want to win the Big East tournament? Aren't you better off losing the first day and resting before the tournament starts? The Orange were going to be a No. 1 seed regardless. Teams like that have no reason to care about the conference tournament. And teams that didn't play well enough during the regular season to earn a bid don't deserve to compete for one during a three or four-day tournament at the end of the season. OK. Rant over.
In Pac-12 tournament championship game news …
Colorado 53, Arizona 51: It figures that a team with no chance at an at-large bid would win the conference tournament. Still, gotta hand it to the Buffaloes. They surprised a lot of people in their first year in the Pac-12, and managed to win four games in four days in Los Angeles despite struggling away from Boulder all season. They did it with defense. And with a whole bunch of students watching. Arizona now awaits word from the NIT, along with half of the Pac-12. Asked if the Wildcats could sneak in to the NCAAs, Sean Miller responded: “No.”
Some more links from around the conference: Is a 24-win season enough to get Cal into the tourney? … ASU continues to battle the transfer bug. … Missed this George Schroeder column yesterday about Dana Altman and the Nebraska opening. … Another Schroeder column about the improvement Oregon showed this year. … Utah can find success by following the Oregon State model, says Bill Oram. … BYU, WSU's first football opponent this season, is getting plenty out of an unheralded receiver.
All for now. Check back later today for news on where WSU will be headed this week, as well as a link to our bracket challenge — we'll use one of the tournament contest sites, likely Yahoo!, and post the log-in details here for anyone who wants to join. The winner will get a blog post dedicated to them. Real big-budget stuff, I know.