A GRIP ON SPORTS
Selection Sunday can either be the happiest day of the year or the saddest, depending on your position. But for most folks, whose schools already know their NCAA fate, it can also have no relevance whatsoever. Strike that. Very little relevance might be better. After all, just about everyone loves to get those bracket sheets and make their predictions, don't they? Read on.
• To me that's the most fun that comes out of today. Not the chance to see the school you root for have their name called – number of NCAA Division I championship appearances for my alma mater, UC Irvine: zero – but the chance to test your picking acumen in the nation's most-watched collegiate event. I used to enter bracket challenges just like the rest of you, but got out of that rat race years ago when I realized I was just throwing my dollar away. So now I do two brackets each year for my enjoyment – and nothing else. The first one includes the entire tournament, game one to the title game. That's the one I share with others, lamenting after the first weekend how many of my Final Four teams are on the sidelines. Usually, the bracket is irrelevant long before 16 teams board airplanes for their second trip. But my fun isn't over. Years ago my friend Steve told me his solution to second-week irrelevance and I adopted it. You pick the tournament round-by-round. That way if you are off on say six picks Thursday, no big deal. You just mark the mistake, write in the real winner and pick the next matchup. Every game then holds some significance for you. At the end of the tournament, you can see how many games you got right. I find it fun.
• Washington State: Christian Caple shares two things he knows in his morning blog post: The Pac-12 will be maligned today on the selection show and he hates conference tournaments. I agree with him on one but not the other. You figure it out. … The Cougars won't hear their name called on TV today, but they will be playing in the postseason. The CBI beckons. Hey it may not be the big dance of a few years ago or the little dance of last season, but it's a chance to keep playing, to get in a few more practices and to have your name in the paper and on TV for a while longer – and don't discount the marketing value for WSU athletic director Bill Moos. He understands the value of name repetition better than most.
• Gonzaga: The Bulldogs will hear their name called today and there is a lot of speculation about the results of that name-calling. Jim Meehan examines the bracketology of the moment (a moving target to be sure). … The WCC's automatic bid is in St. Mary's hands (this play helped them earn it) but the big question today around the conference is whether or not it will get three teams in. My prediction: it will. BYU is that third squad and though the Cougars are sweating, they deserve a bid. They deserve it a lot more than most western bubble schools, though geography isn't important.
• Whitworth: Jim Allen can't shake the feeling the Pirates were hosed in their NCAA tourney game Friday, as his blog post relates.
• Eastern Washington: Watched former Eastern Washington coach Kirk Earlywine put a couple of former Eagle players through some offensive drills yesterday afternoon at a local high school – why you might ask, and rightfully so; I am working a camp and the workout came afterward. Though I don't have any EWU stories to pass along, I do have links to Portland State's final game of the season, a 94-83 loss at Seattle U. … Only Big Sky champion Montana will be in the NCAAs after Weber State let down the state of Utah late in the season.
• Shock: The Arena League schedule called for the Shock to open Monday night and the late opener – the rest of the league will have played – turned out to be a blessing for Spokane. Jim Meehan has that story in today's paper, while Jess Brown adds a feature on Travis Williams. … The Utah Blaze lost in Texas and San Jose edged Arizona in a couple league openers Saturday night.
• Mariners: Yes, it is spring. And yes, spring training results are usually nothing to get excited about. But even the normally jaded Geoff Baker was impressed with the performances of Seattle's quartet of young pitchers Saturday. … A veteran arm, albeit experienced only in Japan, is ready to contribute. … John McGrath still laments the trade of Omar Visquel. … A Mariner laments his trade from his hometown team. … Catchers have to earn the respect of their pitchers, though you would think pitchers would worship the ground catchers walk on.
• That's our report on this rainy Sunday. By the way, take the S-R's weekly news quiz online today. Finish it, no matter how many you get right, and you can enter to contest to win tickets to the NCAA women's tournament at Gonzaga. Until later …