FROM PULLMAN — The regular season is over for Washington State, which probably feels today about as good as a team with a 4-14 conference record can can feel. Two big wins over two solid teams will do that for you. We have links, notes and thoughts after the jump, so read on.
Sometimes, athletes — by nature competitive and self-assured — make such optimistic proclamations that it makes you wonder if they truly believe what they're saying. So in the midst of a 9-game losing streak, it might have been hard to believe WSU players when they kept insisting that a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament and possible championship was still within their grasp if they could only figure out how to win their close games instead of lose them. And while the Cougars are still considered quite the longshot to make much noise in Las Vegas next week, you can at least see what they were talking about — when they share the ball, play aggressive defense and attack the glass, they can make good things happen. And in the Pac-12 tournament, who knows? The smart money might not be on WSU, but postseason tournaments are often similar to bowl games: the teams that are playing the best at the end of the season — and the teams that truly want to be there — are usually the ones that have the most success. Well, there's never been a question about WSU's desire. And after the way they played this weekend, do you think Washington or Oregon or anyone else is going to look forward to playing them? Put another way: would you consider a WSU win over UW a sizeable upset? What if the Cougars beat Oregon, a team they already took to overtime and essentially dominated for two 20-minute periods this season? Stranger things have happened. … Some perspective is necessary, sure. WSU has several well-documented shortcomings that aren't just going to disappear because the Cougars won two games. Winning four games in four days is exceedingly difficult. But this weekend was cathartic enough that it also granted the Cougars a legitimate license to dream. And isn't that what March is all about? … In today's newspaper, we had our game story, and on the blog we had our usual tale of the tape post and some additional quotes. … I also covered the game for the Orange County Register, and you can read that story here. … Here's the AP story. … Here's the official Pac-12 tournament bracket with all of the pertinent game information. … WSU's first-round opponent, Washington, fell to the No. 6 seed after it lost yesterday, 61-54, to UCLA. The Bruins underachieved their way to the conference championship. They better fire their coach.
Around the Pac-12 … It was a fittingly sideways day in the Pac-12 yesterday, with Oregon again failing to show up with the Pac-12 title on the line, and Oregon State handing a perplexing loss to a Colorado team that had just thumped the Ducks. Go figure. … We'll start in Salt Lake City, where the Utes jumped out to a big lead and held on to top Oregon, which blew its chance at sharing the Pac-12 title with UCLA and snagging the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. … The action in Boulder was just as wild, with Oregon State winning its fourth conference game of the season, 64-58 over Colorado. … One game went as expected: Arizona defended its home court with a 73-58 win over Arizona State to claim the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 tournament.
That's all for now.