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Conference tournaments kick off the madness

A GRIP ON SPORTS

And so it begins. Read on.

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• Though the rest of the local college basketball conferences still have a week left in their regular seasons, the West Coast Conference tournament begins this week. When it is over, the conference's two NCAA teams – men's and women's – will have been decided. And then we'll move on to the Pac-12, the Big Sky, the WAC. The biggest favorites from around here: The Gonzaga women, the Idaho women (pictured) and the Gonzaga men. All dominated their league at some time during the season, stringing together long winning streaks and winning the title going away (the Vandals lead by three games in the loss column with two home games remaining). Otherwise, everyone else is battling to string together some wins and earn an unexpected NCAA bid. Heck, Eastern Washington, 9-9 in Big Sky play, is tied for the seventh and final spot in the Big Sky Conference tournament. The Eagles host Idaho State (8-10) and conference champion Weber State (13-5) this week needing at least one win to have a shot and two to secure a bid. But that what makes the next two weeks so interesting. We talk a lot about the one-and-done mentality of the NCAA tournament. Well, in a lot of cases, it has already started. It has for the Eastern men. And that's the madness of March.

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• WSU: With the weather warming up ... wait, sorry, I had to stop laughing. After the more than 6 inches of snow we received around here yesterday, that was tough to write. OK, I'm better now. With the weather expected to warm up sometime soon, college baseball season is underway. Jacob Thorpe uses today to preview the seasons of WSU and Gonzaga with this feature on Jason Monda (pictured). ... The Cougar left-hander (and left-handed hitter) reportedly had a bit of a run-in with the NCAA before the season, as did Oregon State's star pitcher. ... Jacob also has his morning links today. ... The WSU women will open the Pac-12 tournament with Oregon. ... Who will make the NCAAs from the conference among the men? It's still a mystery. ... Deone Bucannon's NFL dream is only a matter of time from coming true.

• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan returned to the blog yesterday with a second look at the Zags' rout of St. Mary's, finishing the WCC season. The conference announced the schedule for the postseason tournament yesterday as well, with the GU men and women earning a bye into the quarterfinals. ... BYU's men also will enjoy a day off. ... The WCC is better. It's a statistical fact, according to ESPN's ratings.

• EWU: Though they could still tie for the conference title, the Weber State Wildcats will host the Big Sky tournament. They own the tiebreaker over any team that could catch them.

• Preps: The state brackets were revealed yesterday with Shadle Park drawing the toughest assignment among local teams, drawing No. 1-ranked (and New York-bound) Rainier Beach in the 3A's first round. Greg Lee has more on the upcoming tournaments in this story.

• Seahawks: This might seem obvious, but Russell Wilson was a good guy even in high school. ... Goodbye Red Bryant. Hope you come back some day.

• Mariners: If there is one comeback story you should root for with the M's, it is left-hander Randy Wolf's. Mainly because Wolf (pictured) is trying to rebound from a second Tommy John surgery at age 37 but also because the M's really need starting pitching. ... The battle between Brad Miller and Nick Franklin for the starting shortstop position will have only one winner. ... The M's lost for the first time this spring, 6-3 to Cleveland though Wolf threw two scoreless innings. ... Finally, Robinson Cano's comments about the roster probably weren't well received upstairs. Too bad.

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• It's Monday. Believe it or not, spring sports in Washington high schools begin today. Look outside. You'll see what I mean. Until later ... 




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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