A GRIP ON SPORTS • Did you turn on CBS’ NCAA selection show yesterday afternoon with one main objective? You know, to find out if Gonzaga was a No. 1 seed. And did it take you more than a half-hour to have that question answered? If you were observant, you knew the answer at the top of the show. Read on.
• As CBS’ show came on air at 2:30 p.m., I noticed something kind of strange. High on the wall behind the three talking heads, Greg Gumbel, Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis, were four logos. They were, from left to right, Gonzaga, Villanova, Kansas and North Carolina.
And guess who just happened to be the four No. 1 seeds?
Think I’m kidding about this early reveal? Nope. If you happened to record the broadcast, as I did, check it out. The set designer at CBS gave us an Easter egg.
And the NCAA didn’t give Gonzaga a whole bunch of favors.
The Zags open the tournament Thursday in Salt Lake City, which isn’t all that enamored with them. Why? Just down the road is Provo, home of No. 2 WCC rival BYU and many of those who will be in attendance this week are Cougar fans.
There is a difference, though, this year.
If Gonzaga were to go on to win the NCAA title, it would have just one blemish on its record: the home loss to BYU. Now, if I were a BYU fan, that would be something I would hang my hat on. After all, if you can’t win a national title, being the only team that defeated the team that did is a decent runner-up trophy.
So this weekend I would be screaming my lungs out, hoping the Zags will continue their winning ways.
But neither South Dakota State nor the 8/9 seeds, Northwestern and Vanderbilt, should be easy outs.
If you saw the Jackrabbits play in Spokane last year, you know they can give an unfocused team – in that case, Maryland – trouble.
However, I am putting my money on GU, mainly because SDSU lost twice this season to UC Irvine, my alma mater, by a combined 25 points. And I watched the Anteaters play some this season, which give me great confidence Gonzaga is a lot better than South Dakota State.
The next round will be tougher. Northwestern and Vanderbilt both are capable of beating just about anyone, as evidenced by the Wildcats defeating Wisconsin in Madison and the Commodores trifecta of wins against another GU foe, Florida.
If the Zags get to the Sweet Sixteen, the next weekend in San Jose will be an exciting one, but we have no idea of opponents, so we’ll save our prognosticating for later.
Just remember this. If the SLC crowd turns against Gonzaga again this season, as it did when the Zags struggled with Southern in 2013, I’m guessing Mark Few won’t be playing the University of Utah on the road the rest of his career.
Gonzaga: We have you covered with just about everything you need, Zag-wise, this morning. And the same can be said of the NCAA tournament. But back to GU. Jim Meehan was with the Bulldogs as the bracket was revealed yesterday and has a minute-by-minute story as well as a piece on their feelings about the draw. He also lays out the main reasons why Gonzaga can make the Final Four this season. … John Blanchette has a column on the seeding, with the West actually dominated by teams from the West. … We look back at every game the Zags played this season and what the odds are they keep winning. … Whitney Ogden examines the upcoming trip to Salt Lake City for Zag fans. … Dan Pelle and Colin Mulvany have a photo gallery from yesterday’s selection get-together. … As one could expect, Gonzaga’s No. 1 seed engendered some debate nationally, with the fairness of the pick seeming to be divided along geographical lines. But most feel the committee got it right. (I missed this story last month but thought I would pass it on now as the NCAAs draw near.) … Saint Mary’s had to wait until almost the very end Sunday to find out it was back in the tournament. … BYU didn't make the tournament, of course, but will play in the NIT. … The GU baseball team lost the rubber game of its series at Cal State Fullerton. No matter the sport, but especially baseball, I always root against the Titans. … Finally, the Gonzaga women learn their NCAA fate this afternoon. Jim Allen has a story on what they expect.
WSU: The Cougars swept Utah Valley State in baseball and have a seven-game winning streak. … The Pac-12 has three high seeds in Oregon, a three-seed, UCLA, also a three, and Arizona, the two in the West. … The Ducks have had an interesting week, to say the least. … UCLA has to be a bit worried what with the way the past week has gone. … The Wildcats think the 20th anniversary of their NCAA title might be a good time to win another. … The conference has another team in the dance, USC, which got in with the last-chance card. … Does Bill Walton mean the Pac-12 is the conference of NIT champions? Just wondering. That tournament features California, Utah and Colorado. … Stanford is already looking to next season. … Markelle Fultz's year at Washington is quite forgettable.
EWU and Idaho: The basketball season continues for the Eagles and Vandals, as they will play in the CBI tournament and the CIT, respectively. Jim Allen covers the particulars of their postseason in this story. … North Dakota is playing Arizona in the NCAA tourney.
Mariners: The pitching wasn’t very good yesterday and the M’s winning streak ended with a 9-2 loss to the Angels. … Though no one thinks the injury is serious, Shae Simmons is having an MRI on his elbow. … Taylor Motter has some nice hair. … Guess what. The M’s made a trade. Surprising, huh?
Sounders: Portland won a road match. That’s something it didn’t do last season.
• I’m sorry this is a bit late. I’m a body-clock person, as opposed to a real-clock guy, so the time change has upset my timing. Rising with the sun this week isn’t such a good idea. Until later …
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