A big Saturday
There is no way today's honorary title is going to win – as I write this, it is in last place in your voting, with three lonely clicks – so we thought we would use it today before it is buried forever (BTW, we moved the poll up to this post; voting will end today). But it really has no correlation to the theme of today's post, which revolves around the importance of today's basketball games for area teams. Read on.
• Other than Gonzaga, today's local college basketball games take on an even greater importance due to Thursday night's losses. And even the Zags, 12-2 overall, need to defeat Santa Clara and raise their West Coast Conference record to 3-0 to keep pace with St. Mary's atop the league. But for the Cougars, Eagles and Vandals, it will be a lost weekend if they can't pull out a win today. And they all have tough tests.
• Washington State: The Cougars are 1-2 in conference play and will face a Colorado team that is coming off an easy win over UW. Christian Caple covers all the particulars in this morning's blog post. He also talked with Ryan Thorburn of the Boulder Daily Camera for this post looking at the Buffaloes. The game begins today at 1 p.m. and will be televised by Root sports. After Thursday's shocking 62-60 overtime loss to Utah, Ken Bone's team has to be a bit traumatized, but maybe that's a good thing. This year's group has shown the ability to follow up a bad performance – and Thursday certainly qualifies as that – with a much better one. After the Riverside loss, the Cougars bounced back with a winning streak; after the Oregon debacle, they handled Oregon State pretty well. Winning today won't be easy (Colorado is favored by five), but playing well and competing, now that's a must. … Christian also has quite a few Pac-12 basketball links on his post, so we'll just pass along a couple more, plus some football-related ones. … Mike Leach picked up a commitment yesterday from a California wide receiver. … Klay Thompson had his best game as a pro last night, scoring 14 points in the Warriors' 97-90 loss to the LA Lakers (read down the story for the Thompson news). … Oregon's LaMichael James made it official yesterday, he's taking his talents to the NFL. That decision was expected, but Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler's decision to declare for the draft was a bit less so. … Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson is not alone. … The Cardinal's 2012 schedule is worth examining, I guess. … Cal gets a commitment from a highly sought after Sacramento player. … Oregon basketball player Tyrone Nared returns Sunday from his knee injury. … The Arizona basketball team really needs its shots to drop. And the baseball team has some interesting new digs. … At an average of 28,791 folks in the stands each game, Washington State was once again last in attendance during the recent Pac-12 football season.
• Gonzaga: After the Zags put away Pepperdine with ease Thursday night, coach Mark Few praised the team's defense, saying they've played well on that end for the last four games. Santa Clara, with their guards Kevin Foster and Evan Roquemore, will test that defense this afternoon. It's a 5 p.m. start this evening on Fox 28 in Spokane. … Jim Meehan had this post yesterday and CBS sports has this game preview. … The Zags are favored by 19.5 points.
• Idaho: Fresno State comes to Moscow today with a chip on its shoulder and a 3.5-point underdog. The Bulldogs lost by 19 at Utah State on Thursday and will look to bounce back against the Vandals.
• Eastern Washington: The Eagles will host Northern Arizona in Cheney this evening, a much easier assignment than Weber State from Thursday. The most interesting thing about the Lumberjacks, who lost by 20 at Portland State on Thursday? Interim head coach Dave Brown is 70 years old and was the radio color guy a month ago (this story is bit old, but it gives you the background on how this came to be). Eastern is a 13.5-point favorite. … Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell took home the biggest award in the FCS.
• Whitworth: The 11th-ranked Pirates had to go to double overtime to defeat Pacific Lutheran, 103-94, last night. Whitworth will turn around today and face 16th-ranked University of Puget Sound.
• Preps: It was a big Friday night around the Inland Northwest. Coeur d'Alene swept the games in the school's annual Fight for the Fish battle with Lake City, though the T-Wolves did win the spirit trophy. Greg Lee has the coverage. … The biggest game in Spokane was between the Lewis and Clark and Gonzaga Prep girls, won 52-42 by the defending state champion Tigers. Freelancer Mike Vlahovich has this story.
• That's it for this morning. Remember to vote in our name this feature contest (the result will be announced Sunday morning). We'll be on Twitter today (@vinceg55) during the WSU and Gonzaga games, so join the conversation. Put me in your tweet and I'll try to answer your questions. Until then …