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Grip on Sports: It may be just another winter Sunday but, thanks to college basketball, that’s always OK

Virginia's Kyle Guy drives against Duke's Grayson Allen on Saturday in Durham, North Carolina. Guy scored 17 points in the No. 2 Cavaliers’ 65-63 win over the No. 4 Blue Devils. (Ben McKeown / Associated Press)
Virginia's Kyle Guy drives against Duke's Grayson Allen on Saturday in Durham, North Carolina. Guy scored 17 points in the No. 2 Cavaliers’ 65-63 win over the No. 4 Blue Devils. (Ben McKeown / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There is Easter Sunday, which is a big deal. As is its antecedent, Palm Sunday. There is Selection Sunday and Super Bowl Sunday, both of which have a special place in sports fans’ hearts. But Pro Bowl Sunday?  C’mon man. Read on.

••••••••••

• Where were we? Oh ya, dissing on the Pro Bowl – in a ranking of all-star games, the Pro Bowl is just behind whatever Nascar does; and if that’s nothing at all, then the Pro Bowl is still behind it – and marveling at college basketball.

Nothing changed when we took a day off.

If you had a chance to watch yesterday, you were lucky. My experience was a bit limited by circumstances, but I made sure to see much of the showdown in Durham between No. 2 Virginia and No. 4 Duke, even if it was on my phone.

Afterward, I texted back and forth with former Washington State coach Tony Bennett to remind him of some thoughts he had back in the day concerning winning in Cameron. Old sportwriters, like elephants, can’t fit into 36-inch pants. Wait, I mean they never forget.

Speaking of 36-inch pants, former Washington Post sportswriter (and author of many books, including the heralded “Last Shot: Mystery at the Final Four”) John Feinstein talked with Gonzaga coach Mark Few about the hangover from last season. And, no, reading his story this morning will not spoil your usually good Sunday walk.

The Zags played an exciting game last night, probably more exciting than Few would ever want. The first 10 minutes of the game with USF looked as if it would be typical Gonzaga WCC blowout. The next 10 minutes looked as if the Zags had yet to be introduced to each other.

The final 20 minutes were just fun college hoop.

• The final 20 seconds of Utah’s loss at Arizona weren’t fun for anyone, except maybe the diehard Wildcat fan who lives down the street. Gary’s last name, Crooks, might also be the word Utah fans use to describe the referee trio, though in a game this physical, even Jesus and a couple of his apostles would have trouble controlling the action – and satisfying either teams’ fan base.

The same could be said of Kentucky’s win at West Virginia. Or probably a dozen other games played yesterday.

We can hope today’s games, which include Washington State trying to upset UW in Seattle, will be just as super. Even if today isn’t. Super, I mean. That’s next week. This one is just a normal winter Sunday.

Thanks to basketball, though, that’s OK.

• The best story on the website this morning? That would be John Blanchette’s piece about former Shadle Park High football player Bryan Braman, who will be playing in the Super Bowl next Sunday.

Braman’s journey from the North Side to Super Bowl XII is worth exploring, and John is always the perfect tour guide.

•••

WSU: Yes, the Cougars play Washington today. That’s important, even if neither team will probably end up in the NCAA tournament. Rivalry games always are special. Theo Lawson prepares you for it with this feature on a WSU walk-on. … The most important aspect of the weekend, though, occurred in Southern California, where family, friends and admirers celebrated Tyler Hilinski’s life.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the weekend explained a lot of things in more than just basketball. … The biggest game yesterday, of course, was in Tucson, where the Utes gave No. 11 Arizona all it could handle and felt they didn’t get a fair shake at the end. The Wildcats wouldn’t have been happy if they had lost. … UCLA isn’t playing all that well overall, but the Bruins sure know how to play Stanford at Pauley Pavilion. … No matter whom USC plays, they would like to draw more fans to the Galen Center. … The first of two rivalry games this weekend went to the Oregon Ducks, who handed Oregon State another loss. … Arizona State played well in the second half and pulled away from Colorado.

Gonzaga: The back-and-forth nature of GU’s 82-73 win over the Dons last night is captured perfectly by Jim Meehan in this analysis. Jim also has his three keys to the win. … Whitney Ogden has a trio of stories, one on Killian Tillie’s play, another on a Josh Perkins’ milestone and a third on a thrown shoe. Yes, you read that right. … Dan Pelle has the photo report and the guys in the office put together the always-excellent highlight package. … Finally, I yodeled a bit with my thoughts on the TV coverage. … The women have won 12 consecutive games. … Around the WCC, Saint Mary’s has won a school-record 16 consecutive games, the latest at home against Portland. … BYU also won at home, handling Pacific. … USD won against Loyola-Marymount.

EWU: Northern Colorado defeated Idaho on Thursday. And the Bears came this close to a weekend road sweep Saturday. But Eastern held them off for a hard-earned 67-65 victory. Jim Allen has all the action in this story. … Jim also sat down with outgoing athletic director Bill Chaves and passes along his thoughts on leaving Cheney. … An Eastern track coach earned a prestigious honor. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky yesterday, Montana’s conference record remained unblemished with a win over Northern Arizona. … Weber State stayed close in the race with a win at Idaho State. … Montana State got back on the winning track. … Portland State’s poor shooting cost them against Sacramento State.

Idaho: Victor Sanders made sure the Vandals earned a weekend split, leading UI to a 96-71 win over visiting North Dakota. Peter Harriman has the story. … The Vandal women also picked up another key road win.

Whitworth: The University of Puget Sound has adopted the Paul Westhead-on-steroids philosophy of basketball this season and the Loggers have been successful at it. But not against the Pirates last night. Jim Allen has the story of Whitworth’s 111-97 win over UPS.

Chiefs: Spokane built a 4-1 lead in the Tri-Cities. And then let it all slip away, losing in overtime to the Americans.

Preps: It was a relatively quiet Saturday but we can pass along roundups for girls and boys basketball. … The News Tribune posts its annual list of top high school football recruits and there are local kids on it, as usual.

Seahawks: When it comes to Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, we are all probably trying to read the tea leaves.

•••       

• If you understood my 36-inch pants reference above, then you probably listen to the same podcast I do. I liberally sprinkled other Tony Kornheiser Show references throughout this columnette as well, which may be the only liberal thing I ever do. … By the way, my sister asked me the other day if I had seen “I, Tonya.” My explanation of why I never will is encapsulated perfectly in this column. Until later …

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