No, it won’t be Bill Walton. Rest easy, Zag fans.
The greatest college basketball center of all time – arguably – won’t be rambling about the Sistine Chapel or the unappreciated depth of Jess Walter’s novels Wednesday night when Gonzaga hosts North Carolina.
Nope. ESPN has assigned Dave Flemming and Jay Bilas to broadcast the game on The Deuce so those of you wearing Gonzaga blue, but who turn crimson whenever Walton shows up on your TV screen, can relax.
There is a whole other can of indignation to unwrap a week before Christmas.
And we are here to help.
See that bingo card below? It’s our way of saying Happy Holidays.
Just don’t dip into the eggnog too fast while playing.
When you see assistant Tommy Lloyd get up and walk to the end of the bench, boom, cover that space.
When there is a scenic shot from Riverfront Park, you’ve got another one.
Mention of the stupidity of NET rankings? North Carolina’s injuries? Mark Few’s Hall of Fame-worthy won/loss record? Cole Anthony’s dad? John Stockton?
What do you win?
Uh, well, that’s up to Gonzaga. If the Zags, ranked second in the latest polls, come through and run the Tar Heels out of a packed-to-the-gills McCarthey (there aren’t any tickets to find anywhere as far as our in-depth three minutes of research yielded), then you win the opportunity to celebrate the perfect trifecta: wins over Washington, Arizona and North Carolina in 11 days. Throw in the Oregon victory if you want, even if it came in November.
Talk about a blue chip résumé. And its strength may hold up through Selection Sunday.
Or not. College basketball is a fickle beast. A quartet of teams ranked No. 1 this season has already lost. Ohio State was about to ascend to that spot and lost Sunday night. So who knows what record Arizona or Washington or Oregon will take into the NCAA Tournament?
We do know, however, Gonzaga will be there. And is one of college hoops marquee programs. We know because Bilas tells us so. Often.
And is there anyone in ESPN’s stable more trusted than the Duke alum? Anyone more liked by the Gonzaga faithful? Anyone more despised in the NCAA’s Indianapolis offices?
Yes, no and yes.
Hooptown Watch Party
Hooptown USA and Northwest Passages present The Watch Party featuring Gonzaga University and the University of North Carolina. Join us under the lights at the new Pavilion at Riverfront Park as these two powerhouses battle it out!
Bilas is Walton without the 1960s influence. He’s funny, connected and articulate. He knows basketball. He doesn’t pull punches. He’s what an analyst is supposed to be.
He would, however, probably finish second to Sean Farnham in a Gonzaga fan poll, which would mark the first time since Walton was in college a Dukie finished behind someone from UCLA.
Flemming is a pro’s pro, a play-by-play person who does his homework, keeps the viewer abreast of the action and allows the analyst to explain what the heck everyone just saw.
That one box on the bingo card with Gon-zaw-ga on it? With Flemming and Bilas around, that one’s going to stay blank.
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