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Thursday, October 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: There is nothing quite like when your team wins an NCAA Tournament game

Washington’s Noah Dickerson  reacts after getting possession of the ball against Utah State in the first half Friday  in an NCAA Tournament game in Columbus, Ohio. (Tony Dejak / AP)
Washington’s Noah Dickerson reacts after getting possession of the ball against Utah State in the first half Friday in an NCAA Tournament game in Columbus, Ohio. (Tony Dejak / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Winning any NCAA Tournament basketball game is cause for celebration. No matter who you root for – or against. Gonzaga fans should never forget that. Read on.

••••••••••

• My alma mater won its first NCAA game yesterday. Defeated Kansas State. Upset Kansas State, I should say, if seeds are to be believed.

I didn’t see the end. I was in a car driving across our beautiful state. But thanks to the magic of satellite radio and Westwood One, Kim and I experienced the victory in our understated way. We pulled off Interstate 90 and howled at the sun for a while.

I now know how Gonzaga fans felt in 1999. Or Idaho fans in 1982. Or Washington State fans in 1941, a day or so after it actually happened and they found out about it in The Spokesman-Review.

It’s pretty cool.

Friends texts. Folks tag you on Twitter. I’m sure someone over the age of 75 mailed me a card or something.

UC Irvine is where Kim and I met. It’s where I became a big part of who I am. It will always be important to me, as, I’m sure, your schools are important to you.

And now I can actually say I was able to sit in Applebee’s on a Friday night watching highlights of the Anteaters’ NCAA win. (Don’t judge, I had a gift card.)

It was glorious.

• By the way, every television in the Applebee’s lounge was tuned into the Washington game when we walked in. And everyone was watching. They seemed happy.

This year, Huskies fans have been able to shed the overcoats they used to don after football season and admit they have a basketball program. Mike Hopkins has turned their fortunes around.

But the one guy in the UW T-shirt, with the sleeves cut off, he was a little too happy, if you know what I mean.

It’s been a while, I know. Learn to pace yourself. It could be a long three weeks.

• Gonzaga is back on the NCAA-supplied hardwood this afternoon, facing a Baylor team that no one thought would be in this situation when the season began.

But the Bears have exceeded expectations all year. Can they do it one more time?

Sure, but it won’t be easy. The Bulldogs aren’t Syracuse. They will get after you defensively inside and out, and will attack the same way.

One thing is for sure: Baylor’s coaching staff is aware of what Gonzaga can do.

•••

Gonzaga: How is that, you say? John Blanchette explains in his column. … Jim Meehan gets you ready for this afternoon’s game with a preview and the key matchup. He also has a story on awards announced yesterday and the shiniest moment of the win over Fairleigh Dickinson. … Theo Lawson spoke with Rui Hachimura about Ichiro and what he meant for Japan. … Justin Reed has a notebook on the Zags’ health regime. He also joined Larry Weir for the latest Press Box pod. … Tyler Tjomsland has more photographs from the day between games. … Brandon Clarke's growth is noted in his hometown. … From Corvallis, Jim Allen checks in with a preview of the first-round NCAA game with Arkansas Little Rock. He also covers the past memories from Gill Coliseum and how Laura Stockton is staying involved. … Editor Rob Curley has a feature on Gonzaga’s three senior women who have set the tone for Lisa Fortier’s program. … The baseball team lost at Pepperdine in the WCC series opener. … Around the WCC, the BYU women are the conference's only other representative in the NCAAs still playing.

WSU: Around the Pac-12, it was a good day at the tournament. Washington's win over Utah State moved the Huskies into a second-round matchup with top-seed North Carolina. … Oregon took off in the second half and walloped Wisconsin, handing the Big Ten its only loss of the first round. The Ducks will meet UC Irvine next. … It wasn't a perfect day, as Bobby Hurley's old team, Buffalo, defeated his new one, Arizona State. … There is football news from Colorado.

Chiefs: Spokane opened its WHL playoff series with Portland by powering its way to a 5-2 victory. Kevin Dudley has the game story.

Seahawks: There is still free-agent movement happening.

•••       

• Let’s see. You sit a player with two fouls in the first half, you lose and someone writes how stupid you are. If you play them, they pick up their third foul and you lose, someone will write how stupid you are. You do either and you win and you’re a genius. I get it. … Send your good thoughts this way. I had some major computer problems as I was winding down this column today and barely got it to you. My MacBook must be a Kansas State fan. Until later …

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