Serving Franklin County, WA

Wild and crazy

I’m sure that many people who enjoy watching the NCAA basketball tournament really don’t watch many of the conference tournaments. For fans around here that watch Gonzaga and WSU your interests were in Las Vegas last week and the last game you watched ended in a loss for the men and also the GU women. The only local team to win their conference tournament was the EWU women. The Eagle ladies had and extraordinary season and will now take on Oregon State in Corvallis. Nice reward.

The WSU men are a 7 seed and will play Drake in Omaha and the Gonzaga men play McNeese State in Salt Lake City. The Gonzaga women earned a 4 seed and will play UC Irvine at McCarthy Athletic Center in Spokane. This is how the women reward a great season.

I watched several tournaments games last week and it’s interesting where the conferences play their games. If they are in an arena it prepares the victors of these one team leagues to get a feel for their first round game. Of course there are other factors involved in these decisions. Where is the closest arena and is it available? Sometimes the 1 seeded team gets to host the tournament for these mid-major programs. I don’t try to figure out what these leagues around the country do and frankly it is difficult to know exactly where some of these teams hail from just looking at their name. Oh sure, I have sometimes looked them up on a search engine to learn more about them.

The WCC and the Pac 12 made good decisions to have their tournaments in Las Vegas in neutral site venues. Of course, the Pac 12 is no longer and WSU and Oregon State will be part of the WCC for the next two seasons. So same city but a different venue.

After the games finished on Sunday it was interesting just how many number 1 seeded teams that didn’t make it to the championship game. Most people would think that is a good thing but when the conference champion is knocked out like EWU was in the one berth Big Sky it certainly hurts the team and its fans.

Years ago there were no conference tournaments. In the Pac 8, UCLA would win the conference and would play in the NCAA tournament but the second place team that may have only had two losses against UCLA were done for the season because the Pac 8 only allowed one team to play in a post season tournament much like they did with football where everyone competed for the Rose Bowl but no other bowl games.

The future of NCAA competition with the NIL and transfer portal will be interesting. Along with that the SEC and Big 10 will be loudly screaming for more seeds to the Big Dance since they are now a mega conference. And what usually happens is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease especially the ones generating vast amounts of TV revenue. With so many teams playing in these mega conferences when will the tournament begin and what if a team makes a run how many games in a row will they need to play if they get lucky enough to make it to the championship game?

Kansas and Houston were the odds on favorites to make it to the Big 12 championship game until Kansas lost two big time players to injuries and they may not be ready for the games starting on Thursday and Friday, Houston was blown out by Iowa State and one of their really good players remained on the sideline saving him for March Madness. So how healthy are the Jayhawks and Cougars.

The women’s tournament could get a bit crazy as well. When women square off in a fight as the South Carolina and LSU women did last week then you know the tournament is played for keeps.

For now it looks like UConn is the team to beat on the men’s side and the undefeated South Carolina women are the odds on favorites to take the women’s crown. There will be upsets because there always will be. Tears will be shed and the player least likely to be a hero may make a half-court shot; make a defensive steal or any number of plays that will bring victory to an underdog or a favorite. It is a wild and crazy time of year and in three weeks it will be over. So enjoy it while it lasts.

— Dale Anderson is a sports columnist from Ritzville. To contact him, email [email protected].


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