With our biggest hoops game since the 1941 NCAA title game coming up Thursday, the experts are coming out of the woodwork to pick North Carolina. Dickie V, Digger, you know the usual suspects. I haven't seen any projections yet that say we will be blown out of the basketball universe, and everyone expects it to be a bit of a grind for the Heels, but in the end they'll be 8-10 points better. What, did you expect that anyone would actually pick WSU this week??
That said, even the video games are against us. EA Sports' NCAA March Madness '08 has simmed the tourney, and has the Heels taking down our Cougs (pictured above). You can see the entire tourney here via ESPN Videogames, but they have Carolina 69, WSU 62. But with that, I wasn't exactly satisfied, so I thought what the heck, I'll sim it myself and let's see what happens. After all, I've got an XBox 360, and while I don't have March Madness, I do have College Hoops 2K8, which is widely regarded as the superior title (it really is fun, and very realistic).
What happened? Well, 2K8 lets you set up the entire tournament, from 1-to-65, and you can let things play out, or take control of any game you choose. For accuracy sake, I decided to just let the CPU play itself to see what happens. And guess what?? THE COUGARS ARE HEADED FOR THE ELITE 8!
That's right - The Cougars strolled into Charlotte and pulled off the stunner, taking down Carolina 66-61. Derrick Low and Aron Baynes both had 15 points, with Low drilling a big 3 with 34 seconds left to seal the deal. As in real life, WSU was very patient with the ball offensively and shot 47%, a decent percentage overall. They played stifling, switching, "pack" defense to frustrate Hansbrough, keep Ty Lawson from penetrating, and just played a heck of a game. The Heels shot 41%. All that said, unfortunately, Tennessee ended the WSU title hopes on Saturday, winning a tough game 71-68.
Ok, I know, just a video game, right? Well, 2K8 also did it right with Davidson, placing them in the Sweet 16, as well as Villanova and Western Kentucky. In the end of my sim, Kansas cut down the nets with a big win over UCLA. We shall see what happens, but hey, I've got some hope!
Speaking of Charlotte....what the heck has happened to Adam Morrison??
They say he's a free spirit and really his "own guy", but geez. He looks like he's somewhere else. Or maybe he's simply realizing that Gonzaga is now going to be 2nd fiddle in Eastern WA to the surging WSU Cougar hoops program?? I guess he'll just have to get by with several piles of cash and NBA groupies at every turn. Poor guy!
Speaking of Gonzaga, KJR was talking yesterday that Mark Few rumors are starting to percolate. This time it's his alma mater calling, as Ernie Kent is going to get fired chatter is increasing by the day. People take shots at Gonzaga, as they aren't exactly the cute, cuddly little engine that could as they were when they first burst on the scene. But Few has done a hell of a job building something out of nowhere. They've now been to 10 consecutive NCAA's, and I don't care what conference you play in, that ain't easy! We shall see what happens there. If Few did land at Oregon, I would expect a lot of the same thing, honestly. Few's teams play fast and love to shoot the rock, but they aren't exactly a defensive team. But it would also be interesting to see what he could do with Oregon's resources.
Thanks to Atlanta Coug, but ESPN.com ran a story about Gary Rogers from spring ball. Not bad. Ted Miller has moved on from the P-I, and now does the .com thing full-time, so it's nice to have a NW presence on the national scene for good.
Another day, more Tony Bennett coaching fodder. We mentioned yesterday in comments that IU was rumored to have narrowed their choices down already to either 2 or 3 main candidates, specifically Rick Barnes, Rick Pitino and Thad Motta. This came via Andy Katz and later Pat Forde of ESPN over the weekend on ESPN radio (sorry, no link). You can check out some of the Scout.com's IU message boards for more. I think those names show you one thing - IU has some major fish they are trying to land. While we love Tony and know what a fantastic thing he has going here, on the national scale he doesn't exactly measure up to those names on the IU radar. We're talking Final 4's, national titles, and deep, deep runs and consistent tourney appearances, time after time after time.
But as "PTownCoug" mentioned in comments yesterday, just because IU is looking at those big fish doesn't keep us in the clear here. As is usually the case, when a big coach moves on down the road, the domino's usually fall. And that means that if, say, Barnes goes to IU, well, Texas is now open. And if Tony doesn't go to Texas (and I DOUBT he would), but let's say Mike Brey goes from Notre Dame to Texas. Suddenly Notre Dame is open. And on and on it goes.
It is the oldest Mike Holmgren saying, but it is very true here - "IT IS WHAT IT IS." And this is the way it is going to be with Tony. I think it's several things, mainly he's young, successful, has a sparkling image, and the hoops "genes". He's a lot of things that AD's around the country would love to associate with their programs. And you also get the NCAA writers from everywhere taking a look at young, talented guys and say "why the heck would he want to coach in frosty Pullman??" and of course, write articles that are more speculation than fact. It is just something we have to get used to, and every year when some tasty jobs open up, Tony's name is going to be thrown against the wall to see if it sticks. Just keep thinking of Holmgren's catch-phrase, "IT IS WHAT IT IS!"
Quickly speaking of the Seahawks, nice move to keep Lofa a Hawk For Life! What a fantastic player and leader of a still-rising defense. No better move than to lock him up now before the world of NFL free agency poisons the water. As Lofa said, it wasn't Good Friday, it was Great Friday. I would say the same thing if I signed a $42 million dollar extension with a bunch of guaranteed money!
HAPPY TUESDAY TO Y'ALL!