Fantastic Monday Morning to you, Cougar Nation. Hope your week is off to a good start.
So, in view of our loss at Muttlake this past Saturday, our NCAA chances are all-but dead. That said, there is MUCH reason to pay very close attention to what goes on in this week's tournament.
With that in mind, here is what I am both looking for AND hoping for...
1) Beat Oregon
I know that this is a big duh, but I am not quite ready to discount the possibility that this could be a real let down game for our boys. Plus, this is Oregon's last game of the year, so they will be quite loosey goosey and dangerous as a result.
But, as we have seen, you defend the perimeter against the Quack and take care of the ball and its blow out city. The recipe in this game: get a lead and stick Taylor's butt on the bench as early and often as possible.
2) Develop A New Identity versus UCLA
How many of you were thinking about our 7 game win streak over the Defeateds after Saturday's loss? Not many I suspect.
The point is that identities versus certain teams can really switch on a dime.
People can say what they want about how our win in LA was a fluke, but when two teams have two games decided by a collective total of three points it means that they are evenly matched. UCLA still doesn't have an inside game, Shipp still is going to be rattled by Capers, and last I checked Jrue Holliday hasn't checked his illusions of grandeur of an early NBA entry at the door. So, this one would again come down to the Collison-Rochestie show. And while you have to tip your hat to the LA advantage, I still like our chances in that game.
Obviously, win that one and the world both now and in the future looks a whole lot different.
3) Root for SC and ASU-UA
I know, I should really NOT be entertaining the impossible at this point. But, since nothing is REALLY impossible, why not imagine our dream scenario?
IF we could get by both Oregon and UCLA, we'd want our third game and fourth games to be low tempo grinders. USC lost in OT @CAL a couple of weeks back, so the prospect of Troy beating the Bears is not out of the question. And, while their season has been disapointing, they may still have enough juice on the defensive end to slow down Randle and Christopher.
Quite frankly, I don't like our match-up with either CAL or USC, but USC gives us the type of game that could give us at least SOME semblance of legs for a game on Saturday.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket, root for the ASU-UA winner to upset the Huskies.
Assuming we're still alive by game time on Friday, a Husky loss gives us a chance. With the depth the dogs have at their disposal, they might beat us by 25 were we to play them on Saturday.
Simply put, for us to win this tournament, someone else is going to have to knock off the Dawgs. While I think Arizona is the more likely team to do that, I would rather have a 51-49 walk the ball up the court game on Saturday so I might be rooting for the Devils if we beat Oregon...
4) Get to Saturday
As I wrote last week, I don't see a 15 loss team getting into the NCAAs. That said, depending on who we beat, I wouldn't entirely write off our chances if we get to the finals and finish 19-15 especially if teams like the Zags and Davidson hold on while teams like Providence and Kentucky bite it early in their conference tournaments.
So, while four wins seems like it is out of the question, three wins MIGHT be doable.
Moreover, getting to 19 wins would ENSURE a first round NIT game in Pullman which would make third straight 20 win season look highly likely for the program.
And, at this point, that goal of three straight 20 win seasons is the one that seems to be the most attainable.
Lets go pound the Quack!!!!