The NCAA tournament has dominated the national headlines the last week.
And how could it not? Of the major sports in our county, the NCAA’s 68-team national tournament is the most watchable postseason. And it’s not close. That was especially true this year.
When the field was announced in the Selection Show debacle last week, there were upward of 15-20 teams that had realistic national championship aspirations. This is why filling out the perfect bracket is essentially mathematically impossible: 1 in 9.2 quintillion. For those who aren’t familiar with that figure (who would be?) that’s a nine followed by 18 zeros.
But that doesn’t prevent us from truly believing ‘this is the year.’ And after getting the third game of the tournament wrong this year, I was already telling myself, ‘I’ll get it next year.’
Even if you don’t care about college basketball, it was impossible to avoid the tournament and complaints of Middle Tennessee State ruining someone’s bracket by upsetting Michigan State in the first round.
Because March Madness has become so popular, the second- and third-tier postseason tournaments have become afterthoughts, notably the College Basketball Invitational (CBI): the tournament Nevada got a bid from.
CBI games aren’t played on national television. They aren’t even really mentioned outside of the local markets that have a team in the field. So it would be easy for teams in field of 16 to enter with a ‘whatever’ mindset.
It appears that’s the way Nevada entered last week’s first-round game against Montana before roaring back to life in the second half. First-year coach Eric Musselman even said he wasn’t sure of his team’s mindset. However, after the win, Cam Oliver, D.J. Fenner and Lindsey Drew all spoke to a new drive to go and win the tournament.
No, it’s not a desirable place to land in the postseason. Fans need to keep perspective, though. The Wolf Pack won nine games last season. Nine. Before Monday night’s quarterfinal against Eastern Washington, it had 20, and had a realistic shot to win a postseason tournament.
Bracket filler outers didn’t get to pick Nevada to pull off an upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this year. They may get that shot next year.
But first, Nevada fans need to hope a power five school isn’t able to pry Musselman away in the offseason. Most notably, Stanford, located four hours away, which fired coach Johnny Dawkins last week.
Reed, Spanish Springs baseball teams off to scalding starts
Neither the Raiders, nor the Cougars, are known as perennial baseball powers.
Last year, Spanish Springs and Reed finished sixth and seventh in the DI North respectively. Two years ago, the Cougs finished seventh and the Raiders actually finished third before going two-and-out in the regional tournament. In 2013, Reed finished sixth and Spanish Springs finished second and won its first-round game but bowed out by dropping its next two.
Maybe that is changing this year.
The Raiders are off to an 8-0, 3-0 start, and Spanish Springs sits at 7-1, 3-0, with a regular-season sweep of Bishop Manogue already in the bag.
The DI North appears to be relatively open this year, helping the argument for the local squads. Bishop Manogue lost a big senior class last year. Reno, which has won four-straight regional titles, was upset by McQueen last week. Damonte Ranch, last year’s league champion, is off to a 3-0 start in league play but has already played four one-run games this season, including a loss to Reed.
Galena looks like its title-contending self.
It’s still early, really early, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early for the Raiders and Cougs to start thinking big.
Reed softball state title defense off to shaky start
The writing was on the wall for the Raiders to drop their first contest since winning the state title last spring.
Reed’s season-opening tournament in Sacramento was postponed so it had to open the season on Thursday at Bishop Manogue—last year’s runner up—and the Miners had already played six games.
The Raiders even fell into a 7-3 hole before doing what the No. 3/4 team in the county is expected to do—find a way to win, 13-12.
This season isn’t going to be easy for Reed, they are going to get a lot of challenges like they did at Manogue.
But they passed test No. 1.