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Who needs to win more?

Posted by Jeff Nusser on December 5, 2007

Vince Grippi, the Cougs’ beat writer over at the Spokesman-Review, posed an interesting question this morning over at SportsLink that I thought it would be fun to throw out here for discussion as well.

Who has more on the line tonight?

For me, it’s an easy answer: The Cougs.

Here’s why. Their non-conference schedule has been softer than Santa’s belly, and while they’re going to play plenty of tough opponents in conference, the NCAA Tournament committee does look at performance outside of the conference. They notched one big win by beating a major conference opponent in a true road game; now they can beat a highly rated opponent in another true road game.

Gonzaga, on the other hand, has plenty of opportunities to impress the committee with it’s annually-loaded non-conference schedule. Plus, the Bulldogs’ RPI gets an automatic boost just by playing the Cougs because of their Pac-10 opponents. The Cougs get no such benefit if they lose.

Really, I think the Cougs only gain from this matchup if they win. Gonzaga benefits either way.

Your thoughts?

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3 Responses to “Who needs to win more?”

  1. Tough question. I tend to agree with you as far as this season’s RPI is concerned, etc.

    There is another side to the coin, though. Gonzaga’s rise to dominance may not have happened without WSU going through some ugly, ugly winters in Pullman during the Eastman/Graham days. Another loss to Wazzu would make another dent in their claim as the “Biggest Show in Town” — “Town” being the region.

    I think it helps with both recruiting and with fan support to be the dominant best team in a region.

    That said, I think the two programs can coexist as national contenders and look forward to this rivalry continuing. Now if only I can solve my shortage of ESPNU.

  2. Longball said

    I really think the Pac-10 schedule gives the Cougs plenty of chances to impress the selection committee, so i dont think they have a lot to lose if they cant handle the Zags at home. But the experience of playing at Baylor and now K2 should help toughen them up better then the running of the not-so-scary gauntlet of teams from the state of Idaho did. I think the importance of this game is not so much related to power rankings, or tournament seedings, but just plain old regional bragging rights. A win tonight for the Cougs goes a long way to proving that last years win was no fluke and that there is a new bully in charge of the playground. We have our 5 straight wins over UW but we are still a ways away form unseating the Zag as the best hoops program in the NW.

  3. Nuss said

    To some degree, I agree with both. I mean, how many of those kids that end up at Gonzaga are kids who grew up in or around Eastern Washington watching Gonzaga do what it did in the tournament and then said, “Wow, I want to play for them someday — that’s cool!” Lots. Those are kids WSU has missed out on the past. Heck, Josh Heytvelt grew up in Clarkston and the Cougs never had a chance.

    A second straight win over Gonzaga combined with the recent string against UW won’t solve all the recruiting issues — after all, a Metro League kid still is going to be partial to the Huskies no matter what we do to them — but it sure will do a lot for those kids that don’t have any particular allegiance to the 206.

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