NCAA selection tweaks puzzling
When the NCAA Tournament field for men was announced Sunday afternoon, Pac-12 fans probably were watching baseball, or softball, enjoying a sunny day or napping.
To which we say: Well done.
Fans of the Pac-12 might as well ignore this NCAA Tournament. Clearly, no one on the selection committee watched any Pac-12 basketball after mid-December.
Our gripe is not that only three Pac-12 teams were among the 68 selected Sunday. Our complaint is that the committee somehow chose Arizona State, a team that finished ninth in the conference and lost its first-round Pac-12 tournament game by 12 points to Colorado, over a USC team that took second in both the regular season and conference tournament.
The only reasonable guess is that committee members tuned out in January because they tired of listening to Bill Walton argue that the Pac-12 should have nine teams in the tournament. ASU and UCLA are No. 11 seeds that must win play-in games on Tuesday and Wednesday. Only Pac-12 champion Arizona, a No. 4 seed, is assured a slot among the select 64.
Thankfully, those of us turned off by the clueless NCAA selection process don't need to pay attention. With the exception of West Coast Conference champion Gonzaga — a No. 4 seed with a favorable first-round site in Boise — this region's teams are bound for the outskirts of postseason play. Here's a rundown:
Oregon, after Kenny Wooten swatted it into the Pac-12 semifinals, is one of five Pac-12 reams in the NIT. The Ducks will play host to Rider at 7 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN3 webstream).
Portland State was selected to play in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Vikings (20-13) will play a road game later this week. The time and opponent was to be announced following four Monday games. PSU will be on the road as long as it stays in the tournament.
• The Portland Community College Panthers will play North Idaho College on Saturday in the Northwest Athletic Conference men's tournament semifinals.
Thanks to North Idaho's double-overtime win over host and top-ranked Everett on Sunday, PCC (26-5) is the top seed to reach the semis. Beat North Idaho at 4 p.m. Saturday at Everett CC and the Panthers will face either Peninsula or Linn-Benton at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for their second NWAC title.
The Panthers advanced to the final four with wins over the weekend against Bellevue (72-67) and Spokane (93-65).
In Sunday's quarterfinal, Gabe Garrett, Cameron Retherford and Lane Josi scored 16 points apiece and the Panthers led Spokane by 25 at halftime.
The round of 16 on Saturday was considerably more tense. Portland trailed Bellevue by 10 at halftime and won by closing the game on a 12-3 run. The Panthers shot only 39 percent to 50 percent for Bellevue.
• The Warner Pacific Knights fell in the second round of the NAIA Division II tournament, losing 84-73 on Friday to No. 5-ranked Morningside College of Iowa. Brandon Bell led the Knights with 20 points, Collin Malcolm scored 19 and De'Jon Bowman had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Warner Pacific, with players who often have jobs and go to school, finished the season 24-10.
The Knights opened the tournament at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Thursday with a 68-57 win over Southeastern University of Florida. Xavier Cannefax had 22 points. Bowman (13 points and 20 rebounds) and Malcolm (10 points, 10 boards) had double-doubles.