Early upset? Long run? All the excitement of the NCAA tournament begins today, and somewhere in that 1:45-2 p.m. time frame for the Huskies.
Here's my game preview from today, focusing mostly on Venoy Overton. Some notes, topping with the question of whether Portland will be a home-court advantage for the Huskies. And a typically readable column by John McGrath, reaching back to a chapter of Mississippi State history.
Finally, a quick scout box:
No. 13 seed MISSISSIPPI STATE (23-12)
Vs. No. 4 seed WASHINGTON (25-8)
NCAA tournament, first round
When: Approximately 1:45 p.m., Rose Garden, Portland.
TV: Channel 7. Radio: 950-AM.
Region: West Region, Glendale, Ariz.
Series: UW leads 1-0, winning 82-80 in the 1967 Gator Bowl Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla.
Scouting report: MSU uses four guards around center Jarvis Varnado. Varnado is the national leader in blocked shots. He was named to the All-Southeastern Conference first team and was voted the league's defensive player of the year. Point guard Dee Bost was voted to the All-SEC freshman team. … As a team, MSU is second nationally in blocked shots behind Connecticut. The Bulldogs allow an average of 68.8 points per game and allow a 39.2 shooting percentage. … Offensively, MSU likes to run and shoot 3-pointers. Over their last 16 games, the Bulldogs have hit 149 3-pointers, including a school record 16 against Arkansas. … The Bulldogs have won six straight games, the Huskies six of their last seven. … Mississippi State is 5-9 all-time against Pac-10 schools. Washington is 5-6 all-time against SEC schools.
News Tribune pick: UW 82, MSU 73. The Bulldogs are scary because they are from a major conference, won their conference tournament, and don't have any directions in their name. Seeing them here in Portland, they look pretty impressive too: lots of athletes. So, Mississippi State could be a pretty good team. But so is UW. They won the regular season title in a better conference -- which is a more revealing test. And they've got enough versatility to counter MSU's strengths in a few ways. I'd be surprised if it was easy, but I think UW is simply better.