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The Madness is madness

Darrell Moody
Appeal Sports Writer

If you’re a college basketball fan like I am, you are about to embark on the biggest thrill ride of your life, one that theme parks can’t produce.

For those of you living under a rock and gasp, not a college basketball fan, it’s conference championship time which leads to the Big Dance, a.k.a. the NCAA Tournament or March Madness.

It’s a time when Cinderella rears its beautiful head at least once or twice in the post-season, usually against a big-name school with Sweet 16 or Final Four aspirations.

It’s a time for office pools where participants try to predict how the various brackets will shake out.

The term bracketology popped up a few years. A chap by the name of Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com started attempting to predict brackets on a weekly basis. He goes as far as predicting where a team will be placed and its seed. It’s something that caught on, and the ESPN.com site has been a huge hit and a must-see for writers and fans alike.

There are other sites that have started to do the same thing – CBSSportsLine.com and Fox Sports.

As a beat writer for the Wolf Pack, I’m in those sites daily, trying to give people the lowdown on what people around the nation are saying about Nevada in particular.

It’s absolute madness trying to keep up.

On the ESPN site, Lunardi has had the Pack playing in Philadelphia, Dayton, San Diego and now Dallas. The latest from Lunardi has the Pack a 7 seed playing San Diego State in Salt Lake City. A 7 is the highest Lunardi has had the Pack all year, and that certainly could change by one or two spots if Nevada can run the table and win the WAC.

The CBS site, a place which has always loved Nevada, has the Pack a 5 seed playing No. 12 San Diego State, most likely in Philadelphia, as of Thursday. San Diego is a regional site and can’t play on its home floor.

I remember two years ago after Nevada lost to Georgia Tech in the round of 16, most of Nevada’s fans sold their seats to Kansas fans, and Edward Jones Dome was chalk-full of KU fans.

Fox Sports has installed Nevada a No. 7 seed playing perennial powerhouse Indiana in its first-round game at Reunion Arena in Dallas. if Nevada could win two games, it would end up playing in the Sweet 16 in Oakland, Calif., at the New Coliseum, home of the Golden State Warriors.

As I’ve learned in the last three years, it can be maddening to go through these sites as you the fan already know or possibly will learn. There is a ton of basketball to be played between now and March 16, and a loss could mean a drop of a couple of seeds, or even worse, cost a team a spot in the Big Dance. A few wins could catapult a team up two or three spots, too.

A year ago, Nevada found out first-hand what an opening-round conference tournament loss could do. Experts say that defeat to Boise State cost Nevada, which played Texas in the 8-9 game last year in Indianapolis, at least a No. 6 or No. 7 seed.

You don’t want to be an 8 or 9 seed because you end up playing a top seed in the second round like Nevada did when it played top-ranked Illinois last year. Nevada lost to Illini, playing before a partisan crowd, 71-59.

I don’t see Nevada losing to Idaho next Thursday in the first round. After that, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen. The teams that will finish third through sixth are all capable of knocking off Nevada on a given night.

Nevada needs to approach the WAC Tournament with the type of resolve it showed at Utah State. It was almost like watching Rocky Balboa get the eye of the tiger, that glint in his eye that showed he was all business.

Nevada has to be all business, beginning with Fresno State tonight and continuing into next week’s tournament. There are potholes out there just waiting to swallow up Nevada, and the Pack must dodge them and continue playing great basketball.

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281