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Wichita State at Utah State

Good news at shoot-around for the Shockers. Gabe Blair participated and moved much better than he did a day or two ago. He will get some treatment on his bruised left thigh at the hotel and try to play tonight. Keeping it loose during the game might be a challenge.

The Dee Glen Smith Spectrum reminds me of The Pit at New Mexico. You enter at the top and walk down to the court. WSU had shoot-around at 4 p.m. (Mountain) and around 50-60 students were waiting around the concourse. I understand about 4,000 students come to games. WSU is prepared, or will try to be prepared, for an atmosphere unlike any in the MVC. The paint on the seats is also interesting – it looks like Sears donated surplus harvest gold and institutional green in 1973. The Spectrum is one of those places (like Koch Arena) that you see on ESPN once or twice a year and think it would be cool to watch a game there.

The Valley is 4-0 in BracketBuster games with most tonight. All four wins are at home.

The marquee outside one of the hotels in Logan reads “Welcome back Wichita State.” I assume that’s a reference to the moment of silence before tonight’s game in honor of the 1970 WSU football team. One of its planes crashed on the way to a game at Utah State on Oct. 2. WSU’s return to Logan stirred up memories from that day.

I watched a lot of ESPN today, and it’s a good reminder what schools such as WSU and Utah State face in the court of national opinion. ESPN controls that talk, and its talking heads can only talk about what they know. They know the Big East, Big 12,  ACC etc. That is why Hubert Davis feels that UConn – 16-11, 6-8 in the Big East, didn’t play a road non-conference game  – is an at-large team.

I won’t make the argument WSU is an at-large team. The Shockers don’t own a great resume despite their best efforts (Maybe that changes after tonight. Even a win at Utah State may not be enough). The NCAA Tournament will not be a sham if it proceeds without WSU. I will make the argument that WSU could play with the No. 5 or No. 6 seeds it might play if it did make the NCAA Tournament. I will also make the argument that schools such as WSU and Utah State would be quite happy to get a chance to improve their at-large resume with home games against teams in the middle of the pack of high-profile conferences.

That chance might help schools such as those pass Jay Bilas’ famous “eye test.”

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