I’ve resisted for this long, but I can’t any longer. I have to talk about tomorrow’s game.
First things first, forget the 12-5 upset. This isn’t the one, and I’ll explain. Everyone is talking about how a 12 seed always beats a 5 seed. It’s happened 16 of the past 17 tourneys. But here’s the deal. The 5 seed is usually a team from a power conference (think BCS bowl conferences) that blew it. They might have had a decent season, but made it to the finals of the conference tournament, so they get a 5, but they’re not that good. Or they were a second or third place team in their conference but got beaten early in the conference tournament. A 5 seed is like a punishment for a team in a big conference. A 12 seed, on the other hand, is a team from a mid-major, like the WAC, that played well, but doesn’t have much tournament history. They’re better than people realize, because the media is fixated on the power conferences. That’s how your upset happens. The 5 is usually overrated, the 12 is underrated. Nevada, on the other hand, is correctly rated, as is Montana (even though they expected a 13 or 14 seed). There will be no surprises. Nevada played itself into a 5 seed because they are a good team. Oh, and unlike Montana, they actually beat other good teams.
I am completely bummed I couldn’t make the trip. Christy is there, throwing a party, and I planned on going, but did not get credentialed for the game. I really just don’t know how it all works, so I lost out. I figured the Athletic Department could set me up, but they are limited and didn’t know I’d want a pass, so I was nixed. But based on initial reports, there were a ton of Pack fans at drinking establishments tonight. Sweet. It takes a little longer for the duallies from Montana to roll into town, so my source(s) saw none.
Tonight, with Christy out of town, I had my work cut out for me. So I was driving all around. Well, at one point, I was cruising down Virginia near McCarran (the southern part) and saw another guy in a similar car with a badass Wolf Pack window flag (I have one too). Yeah, I have a window flag, but I also have kids, so there. The guy is an older chap, and he’s rolling behind me, but gets in the right turn lane. I’m telling The Girl to look out her window to see the flag, and slowing down so he can catch up. It was a great moment. He looks at her, in her Nevada Basketball hat, and honks and gives a fired up wave and a thumbs up. It was awesome. She loved his flag, and was happy all the way to the Apple Store that opened today (NICE! Well, I actually use the university to buy my stuff, but it sure is cool to hang there.)
Finally, my prediction. As I’ve hung out on Wolf Pack Chat lately, I’ve learned a lot about basketball’s numbers game. It’s a similar environment as Dodger Thoughts if you take out the homerism and craziness and smack that gets thrown around and only listen to the numbers guys. I don’t do that but I am into the numbers thing, so I definitely check it all out. As it looks, the Pack is a better team, and the numbers pretty much agree with the Vegas line, which is Nevada by 7. But basketball, unlike baseball, can be heavily affected by intangibles. Granted, you can’t, by definition, measure intangibles, so it’s a tough case to make that it is greatly affected by them, but hear me out. Size matters in basketball. And Nevada is bigger, as well as better. I watched the Montana highlight video on their athletics website, and they are not fast, and they are not too big. Nevada is both. And Nevada has Nick Fazekas. All that is pretty much insurmountable for Montana. And it doesn’t help that Nevada is tournament tested, wins tough games against good teams, and Montana is sounding like they think they should be favored in this game. Nevada thrives as an underdog, and they have a certain swagger that gives them the tendency to pile on teams they have a reason to pile on. See: Utah State. If Nevada wins by less than 15, I’ll be surprised. If they lose, I’ll be damn near suicidal. Or maybe just really drunk. And the game’s at noon our time. And I’m working. But that won’t stop me.
It’s a big game, and it’s Nevada’s time to prove they are the favorite for a reason. They will not disappoint.