Bad news, good news for both WSU hoops teams

THE BAD NEWS FOR the Washington State men's and women's basketball teams is that they have to play first round games this week in their Pac-10 tournaments. The good news is that both crimson squads will be facing teams they swept during the regular season.

On Wednesday, the men take on Oregon (8:30 pm tip off, FSN). On Thursday, the women open with Arizona (8:15 pm, no TV).

Both tournaments will be in Los Angeles – the Staples Center for the men and the Galen Center for the women.

The Ducks, 8-22 overall and 2-16 in conference play, are the No. 10 seed on the men's side. The Cougars, 16-14 overall and 8-10 in the Pac-10, are No. 7. The winner will advance to a Thursday game against No. 2 seed UCLA (24-7, 13-5). That contest, which also will be televised by FSN, tips off at 8:30 pm. That winner will then face either Cal or USC in a semi-final match up on Friday.

A month ago, the Cougs had their way with the Ducks, defeating them in Pullman, 67-38, on the strength of Klay Thompson's 25 points. In Eugene in January, things were much tighter. The Cougars won 74-62 behind Taylor Rochestie's 30 points and seven assists.

With an RPI rating of 89, WSU's hopes for a third-straight trip to the Big Dance appear to rest on running the table in the Pac-10 tourney. No team with an RPI worse than 63 has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney in recent years. Given the parity in the Pac-10 this season, a Cougar sweep this week is by no means beyond the realm. Moreover, the Cougars have been playing their best ball of the year over the last three weeks.

ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE, the Cougars are coming off a woulda-coulda-shoulda loss to last-place Washington on Friday, but would appear to have all the momentum heading into their Thursday game with Arizona. The Cougars defeated the Wildcats 63-56 in Tucson two weeks ago, with Danielle LeNoir's 15 points off the bench leading the way. That win gave them a series sweep following a 68-58 victory in Pullman in January in which Jazmine Perkins scored 17 points and nabbed 10 rebounds.

The Cougars and Cats each finished the regular season at 11-18 overall and 4-14 in the Pac.10. WSU's 11 wins marks a six-game improvement over last season -- one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation this season. The Cougars' four conference victories earned them the No. 8 seed this week -- WSU's highest placement since the tourney began in 2002.

The winner of the Cougar-Cat tussle will advance to a Friday (5 pm) game with conference champion Stanford. Semi-final games will be Saturday and the title game on Sunday.


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