Tonight’s College Basketball Tournament appearance is Wyoming’s 25th in its 108-year history — which is about once every 4.3 years.
UW has been to the NCAA Tournament 14 times (9-19 record), NIT eight times (7-8) and CBI three times (1-2).
The Cowboys are seeking back-to-back 20 win seasons for the first time in a decade, and this is their first time they have been to the postseason in consecutive seasons over that same time frame.
UW won’t see Lehigh senior guard C.J. McCollum, who was among the nation’s scoring leaders (23.9 ppg) before he broke a bone in his foot in early January. McCollum was one of the better guards in the nation. A break for UW? We shall see. Back in early January for the conference opener at home with Boise State, the Broncos were without four players, including leading scorer Derrick Marks. UW lost by two.
Sophomore guard Riley Grabau on if UW was disappointed it didn’t get a NIT bid and is back in the CBI: Everybody wants to play the best, be the best and beat the best. We wanted to make the NIT, but making any postseason tournament is an honor, I think. I think we are all excited we made a postseason tourney rather than not make one.”
Most of the players had a couple of days off after UW lost to No. 10 New Mexico in the quarterfinals of the MW Tournament last Wednesday. Hopefully the rest helped senior forward Leonard Washington’s bad back. He was good in the Cowboys’ 85-81 win over Nevada in the play-in game last week with 18 points and five rebounds. He wasn’t as good in the 59-46 loss to New Mexico with six points and six rebounds. Washington looked like he was hurting against the Lobos, and New Mexico’s inside presence of Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow also played a factor in Washington’s struggles.
“Nobody is 100 percent, but every day we are getting better,” said Washington of his health and the health of the rest of the team.
For any team in any postseason tournament other than the NCAAs, it often comes down to want-to and effort in terms of winning and losing. UW has said all the right things. To me, I wonder with all the injuries, illness and other personnel losses the team has dealt with if it has any gas in the tank left physically?
I also wonder if fans will have any interest? From emails, texts and comments I have received, the answer is no. UW drew less than 3,000 for its two previous CBI games last season and in 2009. It is spring break in Laramie so there are no students.
UW must sell 3,278 tickets to meet its $35,000 financial obligation to the CBI to host a first-round game. If the Cowboys win and host a quarterfinals game Monday, that fee goes up to $50,000.
For more on the game, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to www.wyosports.net. Follow me on Twitter — @rpgagliardi, @wyosports — for updates throughout the game.