Talking Points: Tournament bid for UW?

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What's the buzz from the world of sports? Here are some items that will have people talking:

1

So, does the Huskies men’s basketball team deserve a place in the NCAA tournament? Will it get one?

We would answer “yes” to the first question, and “we doubt it” to the second.

Thursday’s loss to Oregon State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament means Washington and its fans will be sitting with fingers crossed until the NCAA Tournament field is announced Sunday.

As the regular-season Pac-12 champion, Washington should be in the NCAAs. Never mind that the Huskies are only 21-10 or that Pac-12 men’s basketball is mediocre and we’re being generous with that word.

Conference tournaments have diminished college basketball’s regular season to the point that even we sports fans are oblivious for most of the season. The regular season in college basketball has become an extended warm-up for the NCAA Tournament, a development we don’t like.

But if the regular-season champion from a major conference isn’t in the national tournament, then the regular season is just a relic that has lost all usefulness and deserves to be ignored.

2

Major League Soccer kicks off its 17th season this weekend riding a wave of popularity.

Anyone who has tried to get tickets for a Portland Timbers home match knows this. All that remain for the 17 league home games are obstructed-view seats.

But perhaps the most significant number in soccer’s North American story is this: According to a recent poll conducted by ESPN/Luker, soccer is now the second-most popular sport in America (behind NFL football) among fans in the 12-24 age demographic.

That’s right: Pro soccer is more popular than the NBA or MLB (by a significant margin) among fans in their teens and early 20s.

MLS still has a lot of work to do, including increasing its TV audience and strengthening some struggling franchises. But considering that less than a decade ago there was legitimate doubt MLS would survive into its teen years, the recent surge in popularity is downright stunning.

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