Been too long here, struggling to find a good balance of posting / watching hoops / planning the upcoming madness / hanging out with friends.
But Pun City digresses. The last couple weeks had multiple major developments in determining the trip for this year. First off, Marquette’s ticket office, while still mostly useless, did forward this blog on to the Blue and Gold Fund. (That’s their booster club). It turns out the Blue and Gold club is really the group in charge of divvying out the seats. Once Pun City was able to speak with them, the ball started rolling.
The initial conversation determined a few relevant nuggets of information.
1. Marquette was allotted 500 tickets by the Big East.
2. Between 600 and 650 people applied for these tickets.
3. The club doesn’t use a pure priority-point-based system to determine the ticket recipients, it evaluates each individual donor’s giving history.
4. The Blue and Gold dude was cool with calling Pun City if it “won” and not billing this blog if it decided against taking the ticket.
As you can imagine, this was a big boost and gave Pun City an opportunity to piece together a decision, now that it had the option of passing on the Big East.
Looking into the two options, it boiled down to 1 awesome conference vs. 2 good conferences; 11 games vs. 15 games, 5 days vs. 8 days; and cold vs. warm. While a tough decision, Pun City eventually chose the western trip (West Coast Conference in San Diego and Mountain West Conference in Las Vegas).
Other big factors included that the west trip might be able to get the elusive Big Sky Conference included if Northern Arizona ended up winning the regular season title, and Pun City was unexpectedly able to procure West Coast Conference tickets without having to scalp them. As it turns out, it’s now looking somewhat improbable that Northern Arizona will actually win the Big Sky, but they are only 1.5 games back, and winning their game today that would bring them within a game of leader Portland State.
In any event, here’s likely what the trip is going to look like this year:
3/7, 6:10 AM. Flying out of Milwaukee. This will suck. Part of the reasoning behind this is that Pun City had to plan the trip pretty late, most likely limiting the number of available flights. Another reason is Pun City isn’t trying to customize its exact flight time and paying through the roof for it.
3/7, 8:25 AM. Connecting flight out of Denver. This is Mountain Standard Time, so will feel like 9:25 AM in Pun City.
3/7, 9:49 AM. Land in San Diego. Pacific Standard Time, feels like 10:49 in Pun City. After grabbing luggage and the rental car, Pun City has some time to kill. This blog could think of a much worse place to have to kill time than San Diego. One likely destination in this interval is the spot that this blog’ll be staying, one of the Inspirational Website’s friends’ place. A little unusual staying with someone this blog has never met, but should be cool as any friend of the Inspirational Website is a friend of Pun City’s. Additionally, grabbing lunch and possibly dinner will be a good option in here. San Diego does have Jack-In-The-Box, which is huge, in addition to either a Rally’s or a Checkers.
3/7, 6:00 PM. Now feels like 8:00 PM. Game is 5th seed vs. 8th seed. If the season ended today, that would be Portland vs. Pepperdine. Given the choice, Pun City would have a preference of Pepperdine for that one since they have a sweet campus and this blog was able to visit earlier this year.
3/7, Approximately 8:30 PM. Now feels like 10:30 PM. Game will continue to 10:30 PM Pacific, meaning it will feel like 12:30 PM after presumably waking up at about 4:00 AM. This will be the toughest game to get through. It’s the 6 vs. 7 game, and if the season ended today, that would be San Francisco vs. Loyola Marymount. Pun City will be wearing the Loyola Marymount shirt it got on campus for whatever game the Lions play in. This blog is hopeful its host will be okay with this blog cruising in so late.
3/8, 6:00 PM. After a day of possibly catching up on sleep and soaking up some sun, this blog heads back to the Jenny Craig Pavilion and shows up for the quarterfinals. This game is going to have the 4 seed against the 5-8 winner. For today, the 4 seed would be Santa Clara, Steve Nash’s alma mater.
3/8, 8:30 PM. The 3 seed takes on the 6-7 winner. Host San Diego would be the 3 if the season ended today. Chances are that Pun City will have checked out their campus and bookstore by this time and most likely will be rooting for them. That is, of course, unless Loyola has advanced to this point and Pun City can still rock their colors.
3/9, 12:30 PM. Petco Park offers tours at this time. Pun City is likely to attend one of these while in town, not sure exactly when, but this might be a good time. This blog actually has a few Padres hats so it’d be cool to have that on when visiting.
3/9, 6:30 PM. The 1 seed finally plays. The WCC gives their top 2 seeds byes into the semifinals. So, for this game, the 1 is taking on the 4-5-8 survivor. As of today, the 1 would be Saint Mary’s. Pun City is a fan since they’ve used Australians to power their way to the top.
3/9, 9:00 PM. And the deuce. Gonzaga as of today. Playing the 3-6-7 survivor. Pun City has a Gonzaga visor, so this will almost certainly be worn, if only because the Loyola shirt would be a little “overworn” at this point if they’d gotten through 2 rounds unscathed.
3/10, 6:00 PM. Championship game. This will pit the 1-4-5-8 survivor vs. the 2-3-6-7 survivor. So, you can imagine the drama there. Talk about arch-rivals. Haha, well hopefully it is Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga, that would be the best game. But any surprises would be cool, and an auto-bid coming from outside of that pair would actually be the most beneficial for the WCC as far as getting the highest number of NCAA tournament teams. This blog is hoping that at some point while in San Diego it also would have had a chance to visit San Diego State also. Given the large amount of time seemingly available prior to the first game each day, this blog thinks this possibility is imminent. Anything other than the games, USD and SDSU campus visits, and a Petco Park tour would be gravy.
3/11. Pun City has no idea what it will be doing this day. If by some miracle Flagstaff hosts the Big Sky tournament, this blog will definitely head out there. It’s a 7.25 hour drive, but that’s not too bad. Main problem with this idea is that Flagstaff is not likely to actually host the tournament, so there’s little chance this is actually what Pun City ends up doing. Another possibility would be visiting a friend in Los Angeles, but as of now, this blog hasn’t heard back from him and there’s no guarantee he’ll be in the area or free that day. Beyond this, Pun City could (maybe) stay in San Diego if this blog hasn’t overstayed its welcome, or head out to Vegas early (there is a women’s 8-9 game this blog has tickets to at 6:00). One supposes it could even go to Phoenix or Tucson and spend a day there. Definitely a lot to be determined about this day.
3/12, 11:00 AM. Mountain West Conference “play-in” game pitting 8 vs. 9 in Las Vegas. Today this would be a matchup of Wyoming vs. Colorado State. Both are pretty cool schools, Pun City would probably root for the Rams because their school newsletter is the Rampage and head coach Tim Miles used to have former Wisconsin assistant Saul Phillips on his staff at North Dakota State. After this matchup Pun City has some decisions to make. Tickets to all the women’s games were included in the package, so Pun City could see as much as 4 women’s games in sessions going from 1:30 to 6:00 and 7:30 to midnight. Realistically that seems like more women’s basketball than Pun City would be able to handle. But, sparse women’s crowds do often afford the opportunity of catching free stuff being thrown into the stands.
3/13, 12:00 PM. 1 seed taking on the 8-9 winner. Projected 1 seed would be BYU. This is kinda awesome since Pun City will be sitting in the BYU section. Despite not having any relevant apparel for the Cougars, Pun City chose to sit there because their ticket office is the class of the Mountain West. This blog has called them on several occasions over the last couple years and they have been nothing but helpful and courteous. Mad props, BYU.
3/13, 2:30 PM. 4 seed vs. 5 seed. Today this would be New Mexico vs. Utah. Pun City has a shirt from when Utah played in the NCAA tournament in Milwaukee, so that would be worn for the Utes’ games.
3/13, 6:00 PM. After an intermission that would probably involve a trip to the strip for dinner, the 2 seed takes on the 7. This projects to be UNLV vs. Air Force. That’s a really tough call for Pun City since this blog has hats for both schools. Hopefully they end up playing different teams.
3/13, 8:30 PM. The last game of the 4-game day is possibly going to be 3rd seed San Diego State against 6th seed TCU. The Aztecs will almost certainly be favored by Pun City because this blog would have visited their campus and Pun City doesn’t know much about the Horned Frogs.
3/14, 6:30 PM. 1-8-9 survivor vs. 4-5 winner. This could be BYU vs. Utah in an intra-state rivalry (surprisingly taking place extra-state). This is following 2 women’s games that Pun City has the option of taking in. Not sure how likely that possibility would be, but another option would be heading to a sports book to watch some other games. Pun City has received a recommendation of Mandalay Bay for this idea.
3/14, 9:00 PM. 2-7 winner vs. 3-6 winner. Should be a cool game, possibly ending up with hosts UNLV taking on San Diego State. A coaching matchup of former Big Ten coaches Lon Kruger and Steve Fisher.
3/15, 1:00 PM. Women’s title game. Pun City’s gotta check this one out, it’s just cool to see any team get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, even if it is the less followed women’s tournament.
3/15, 4:00 PM. Men’s title game. The only certain bid that will come out of the Mountain West is going to be determined here. BYU and UNLV both have work to do according to ESPN’s Bubble Watch, and while it’s possible they could each get in even without winning the Mountain West tournament, they won’t be taking any chances with this tournament. On one hand, Pun City hopes they meet in the final here in that it would be a great basketball game. On the other hand, it would be a cooler story if Colorado State or some other dark horse comes out of nowhere and earns a stunning tournament bid.
3/15, Postgame. Pun City’s looking at a 6:20 AM flight the next morning, so the initial plan is to drive to San Diego and sleep at the airport. Maybe hanging out in Vegas a little more after the game ends (around 6:00 PM) is another good idea. This blog will find out. As with much of this trip, Pun City is going to play this segment by ear.
If anyone has any San Diego or Las Vegas suggestions or stories, feel free to chime in. Until then, Pun City is out.
Labels: Big Sky, College Basketball, Las Vegas, Mountain West, MWC, San Diego, Travel, WCC, West Coast Conference