Lutz vs. Gottlieb


















Quite a day. Doug Gottlieb loses me with his “isn’t really close” take. You don’t need to cover (or root for) the Shockers to peg WSU as No. 1 seed. Lunardi, Palm, USA Today and many others have the Shockers as a No. 1. He’s not alone in ranking WSU below a No. 1 seed, but that club is small.

He also loses me with his read on Fred VanVleet as a liability. Gottlieb did see WSU’s game at Saint Louis, in which VanVleet had four turnovers. I suspect those turnovers (specifically two in a row around the eight-minute mark of the second half) is where much of his opinion on the Shockers began. Having seen VanVleet all season, he would be the least of my worries. The Shockers may lose earlier than seeded in the NCAA Tournament. They may absolutely flame out and crush the spirit of all Shocker fans. Happens every year in the NCAA Tournament to very good teams. I don’t think that will happen and I don’t think it will be because VanVleet can’t handle pressure defense. Are there point guards who may bother him more than the ones he’s faced? Perhaps. There can’t be many of them and he may not see one until the Final Four. I would also allow for the chance the sophomore has improved since Dec. 1.

Gottlieb’s stance that WSU’s schedule is a problem is fair. It is hard to evaluate WSU in comparison to Florida, Arizona, Syracuse etc. Those schools are challenged more in their conference schedule and those schools deserve their points for that. Is it ridiculous to say WSU is better-seeded at No. 2 (Gottlieb has them a No. 3)? No. I don’t buy WSU as a No. 2 seed, but it’s a point that can be supported.

As Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News keeps saying – “You can’t fake undefeated.” For an undefeated team that made an effort to schedule tough, went on the road (more than most top teams) and played in a reasonable conference (the MVC is No. 11 out of 32 conferences, not No. 31), a No. 1 seed is an appropriate reward. WSU’s non-conference strength of schedule is No. 38 according to, as compared to Michigan State (No. 70), Villanova (No. 43) and Syracuse (No. 118).

The margin might be thin and there will be schools (Kansas, primarily) now slotted as a No. 2 seed that would have reasonable arguments.

In the end, an unbeaten WSU deserves a No. 1 seed and by all indications that is what will happen.

 I blame Alabama for all this. The Tide is the biggest disappointment on WSU’s schedule. A few more wins by Alabama and much of this debate goes away.