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Game day in Portland

By Tom Gaffney Published: March 19, 2009

The Zips had a short walk-through Thursday morning at Concordia College in Portland before returning to the team hotel for rest and a pregame meal. The team will leave for the Rose Garden about 2:30 Pacific. Coach Keith Dambrot said his biggest concern is that his team will defend well, but that Gonzaga is so big that it will throw the ball over the top for inside baskets.  A personal thought: UA had some foul trouble in Cleveland, but can't afford that against Gonzaga. 
The point spread has risen to its highest level of the week at 13.
A weekly newspaper had capsule scouting reports on all eight teams in Portland. It had "Reason to root for" and "Reason to root against.''  The "for" for UA:  ""Freshman guard Anthony Hitchens' nickname is Humpty.'' The "against" refers to how LeBron James has scorched the Trail Blazers, including 51 points recently: "Thanks to the connection between coach Keith Dambrot and LeBron James, Akron players sport James' LJ23 Nike gear. Who wants a Blazer-killer like James to be happy?''
The Oregonian, Portland's newspaper, had Gonzaga as its major story in the sports section. The headline is: ''Mid-major no more." The Zips had a short story on page C9. 
The NCAA Tournament is in Oregon for the first time since 1983 and in Portland for the first time since 1975. Part of the reason for the state snub was that the NCAA frowned on the Oregon Lottery, which had one game based on betting on the NFL. Proceeds of that went to college athletic departments. But that game was stopped several years ago, and Portland got this tournament not long after.  No one said there was a connection between the two, but skeptics believe there was. Skeptics also believe the state was better served by the lottery game rather than one week of having the NCAA in Portland
It seems strange to be watching the NCAA pre-game show at 9 a.m. and seeing LSU over Butler 9-0 after two minutes.

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