Washington State is on the brink of CBI glory, but have to take the tournament on Wednesday night. Otherwise the momentum completely shifts to a dangerous Pittsburgh team that is as resilient as any in the nation.
College basketball tournaments are marked by a one and done format that infuses a great deal if uncertainty into championships.
Simply, you never can tell what will happen in any given game. The CBI offers a glimpse into college basketball under a best of three series, and it's the main reason that Washington State has to win Game 2 tonight at Petersen Events Center.
The Cougars took Game 1, which saw Pittsburgh chip away and nearly steal one in Washington. These Panthers are not about to roll over and die, and proved they have the tenacity to put in a scare on the biggest stage in this tournament.
Consider that Washington State is tasked with two away games to close out the tourney with a title, and are coming away from a game in which they nearly squandered a late 12-point lead, and you see how crucial this game truly is.
Washington State relies heavily on their perimeter game that can get red hot in an instant, but can also go through periods of frigid, cold stagnation.
We saw this stagnation in the opening chapter of the championship series, as Washington State let the Panthers get off to a quick lead then close out the half with a 38-35 lead.
That is when the Panthers started to cool and Washington State welcomed back a consistent offensive attack.
They would go on to shoot 51.2% from the field and will again rely heavily on hot shooting to get them to the promised land.
In an away game, and with a huge deficit, Pittsburgh still managed to chip away late and were just a Tray Woodall layup away from taking Game 1.
This will again be a closely fought game, and one that Washington State must win. The Cougars do not want to leave this to a one-and-done game three, not against a tenacious Pittsburgh team.