TERRY COLUMN: All in on the Northwest bandwagon

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This isnít how most people wouldíve seen the Final Four playing out.

Then again, when is it ever?

The dream scenario for many in the region has played out, with two teams from the Pacific Northwest playing their way onto college basktballís biggest stage.

Gonzaga, the darling of the Northwest for nearly 20 years now, has made its first Final Four, riding its strongest and deepest team ever to the brink of a shot at a national championship.

Oregon, the darling of Nike and the most well-appointed team in the region, has turned its recent momentum into the first Final Four in 78 years.

Fittingly enough, the best year of basketball in the Northwest has been matched by a more traditionally strong spot on the map, if not by its most likely contenders.

The Carolinas, as they have for most of college basketball history, will be represented again, this time opposite the Northwestís best.

North Carolina, a finalist last season, is back with its slew of all-Americans and long pedigree.

On the opposite end of the bracket, more people would have expected to have seen Duke, but instead got a less-known neighbor in South Carolina.

With all of my rooting interests out of the tournament and my bracket a pile of shreds, Iíll be turning my rooting interests to the Northwest this weekend.

Gonzaga, in addition to being one of the best teams throughout the regular season, deserves to have a national championship banner hanging in Spokane after the journey its taken from obscurity to perennial powerhouse over two decades.

Any question of their strength because of conference alignment or past history has been overblown, and theyíve proven all of the numbers that showed them to be a top contender this season were right.

It only helps that they have a local guy, Kalispellís Ryan Edwards, on the bench. Itís always more fun when you can have a connection to what youíre seeing on national TV.

Oregon has been one of the best stories this season, dazzling the best competition on the West Coast with their shooting ability and athleticism.

Their story has been fantastic, but Iím rooting for them to win as much as I am for North Carolina to lose. The Tar Heels have won enough, and Iím still a little bitter about 2009.

I wonít blame you if you root for UNC. Even South Carolina is fun and has played as well as anybody to get to this point.

Regardless of who wins on Saturday night, thereís bound to be a fun championship game on Monday.

But, this isnít about records or statistics. This is as close as weíll get in Montana to having two home teams have a chance of moving on to the title. If that happens, everybody, or at least the unaffiliated in the Northwest, wins.

Go Gonzaga. Quack, quack, quack. Go win a title.

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