Basement Notes: NCAA conference realignment

The Pac-12 extends to the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. The Atlantic Coast Conference will soon stretch as far inland as Louisville. The Southeast Conference reaches northwest into Missouri. It’s the way of the world now in college sports—there’s a good chance your favorite conference is either about to get bigger or be consumed by a more ambitious one.

Winterhawks face tough test in opening round of playoffs

The Portland Winterhawks entered the playoffs as the top seed in the WHL after finishing the season with a franchise-record 117 points (57-12-1-2). Their reward was a first-round matchup against the Everett Silvertips, a team they beat nine times out of 11 during the regular season.

On your mark, get set, drink!

Sometime about 3,000 years ago in Zhou Dynasty China, two people held up a certain number of fingers, each simultaneously guessing what the total number of fingers would be. The one whose number was furthest from the answer drained the glass between them, and Jiuling, the world’s oldest continuously played drinking game, was born.

Winterhawks on top in WHL

Putting all their focus on stopping WHL league-leading scorers Brendan Leipsic and Nicolas Petan, the Victoria Royals neglected the offensive firepower on the Portland Winterhawks’ second line in the first of a two-game series against Portland on Sunday. Center Chase De Leo celebrated his first career hat trick in a Winterhawks sweater, right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand collected another goal and left winger Taylor Leier notched four assists as Portland blew by the Royals in a 5-2 victory.

Basement Notes: The trail to Churchill Downs

We are not far removed from a time when the horse was our primary form of transportation in the United States. Until the interstate highway system finally came to fruition in the 1950s—after decades of drawing and redrawing the lines across the map—a horse was often the most reliable way to get through the muck of many rural areas.

Basement Notes: Putting Green Preservation Society

Perhaps you’ve seen it on your local course—a weekend golfer using the chin or navel to anchor an extra-long putter on the green. Maybe you’ve only ever seen them on television, where 15 of the 94 official PGA Tour events over the past two years (including three of the past five majors) have been won by linksmen employing the technique. From the suburbs to the pros, the practice has been steadily integrated into the game over the past three decades. And it appears that the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland have finally had enough.

No luck at the Stott Center

After losing on Thursday to the University of North Dakota, the Vikings had to win their final three games to stay alive in the race for one of the seven playoff spots in the Big Sky Conference. But a second-half run by the University of Northern Colorado on Saturday effectively ended those aspirations, as the Bears claimed an 85-75 victory on Senior Day at the Stott Center.

Basement Notes: Hard lessons at Daytona

Leading up to the weekend of the Daytona 500, the discussion was almost exclusively centered on Danica Patrick. The former open-wheel racer made headlines when she qualified in the pole position for the Great American Race. Out in front of the field for five of the day’s 200 laps, she would become the first woman to hold the lead in any top-level NASCAR event under green-flag conditions. Patrick would finish eighth overall, also the best-ever final result achieved by a female in the 54-year history of the race.

Stott streak continues in BracketBusters finale

Aaron Moore was one rebound away from a double-double in Portland State’s 66-58 victory over the University of California, Riverside at the Stott Center on Saturday. With the football team cheering on their fellow Vikings as part of the crowd of 870, PSU’s men’s basketball survived a second-half surge by the visitors to win their third game in a row. Part of the final year of ESPN’s BracketBusters program, the showdown against the Highlanders was PSU’s seventh appearance in the 11-year run of the series.

Basement Notes: Olympic wrestling

Wrestling is officially no longer part of the Olympics after it lost in a runoff vote against seven other sports to retain its spot in the games. First added to the Olympic program in 708 B.C., wrestling found its existence pitted against bids from karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, wushu and a joint bid by baseball and softball. Ultimately, the International Olympic Committee decided to tuck one of the world’s oldest sports into the mothballs of nostalgia.

Sun shining on the Winterhawks

On Friday night, the Portland Winterhawks fell at Veterans Memorial Coliseum 6-2 to the Tri-City Americans. Taking the ice less than 24 hours later for an afternoon start against the Vancouver Giants, the Winterhawks spotted the visitors a two-goal lead before coming back to win 4-3 on a Brendan Leipsic goal less than a minute into overtime.