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WSU Basketball begins New Year at Washington

Ernie Kent will open Pac-12 play facing another embattled coach.

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James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, and Happy New Year. If you're one of those "2016 was awful and needed to die in a fire" types, congratulations, it's over. If you think 2016 was just fine (like I did), hopefully 2017 brings just as much, if not more good fortune. If you're the Washington State and University of Washington basketball teams, 2017 will likely bring more of the same. That isn't a good thing.

Both teams enter Sunday's game coming off poor non-conference performances. WSU fans pretty much knew the basketball team would be bad from start-to-finish. Washington is a bit more puzzling, as they returned some decent talent and added Markelle Fultz, an almost-certain NBA Lottery pick in 2017. UW (#93 Pomeroy/#141 RPI) opened the season with a home loss to Yale, got boatraced at Gonzaga and lost at home to Nevada. They do enter Sunday's game on a nice little three-game winning streak, having taken down stalwarts such as Cal Poly and Seattle U.

The Cougars (#212 Pomeroy - just above something called NJIT/#208 RPI) finished their non-conference season with an identical 7-5 record. Their best victory came in a rousing beatdown of 6-9 Montana (#172 Pomeroy/#176 RPI). Their worst loss? Well, there are a few contenders. We'll go with the 16-point home loss to New Orleans (#256 Pomeroy/#174 RPI). In other words, it isn't exactly a clash of the titans Sunday in Seattle.

All that said, watching a couple of good young guards (Fultz and Malachi Flynn) could be fun, and there's always the chance that Josh Hawkinson records yet another double-double. As an aside, it still seems bizarre to me that Fultz would go all the way to Washington to play his one year of college basketball. I know he's been close to Romar for years, but he could have picked any school and at least guaranteed himself a good run in the NCAA Tournament. Instead he went the route of Ben Simmons.

The Cougs and Huskies will square off at...8:30 EST??!!/5:30 PST. The game will air on ESPNU, and Washington is a 12-point favorite.

Basketball

WSU and UW hope to continue winning streaks in Pac-12 opener | The Spokesman-Review
There is urgency on Montlake, given the near certainty that Fultz will leave for the NBA after one season in college. Also there is the simmering seat under coach Lorenzo Romar, whose teams have not made the NCAA tournament since 2011.

Old is new in Pac-12 men’s hoops | The Spokesman-Review
One year after emerging Oregon officially proclaimed itself a basketball power with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the Pac-12 conference’s traditional powers have regained control of the conference.

Pac-12 basketball: RPI issues, NCAA prospects and conference projections
The Hotline examines the state of the Pac-12 as conference play begins this week. With a poor showing against top-50 opponents, the league could have issues on Selection Sunday.

Beer

Best beer I had this week - Lots from which to choose, as the Christmas season brings more opportunity to imbibe. Easy call, though, as much for the label as for the great beer itself. I got my hands on a bomber of Funky Buddha's I'm So Excited, I'm So Scared, and it was tremendous. Hopefully those of you who are a certain age get the 90s pop culture reference contained in both the name and on the label.

The craft beer industry’s turf war begins in earnest in 2017 - MarketWatch
ncreasingly, 2017 looks like the year that brewers and distributors mark their territory. Whether drinkers benefit from that turf war or become victims of it remains to be seen.

Non-Sports

The widowhood effect: What it’s like to lose a loved one so young - The Globe and Mail
When her husband died at 36, Christina Frangou was a statistical outlier: a young widow. She soon discovered that there was a name for the phenomenon surrounding her devastating grief and the toll it takes on those left behind