Of course conventional wisdom spouted by clueless morons like Bill Plaschke is that UCLA is the program out West which will be shouldering the burden of unbearable crush of fan expectations. That is of course nonsense. We do expect and hope for a win in this year's Steve-16 against the Zags. But if it doesn't work out for us - the world is not going to end - considering our program is just getting (re)started under Coach Howland. Meanwhile, the pressure is really going to be on the Zags. They have been racking up bloated regular seasons (kind of like Dorrell's "10 win season") since 1999, however they have ZERO Final-4 (never mind NCs) to show for. Instead of annually whining about their seedings its time for them to do something more than notching some "upsets" and posting true moral victories against marquee programs. The pressure is going to be on the Zags to post a win against UCLA, otherwise considering UCLA's continued resurgence they will never amount to much more than a regional threat beyond the Pacific Northwest. They need this game. And at least one analyst from ESPN recognizes that the pressure Thursday night will be on the Zags:
Pressure gauge: 7
The only way to torpedo the mid-major label forever is to make a Final Four. The Zags have never had a better opportunity than now: two victories away and armed with their best player since John Stockton. Winning the national title remains the dream, but just making it to Indy would be a landmark, program-defining achievement.
Pressure gauge: 6.5
The Bruins once measured success by a single standard: They either won the national title or had a bad season. But after a bumpy decade since the last UCLA championship and a plague of injuries that threatened to scuttle this season, every March win is a thrill these days. A Final Four berth would be a great achievement; a national title -- although not out of the question -- would be a significant surprise.
Pressure gauge: 10
The Huskies have become annual title contenders, but this year is different. With UConn identified a year ago as one of the two teams to beat (along with Duke), the expectation of a third national title has been present on a daily basis ever since. Two less-than-dominant performances in Philadelphia didn't change that. Now, with a virtual walkover bracket in Washington, D.C., the pressure will only intensify.