March 15th, 2009 5:33 pm | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Start the Madness: Portland Draws Washington and Gonzaga for First-Round NCAA Games

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Color the Oregon Sports Authority tickled pink: The first-round NCAA Tournament match-ups have just been announced, and Northwest favorites University of Washington and Gonzaga will play their inital March Madness games in the Rose Garden on Thursday. The seedings should draw gobs of Huskies and Bulldogs fans; if you encounter the latter, you should try avoid mentioning the incident pictured above.

"We couldn't be happier," said Oregon Sports Authority chief executive officer Drew Mahalic about Gonzaga and UW coming to town. "To think we got the two best teams in the Northwest with such huge followings, we're just elated."

Portland is getting the tournament for the first time since 1975. Oregon hasn't had the tournament since 1983 when Corvallis hosted games.

This week, the Rose Garden will host two games in the West regional and two games in the South regional on Thursday, and the winners will play again on Saturday. Here are the games:

West Regional:

No. 5 Purdue vs. No. 12 Northern Iowa
No. 4 Washington vs. No. 13 Mississippi State

South Regional:

No. 5 Illinois vs. No. 12 Western Kentucky
No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 13 Akron

Meanwhile, the Portland State University Vikings rebounded from last year's bracket shafting (they were a $16 seed and had to play eventual national champ Kansas) by drawing a 13 seed this year and a game in Boise against upset-ripe Xavier.

Oh, and since I'm nothing if not a sadist toward poor Gonzaga, here's Gus Johnson's Hindenburg-level play-by-play of the UCLA game in 2006. You're welcome!

[youtube Vt0VUSyVIr4]
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