With Selection Sunday one week from today, it’s officially nervous time for the Husky men’s basketball team. And while I absolutely think they deserve a spot in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens this week, I’m not the one making the final decisions.
Now, wait a minute, you say: “Just two weeks ago, you quoted a credible website that said the Dawgs had a 99.9 percent chance of getting in!” And you’re absolutely right – I did. But we also assumed they wouldn’t struggle as badly as they did in their final four games.
Because if you ONLY looked at the last four games – that ugly loss to Cal, which had lost its previous 16 games, that one-point win at Stanford, the overtime win at home over Oregon State and a terrible home-finale loss to Oregon last night – again, just those four games - you couldn’t tell me this team belongs in the Big Dance.
And imagine adding a first-round loss in the Pac-12 Tournament to that end-of-season swoon.
Fortunately, the selection committee will look at the entire body of work. And even if the Dawgs lose to Arizona or USC on Thursday, the Huskies will still be regular-season Pac-12 champions with a solid 15-4 conference record. And while they don’t have any Top-25 non-conference wins, they did push then-top-ranked Gonzaga to the brink on their home court. Would that be enough? I really hope it would.
But why leave it up to chance when we’ve been down a similar road before? After all, I don’t need to remind anyone about the tournament snub seven years ago when the Huskies won the Pac-12 regular-season title but lost in the first round of the conference tournament.
Their record that year? 24-9. Their record this year if they lose on Thursday? 24-8.
And as much fun as this year has been to watch – as surprising as the mid-season success has been in Mike Hopkins’ second year on Montlake – it’s a sobering reality that UW simply does not carry the name-prestige that a Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky or Syracuse would if those schools ended up on the bubble. I’m not saying that Hopkins won’t build a national powerhouse. It just doesn’t have that kind of influence with a selection committee right now.
The simple fact is: In less than a week, none of us want to be playing a guessing game. The Dawgs don’t want to be in that dangerous state of limbo.
If they lose on Thursday that will be the case – whether you think they’ve earned a spot or not.
But a win will leave little doubt.