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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

March 13, 2006 at 12:44 AM

A sweet selection?

No doubt, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee did the Washington Huskies a lot of favors with a No. 5 seed and a spot in San Diego, probably the most preferable destination of them all.
But the committee wasn’t completely magnanimous – UW’s first-round opponent of Utah State is no easy road to the second round.
One close observer of the college scene I know who knows a lot more about Utah State than I do remarked that the Aggies are probably more of a 10 seed in ability.
Indeed, the Aggies have a lot of the things that make for March Cinderellas …quot; a lot of key seniors (three who start, including point guard David Pak and the team’s best player in Nate Harris); a lot of good 3-point shooters …quot; Utah State was third in the nation at 41.9 percent during the regular season from beyond the arc this year; and a winning tradition – this is the third time in the last four years the Aggies have made the tournament, and sixth since 1998.
UW coach Lorenzo Romar said Utah State is more along the lines of the Pacific team that the Huskies beat in the second round last year, than the Montana team they beat in the first round.
Utah State also has a little bit of size in the middle in 6-10 center Cassiano Matheus of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Add it up, and I don’t think any Husky fan should start looking ahead too much to Illinois just yet.
Consider as well that No. 12 seeds have a pesky history …quot; at least one No. 12 seed has made it to the Sweet 16 five of the last seven years.
Of this year’s 12’s, Utah State is as dangerous as the rest, certainly moreso – on paper, anyway – than Montana, a No. 12 in the Minneapolis region that will face Nevada in the first round.
That Nevada is a No. 5 is interesting as well. Nevada won the WAC regular season and tournament titles ahead of Utah State, which was second in each.
But the Aggies won at Nevada and then lost in overtime there in the conference tournament. Nevada did blast Utah State in Logan 75-57 on Feb. 25 in what was the Aggies’ most decisive loss of the season.
And make fun of the WAC all you want, but its final conference RPI was No. 9, according to Ken Pomeroy, while the Pac-10 was No. 7. But take out bottom-feeders Idaho and San Jose State – which were a combined 9-50 against Division-I teams – and the WAC looks a lot better with six teams ranked 124 or higher. That’s almost as good as the Pac-10, whose No, 6 team (USC) was ranked 117 in the final RPI.
Utah State is also likely to play a physical style that has bothered the Huskies this year.
“Coach told us it is going to be a physical game and that this will be a good opponent to show that we can play a physical brand of basketball,” said senior forward Jamaal Williams. “I think every team is going to try to pound on us a little bit and try to take us out of our game. We have to show that we can handle that.”
UW’s biggest statistical advantage could be in rebounding – the Huskies outrebounded their opponents by seven a game this year (37.9 to 30.8) while Utah State was basically even (33.6 to 33.3 for opponents).
At first glance, anyway, nothing about this game strikes me as easy.

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