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Husky Men's Basketball

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

March 1, 2010 at 2:49 AM

Let the Madness – and the bubble debate – begin

No one besides the Huskies and their fans believe UW has a chance to earn one of the 34 NCAA tournament at-large berths.
You can make an argument for and against them.
Their official RPI is low at 60, but their Pomeroy rating is high at 38 and better than many bubble teams.
Their Sagarin rating and strength of schedule is comparable to many teams fighting to make the tournament, but their reputation among the bracket gurus is in the mud.
Last week, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi predicted the West Coast Conference would would send two teams to the tournament, while the Pac-10 would send one. He had the WCC’s Saint Mary’s (24-5) as one of his last four in.
And yet there’s a strong belief in Romarville that if the Huskies win their next four games, they’ll be among the 65 teams dancing in the big tournament.
“We know the tournament committee they look at the last 10 games,” junior center Matthew Bryan-Amaning said last Saturday after UW’s 59-52 win at Washington State. “We’re could win all of them. So if we have a good strong end of the season and a strong showing in the Pac-10 Tournament without winning, maybe getting a couple of wins then we should be at 23 wins.”
In that scenario, Washington would finish 23-10.
Every Pac-10 team with a similar or better record appeared in the NCAA tourney, since the conference expanded to 10 teams in 1978.
This year could be the exception.
It’s not as if the Huskies are a bad team. Their 19-9 record is comparable to many bubble teams.
They just haven’t played many top 25 teams. Washington is 1-1 against top 25 teams while many bubble teams have at least 3-4 games against the top 25.
Blame the weak Pac-10, which has been shutout of the top 25 for the past six weeks. The Huskies are often criticized for their weak non-conference schedule, however, it’s unfair to blame the opponents.
Belmont (19-11), Wright State (19-11), Portland (19-9) and Montana (19-9) performed like many expected. They’re mid-majors and near the top of their respective conference standings, but the only way the help UW is if they win their conference tournaments and an automatic NCAA berth.
Belmont is in a four-way tie atop the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Meanwhile, San Jose State (14-14), San Francisco (12-17), Portland State (12-17) and Cal State Northridge (10-19) hasn’t helped the Huskies’ strength of schedule.
Texas A&M (20-8) is the one gift that keeps on giving. Washington managed to beat the Aggies at home in December and they’ve climbed to No. 22 in the national polls while nearly knocking off top-ranked Kansas.
If Washington had beaten No. 11 Georgetown (19-8) in the John R. Wooden Classic last December, then the Huskies would have a quality win that’s sorely missing from their resume.
Their best win was at home against an injury-depleted A&M squad.
Ultimately Washington’s undoing might be the fact that it faced just three non-conference opponents from the six major conferences and posted a 1-2 record. And it’s going to be difficult for the selection committee to ignore a loss – even in overtime – at Texas Tech (16-12 ), which is tied for eighth in the Big 12.
While their fans debate their tournament credentials, the Huskies don’t appear overly concerned with their predicament.
“You can only control what you can control,” sophomore Isaiah Thomas said. “We play the game that’s ahead us and when that’s over, it’s on to the next one.”
Of course, the Huskies could make the bubble debate moot if they win the Pac-10 Tournament.

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