Where would Washington be if it hadn’t stumbled in home defeats to Albany and Nevada?
When you take a look at the Huskies’ schedule, those losses are glaring and could come back to haunt them in March.
Washington was 98 in the RPI weeks ago. Following Wednesday’s 64-54 win over Colorado, the Huskies have improved to 51 in the RPI, according to RealTimeRPI.com.
Nevada (8-7, 0-2 WAC) is 178 in the RPI and Albany (15-4, 4-1 America East) is 125. However, the Great Danes could help UW later this season if they win their conference. They’re one of the favorites to win the league tourney and currently they’re tied for second in the standings.
According to the RPI, Washington’s other defeats have been against respectable teams including Connecticut (21), Ohio State (25) and Colorado State (27).
Washington is 12-5 and if not for the upset defeats to Albany (63-62) and Nevada (76-73), the Huskies would be 14-3 and possibly pushing for a spot in the top 25 polls. With 14 regular-season games left – eight at home and six on the road – they would have needed just six wins to reach the mystical 20-win plateau.
Due to the early stumbles, their task is more difficult.
It’s never too early to make NCAA tournament projections no matter how silly they may seem.
This week, ESPN’s bracket guru Joe Lunardi has four Pac-12 teams in the tournament, including Arizona (No. 2 seed), UCLA (No. 7 seed), Oregon (No. 7 seed) and Colorado (No. 8 seed). He also has Stanford as a bubble team.
Pac-12 observers may suggest Lunardi is being way too kind to the Buffaloes, which has lost four of the past five games. The Cardinal is also a curious choice.
Meanwhile Andy Glockner, a NCAA tournament bracket guru at SI.com, is the first (I believe) to include the Huskies in his tournament projections. He has UW as the No. 12 seed playing in San Jose in the West region. Glockner has five Pac-12 teams in the tourney, including Arizona (No. 1 seed), UCLA (6), Oregon (6) and Colorado (10).
The odd team out of both projections is Arizona State (14-3, 3-1).
Despite the early setbacks, Washington (12-5, 4-0) is still in a very good position for a great season.
Noted college basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy projects UW will finish 19-12 and 11-7. But before the season, he had the Huskies at 17-14 and 8-10.
One of the most optimistic scenarios would be for the Huskies to win their remaining eight home games and split their six games on the road to finish 23-8 and 15-3. This rosy forecast should be good enough for a NCAA tournament at-large berth regardless of what happens in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Interesting to note, UW finished the regular season 21-9 and 14-4 last year. And we all know what happened after that.