This time last month, I was resigned to being a Number 1 seed in the NIT. Hell, two weeks ago I was lamenting the fact that we didn’t have any high-calibre teams left to face to give us a last-minute RPI boost. And this time a week ago I was convinced there was no way we’d win the Pac-10 Tourney; even winning 2 games seemed like a long-shot.

When I went to bed Thursday night, the Huskies were sluggishly losing to Oregon State in the first half. They looked as they almost always looked on the road this year: disorganized, chock full of bricks, letting yet another opportunity to seize control slip through their grasp. This was the 3rd meeting of the year between the teams, the 2nd in less than a week, and it looked like an uneven year of basketball would end with a resounding thud.

I woke up Friday morning to a shock of shocks as UW used a 2nd half monster run to come back and take out OSU. Which I should’ve expected all along because we ALWAYS use a 2nd half monster run to take out OSU.

It looks as if that run was just the caffeinated jolt we needed to turn a moderately impressive stretch of wins to end the regular season against inferior opponents into a moderately impressive stretch of wins to claim the Pac-10 Tourney against inferior opponents.

Looks like we have O.J. Mayo to thank for this year’s NCAA Tourney berth, because surely USC was the best team in the Pac-10 this year.

It’s funny, this sense of pride and accomplishment I feel for this Husky team. Odds are we’ll just lose to Marquette on Thursday and it’ll all be over. If not then, then DEFINITELY on Saturday. We’re much too inconsistent, much too turnover prone, with faulty 3-point shooting and an inability to beat the 2-3 zone. Simply put, this isn’t a team that’s built to Go All The Way, so being in the Tourney should feel like a death sentence.

Really, it would make more sense to root for the Huskies to make the NIT, because there’s a feasible chance we actually COULD Go All The Way. Nothing like going out on top, even if it is a 2nd Class tournament.

But, the bottom line is, that’s not how it works in college basketball. Making the NCAA Tournament and losing in the first round is MUCH more preferable than going to the NIT and winning it all. Like being up for an Oscar, all the buzz surrounding it, it’s an honor just to be considered one of the best.

Besides, you never know. Crazier things have happened. Sure we’re an inconsistent team, but with the depressing valleys that means we also enjoy the exhilarating peaks. Who’s to say we don’t shoot 50% from behind the arc? Who’s to say our stifling defensive combo of Overton and IT and Holiday don’t shut down whoever’s posing even a moderate threat? Who’s to say Q-Pon doesn’t manage to take his game to yet ANOTHER level? He stepped up in a large way last year and almost brought us to the Sweet 16 … could such a feat not happen again, only with better results?

The bottom line is, we’re in the conversation. This is good for the school, good for the coaching staff, good for recruiting, and good for the fans who get to bask in all the good will being shepherded upon this team, in a down year for the conference.

I mean, after all, we were nationally ranked going into the season. After last year’s finish – even with the losses of Brockman and Dentmon – the expectations this year were to win the Pac-10 and go back to the NCAA’s. If we didn’t at least make the Tourney, that would’ve been highly disappointing.

Only losers aspire to the NIT. Have fun Arizona State.

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