When I left to go to the movies on Saturday, the Huskies were down by 12 at halftime, their defense was doing nothing, they were getting killed on the boards, and quite frankly, they were LUCKY to only be down 12 to the Buffaloes, on the road.
I checked back on the game on Twitter right before the movie started, got to follow a little mini-comeback before Colorado re-took control of the game to push their lead back to double-digits with less than 10 minutes to go. I felt pretty secure in the fact that the Huskies would lose this game and lose comfortably. So, imagine my shock and dismay when I got out of the movie to find the Dawgs only lost by 1 point. God. Dammit.
At this point in the season, close defeats on the road don’t help you. Even against good teams like Colorado (currently projected to be an 8-seed). Wins help you. Wins are the ONLY thing that help you. The Huskies have gone from being securely one of the At Large teams to one of the First Four Out with their little slump (3 in a row, 4 of 5, 5 of 7).
If we can figure out a way to go 4-1 over the last five games, it would mean sweeping the Bay Area schools, winning one of two down in the state of Oregon, then coming back up here to beat the Cougs in the final week of the regular season. That would put us at a record of 19-11, and 11-7 in conference. Depending on what some other teams do, that MIGHT be enough to get us into the Dance. Here’s what we’re tangling with so far in the Pac-12.
Oregon is currently a 3-seed. They’re locked in. Arizona and Utah are both 6-seeds, with plenty of room to move either up or down. Arizona goes on the road to play the mountain schools, and they host ASU and the Bay Area schools; Utah goes to L.A. this week, then they host the Arizona schools before closing up with Colorado. Obviously, Utah has the tougher schedule, but if they somehow pull through with a 4-1 record, they could blast on up into a really high seed. Below those big 3, you’ve got USC currently a 7-seed, with Cal and Colorado as 8-seeds. And, not for nothing, but Oregon State is currently listed among the Next Four Out after the group Washington is in.
So, the game this Thursday against Cal is probably the biggest, most important game of the rest of the regular season. We beat Cal, that could easily flip-flop us. If we beat Oregon State next week, that also keeps them at bay a little bit. We’d still need to take care of business against lesser teams like Stanford and Wazzu and I think we’d be okay.
The game down in Eugene against the Ducks is a real wild card. That would be a HUGE win for us, but obviously is not a game you can count on. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Huskies pulled the upset.
If we want to look ahead a little bit, there’s probably a 50/50 chance as of today that the Huskies will need to win at least one game in the Pac-12 Tournament. It works like this: the top 4 seeds get a BYE in the first round. Barring some miracle, I highly doubt the Huskies will get one of those top 4 seeds, so bank on the Huskies playing on Day 1.
Day 1 looks like this:
- 5-seed plays 12-seed
- 6-seed plays 11-seed
- 7-seed plays 10-seed
- 8-seed plays 9-seed
Day 2 looks like this:
- Winner of 5/12 plays 4-seed
- Winner of 6/11 plays 3-seed
- Winner of 7/10 plays 2-seed
- Winner of 8/9 plays 1-seed
Right now, the Huskies are 7th, and they’d play Stanford in the first round. Should things hold more or less they way they are now, then our game on Saturday could be a precurser of the Tournament match-up, followed by a game against either Oregon or Arizona, should we advance.
Under normal circumstances, I’d say if you can’t be one of the BYE teams, then being the 6-seed is probably your best bet, in that you’d avoid the 1-seed for as long as humanly possible. But, this season is far from normal circumstances. There’s really no runaway great team in the Pac-12, and a team like Utah – which has had our number – could fall as low as the 8-seed if they stumble these last couple weeks. The point is, it doesn’t really matter where the Huskies land in the Pac-12 tournament, because they could just as easily lose to any of these teams.
Of course, they could beat any of these teams too, but they’re REALLY going to have to get their shit together defensively.