Who’s Tippy Dye, you ask? If that sounds like a name from a million years ago, you’re not too far off. Back in 1953, the Huskies – then a member of the Pacific Coast Conference with the likes of Cal, the Oregon schools, Stanford, the SoCal schools, Wazzu, and Idaho – finished a robust 15-1 in conference play, en route to a 28-3 overall record. The NCAA Tournament looked a lot different back then, with only 22 teams involved. That Huskies team beat Santa Clara and Seattle U to reach the Final Four, before losing to Kansas (who would go on to lose the National Championship game to Indiana). For some reason, they included a Third Place game, where the Huskies beat LSU to achieve their best-ever finish in program history.
Getting back to the original premise, the Huskies have never had a better finish in conference play since. In 1984, the Dawgs lost three regular season games (ultimately reaching the Sweet 16), the best Romar teams still managed to lose four Pac-10/12 games. But, today, after beating the Beavs last night in overtime, 81-76 (and, of course, after taking down Stanford last Sunday, 62-61), the Huskies stand at 15-2, with one game to go (this Saturday, vs. the Ducks).
How far will THIS team go in the NCAA Tournament? I can’t wait to find out!
Joe Lunardi still has us as an 8-seed, in the West, all set to play Gonzaga in the second round if we make it that far. I still find it hard to stomach that we’d have to play the Zags in the second round – considering we’d be the only two schools in the Pacific Northwest in the Tourney, plus the fact that we already played one another earlier this season – but I do find it VERY interesting that he has us matched up against possible 9-seeded Syracuse. How much fun would THAT game be?!
Actually, now that I think about it, probably not that much fun at all. The biggest upside to running a zone like this is that most teams in the Tourney aren’t used to playing against it, so if things break right and you make shots, you can go pretty far even if you’re not so elite. But, Syracuse knows the zone backwards and forwards!
No no no, Lunardi better not be right about this. I want no part of his bracket coming true.
I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this recently; ever since we lost to Cal last week. The worst-case scenario is finishing with an 8/9 seed; you’d rather actually be the 10-seed if anything, considering the level of talent between the 7/10 teams isn’t too disparate. If that’s the case, here’s what I hope happens: the Huskies beat the Ducks to secure the at-large bid without a shadow of a doubt (also: Fuck The Ducks). Then, proceed to lose their first game in the Pac-12 Tournament to some garbage team. That should leave a bad-enough taste in the mouths of the committee to drop us down to 10, or even 11.
Honestly, an 11-seed might even be better than a 10-seed! We’d play a 6-seeded team, which won’t be remarkably better than the Huskies. Then, that sets us up for a second round matchup with a 3-seed (or a 14-seed if all hell breaks loose). Plus, making the Pac-12 regular season champion an 11-seed should put a pretty big chip on our shoulders. Considering this will be our first Tourney appearance with this group of players, I think we could use all the help we could get.
My rationale behind this type of thinking is that even if we win out, and even if we somehow manage to play both Arizona schools en route to a proper Pac-12 championship, I still don’t think it’s going to be enough to get us to a 6-seed. That loss to Cal REALLY screwed the damn pooch! There aren’t enough words to describe how bad that team has been this year. Heading into that game, you could make a legitimate case that the Huskies – while not having a quality win on the resume – at least never had a bad loss. Now, they’ve got one of the worst losses you can possibly imagine, and still zero quality wins. The first game this Husky team wins in the NCAA Tournament will be the first win this Husky team has against a Tournament opponent this season (unless one of the non-ASU teams in the Pac-12 somehow wins the conference tourney). So, even winning out, this feels like a 7-seed at the very best; at this point, I’ll take my chances being a promising underdog 11-seed.