Hi. I’m 38 years old today.
Well, it was kind of a strange Pac-12 Tournament, but in the end the Huskies did just enough. After narrowly edging out USC, we struggled in the first half against Colorado before turning on the jets in the second half and coming away with a 5-point victory. That set the stage for – who else? – the Oregon Ducks in the championship game, because of course. There was no way ASU was going to beat them, not with the way they’ve been playing of late. The Dawgs were able to keep it close in the first half, down only 2 at the break, but we had our doors blown out the rest of the way in what ended up being a 20-point drubbing.
What does it all mean? Well, the Pac-12 gets three teams in the NCAA Tourney (when no one would’ve been shocked if it was just one for most of the season), as the Sun Devils are an 11-seeded play-in team, the Ducks are a 12-seed looking to upset 5-seeded Wisconsin, and the Huskies land in that 8/9 game against 8-seeded Utah State.
We’re early underdogs (opened at +3, now at +2.5), but if we somehow succeed on Friday afternoon, North Carolina will be our reward. Considering the Tar Heels are my pick to win it all, that feels like a bad sign. My hope – at least heading into Saturday – was that the Huskies could reach the Sweet 16, but that’s looking impossible now. We’ll never know, but I wonder how high our seed would’ve been had we beaten the Ducks. Could we have climbed to a 7? Or, could we have at least gotten a better draw in the 8/9 game? Maybe earned a chance to play Gonzaga in the second round?
I’m also curious to know what would’ve happened if we’d lost to Colorado or USC. Could we have dropped down to 10 or 11 like I was hoping? Or, would that have been one loss too many and dropped us into the N.I.T? That feels unlikely, but you never know.
I guess no one but Duke is really happy with their draw; you just gotta go out there and play the games.
Without knowing a whole lot about Utah State, my initial reaction is to wonder what the big fuckin’ deal is. Looks like they score a lot, but Sam Merrill accounts for 21.2 of those points. Seems to me if you can find a way to shut him down, the rest of the team will topple. The Huskies have a lot of flaws, but one of their strengths is being able to take out the other team’s best player and forcing them to beat us in other ways. I have to imagine this whole week is going to be devoted to stopping Merrill, and as long as we can do so while staying out of foul trouble (looking at you, Thybulle), we should be in good shape.
Regardless, I think the game will be close, but I also think it could be a lot uglier than expected. My initial thought was to pound the under on this game, but they set the line at a reasonable 135. That feels VERY attainable. 70-65? You’re telling me we can’t get over that hump?
I fully expect Utah State to have most of the love heading into this one, but I think there’s a better-than-50% chance the Huskies pull the upset. This has been years and years in the making; we’ve put up with a lot of bullshit to get to this point. With the veterans on this team, we should be able to find a way to pull it out in the end. And, while we’re not going to be a Sweet 16 team this year, getting to the Round of 32 is a nice consolation prize.
Bigger and better days are ahead of us!