BY SPNW Staff 07:00AM 03/10/2012

Do Huskies Really Belong In The Big Dance?

Failing to beat Oregon State Thursday suddenly left Washington to sweat out Selection Sunday. Do the Huskies deserve to dance? Vote here.

The Washington Huskies probably would punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament had they beaten Oregon State. But after freshman Tony Wroten missed four critical free throws Thursday in the final 18 seconds, the Huskies will have to sweat out Selection Sunday. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Although Lorenzo Romar’s Washington Huskies won the Pac-12 Conference regular season title, they will have to endure the high anxiety of Selection Sunday to find out whether they are invited to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large entry. The suspicion here is that Washington’s collective perspiration will be as profuse as Tony Wroten’s was as he gagged at the line four times in the final 18 seconds of the Oregon State horror Thursday.

“I’m not in there with the (NCAA Selection) committee,” Romar said after Washington became the first No. 1 seed in Pac-12 tournament history to lose to a No. 9 seed. “I know we haven’t won as many games as we should have in non-conference as a league. But I would think the Pac-12 champion would be able to find a place in the NCAA tournament.”

It’s now up to the kindness of strangers, who will have to sort the following:

Washington has two, slim factors in its favor:

The Huskies won the Pac-12 regular-season title, and no conference winner has been left out of the tournament under its current format, and the Huskies could get statistical help from teams outside the Pac-12 still in conference tournaments. The next two days could help Washington’s cause.

Unfortunately for UW’s chances, the Huskies have many more negatives than positives, starting with the fact that throughout the season Washington struggled against strong competition. Washington had a 3-8 record against the RPI top 100, an 0-5 mark against the RPI Top 50, and an 0-2 record against AP-ranked teams.

Moreover, the Huskies did not post any quality wins, missing opportunities for two when they lost to Marquette and Duke in December in New York City. Worse, they were dinged with consecutive “bad losses” in the Pac-12 regular-season ender at RPI No. 103 UCLA, and in their tournament opener to RPI No. 132 Oregon State.

Two weeks ago, most “bubble” experts were opining that Washington had to win its conference tournament to ensure a berth. Barring that, Washington had to win the league title outright (done, but still no guarantee of a trip) and make a respectable league tournament showing (embarrassingly not done).

Ratings Percentage Index is not the only factor the NCAA Selection Committee uses in making selections, but it’s a significant one. Washington’s has soared from 52 to 67 in the past 10 days. It could rise or fall marginally as other bubble teams around the country complete their seasons.

Washington made the tourney in 2004 as a No. 8 seed with an RPI of 63. But the 2004 Huskies had three quality wins that year and three wins over AP-ranked teams, including 75-62 victory over No. 1 Stanford.

In every other year that Washington has made the NCAA field under Romar, its RPI ranking has averaged 36. During that span, the Huskies have been anywhere from a No. 1 seed (2005, RPI 6) to a No. 11 seed (2010, RIP 32).

In the past decade (since the 2000-01 season), the Pac-10/12 has sent 46 teams to the tourney. The worst conference teams to make the field had an average RPI rank of 44. Again, Washington’s is 67.

If there is positive news here for Washington fans, it’s that in 2007 Stanford reached the NCAA Tournament with an RPI rank identical to Washington’s this year, 67. These are the worst conference teams, based on RPI rank, to play in the Big Dance since 2001:

Year School Rec. RPI
2007 Stanford 18-13 67 L first round to Louisville 78-58
2004 UW 19-12 63 L first round to Ala.-Birmingham 102-100
2006 California 20-11 60 L first round to North Carolina St. 58-52
2003 Oregon 23-10 54 L first round to Utah Utes 60-58
2005 Stanford 18-13 47 L first  round to Mississippi St. 93-70
2004 Arizona 20-10 45 L first round to Seton Hall 80-76
2011 UCLA 19-14 43 L third round to Florida 73-65

Based on your own analysis of Washington’s season, which featured the third-worst free-throw shooting team (61.8 percent) in school history, which makes the most sense to you?


YourThoughts

  • Loyal Husky

    No, they don’t deserve to dance.  This team went the whole season playing carelessly and without mental toughness or on-court intelligence.  Romar has to bear some of the responsibility.

    One disappointment:  Willing, hustling bench players never got their chance when starters were screwing up, making turnovers, and playing matador defense.  Let us hope that next year’s recruits
    know about team play and discipline.;

  • Loyal Husky

    No, they don’t deserve to dance.  This team went the whole season playing carelessly and without mental toughness or on-court intelligence.  Romar has to bear some of the responsibility.

    One disappointment:  Willing, hustling bench players never got their chance when starters were screwing up, making turnovers, and playing matador defense.  Let us hope that next year’s recruits
    know about team play and discipline.;

  • PurpleDawg

    People keep saying that they had 2 bad losses at the end but were one of the hottest teams prior to losing these 2 games. Also, if you look at most of the losses prior to UCLA and Ore. St. all the losses were to good teams ( Nevada #2, St. Louis #2, Duke #2, Marquette #2 or #3, S. Dakota St. and Colardo conference tournament winner.) they had a tougher non-conference schedule than both Cal and Col w/ Cal getting blown out by Missouri but beating a bottom SEC team in Georgia. Colarado’s toughest non-conference sched was either Colorado St. or Air force – they also played Georgia and beat bottom SEC team.  My problem is when people say UW has no non-conference wins but they forget to leave out that most of these losses were on the road (travels to NY to play 2 East Coast teams). If they played lesser competition like Cal or Colarado, their non-conference record would be better. Plus, I feel it takes away from them being a consistent team in conference play as they had the best record prior to the tournament. Colarado earned at berth in the Big Dance but to say that Cal should go over UW is questionable. Cal may have beat UW but it was on game and was decided on last second shot w/ no chance for UW for rematch d/t conference scheduling. Also, if the Dawgs played in another West Coast Conference they would do just as well as St. Mary’s or Gonzaga (I have also looked up their non-conference and conference schedule – no as grueling as UW) and it is also not that great. I have also watched both of these teams play on tv and they do not jump out as so much better or no better than the UW and believe they would have a worse record if they played in the PAC 12 but due to name or weak scheduling they happen to be ranked. The selections to the Big Dance is really subjective with the Dawgs having chances to control their own destiny but please stop saying that other teams are more deserving when taking into consideration other factors. RPI is BS as Arizona and Oregon have higher RPI’s than UW but UW sweeped UA and 1-1 vs Ore w/ UW winning regular season conference title. 
    Drexler’s record may be better but they play in weaker conference. Experts are saying they deserve to go, but remember they didn’t win their conference tournament either. 

  • PurpleDawg

    People keep saying that they had 2 bad losses at the end but were one of the hottest teams prior to losing these 2 games. Also, if you look at most of the losses prior to UCLA and Ore. St. all the losses were to good teams ( Nevada #2, St. Louis #2, Duke #2, Marquette #2 or #3, S. Dakota St. and Colardo conference tournament winner.) they had a tougher non-conference schedule than both Cal and Col w/ Cal getting blown out by Missouri but beating a bottom SEC team in Georgia. Colarado’s toughest non-conference sched was either Colorado St. or Air force – they also played Georgia and beat bottom SEC team.  My problem is when people say UW has no non-conference wins but they forget to leave out that most of these losses were on the road (travels to NY to play 2 East Coast teams). If they played lesser competition like Cal or Colarado, their non-conference record would be better. Plus, I feel it takes away from them being a consistent team in conference play as they had the best record prior to the tournament. Colarado earned at berth in the Big Dance but to say that Cal should go over UW is questionable. Cal may have beat UW but it was on game and was decided on last second shot w/ no chance for UW for rematch d/t conference scheduling. Also, if the Dawgs played in another West Coast Conference they would do just as well as St. Mary’s or Gonzaga (I have also looked up their non-conference and conference schedule – no as grueling as UW) and it is also not that great. I have also watched both of these teams play on tv and they do not jump out as so much better or no better than the UW and believe they would have a worse record if they played in the PAC 12 but due to name or weak scheduling they happen to be ranked. The selections to the Big Dance is really subjective with the Dawgs having chances to control their own destiny but please stop saying that other teams are more deserving when taking into consideration other factors. RPI is BS as Arizona and Oregon have higher RPI’s than UW but UW sweeped UA and 1-1 vs Ore w/ UW winning regular season conference title. 
    Drexler’s record may be better but they play in weaker conference. Experts are saying they deserve to go, but remember they didn’t win their conference tournament either. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NC2F6WTDPHDPIH2BUFNCWCUGSE Mark

    Remember Cal lost to both WSU and Oregon State during the regular season.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NC2F6WTDPHDPIH2BUFNCWCUGSE Mark

    Remember Cal lost to both WSU and Oregon State during the regular season.

  • Guest

    I think they dererve to be in one of the play-in games. Bad precedent to set to fully deny an outright major conference champ.

  • Guest

    I think they dererve to be in one of the play-in games. Bad precedent to set to fully deny an outright major conference champ.

  • Artthiel

     Good to see a player seize his future instead of wandering about looking for a post-career transition.

  • Sdcall

    What an inspiration?  His sincerity and honesty in acknowledging other people’s contributions to his greatness was heart warming.

    • Artthiel

       Sdcall, it’s common practice for a long list of thank-yous, but having been around Tez during his Seattle time, I guarantee you his expressions were not Hollywood air kisses. He’s a pretty simple, straightforward guy who means everything he says.

       Like his daddy scolded him, cut the grass right, fool!

  • Jamo57

    Cortez thanked Ken Behring?   Let me be the first to nominate #92 for canonization.

    St. ‘Tez has a nice ring to it.   A bigger man than the rest of us, in more ways than one.

    • Artthiel

       Well, said, Jamo: A bigger man than the rest of us.

  • Hammtime

    NO! NO! NO!!!!! We don’t need a dram queen!

    • Artthiel

      Remember, Hamm, Seahawks aren’t asking him to marry your sister. Just catch a few balls.  With Goodell as czar, the Seahawks can probably write up a contract that is canceled if he uses the subject “I” instead of “we” in any interview.

  • Artthiel

     The man was among the most loyal, generous and thoughtful people I’ve come across in pro sports. Funny dude, too. Thanks for writing, Andrew.

  • Artthiel

     Ah, but he’s a columnist’s dream. I still occasionally look at the black armband I wore for awhile mourning the departure of Brian Bosworth. I realize most fans prefer championships to Looney Tunes, but the former is so much harder to come by than the latter. Remember, if we don’t have sports villains at whom to rage, we take it out in more socially unacceptable ways.