Questions about three losses to one team in one season, and the No. 3 vs. No. 6 seed.
Washington, a No. 3 seed, meets Washington State, a No. 6 seed, in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament Thursday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Has Washington ever lost three games in a row to the same team in a single Pac-10 season, and how do No. 3 seeds fare against No. 6 seeds in the tournament?
It’s far simpler (and more fun) to answer questions like this instead of queries about Venoy Overton, who won’t play in the Pac-10 tournament due to a suspension arising from misdemeanor charges that he fed hootch to a minor (UW suspended him Tuesday and the Seattle Municipal Court will enter this fray on April 1).
Moving beyond what became a major distraction for the Huskies in 2010-11, Washington State took both games from Washington during the regular Pac-10 basketball season, winning 87-80 on Jan. 30 in Pullman, and 80-69 on Feb. 27 at Alaska Airlines Arena (Hec Edmundson Pavilion). And, yes, the Huskies have lost three in a row in the same season to a conference opponent. More than once, in fact, but not often.
Washington most recently dropped three straight to a single opponent in 2007 — to the Cougars no less, while WSU was in the midst of a school record, seven-game winning streak against the Huskies (2006-08). During the Pac-10 era (since 1978), the Huskies also lost three games to Arizona State in 1988-89, and three to UCLA in 1998-99, the third setback in each case occurring in the Pac-10 tournament.
As to the other part of the question, No. 3 seeds are 10-3 overall against No. 6 seeds in tournament play (1987-89, 2002-10), but the rub there, or here, (if you’re a Washington fan) is that UW earned the No. 3 seed based on overall conference record, and not how it performed over the past two weeks, which has been Barney Fife-like compared to the earlier part of its season.
The Huskies right now are playing more like a No. 7 or No. 8 seed, based on two conference losses at home in their past three games (after going 14-0 at home before the skid). So their No. 3 seed does not constitute an accurate reflection of their current placement in the conference food chain (obviously this could change in a hurry if the Huskies start hitting some shots).
Having said that, keep in mind that Washington won the 2010 Pac-10 tournament as a No. 3 seed, not even the lowest seed ever to win the tournament (that UW team entered the tournament riding a four-game winning streak). USC won the 2009 tournament as a sixth seed, Oregon took it in 2003 as a fifth seed and the Ducks won in 2007 as a fourth seed.
So there have been 12 Pac-10 championship games since the first one in 1987. Teams seeded third or lower have won just four (33 percent).
Like the NCAA Tournament, which is usually rife with early-round upsets, the Pac-10 tournament has also been awash in jaw droppers.
The NCAA officially defines a major upset as one that features a five-seed disparity in the matchup. For Pac-10 purposes (this is arbitrary, but, hey, it’s our web site and we can do what we want), we’ll use a four-seed gap (due to the paucity of tournaments) to define a major upset. Biggest upsets in Pac-10 tournament play since the first conference tournament in 1987:
Since 1987, these are the upsets in which a three-seed gap was in place (there is a three-seed gap between Washington and Washington State):
Washington has won the Pac-10 tournament as a No. 3 seed (2010) and lost it as a No. 1 seed (2009). Given their erratic play lately, especially the fact that they exhibited a stunning lack of confidence in themselves, the Huskies’ No. 3 seed simply may not mean very much.