The Huskies could not come out with a win in their regular season finale against UCLA, but I still think they are playing some of their best basketball so far this season, winning four of their final six games. Scott Suggs has really reemerged as a scorer for the Huskies, Andrew Andrews has become a vicious defender, and Shawn Kemp Jr. has become a more solid post presence for this team. This improvement of the team is good to see, and I think it’s possible that the Huskies got one of the best draws possible for them in the conference tournament.
In their first round game the six seed Huskies drew the 11 seed Washington State Cougars, who they beat both times they played this season, but only by nine points combined. This being an in-state rivalry game will provide any extra motivation needed for the Huskies, and I think they will be able to come out strong and win this game. Obviously there are no guarantees in college basketball in March, but just for the fun of it, let’s just play along with my scenario and have the Huskies win this game. Their next matchup would be against the number three seed Oregon Ducks. This has not been a good matchup so far this season as the Huskies lost both times they played, but the Ducks have shown vulnerability recently, losing their last two games, both by double digits. Their offense has really been lacking in these two games, averaging about 14 points below their season average, and their defense has been weak as well, averaging over 10 points more than their season average. Both of these factors point to the Huskies having a chance to really test this Oregon Ducks team. Personally, I have seen some good play from the Dawgs recently and I am optimistic about their chances in this game, and I really do think they have a chance to get the win (again, for arguments sake, just play along).
This is what I mean in the sense that the Huskies got a great draw for them. Against the two top seeds in their region Oregon and Cal, they are 1-2, but against the two top seeds in the other half of the bracket, UCLA and Arizona, they are 0-4 on the season. While a 1-2 record isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination, it is a heck of a lot better than 0-4. If the Huskies could beat the Ducks, they would either play the seven seed USC Trojans, the ten seed Utah Utes, or the two seed Cal Golden Bears. Considering Cal has won seven of their last eight games, I would expect them to beat whoever they play in the game to get into the semifinal. This would put matchup Cal and UW in the semifinal. Cal has been on fire recently, as before their loss in their regular season finale against Stanford, they had won seven in a row. This obviously does not bode well for the Dawgs, but I do not think all hope should be lost. The Huskies beat the Golden Bears by 15 points in their only matchup this season. Plus, in Cal’s regular season finale not only did they lose, but they lost by 13 to the eight-seeded Stanford Cardinal at home. While this does not necessarily mean the Bears are done with their winning ways, it does leave a smidge of doubt in the minds of some Cal fans, which as an optimistic Husky fan, is all I need. To get to this game the Huskies would have had win two straight games against solid teams and because the Pac-12 tournament has all games in consecutive days, I think the Huskies could carry that momentum into the Cal game. Obviously this would be a tough game to win, but I think the Huskies have a legitimate chance to pull it out.
If somehow they could win this game and get into the Pac-12 championship game, they would most likely play either UCLA or Arizona, both of whom beat the Huskies in both matchups during the regular season. The Huskies already have a rather slim chance of getting to the conference championship and I don’t really see how they will be able to beat the Bruins or the Wildcats, so sadly I think that is where their conference tournament run would end. The Huskies will not make it into the NCAA tournament as an at-large team so their only chance would be to win the conference tournament. If the Dawgs really do make it to the championship game anything could happen, but the odds are not in their favor to win the game. That being said, the Huskies really have shown signs of life in recent weeks and no matter how the season ends, I am optimistic for next year.