Prediciting the Huskies Basketball Season – Pac-12 Edition

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This is Part III of the series predicting how the Huskies will do this year.

In this edition, I am looking at how the Pac-12 Conference portion of the schedule will turn out for Washington. I think the schedule is very tricky for the Huskies this year because it is very home-heavy in the beginning and then ends with 7 of the last 11 conference games on the road, including the last three. Unless Romar solves some of the road-woes the Huskies have been experiencing the last few years, there is a risk of another mid-to-late season collapse. But, it isn’t all doom and gloom…

When you look at the transition from the non-conference season to the conference season in December, you will see that they play 3 straight non-conference home games and then play 5 of their first 7 conference games at home as well. So, with 8 out of 10 games at Hec Ed, they are in a position to get off to a great start in conference play. With games against Duke and Marquette in the non-conference, one can hope that this relatively inexperience bunch with so much potential will come together nicely by conference time.

That being said, they started strong last year as well and were 7-1 in the Pac-10 before they hit those aweful mid-season hurdles. I see that first road trip to Colorado and Utah being very dangerous for the Huskies. They have never played in those arenas before and are not familiar with their new Pac-12 bretheren. While Utah is in a serious rebuilding phase and isn’t expected to be very strong this year, any road game is risky. Just ask the Huskies after their trips to Palo Alto, Eugene, and Corvallis last year. While I think UW should win the Utah game, it is the game in Boulder that I am much more worried about. I think Colorado will be a sleeper who will pull off some upsets this year. While they will probably finish in the bottom 4 overall, the Huskies need to be on their A-game in that one.

Interestingly, I think UW will start off being 7-1 in conference play again this year. But, will they have the same kind of collapse they had last year where they went just 4-5 in their last 9 conference games before pulling it together in the Pac-10 tournament?

Unlike many media-types, I am actually less pessimistic about things this year. I think there are some scheduling quirks that work in the Huskies favor. First of all, they do not have to play Stanford and California on the road this year. If California is as good as some believe (predicted by some – Percy Allen for one – to possibly win the conference), then UW really lucks out not having to make that trip to Berkeley.

So, let’s look at the conference season and my predictions:

DateOpponentResult
29-DecOregon StateW
31-DecOregonW
5-Janat ColoradoL
7-Janat UtahW
15-JanWashington StateW
19-JanCaliforniaW
21-JanStanfordW
26-Janat Arizona StateW
28-Janat ArizonaL
2-FebUCLAW
4-FebUSCW
9-Febat OregonL
12-Febat Oregon StateL
16-FebArizona StateW
18-FebArizonaL
25-Febat Washington StateW
1-Marat USCW
3-Marat UCLAL
   
 Conference Record12-6

I also think the way things have worked out with other teams will work in UW’s favor. I think Arizona is the team to beat in the Pac-12. But, UCLA has some serious guard issues, despite their incredible front-line. While UCLA certainly must be given the edge up front, I think UW improved their front line enough late in the recruiting season to hold its own enough to allow the guard advantage to be decisive.

While visiting Oregon is definitely a risky game, I see Washington State and USC being really down this year. So, those road games are not as scary to me. In the end, I see UW finishing 12-6 in the Pac-12.  Where that puts them in the Pac-12 Conference Tourney will be the focus of the next post, when I predict the order of finish of all Pac-12 teams and which will be heading to the NCAA tournament.