The last month in Husky nation has been a bubble-frenzy. A Month ago the Huskies looked to need an almost perfect finish to earn an at large bid. Then they got red hot and jumped through the bubble and looked to be almost certainly on their way to their 4th consecutive NCAA tournament.
Then came the losses to UCLA and Oregon State that put the Huskies smack dab on the bubble once again. Even though the Huskies won the Pac12, it seems as if they are very likely going to end up on the outside of the bubble looking in.
The argument is that the Pac12 is just too bad as a whole to put three teams in the conference. With California looking like a lock to earn an at-large bid, and either Arizona or Colorado going to earn the automatic bid by winning the conference tournament, Washington will be left out on selection Sunday.
The problem with that line of thinking is that it’s just not true and Washington has an argument to be in the tournament field. Here are the reasons why the Huskies shouldn’t worry about being a “third” team from the Pac12 and why they should end up in the big dance.
- The selection committee is looking for the best at large teams. There is no rule anywhere that says weak conferences only get 2 bids. If Washington is one of the top 68 teams in the eyes of the selection committee, they will go. This notion that three teams cannot go from the Pac12 is a pure fallacy. No one will say in the selection room “we can only take 2 Pac12 teams”, it just won’t happen.
- The bubble is softer than Charmin this year, take a look at some of Joe Lunardi’s last 4 in. Seton Hall went 5-10 to finish the season, finishing Big East play 8-10. North Carolina State went 7-7 to finish the season and just 9-7 in conference play. Mississippi State closed the season 2-6 and went just 8-8 in conference play. Texas closed the season 3-4 and was just 9-9 in conference play. That’s a pretty weak bubble and Washington finished stronger than all of them.
- Those teams are in tougher conferences, conferences that had teams beat more top 100 teams. But at the end of the day, it is about winning basketball games, something the Huskies were able to do, with their 14-4 conference record. Just being in a tough conference should not be enough to get a team into the tournament; teams should have to win games, at least have a winning record in conference, before their conference toughness comes into play.
- There’s been talk of NC State playing UNC close in the semi-final game of the ACC tournament helping their resume. If that’s the case, the Huskies nearly beat Marquette and Duke in December. The selection committee should take a close look at those games too; if an NC State close loss helps them, then so should a Washington close loss.
- I doubt the selection committee looks close at this, but if it came down to it, what would be a bigger draw, Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross and the Pac12 champs, or a middle of the pack East coast team? No doubt about it there is more excitement in choosing Washington than any other bubble team.
- Finally, the selection committee deciding to leave Washington out would completely devalue winning a major conference. What would be the point of conference play at all? Ask Lorenzo Romar what his goal is pre-season, he’ll tell you “win the conference”, the Huskies did that, but still may get left out, it’s not right in my book. If a power-conference outright winner is left out, then conferences should be completely disbanded, winning games over the course of the season is much more impressive than winning a conference tournament, so why does that get an automatic bid?
Sure you can say the Huskies have no marquee win, they fizzled at the very end, they suffered a few embarrassing losses, but at the end of the day, they won a power-conference. Down year or not, that is a great feat and it should earn them a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Follow Lawrence on Twitter @AMitchellReport