The Huskies are leading the Pac-12 at 5-0 in conference play for the first time since 1983-84, but are they for real?
In between a week of high praise for Coach Mike Hopkins‘ ability to recruit and the potential of next year, this current Huskies roster is putting together an incredible run of their own. This season is the first time in 35 years the Huskies have gone undefeated in the first five games of conference play. The last time the Washington Huskies went 5-0 to start the season, a freshman named Detlef Schrempf led them to a 15-3 conference record, the Pac-10 championship and a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
It doesn’t happen all the time.
Winning your first five games is nothing to sneeze at, but have the Huskies really been tested? Four of the first five opponents; Colorado, Washington State, Cal, and Stanford, have the worst four records in Pac-12 play. The fifth team, Utah, had the second worst record in the non-con to the Cougars.
The latest ESPN Bracketology has Washington as a No. 9 seed in the West. Arizona makes an appearance at No. 11 in the South while Arizona State is No. 12 in the Midwest.
Now, the Huskies still have the highest NET ranking in the conference at 41, followed by Arizona at 54. However, they haven’t played team as talented as either Oregon or Oregon State, who they’re facing this week. Oregon is ranked No. 69, Oregon State at No. 73. Of their opponents, Cal is the only team Washington has faced in the top 100.
The biggest thing to focus on moving forward is consistency. Time and time again, the offense will go cold for Washington. Last Saturday against the Cal Golden Bears was a prime example. Cal is the worst scoring team in conference, with just north of 70 points per game. Washington sits just a hair below Oregon for best defense, averaging 65 points a game. And yet, Cal went on multiple 6-0 runs, and with around six minutes left in the first half, lead the Huskies by 11. Not letting themselves play down to their opponents level is key to Washington staying at the top of the Pac-12.
The Huskies have a chance to prove their record and defensive numbers aren’t padded against lesser competition this week. Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle is an early frontrunner for Pac-12 Player Of The Year, and they also have the most dominant defensive big in the NCAA with Kylor Kelley. Oregon’s three-headed monster of Payton Pritchard, Louis King, and Paul White will keep Washington on their toes as well. If the Huskies have any hopes of finding themselves ranked again this season, it starts this week on the road.