Washington basketball is in the Big Dance for the first time since 2011! They earn a 9 seed and will be matched up with the 8 seed Utah State Aggies
Washington basketball finally made the NCAA Tournament, its been a long drought, but Mike Hopkins has brought the Huskies back to the Big Dance. The Huskies will meet the Aggies in Columbus, Ohio on Friday, March 22nd. The winner will move on to play the winner of North Carolina and Iona (let’s be real here, probably North Carolina).
Confidence Level: Medium?
Sure, the Huskies got destroyed by Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship, but if the first two games of the series taught us anything, it’s that they can still light up the scoreboard. Sure, there are long stretches like the Oregon game where they go into those scoring funks. Yes, that scares me, but there are also stretches when the defense takes over the game and allows seven points in 10 minutes like they did against Colorado. That’ll turn into some offense.
The best part of the tournament? Husky fans can wave goodbye to Pac-12 refs for the rest of the year. No more fouls being called on Jaylen Nowell for putting a hand on a guy’s back. Matisse Thybulle won’t foul out again, and should find a way to have a typical five steal, three block game. The teams he’ll see in the tournament don’t know him as well as the Pac-12 teams do, and won’t be able to scheme around him. Noah Dickerson will finally get some calls to go his way, and should drop more than the 15 total points he scored in the Pac-12 tournament.
Noah Dickerson will be the key to a tournament run, if he can dominate the low post like he did for most of the season, the Huskies are going to go far. If he gets stifled and starts falling over when he gets doubled like he did during the tournament, Washington basketball might go home early.
Personally, I believe that the senior knows it’s time to step it up. He’ll be playing with a little extra emotion, knowing each game could be his last. Husky fans are going to see the Noah Dickerson that they know and love during the tournament.
The Emotional/Hopeful/Everything Goes Perfectly/Incredibly Biased Pick: Elite 8
I’m making this pick strictly with my Husky fandom and love for this team. They’re going to step up, and the experience that they have through the ups and downs from this season is going to show up, and the Dawgs are going to come up FIRED UP. They’re not going to be easy wins, but I believe that the Huskies will beat Utah State. Then, they’re going to get revenge on North Carolina, who knocked that cold-blooded (shoutout Gus Johnson) Husky team back in 2011.
To put the icing on the cake, they’re going to get revenge on Auburn too. They’ll be riding high after the UNC upset, and they’re going to pull off another shocker and have their biggest comeback win of the season to beat Auburn. Sadly… they’ll probably fall at the hands of Kentucky and John Calipari. An Elite 8 run would be a great way to send off this incredible senior class, who deserve the recognition.
The Legitimate Pick: Sweet 16
Yeah, you read that right. Call me crazy, but they can upset North Carolina. We saw what happens when everything goes right for this team, they should’ve beaten Gonzaga in their house (thanks Rui Hachimura). Coby White is an excellent player, as is Luke Maye, but the Dawgs can absolutely lock them up. Nassir Little was a five star recruit and has all-world NBA potential, but he hasn’t fit in Roy Williams‘ system. Can he still take over the game? Absolutely, but so can National Defensive Player of the Year Matisse Thybulle.
What I said doesn’t mean I’m looking past Utah State, they’re a great team. In my heart though, I believe in Mike Hopkins. He’s a great coach, and is going to find a way to get his guys fired up for this game. Also, Jaylen Nowell is going to act like the Pac-12 Player of the Year and score more than eight points.
Do it for the seniors
If you’re unsure about your picks, be sure to check out Sports Illustrated Realtime Brackets! It’s the first bracket game that lets college basketball fans switch their picks, in exchange for points, between and during live tournament games to keep their brackets alive all month long. Sign up now!