To watch or not to watch the NIT
We had high expectations for UW to make the NCAA tournament. We were excited when UW developed an early win steak during conference play in January. Then, we started to panic when the Huskies quickly had a .500 conference record.
Finally, we were all upset because UW’s chances slipped away towards the end of the season.
Matchup: Washington Huskies vs. BYU Cougars
Venue: Marriott Center, Provo, UT
Time: 6:30 pm PT
TV/Radio: ESPN, 950 KJR AM
So why watch UW’s first round game in the National Invitational Tournament? Because the Huskies still have a chance! They’re eager for a prolonged season and they’re ready to begin the NIT.
Below are five reasons why this game should be watched and what to watch for, if you choose to do so.
It’s the NIT, but at least it’s not the CBI
Admit it. When the Huskies kept losing conference games by late January and early February, there was no way they could convince the NCAA tournament committee to choose them as one of the 68 teams. But, think of the NIT like winning a silver medal. At least the Huskies qualified for a tournament.
It could’ve been worse. The Huskies could’ve been snubbed from the NIT and get placed in the College Basketball Invitational. The last time UW played in the CBI was in 2008 during the Jon Brockman, Justin Dentmon and Quincy Pondexter era.
Despite being the Pac-12 Champions last year, UW wasn’t granted a spot for the big dance. However, they went to the NIT as a No.1 seed and showed that they deserved one of the top seeds.
Even though UW landed a No.6 seed this year, they could be a sleeper team to look out for if they get far enough. The Huskies made it to the semifinals last year before losing to the Minnesota Gophers, 68-67. Ironically, they lost in overtime.
UW and BYU are coming off quarterfinal losses
The Huskies and the Cougars lost in the quarterfinals of their conference tournaments. Coincidentally, both teams lost by three in overtime.
There’s no question that both teams are hungry to move on to the next round after falling short in the quarterfinals. UW committed 15 turnovers when they lost against Oregon. BYU ended the game with 12 turnovers during their loss to San Diego.
Huskies vs. Cougars, again
Another reason to be optimistic about this game. The Huskies opened up the Pac-12 tournament with a win against the Washington State Cougars. Even though UW almost let the win get away, the Huskies managed to reach the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament before their heartbreaking loss to the Oregon Ducks.
It could be deja vu all over again. If they don’t scare us and almost blow a second half lead, they could upset the Cougars at home. Oh yeah, don’t forget about turnover reduction!
Last shot for the seniors!
The seniors didn’t want their season to end. Abdul Gaddy prayed that the Huskies would make the NIT. Now they’re in. Gaddy, Scott Suggs and Aziz N’Diaye need to show how badly they want to extend their senior season.
The Husky seniors have to do everything they can to make sure that this isn’t their last game. A one and done scenario would leave a bitter taste for the seniors.
Or, they can think back to last year’s semifinal game as a motivation for this tournament.
C.J. Wilcox is coming back home, but it may not be a warm homecoming if the game is being played at Provo. The Cougars have only lost three times at the Marriott Center this season. The Huskies have yet to fight for a comeback win, and it will be tricky in Provo.
Another challenging game for both teams, but the Cougars have home-court advantage and will make full use of it. The Huskies will attempt to come back, but BYU will hold on to their late lead to win 69-65.
Of course, I hope I’m wrong!