Last chance for the post season
Unless you live under a rock or something, if you reside in the state of Washington and follow college basketball, you know the Huskies are having a rough time. 15-13 and 8th in the Pac-12 pretty much sums up anything I could say.
Washington has skill, passing, and shooting at the guard spots and length and strength in the paint. So why is this the worst Washington team in the last few years?
Washington basketball has been cranking out roller coaster seasons for the past few years. Inexcusably dropping games early in the year has always been more or less written off by a Pac-12 regular season or tournament championship, or a sweet 16 run.
College hoops is a wild and inconsistent sport in general, which is partly why it’s so fun to follow, but the Huskies have been the most mercurial team in the Pac-12 these last few years. And sometimes they can’t always climb back up after a drop. Take a look at last season when #1 seeded Tony Wroten-led Washington crashed out of the Pac-12 tournament in their first game and didn’t make the big dance.
This year has been more of the same. Early losses against Albany and Colorado State were offset by a stretch of steady, consistent play for a few weeks. Then in late January, Washington collapsed.
A beating at home from Utah on January 19th started the Dawgs on a four game losing streak, finally broken up by a win over Arizona State. The Huskies promptly went on to lose three more games, including a heartbreaking buzzer beater loss against UCLA on February 7th.
It hasn’t all been gloom and doom. As mentioned, N’Diaye is putting up 9.8 points and 9.5 rebounds nightly in his best season in Montlake to date. The smooth-shooting Wilcox snapped out of a mid-season slump a few weekends ago to drop 24 on Oregon State for a win. He continues to lead the Huskies, averaging 17.1 points a game despite battling a stress fracture.
Unknown quantity Shawn Kemp Jr. has put up solid numbers and provided a force in the paint for Washington, a weakness among the smaller teams the Huskies have fielded the last few years.
If Washington wins their last three games (all home against WSU, USC, UCLA: easy, doable, tough, respectively) then they will be at least an eight seed in the Pac-12 tournament. From there, it would take three straight wins to clinch the title.
Given that my intramural team has a better chance of getting an at-large bid, the only route to the big dance for the Dawgs is the tourney.
Washington has won it as an underdog before, but six straight wins against teams the Huskies have majorly struggled against in the regular season is asking quite a bit.
With that said, fate didn’t do the Huskies a ton of favors. Injuries to a number of players, an increasingly competitive Pac-12, Abdul Gaddy‘s so-so play (Gaddy, incidentally, failed to live up to his high school hype more so than any other UW player past or present), a couple nailbiting losses that could’ve gone either way: Washington is better than a 15-13 team. But it’s in the books now.