THAT’S what NIT means!
Although it was an accomplishment that they preferred not to make, being the first regular season conference champions in NCAA history to not make the field of 68 (or 64 for the ol’ skool folk) the 2011-2012 Washington Huskies disappointed many this season.
While the Pac 12 overall was a disappointment overall, hoop fans in the Northwest had huge hopes on both the amateur and pro level.
Unfortunately for Huskies fans, the only nets that the Dawgs have a chance at cutting down this season will take place at Madison Square Garden on March 29th.
Opening up the tournament featuring the best of the 69th to 100th ranked teams (however you choose to read that is up to you) in the NCAA Division 1 field, the Huskies squared off against Texas-Arlington on Tuesday evening on their home court at the Alaska Airlines Arena.
The carry over of missing out on the big dance was evident throughout the first half as the Huskies struggled to control the game in the first half, as the Mavericks took the game into the locker room at the half tied at 37 points apiece.
With lethargic defense and little desire to compete on the glass, the Huskies found themselves on the end of an intense Lorenzo Romar halftime rant.
Fortunately for the near 3,000 fans in attendance, the Huskies picked up their pride off their locker room floor and came out in the second half, playing with an increased sense of urgency, knowing that a loss would put a complete end to their season.
Friday brings a meeting with the Northwestern Wildcats (19-13 overall), a team that the Huskies should be able to beat, if their heads are on straight.
If not, Wildcats senior forward John Shurna (19.9ppg, 5.5 rebs) will be a big reason why the Wildcats could walk away with what would certainly be an upset victory over the number one seed.
Should everything work out in favor of the higher seeds, the Huskies could find themselves squaring off against fellow Pac 12 opponent Oregon Ducks in the NIT Quarter final round early next week.
With four teams participating in the NIT from the Pac 12 (Washington, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona), it tells you how weak the conference was this season, but gives hope for next year for many of these teams who are a player or two away from sitting at the big kids table.
For the Huskies, a season of promise may not be completely lost if they can claim the 74th Annual NIT Championship.
For NBA hopefuls, Ross and Tony Wroten, the former a mid first round pick, the latter being a late name called by David Stern, an impressive performance in the tournament regardless of the name, will have a big impact as to whether or not they will return to the Hec Ed Pavilion.