The University of Colorado presented Lorenzo Romar’s Washington Huskies a major gift Sunday, a 70-57 victory over the Cal Bears in Boulder, CO., that nudged UW into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 Conference race. The Huskies (13-3), who defeated Washington State Saturday, now have a full-game lead over the Bears (13-4) in the loss column.
Washington has two games remaining, at USC Thursday and at UCLA Saturday, both in Los Angeles. Cal, which trailed throughout against Colorado, has one contest left, at Stanford in Palo Alto March 4.
If the Huskies sweep the L.A. schools, as they did in Seattle in February, they will win the Pac-12 title outright and earn the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament that starts March 7 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
If the Huskies split against USC and UCLA and Cal loses at Stanford, the Huskies will also win the league title outright.
But if the Huskies split against the Trojans and Bruins, and Cal wins at Stanford, UW and Cal would finish with four conference losses. In that event, Cal would receive the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament because the Bears beat Washington 69-66 in Seattle Jan. 19 (UW did not play in the Bay Area this season).
The Huskies can also lose both in Los Angeles this coming week, which would give them five conference defeats, and still tie Cal in the Pac-12 race if Cal loses at Stanford. But Cal would again receive the No. 1 seed on the basis of the head-t0-head tiebreaker.
Thanks to Colorado, which pummeled Washington 87-69 in Boulder Jan. 5 (the teams did not meet in Seattle this season), and a result to keep in mind when the Pac-12 tournament commences, the Huskies, as Romar hoped, control their own fate. They need no more help; they only need to win out.
If they don’t, Washington didn’t significantly improve its at-large NCAA Tournament chances much over the weekend, despite California’s loss to Colorado and the UW’s Saturday win at Washington State.
UW boosted its RPI (Rating Percentage Index) by only three points to 52 in beating the Cougars 59-55. Of more significance, the Huskies avoided a “bad loss,” perhaps even a fatal one if they fail to win the Pac-12 tournament that provides the league’s automatic bid.
Washington’s victory at Beasley Coliseum, significantly abetted by WSU’s dismal 17-for-32 performance from the stripe, gives the Huskies (20-8) their fourth consecutive 20-win season, a school record. It also marked the sixth such campaign for head coach Lorenzo Romar, three more than his own UW mentor, Marv Harshman, produced in 14 seasons directing the Huskies.
While a 20-win season is laudable, it won’t help the Huskies much if they fail to win the regular-season championship. Although Washington has played in the NCAA Tournament on the five previous occasions that Romar produced a 20-win team, NCAA Tournament selectors have snubbed nearly a dozen conference clubs that won 20 or more games.
Last season, the NCAA failed to invite a 22-win Washington State team led by Klay Thompson. The year before (2009-10), a 22-win Arizona State outfit got similarly snubbed. Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams, nine other conference entrants with 20 or more wins failed to reach the Big Dance.
If Washington takes care of business next week in Los Angeles, the Huskies will probably make the NCAA Tournament field even if they don’t win the conference tournament. But given the deplorable state of the Pac-12 this year, nothing is guaranteed.
University of Washington 2011-12 Schedule/Results
(Rankings Are Current)
|Date||Opponent||UW Rnk||Opp Rnk||W/L||Score||Rec.|
|11/4/11||vs. Seattle Pacific||—||—||W||77-60||0-0|
|11/12/11||vs. Georgia State||—||—||W||91-74||1-0|
|11/13/11||vs. Florida Atlantic||—||—||W||77-71||2-0|
|11/20/11||at Saint Louis||—||—||L||77-64||3-1|
|11/25/11||vs. Houston Baptist||—||—||W||88-65||4-1|
|12/2/11||at Nevada||—||—||L||76-73 (OT)||4-2|
|12/16/11||vs. UC Santa-Barbara||—||—||W||87-80||5-4|
|12/18/11||vs. South Dakota St.||—||—||L||92-73||5-5|
|12/22/11||vs. Cal-State Northridge||—||—||W||74-50||6-5|
|12/29/11||vs. Oregon State||—||—||W||95-80||7-5|
|1/10/12||vs. Seattle U.||—||—||W||91-83||10-6|
|1/15/12||vs. Washington St.||—||—||W||75-65||11-6|
|1/26/12||at Arizona St.||—||—||W||60-54||13-7|
|2/12/12||at Oregon St.||—||—||W||75-72||17-8|
|2/16/12||vs. Arizona State||—||—||W||77-69||18-8|
|2/25/12||at Washington St.||—||—||W||59-55||20-8|