It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Washington’s postseason fate will hinge largely upon how the Huskies fare this week at Oregon State and Oregon.
They remain just outside the predicted field in the most recent NCAA tournament projections. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Washington as the first team in his “next four out” category, meaning he believes the Huskies will be the fifth-best team to miss the tournament. Lunardi’s projection includes six Pac-12 teams, and he also includes Oregon State among his “next four out.”
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports sees the Huskies as the fourth-best team to be left out of the field. Palm’s projection includes seven Pac-12 teams -- he has OSU in the field as a No. 9 seed. USA Today lists Washington as the second team to miss the field.
Washington badly needs a win at OSU on Wednesday to enhance its profile. The Beavers have an RPI rating of 35 -- they are one of seven Pac-12 teams in the top 35, in fact -- and the Huskies are at No. 71. A win at Oregon would obviously mean even more -- the Ducks have the best RPI in the conference at No. 4, and have not lost a home game.
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If the Huskies split this upcoming trip, they’ll at least give themselves a chance to play their way into an at-large bid, with a season-ending game against last-place Washington State followed by the Pac-12 tournament. But if they get swept, they’ll almost certainly have to win the conference tournament to get into the NCAAs.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple