Washington's home loss to Washington State on Sunday knocked the Huskies down but not out of NCAA tournament bracketology projections.
Joe Lunardi of ESPN dropped Washington (19-9) to a No. 9 seed Monday, pairing them with Kansas State in a first-round meeting in Denver. The Bracket Project, which averages a variety of other bracketology sites, also listed UW as a No. 9 seed.
The fact that the Huskies haven’t tumbled among the bubble teams might actually be encouraging news for coach Lorenzo Romar.
Just minutes after the final buzzer in UW’s 80-69 loss to the Cougars, Romar offered the most understated of responses about what that result might have done to his team’s NCAA chances.
“I don’t think it advances us,” he said. “That’s for sure.”
It didn’t. But neither has the loss seemed to moved Washington to the dicey “last four in” or the more dreaded “first four out” status.
However, everyone understands that could come next if the Huskies don’t rediscover their home invincibility this week when they conclude the regular season with visits from UCLA (21-8 overall, 12-4 Pacific-10 Conference) on Thursday and USC (17-12, 9-7) on Saturday.
The Bruins will arrive as Pac-10 co-leaders, tied with Arizona and two games ahead of the Huskies, who are 10-6 in league play. UCLA is coming off a 71-49 blasting of Arizona on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Southern California arrives on a hot streak, having won four consecutive games. On Monday, Trojans forward Nikola Vucevic was selected Pac-10 player of the week after averaging 22.5 points and 10 rebounds in USC’s weekend sweep of the Arizona schools.
Anything short of a sweep could sentence the Huskies to an agonizing Selection Sunday on March 13.
That is, unless they remove suspense by defending their Pac-10 tournament title along with its comforting automatic NCAA tournament bid.
“I think we have to go out and win the Pac-10 tournament,” senior forward Justin Holiday said Sunday. “Even if we don’t (need it), I think we should go out and do it anyway to be sure. Last year, that was our situation: We had to make sure we won it to be sure. And I think we have to do that this year.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports