I’m going to flat out say that there is no excuse for Washington not clinching at least a share of the Pac-12 regular season championship. Currently they sport a 13-3 conference record to Cal’s 13-4. California plays rivals Stanford on Saturday to close out their regular season,
but they no longer control their own destiny. Washington has USC tonight and UCLA on Saturday morning (11:00 AM tip? Seriously?). The Huskies should absolutely blow out the Trojans, who have won just 7 games all season and are 1-15 in the Pac-12. In their first meeting in Seattle the Huskies comfortably won 69-41 and were never threatened at any point in the game. USC are a total mess and should not pose any sort of threat to Washington even in Southern Cal.
So it realistically comes down to UCLA at Westwood. As you’ve probably heard, Sports Illustrated released an investigative report on the chaotic scenes at the famed basketball powerhouse, including coach Ben Howland’s bizarre behavior, players consuming alcohol and drugs without any punishment, and all sorts of in-fighting and arguing from within the program. Now that their dirty laundry has been aired there’s a pretty good chance the Bruins will be in cover-up mode and not totally set on Saturday’s game. Well, that and the fact that they aren’t very good. A mediocre 9-7 record in conference play and just a 16-13 overall record. What the Bruins do have in their advantage is that they are 6-1 in conference home games, and they nearly beat Washington in Seattle in their previous meeting. Washington has been forced to save their season by winning difficult road games, and they’ve won two straight with the easy USC game likely to make it 3. The UCLA game is a must to win the conference outright, or else they’ll have to hope Stanford manages a home win against California.
As long as Washington has the outright Pac-12 title then they should safely be in the NCAA Tournament. It’s hard for the committee, even for a conference as bad as this one, to deny a major power conference champion a tournament berth. The Huskies have relied on the (then) Pac-10 tournament to nullify the committee looking at their resume for two years running, now they simply need to win out this week and maybe get a conference tourney win for good measure and they’ll see themselves through to the big dance.
It’s been another dramatic 2nd half of the season for Lorenzo Romar’s Huskies basketball team. Things looked pretty bleak after losing all of their games away from home in non-conference and getting blown out by South Dakota State. Now they’re in a position where their RPI has improved (so now their losses to Saint Louis, Marquette, and obviously Duke don’t look so bad) and have a good enough resume to clinch an at-large bid.
Tonight starts Washington’s road to a Pac-12 title, and they’ll have to do it in La La Land.