A Washington fan's guide to life on the NCAA bubble
The Huskies will need some help to earn a ticket to the Big Dance. So here's who you should be rooting for between now and Selection Sunday.
Seattle Times colleges reporter
Only two things we can advise to cure the sweaty palms of Washington basketball fans:
One, get yourself a stiff drink. Two, find some pompoms, quickly, because you're going to need them the rest of the weekend.
Your team is out of the Pac-12 basketball tournament, and its chance of getting into the Big Dance now hinges on what takes place across the country. So this is a primer on whom you're pulling for between now and Sunday.
After the Huskies lost Thursday to Oregon State, 86-84, they got some help and also sustained some damage. Northwestern went down to Minnesota; Mississippi State checked out of the derby by losing to a bad Georgia team; and South Florida succumbed to Notre Dame. But Texas probably won its way in by beating Iowa State, and Colorado State got a requisite win over TCU.
Meanwhile, you need to root for:
• Virginia and the old Washington State coach, Tony Bennett. The Cavaliers meet North Carolina State Friday, and UVa seems assured of being in, but the Wolfpack is trying to make a run. Later, Miami plays Florida State in that ACC tournament, and if the 'Canes upset FSU, it may win them a bid and squeeze somebody else out.
• St. Bonaventure and Dayton in the Atlantic-10 tournament. The Bonnies play St. Joe's, and the Hawks are more competition for the UW. Dayton plays Xavier in a game of bubble inhabitants, but it seems more likely that a victory gets Xavier in than Dayton, so worry about Dayton after that.
• Long Beach State. Pull for the guy, Dan Monson, who took the Washington job then bailed on it back in 2002. The 49ers are a big threat to make it at-large, so you don't need a Big West interloper winning that tournament.
• California. The dynamic of the Pac-12 tournament becomes a bit of a head-scratcher. The Huskies would prefer the Bears blow through and win it, because the UW could then be seen as the logical No. 2 representative from the league. But if Cal stops at just the Stanford victory and gets eliminated by Colorado, then the Huskies face the prospect of being regarded as the third-most deserving team in the league, behind the tourney winner and the Bears. From UW's perspective, Oregon's elimination Thursday night is a positive, because the Ducks were riding the bubble.
• Memphis and Southern Miss. They're both in, so any outlier champion in Conference USA drops somebody off the bubble. Ditto, of course, for any longshot in the BCS conferences.
Once you dodge a few of these bullets, all you have to do is worry about some others that have already stopped playing: outfits like Drexel (27-6), which, like the Huskies, can claim it's deserving because it won its regular-season conference title (the Colonial); Brigham Young (25-8), which has three top-50 RPI victories to Washington's one; and a couple of casualties from the Big East, West Virginia and Seton Hall.
If your persuasion is purple, it's nervous time. Life on the bubble.
About Bud Withers
Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-12.
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