Huskies will play Marquette in first-round NCAA tournament game
Washington, winner of the Pac-10 tournament, earned a No. 11 seed in East region of the NCAA tournament, and will travel to San Jose, Calif., to meet Marquette on Thursday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Two timersWashington and California are the only Pac-10 teams in the NCAA tournament this year. The Pac-10 has had two teams in on just three previous occasions since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
1986: No. 9 seed Arizona and No. 12 Washington both lose in first round.
1987: No. 4 UCLA loses in second round; No. 10 Arizona loses in first round.
1988: No. 1 Arizona reaches semifinals; No. 12 Oregon State loses in first round.
Pac-10 seedingPac-10's highest yearly seeds since seeding begin in 1979:
No. 1 seed — 13 times
No. 2 seed — 12 times
No. 3 seed — once (1996, Arizona)
No. 4 seed — twice
No. 5 seed — once (1985, Washington)
No. 6 seed — once (1984, Oregon State and Washington)
No. 8 seed — once (2010, California)
No. 9 seed — once (1986, Arizona)
Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs
The NCAA tournament seedings suggest the Washington Huskies, slotted 11th in the East region, will be the underdogs Thursday when they play sixth-seeded Marquette at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
But Buzz Williams is a firm believer that location matters not just in real estate, but also in the NCAA tournament.
Hours after the pairings were announced, the Golden Eagles coach said his team is the real underdog despite its higher seeding. Neither team is the underdog according to oddsmakers. The game is listed as a pick 'em.
"I think any time you play on the West Coast against a team in the Pac-10, you're definitely the underdog," Williams said Sunday night during a teleconference with Seattle-area media. "We're thankful for our seed. I think coach (Lorenzo) Romar is one of the best human beings our business has ever known.
"They're arguably one of the hottest teams in the country. They'll be excited to play. They're coming in on a high note and we'll have our hands full from the beginning."
Williams tossed several verbal bouquets at Washington (23-9), portraying the Pac-10 Conference tournament champions as Goliath while describing the Eagles (22-11) as a bunch of pint-size Davids in basketball shoes.
"We'll be the smallest team that you've seen in a BCS league," he said. "We start a 5-7 ½ point guard (Maurice Acker) and our center is 6-6 ½ (Lazar Hayward) with his shoes on, so we're really small.
"We don't have a lot of depth. We play six guys and on a good day we play seven. If something goes considerably wrong, we have to play eight. So we're small in stature and small in depth, but I think that we kind of figured out a way to play that gives us our best chance for success."
The Huskies share several similarities with the Eagles.
Both teams played Georgetown. Washington lost 74-66; Marquette won 62-59.
Both started slowly in conference before finishing strong.
Washington began Pac-10 play 3-5 before winning 12 of its next 14 games, including one nonconference game and three Pac-10 tournament games. Marquette started Big East play 2-5 before winning 11 of its next 14 games.
And the Huskies, much like the Eagles, aren't tall.
"What we have in common is, we're pretty close in size," Romar said. "It's not like a Georgetown, where they had two enormous bigs in there. They're just really quick and tough."
That's where the similarities end.
Marquette is a deadly three-point shooting team with five starters capable of bombing away behind the arc, whereas Washington ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in three-point field goals.
The Huskies have depth that extends to 10 to 11 players, whereas just one Eagles reserve averages more than 10 minutes.
The biggest difference, Williams joked, might be each school's proximity to San Jose. Marquette, located in Milwaukee, will fly five hours and more than 2,000 miles Tuesday, while Washington has a relatively short 1 ½-hour flight to the Bay Area.
"I definitely don't think it's an advantage," Williams said. "I don't know how many fans for us will be able to travel that far relative to how many fans from UW will be able to make it to San Jose.
"San Jose is in Northern California, right? We just want to make sure it's as close to Washington as possible."
Romar seemed amused when it was suggested the Huskies should be considered the favorites in their first-round matchup.
"Anytime you can avoid long travel that's a plus," he said. "Whether it's an advantage or not for anyone, I know for us it's just good we don't have to travel as far. But we're still playing against a quality team. ...
"They're pretty good. We think our team is pretty good, as well. They've been really successful. Who's the underdog or not? I know our motto is play to our potential and see what happens with that."
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.